History was made in Leicester last night. At a packed meeting in the Town Hall, around forty people came together to welcome two councillors who recently resigned from the Labour Party to work in alliance with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
Councillors Barbara Potter (Humberstone/ Hamilton ward) and Wayne Naylor (Braunstone ward) voiced their anger at the fact that the Labour Party no longer represented normal working-class people. Both were frustrated at the unwillingness of Leicester’s Labour Council to present a political alternative to the Con-Dems, and were disgusted at the onslaught of attacks on vital public services.
With two principled councillors now willing to stand opposed to all public sector cuts, their active and vocal support to workers and communities will give hope to people who understandably feel that no-one has been representing them.
In the full Council meeting held last month, both Barbara and Wayne used their democratic positions to grill the Labour Council, which in itself was very inspiring. Demonstrating their willingness to represent city workers, Wayne for instance asked the City Mayor Peter Soulsby if he would be prepared to support the ongoing pay claim of a £1 per hour increase to all low-paid Council staff. As one might expect, no meaningful answer was forthcoming from Peter’s lips!
In contrast to Labour’s lack of support for people taking strike action in Leicester, both Barbara and Wayne have publicly pledged their solidarity to all workers. So for example when thousands of workers from six unions take united national strike action this Thursday both will use their positions as councillors to raise awareness of the need for the strike. From now on they intend to do everything in their power to work in alliance with all trade unions in their ongoing struggles to obtain fair pay and conditions for all.
Overwhelmed by the turn-out from so many passionate supporters of TUSC, Barbara and Wayne were keen to build for the planned ‘People’s Budget’ to be held on October 4. They announced that anyone who wanted to lend a hand or their needed their aid should get in contact with them (Barbara.Potter@Leicester.gov.uk and Wayne.Naylor@Leicester.gov.uk).
Buoyant with enthusiasm, Wayne put it like this:
“I thought that leaving the Labour Party would be like jumping off a cliff. As it happened it was like jumping off a cliff and then landing on a bouncy castle.”