SOCIALISTS led by ex-city MP Dave Nellist will not stand in a forthcoming Coventry council election for the first time in years – to enable talks over a potential agreement with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.
Mr Nellist has previously said his Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition could have some sort of pact or collaboration, should Labour return to the left under Mr Corybn with an anti-cuts platform.
The Socialist Party – created some time after Mr Nellist and other left-wingers were thrown out of the Labour party in the early 1990s – will not stand a candidate in next month’s Coventry City Council by-election in Lower Stoke.
Mr Nellist, who is also a former Coventry councillor, said Socialists were standing aside in the by-election “in order not to prejudice a national meeting they hope to have with Jeremy Corbyn”.
Mr Nellist said: “Socialists in Coventry remain resolutely opposed to the cuts the Labour council are making, such as the £3million cut to Council Tax support for the city’s poorest.
“We also oppose Labour’s plans to cut 1000 more council jobs and to alter employment terms, such as holiday and sickness pay, of those who remain.
“Jeremy Corbyn says the Labour Party will be anti-austerity and we want to work with those members of Labour who support that.
“Unfortunately the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) hasn’t yet had the opportunity to sit down with Jeremy to discuss what he can do to get Labour councillors, in Coventry and elsewhere, to refuse to implement Tory cuts.
“Or to find out what he thinks council service users, trade unionists, and community campaigners should do in elections if all the likely candidates on the ballot paper are going to carry out the cuts.
“So, on this occasion, the Socialist Party has agreed not to stand a candidate, so that there is no artificial obstacle to having that discussion with Jeremy and his supporters.
“But time is short. Action must come, and soon. Standing aside in a council by-election is one thing. But in May there will be 18 seats up for election in Coventry, part of over 2000 nationally.
“We want to have a serious discussion with those in Labour who are serious about fighting the cuts.
“But the Socialist Party is also clear that any politician who votes for cuts cannot expect to have a free run at the ballot box, no matter what party label they wear.”
Labour leaders at Coventry City Council said they have had no choice but to implement the job losses and cuts in services as a result of unprecedented government funding cuts to local authorities.
That assertion is also contested by the Conservative opposition at the council.