Ordinary people need a mayor who is going to stick up for them. That’s why I’m standing for TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. We’ve been getting a raw deal for years. The super-rich and big businesses have been getting richer but we’re still picking up the bill for their economic crisis.
We’ve faced falling living standards – in real terms the average worker’s pay in the South West is worth £2,348 less than in 2008. The vital services we rely upon are being cut or given away to profit-driven private companies. Increasingly working class people are being priced out of this city.
Our local representatives say they have no choice but to pass the Tories’ austerity policies on to Bristolians. Over £100m has been cut from the council’s budget by George Ferguson and his cross-party cuts cabinet.
Unfortunately the victory of Corbyn as Labour leader has not yet been reflected locally, all their councillors voted for the latest cuts budget. We’ve seen 1,000 jobs threatened. Libraries, care services, parks and children’s centres have been amongst the services hit by the tsunami of cuts.
This must stop. There is an alternative. If I’m elected mayor I will write budgets based on what Bristol needs, not on the Tories’ demands for cuts. We need to build a campaign that can win back the funding they’ve stolen from this city. They were forced in to a U-turn on disability benefits and they can be beaten on this too.
To make that happen we need representatives that actually stand up for us, not put their own careers first. If I’m elected I will only take the average wage of a worker in Bristol, not the inflated mayoral salary. How can you represent people if you’re that out of touch with their lives?
I want to make Bristol affordable for all. That means addressing the growing housing crisis. Housing costs have skyrocketed. Owning a home is an impossible dream for many, especially young people.
Renting in the private sector takes an ever growing chunk of your income and leaves you at the mercy of your landlord. Even so-called affordable housing is beyond the reach of many. There are around 14,000 people on the waiting list for council houses.
If I’m elected we will build thousands of council homes. Only if the city owns them can we guarantee quality and offer low rents and secure tenancies. All the income would come back to the council, not to the big private developers who are only in it for the profits. I would also look to cap rents in the private sector.
Making Bristol affordable for all also means raising workers’ wages. I would implement a real living wage, a minimum of £10 and hour for all council staff and push for this to be extended to all workers in the city.
We also need to address Bristol’s traffic. Reducing the cars on the road must mean offering a reliable and affordable alternative, not taking punitive measures against drivers. I want to build an integrated, publicly owned transport network.
Only if it is owned by the people of Bristol will we be able to democratically control the routes and fares. Only then will our needs come before the profits of companies like First.
I want a break with the politics of austerity. We also need a break from the politics of rule by decree. The arrogant way which residents’ parking schemes have been pushed on people is a prime example of how Ferguson has acted as mayor.
To base a budget on Bristol’s needs means genuine consultation with local people on what those needs are. The first thing I would do if elected would be to bring together a conference including trade unions representing council staff, service users groups, equalities groups, neighbourhood partnerships, community associations and campaign groups.
This is a wealthy country, the money is there for the things we need. At the same time as council services are cut to the bone, corporations and the wealthy have had huge handouts in the form of tax cuts. In this capitalist society the profits of big business are put first. That’s why I stand for a democratic socialist alternative.
I am standing for the millions, not the millionaires. I have a strong record of actively opposing cuts and privatisation and of supporting workers and community campaigns. Taking this experience into the council chamber will make me a strong voice for ordinary people.
TUSC was set up to help provide that. We don’t just want you to vote for us, you should go out and make that voice heard. You can join a trade union or get involved in an anti-cuts campaign. Contact me on email@example.com or 07986951527 to help our campaign. For more about TUSC visit www.tusc.org.uk.
Tom Baldwin is the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition candidate for Bristol mayor.
Bristol24/7 is hosting a mayoral hustings featuring all candidates at The Lantern at 7pm on Thursday, April 28. Entrance is first come first served. For more information, visit www.colstonhall.org/shows/mayoral-hustings/