A left-wing candidate for Mayor of Doncaster is calling on the Labour council to raise the minimum wage and use its reserve funds to reverse cuts to public services.
Steve Williams, the nominee of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), said his 27 years of experience as a mental health nurse in the NHS had shown him the damaging effects of austerity.
“Whereas 10 years ago people who came in were having relationship problems or debt problems, now there are more and more of them who are victims of austerity,” said Mr Williams in an interview with JUS News.
TUSC are not standing in council elections against Labour candidates who oppose austerity, but Mr Williams said that Ros Jones, the incumbent Labour mayor, had done too little to resist the cuts.
His job as mayor would be to rewrite the budget in order to reverse £100 million of budget cuts, he said.
“We support Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-austerity message but Doncaster Council are not implementing that,” said Mr Williams.
“Our main position is to use the reserves that the council has and the borrowing powers that the council has in order to maintain jobs and services.”
Some Labour members have privately said they will support Mr Williams, he said.
His campaign is also proposing a minimum wage of £10 for council staff and others who provide services to Doncaster council.
“I do not accept the myth that if you raise the minimum wage you destroy jobs,” he said.
“We would encourage people in the private sector to campaign for that as well.”
On top of that, Mr Williams’ campaign is opposing fracking, which he calls a “nasty, poisonous, polluting form of producing energy,” supporting renationalisation of the railways and joining the RMT union’s campaign against driverless trains.
Mr Williams, of North Cliff Road in Conisbrough, is also calling for HS2 to be rerouted.
“I am not naturally against big infrastructure spending, but we feel that local communities should have a say in the route of HS2,” he said.
TUSC will probably not run any candidates at the general election in June, instead encouraging Mr Corbyn to pursue a clear socialist agenda.
“This [general] election is going to be viewed as Jeremy Corbyn against the world,” said Mr Williams.
“If we stood in the general election it would be understood as us opposing Corbyn.”
However, Mr Williams said the Labour party would be more effective if Mr Corbyn opened it up more to trade unions and other socialist organisations.
Mr Williams, whose father was a Doncaster councillor, was a Labour member himself until Tony Blair abandoned Clause IV of the party’s constitution in 1995, thereby dropping Labour’s commitment to nationalisation.
“[New Labour] went down a path of changing the Labour party into what they thought people would vote for, rather than saying ‘these are our ideas and this is why you should vote for them,'” he said.
“It’s about building that campaign of opposition to what is going on and saying there is a better way of doing things.”
“If you campaign on your ideas and explain your policies you get results.”
Mr Williams, who stood for Parliament in 2015, said his full-time job meant he had been less hands-on in his campaign than he would have liked.
“I have got a great team of people who have been out every day and they have been the drivers of the campaign,” he said.