Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Politics after Blair

Last night our local Stop the War group voted to send two delegates to the Morning Star’s conference on Politics after Blair. We decided that we should take part in as many forums as possible to discuss the changing political situation, and also agreed to send people to the SWP's marxism event.

There is an urgent need for the left to participate in a fraternal debate about the way forward after the damage that Blair has inflicted on the Labour Party.

On Monday, candidate for Deputy leader, Jon Cruddas MP, wrote how after ten years of a labour government: “people remain afraid and insecure. “They are frightened and uneasy that their jobs are not safe. They are concerned that they and their children can't afford to climb up or even get on to the housing ladder and they are fearful that, once they reach retirement, they will not be able to afford to enjoy their old age.

“People are insecure about their children's education. If they make it into higher education, they are worried that they will graduate with thousands of pounds worth of debt. They are concerned about long working hours, a lack of family time and the pressures on our health services.

“Sad to say, after 10 years of new Labour in power, Britain's working landscape is still wreaked by job insecurity, a lack of skilled work opportunities and diminishing pension returns.

“It is ironic that, at a time of record levels of employment, employment fears remain at the top of the list of concerns of working people in Britain.”

As Jon Cruddas says: “We are told that these situations are the inevitable, if unwanted and unwarranted, consequences of globalisation, the repercussions of the global forces of migration and global capital, but this is not so. We are tacitly colluding with these forces if we fail to intervene and take the necessary steps to give people the very basic protections and assurances which they so desperately need.”

And as leadership candidate John McDonnell says: “The worst thing about society at the moment is that people feel completely alienated and powerless. It results in people creating their own world through drugs or trying to satisfy themselves through consumerism or being left completely isolated. What we're saying is: 'Well, actually, you can become part of a movement that can tackle those issues and your contribution is as valuable as anyone's. Whether we win the leadership election campaign or not, whether we're on the ballot paper or not, what we've built is a movement for the next stage of our campaign.”

The occassion of Tony Blair stepping down is an opportunity for the left, whether inside or outside the Labour party, to discuss a strategy for renewal , and to assess how the small but significant progress that McDonnell has achieved in regrouping the Labour left can be built upon in the next more challenging phase of a Gordon Brown premiership, and how they can work with the left outsidie the Labour Party. The balance has changed to an unprecedented degree, so that many trade unons activists, community activists, peace campaigners, and others are deeply hostile to Labour.

The Morning Star conference has attracted support or sponsorship from a wide range of organisations, including trade unions the POA, T&G, BECTU, CWU and FBU, the National Pensioners Convention, labour movement solicitors' firms OH Parsons and Thompsons and the Stop the War Coalition.

Panels of speakers will lead discussions on the themes of peace, public ownership, trade union freedom and social equality and multiculturalism.

Among the participants so far confirmed are Tony Benn, Institute of Employment Rights director Carolyn Jones, John McDonnell MP, CND chairwoman Kate Hudson, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack, Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths, labour lawyer John Hendy QC, POA general secretary Brian Caton and PPPS management committee chairwoman Liz Elkind.

POLITICS AFTER BLAIR: Takes place on Saturday June 16 at Mandar Hall, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1. Price £10 waged/£5 unwaged. Send cheques made payable to PPPS to William Rust House, 52 Beachy Road, London E3 2NS. Please include your name, telephone number and address.

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