Thursday, 23 September 2010

Convention of the Left tomorrow night in Manchester

I am speaking tomorrow night at the Convention of the Left in Manchester as a member of a panel addressing the cuts in Europe and internationally. The Convention is timed to coincide with the opening of the Labour Party conference in Manchester. I last attended the Convention two years ago but was not a speaker on the platform, although I spoke from the floor and also at a worshop. Several of my colleagues in Green Left are on the organising committee of the Convention and I look forward to seeing them again. I will be representing both Green Left and the Coalition of Resistance, on whose steering committee I sit as the Green Left representative.

It is vitally important that the Convention acts as a counterpoise to the Labour conference. We are likely to see the annointing of a new Labour leader on Saturday. But whoever that leader is, and it will definitely be one of the Millibands - they will not stray far from the New Labour orthodoxy - nor the demand that the deficit be reduced. So they will not depart in any significant way from the ConDems who call for a return to the conditions of the 30s. It will be 'cuts with a more human face' if you like. There are those in the Labour Party, like John Mc Donnell, who is also addressing the Convention, who disagree with this policy, but they are in a small minority and the Left of the Labour Party has never been more powerless after the Blair and Brown years. Although what is said at the Convention may not get much publicity outside of Manchester or the Morning Star it is important that it presents an alternative vision, just as the Coalition of Resistance does. This week the People's Charter announced their support for the Coalition. My vision is a tripartite movement of the united Left - Coalition, Convention and Charter - against the cutters and destroyers of the post 1945 settlement.

As for my theme of unrest across Europe, two items caught my attention today. Firstly, the news from my native Ireland that the cuts and merciless austerity drive of the Irish government has led to a double dip recession. Secondly, the scenes of massive demonstrations from Bucharest below. I was in Romania in June and saw the beginnings of these protests. Today was also the general strike in France. The Europe of the People is moving against the Europe of Capital!

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