Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Convention of the left 20th - 25th Manchester

New Labour's conference will be an empty affair, empty of participation, empty of anything beyond press opportunities for Ministers and most of all Labour's conference will be empty of ideas - a stage managed performance for the benefit of the press, where delegates will be expected to act out their function as a willing stage army - applauding at the set times and for the set durations.

Those brave souls still left in Labour whose good instincts and dogged determination never to give up the fight for traditional left Labour values are fighting battles on terrain too tough for most of us, and with too little scope for successes.

It doesn't have to be that way. Whilst this period has many challenges and problems for the left - there are also many positives too. Whilst union membership is low, in historical terms, it is enjoying a renewal in those unions willing to show some gusto. Whilst membership of traditional parties is at rock bottom this is as much a sign of people looking towards a more open and freer forms of politics as it is political disenfranchisement.

It's important that where the governing party is coming together to say it represents the nation - there are others on hand who say that privatisation, war, environmental destruction and the insidious corruption of power are not our values, but the values of an elite we are determined to challenge.

That's why Manchester lefties have called a convention of the left for 20th - 25th September '08. It's in its early planning stages at the moment but the intention is that the left of all traditions - be they from hard left parties, direct actionists, greens, community activists or trade union militants - can come together, discuss, plan and also demonstrate that the poverty of ideas in the halls of the rich is matched by the richness of ideas among those who fight for the poorest and most vulnerable in society. It wont just be sitting in smoke filled rooms either.

This is an important initiative in my view. Bridging divides to help us campaign together more effectively, but also helping us foster a vibrancy of ideas and vision that takes us beyond the specific campaign or battle we are currently fighting towards a broader vision of a better world.

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