Sunday, 5 December 2010

Coalition of Resistance Conference

On the 27 November CoR held its inaugural conference in London. I travelled down by train from Cheshire and was joined by 1200 others in the Camden Centre. The train was delayed so I arrived a bit late, by which time the main hall was full. The morning consisted of a plenary session with speakers from the Labour Party, Green Party and trade unions including; John McDonnell MP, Bob Crow RMT, Mark Serwotka PCS, Jean Lambert MEP, Ken Loach, Clare Solomon NUS, and Lindsey German. After a chilly journey the speakers soon got the audience warmed up and there were some particularly good contributions from Mark Serwotka and John McDonnell.

The plenary was followed by a series of workshops on such topics as; organising against the cuts locally, mobilising the unions, and analysing the crisis. I attended a couple of these workshops, both of which were absolutely packed. The most promising thing about the workshops, and the whole day, was the fact that there were many young people attending. There was a really positive atmosphere of co-operation and determination. The now well worn arguments about the causes of the crisis were aired but what interested me most was alternatives. It's not enough to want to stop the cuts, the left has to have a workable alternative agenda, and that is one of the things I have been focussing on in my blog - see here and here. It's early days but it's not clear yet exactly how this agenda is going to shape up. The afternoon passed in similar fashion ending with some rousing speeches, and a standing ovation for Tony Benn, who was elected as President of CoR. He was looking frail but was truly inspirational.

On Thursday night I attended the first local meeting of an embryonic campaign against the cuts in West Cheshire. All in all, I'm very optimistic that the anti-cuts movement can wring changes from the ConDem government and crack the coalition apart. The problem is - what happens next? The Labour Party is paralysed by its past 13 years in power and unable to articulate an alternative to the government's programme of austerity. The Green Party, alone, of all the mainstream parties has a robust, costed and viable alternative but we are not going to be in a position to implement that programme after the next election. Our task has to be to persuade others to adopt the economic programme. Meanwhile the students continue to inspire us all with their campaign against tuition fees, and the anti-cuts movement is still taking on the tax avoiders. Next, I will be doing my best to promote the campaign here in West Cheshire.


Anonymous said...

Just a question - waht are the actions you took away from these meetings, to make a difference in terms of the anti-cuts campaign?

As the actions are the thing - the meetings and the conferences are great and dead important. But if all it leads to it another meeting, and another meeting, then what impact did it all have?

I ask this as a genuine question, as I started going to my own union meetings, and realised there was a lot of hot air and plans and strategies, but when it came down to it, the people who mouthed off the most actually didn't DO a lot, and I stopped going. Only so many times you can listen to the same guy taking about what's needed when you know he won'e take the actions on. I'm maybe looking for the goose that lays a golden egg, as my Nan would say, but I just want to get involved in actions...


Howard Thorp said...

That was the first CoR conference and the first meeting of West Cheshire Against the Cuts. There had to be a debate about why we are here and what we can do comes next.

I agree with your frustration about meetings. Now its time for action.

Marching and protesting on its own won't be enough - we will have to get involved in direct action to support people losing jobs and services.

Have you joined a local anti-cuts group? You are likely to find that they are far more active then unions are at the moment. The unions have been dragging their feet so far but I have no doubt things will change in the new year.

The CoR website and are a good place to find out what is going on locally.