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.