Lesley Docksey writes: “The relentless criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership by the Tories, the MSM and some loud-mouthed Labour MPs, though depressing, are being balanced by the energy and activism of all those Labour members and supporters who back Corbyn”.
While the sheer numbers and views of the membership and supporters are being totally ignored by the PLP, they are being aired at Momentum meetings and at events like the Build Against Austerity event. This major anti-austerity meeting at Methodist Central Hall in London on 21st November, was organised by the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group, backed by PCS with main speakers: shadow chancellor John McDonnell and economist Yanis Varoufakis.
There has been little mention of the Trade Unions, once the backbone of the Labour Party – also PLP invisible. But the Trade Union Coordinating Group hosted a blinder of a Rally at Westminster Hall on November 21.
Around 1400 people attended and the atmosphere was electric. It is hard to describe what it is like to walk into a hall full of strangers knowing that each is a friend with the same hope, vision and aims as you – invigorating, life-affirming, energising – all these things. Lesley, who attended the meeting, continues: “People attending such events are extremely optimistic, full of hope and energy. And they laugh a lot!”
There was a lot of humour and it was genuine, not the embarrassing jokes that David Cameron uses in Parliament; positive and forward looking humour; laughter among friends. But mostly there was an undercurrent of knowledge that, if we get it right, this is a pivotal moment in this country’s political history. If we get it right.
At the Build Against Austerity event John McDonnell spoke about how workers should and must resist any unjust legislation (such as proposed by the Tories’ Trade Union Bill). He also mentioned the reviews Labour is undertaking on the Treasury, financial sector etc., saying that there was a need for financiers “to understand that we cannot tolerate a finance sector that is not contributing to the prosperity of the country overall.”
Yanis Varoufakis, considering the fact that this country (and Europe) is actually very rich, asked “Why is so little hope growing among so many riches?”
On finance, having outlined the reviews that Labour is now undertaking on the Treasury, banking and the finance sector, McDonnell said there was a need for financiers “to understand that we cannot tolerate a finance sector that is not contributing to the prosperity of the country overall.”
All of the ‘austerity’ the country is suffering from comes from the implementation of the government’s financial objectives. To combat it, there has to be a comprehensive financial plan, particularly for investment, as clearly outlined by Varoufakis. It includes getting the corporations to pay the full amount of tax but at the same time get tax breaks for using the estimated £740 billion sitting idle for investing in innovation, research, manufacturing and infrastructure – a positive contribution to prosperity.
Suffering ‘austerity’ makes it difficult to imagine a better future, and that creates depression and despair. How do we build the hope, so evident at this event, out in the wider world? Unity among Trade Unions, a Workers’ Rights Bill to combat the Tory assault on workers, a sound financial plan involving a Public Investment Bank and genuine investment to combat the so-called ‘necessary’ austerity programme, bringing local community campaigns into a national campaign – we need all this, just as we need unity within the Parliamentary Labour Party.
But the hope, the energy and inspiration, the pressure to change things for the better, that has to come from us, the people. What everyone felt at the rally has to be shared among friends, neighbours, groups, strangers on buses, trains and in supermarket till queues. It is too good not to be shared and then acted upon.
Read Lesley’s account of the meeting here: https://watershed2015.wordpress.com/articles-addresses-worth-reading/building-the-fight-against-austerity-lesley-docksey/