The Left fiddles while the ConDems burn Britain

There was standing room only for stirring speeches by Caroline Lucas MP, the ever-youthful firebrand of the left Tony Greenstein, and others.  The campaign against the cuts got off to a great start last night at the Friends Meeting House.  Or did it?

There must have been 250 present.  A very respectful turnout, and there was concern about fire regulations due to overcrowding. But why weren’t there people queuing down Ship Street demanding to get in?  Faced with unprecedented cuts in public services, mass redundancies (800 announced today alone), there should have been a much greater turnout.

So why is the left in Brighton so incapable of mobilising really big numbers.  The simple answer is that it is too sectarian and too divided.  Passions were high in the run up to the meeting.  This was not because of the scale of the cuts being considered but because of divisions over the involvement of the Labour Party.  And that issue was not even whether a Labour representative should be on the panel.  No, it was about whether the Party should merely be invited to the meeting.

There are a few in the vanguard of the revolution who have ever quite emerged from their days as student union activists, but enthusiasm and passion has been replaced by demoralisation and bitterness.  But never fear, they are big ducks in their little pond, splashing about and making what is for them a big noise as they try to keep the little Labour ducks from getting into the water.

Meanwhile, the ConDems are planning massive cuts and redundancies, and the lives of ordinary people will be blighted for a generation. The Left fiddles while the ConDems burn Britain.

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5 Responses

  1. Hi, I’m new to Brighton but I’ve been following the area’s politics – somewhat half-heartedly – since the election. What does the local left think of Caroline Lucas? I’ve heard people call her a lot of things, but there seems to be disagreement and uncertainty…

  2. It is hugely positive that a turnout of 250 was achieved at this early stage in the campaign. Remember this is in spite of a media consensus that cuts are an economic inevitability, and a trade union movement which is at an undeniably low ebb. In these circumstances it will take time to persuade people that there is an alternative to cuts and inspire confidence in the possibility of fighting back. But it will happen, and Wednesday was just the start. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  3. I went along, and think that for such an event, it was a very good turn out.

    I mean: put it like this: would you like to sit for two hours to hear a panel speak? It is not the easiest sell. This was a political event, not The Beatles round the corner at the Hippodrome, a venue which is another subject…

    I thought that the panel made a series of good points, all very informative, but, my, there were many moments when one wished that they would cut to the chase. And, indeed, that was made all the clearer when Caroline Lucas arrived from a late session in the House of Commons, and her speech was, objectively speaking, much the most incisive.

    I should say that, beforehand, too much of the speakers’ time was given over to parochial concerns: at one point, the first speaker referred to the “nec”, which some thought the National Exhibibition Centre, when in fact he meant the “national executive commitee”, and at that point lost a whole swathe of the audience.

    If this movement, which has an encouraging momentum, is not to lose that energy, it has, right now, to ensure that people at large are not turned away by the sectarianism, waffle, rule book, and all that sluggishness which dogged trade unionism.

    Each speaker had a great deal offer to offer, as did many of the audience when they finally got a chance to speak, but all could learn from Caroline Lucas’s incisive speech.

  4. Is this another case of “The People’s Front of Judea” arguing with the “The Judean Peoples Front” whilst the carnage continues in the Arena in front of them?

    Well said BPB.

    • Well actually there was no “arguing” – the meeting showed a huge degree of unity.

      All very well slagging off the far left (they do deserve it sometimes!) but they are the ones doing the legwork to get meetings like this off the ground.

      And isn’t it just a little churlish to say it was a comparitive failure because it was “only” a packed venue but a rather disappointing lack of a long queue outside?!

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