Sunday, 26 September 2010


NOTHING to frighten the horses in the Labour leadership election at the Manchester's conference centre with the election of Ed Milliband yesterday. And, nothing to trouble the status quo at the Convention of the Left across the road at the Friends Meeting House. So the party which can only select between Oxbridge graduates confronts a Cabinet full of millionaires, while the far left in the Friends Meeting House yesterday acted, at times, as if it was at the Funeral of the Left addressed by a downbeat John McDonnell MP, he who never gets enough nominations, warning us all of a 'long haul' and that he didn't think the Liberals would split away from the government.

The organisers of the Convention of the Left, with John Nicholson sounding hoarse and looking haggard, did their best to cheer up the throng of some eighty or so dispirited revellers at the event going on about Right to Work campaigns and Stop the Cuts. It all sounded thoroughly so 1980s. Is David Cameron really the new Thatcher? It all seems a bit overwrought. Thatcher was a lower middle-class grocer's daughter with all the bitterness of those particular social animals - the Midland shopkeepers- while Cameron has that English upper-class air. That's why I can't agree with Laurens Otter's analysis below and don't believe Cameron wants to grind down the poor and if we accept Professor Robert Skidelsky's thesis it is the markets that rule us and not the government (see Financial Times: June 17th, 2010: 'Once again we must ask: "Who governs?"'). Thus the consensus across the mainstream political spectrum, even that of the Milliband brothers, is that ultimately we have to please the international bankers and investors.

The Convention of the Left was full of hopes and vain expectations, and the spirit of Mr Micawber that 'Something will turn up' to transform the situation: a Poll Tax type riot perhaps or maybe the climate camp warriors will come to our rescue? One workshop was asked to define what the 'Left' was? Mostly for most that meant 'More of the State', look at what happens when you get a downsized State – look at the USA and Katrina; but some, like a film-maker and former anarcho-punk from Hackney called Sean pointed to Detroit, where people on their own initiative are transforming the depressed city by growing crops amid the desolation. Others, like a lad formerly from Big Flame, seemed to have misgivings the 'More State' solution.

Barry Woodling, who described himself as an anarcho-syndicalist, caused a stir when he drew attention to the decision of Castro and Cuba to set about reducing the size of the workforce employed by the State: The International Herald Tribune [18/09/10] reported: '... the Cuban government's recent eye-popping announcement that it will reduce the government work force by 10% and expect the hundreds of thousands of laid-off workers to find places in a new system that has a resemblance to free enterprise.' Screams came back from old codgers declaring: 'You read the wrong papers!' Barry battled on declaring that the National Shop Stewards Network, that had held a Lobby at the TUC conference two weeks ago that featured on SKY TV, offered a radical alternative to the current stale politics of the left. Meanwhile, I'm worried that I'll lose my bus pass.

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