Tuesday, 3 May 2011


LAST SUNDAY - May Day - was a mess in Manchester and they can't blame the weather. The coalition Government may be an Eton Mess, but up here it was a May Day Mess. Less than two hundred miscellaneous politicos paraded round central Manchester on May Day in a celebration called by Manchester Trade Union Council. It was the kind of inconsequential and uneventful demo typical of the left up here but even more poorly attended than usual. The SWP was in evidence but it was more of a political than a trade union occasion and it did not match last Thursday's Workers Memorial Day rally by Greater Manchester Hazards Campaign which was a distinctly trade union do.

Geoff Brown, Secretary of Manchester TUC and an affiliate of the SWP, was up and down like a blue-arsed fly trying to get the rally off the ground but it was a total flop. I feel for him; he did his best but it showed the feebleness of the left round here. It might have something to do with the inability of the British left in general to get outside the incestuous political bubble. Yet these people are shortsighted and don't seem to help themselves. I asked him if he and the SWP were giving Dave Chapple, former Chair of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN), and those other non-Socialist Party dissidents, who broke away from the NSSN in January 'the run-around' or 'fobbing them off' and he assured NV that he and the SWP wasn't. Yet, despite everything that has happened and accused of 'dithering' by some, the SWP hang on in the NSSN with their principle enemy and competitor the Socialist Party and Linda Taaffe.

Stefan from the Greater Manchester County Association of Trade Union Councils was there pushing for yet another conference against the cuts. More and more conferences, more and more demos, more and more calls for a general strike: rhetoric, rhetoric let their be rhetoric. Fake enthusiasm, slogans, and blather. And on the edges of the rally, friction with the younger end who insisted on making music during the solemn speeches of the tired politicos. Steve North, newly elected to the job of Secretary of Salford City Unison, was there urging people on to fight the cuts and to go to an anti-cuts demo in Salford on Monday the 2nd, May: did many go? I fear not -  reports suggest 40 protested. Yet, Mr North managed to strut, snubbing the salesman of Northern Voices indignantly as if he had now moved on to higher things and the awesome ordeals of office in place of Ray Walker who he beat.

Then there was the food for those that could endure it: rice with spinach and lamb or a chicken leg perhaps - a truly May Day Mess. No threat to the Coalition and not up to the standards of the Eton Mess which is a desert of English origin including a mix of strawberries, meringue and cream traditionally served at Eton College's annual cricket game against the students of Winchester College.

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