Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Spirit of 45 – what next?

[This is a leaflet given out at a showing of Spirit of 45 at the Picture Palace, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire on 11 April 2013]

KEN Loach has said that he wants his film to kickstart a conversation which gets beyond opposition to the current government’s punitive policies, and as Mark Steele recently said beyond 'yelling at the telly, or if you’re really dedicated, the radio as well.'

We have to continue opposing the policies of the government but at the same time we have to look at what the spirit of co-operation and consensus means 70 years later. How should it change our approach to housing, welfare, health, education etc? What is our vision? 

This is a call to all those millions of people in Britain who face an impoverished and uncertain year as their wages, jobs, conditions and welfare provision come under renewed attack by the government. 

The People’s Assembly is being driven by a coalition of unions representing millions of workers in both the private and public sector; activists in the Labour and Green Parties; campaigners for disabled people, and for tax justice; and people who are just stranded, without a political home.

With some 80 per cent of austerity measures still to come, and with the government lengthening the time they expect cuts to last, we are calling a People’s Assembly Against Austerity to bring together campaigns against cuts and privatisation with trade unionists in a movement for social justice. The Assembly will provide a national forum for anti-austerity views which, while increasingly popular, are barely represented in Parliament.

The aim of the People’s Assembly, which Ken Loach is supporting, is to unite all opponents of policies being inflicted on this country. On 22 June there will be a 3,500-strong meeting at Westminster Central Hall, but in the meantime people will be touring the country, encouraging local groups to be set up in every town and city. 

For more information go to www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk

[The following is intended for local people in the Hebden Bridge and surrounding areas, though I suppose all views are welcome]

If you have thoughts about the film or how the Spirit of 45 can be revived, go to www.hebdenbridge.co.uk  where there is a discussion forum. 

1 comment:

barry said...

There are serious issues to be raised in relation to this particular initiative. In theory a peoples assembly is a good idea but unfortunately this proposal is a top down, bureaucratic attempt to forge an opposition to the Austeriy program of the current Government. The publicity blurb for the Assembly on 22nd June in London is endorsed by trade union general secretaries, MPs, celebrities, and a rag back of trotskyists and sundry Leninists masquerading within various front organisations.

The cat is let out of the bag when one reads the model resolution "Peoples Assembly against austerity" It supports the September 2012 TUC resolution that the trade union movement must continue leading from the front against this uncaring government with a coalition of resistance taking coordinated acton where possible. This is just pie in the sky and empty rhetoric and the trade union response up to now has been pusillanimous at best.

What makes matters worse is that the Peoples Assembly appears to be linked with a Left Unity proposal endorsed by Ken Loach which calls for a discussion about forming a new party of the left to defend the welfare state. A left Unity leaflet praises Ken Loachs film the Spirit of 45 and the former refers in glowing terms to the achievements of the Attlee government re housing, education, and social security. There is no mention of Attlees decision to develop the Atomic bomb in secret or Britains support and intevention with troops in the Korean war which was paid for by introducing charges on teeth and spectacles. Bevan and Harold Wilson resigned from the government on this issue. For a critique of Loachs film and the bankruptcy of left labour reformism vide my comments on the blog.

In conclusion the Peoples Assembly, and Left Unity represent a long litany of attempts by the authoritarian left to build a vanguard and like all the previous attempts it will be riddled with factionalism and sectarianism and will end in failure

Opposition to the States attack on the the poorest and weakest sections of the community ultimately will grow organically from the base and grass roots of society and cannot be superimposed by self selecting vanguards. The historical exemplar is the Spanish Confederacion Nacional de Trabajo during the 1930s. An organisation based on genuine workers democracy and an anarcho-syndicalist programme which posited a fundamental challenge to State power. Todays self styled leaders of the working class would do well to study and learn from this organisational model.