Thursday, October 19, 2006

John McDonnell - Hackney Meeting

Last night John McDonnell spoke at a meeting in Hackney. See pic, courtesy of paddy the puritan.
I'm going to do two posts on this. One on the actual meeting and the other on going to the pub afterwards . Well this is stroppyblog and our reports on events always seem to involve alcohol.

I support this campaign and am helping to organise a meeting in Brighton. I do though have serious doubts about remaining in the party and the future of the left . I have expressed this in a few posts.

I want to believe that the left can fight back in the party and that the damage done by Blair can be undone.That hope though is tempered by the reality that New Labour is not a one man band. Blair has transformed the party . He has neutered the conference, NEC and his own cabinet, let alone backbench MPs. The policies now differ only from the Tories in degrees.
Thatcher put the boot into the left and the unions. Blair has carried on her legacy.

John articulated the anger of those of us who fought the Tories in the hope of something better, Not revolutionary but left reformism. Hey we were not asking for much.
He talked of how a landslide majority and a public wanting a change was squandered.
Trouble is I am not convinced the left in the party can really undo the damage.Membership is down to 190,000 from 400,000 in 1997. I would guess that many who tore up their party cards were on the left. Those who remain are either disillusioned and thinking of leaving or have come round to the view that Blairism (or a softer version) is the only game in town. John urged people to join or rejoin whilst 'holding their noses'. Perhaps I will be proved wrong and the ranks of the left will swell.

I am not sure those who are younger would be enticed to join Labour. When I was 18 the Tories were hated. Now its labour. As one student pointed out to me they have never known anything but but this government.Those who do join seem to be depressingly soft left and happy with demanding some crumbs.

Dave Osler sounded a note of realism , much along the lines of recent posts.
John responded in an upbeat way that you don't start a campaign believing you will lose. Fair enough, but its the elephant in the room and Dave drew attention to it. The left is much weaker than during the Benn for deputy campaign. What does it do, both inside and out, when we all wake up with Blair mk11 in office.
John is a genuine man and I support his campaign but it is the last gasp of the left in the party.
I believe many will give up the fight . I can't see myself hanging around.

To paraphase that famous Sun headline, will the last lefty please turn out the lights as they leave...