Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/582/7387
European elections: Putting forward a workers' alternative
IN SPITE of the national media news blackout on the 'No2EU-Yes to Democracy' workers' alternative in the European elections, there have been many successful public meetings held around the country, as the following reports show.
"This campaign, putting forward policies for working-class people, has made an impact in eight or nine weeks. Imagine the impact we're going to make in the next eight months," said Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport workers' union.
Dave Nellist, Socialist Party councillor, described how the "subterranean anger" felt by working and young people has erupted over MPs' expenses. Working-class people deserve an alternative when it comes to the looming general election, and to build this Dave called for a conference of No2EU's constituent groups soon after the European election.
Janice Godrich, president of the civil servants' PCS union described her union's 'make your vote count' campaign, which has exposed the absence of any reason why workers should vote for the three main parties. Rob Griffiths, general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, explained the reactionary role of the European Union.
Over 300 people showed huge support in the meeting and took thousands of leaflets away. No2EU is definitely seen by a large number of trade union and socialist activists as an important step towards providing a workers' political alternative.
"The BNP beats you up in the street and the Labour Party beats you up in the workplace" was the comment of one railworker during the very successful rally held in Bristol. Over 70 trade unionists and socialists listened to rousing speeches from speakers including Alex Gordon of the RMT and Socialist Party councillor and West Midlands candidate for No2EU, Dave Nellist.
The meeting attracted activists from unions like the CWU, Unison and PCS. Most significantly was the enthusiastic endorsement of several regional officers of Unite, one of whom intervened to say this was the most inspiring meeting she'd attended since being an activist in the 1984-1985 miners' strike. Another had been Labour MP Dawn Primarolo's agent in recent general elections but has now quit the party in disgust at its slavish pro-bosses agenda.
It was unanimously agreed to reconvene after 4 June to discuss our results and debate the next steps forward for this potentially historic initiative.
Around 30 people attended a very successful campaign meeting in Greenwich on 28 May. The main speakers were Greenwich Unison branch secretary and local Socialist Party member Onay Kasab (Kaz) and Lewisham Socialist Party councillor Ian Page.
Kaz is part of the No2EU London list. He is standing as a workers' representative on a worker's wage.
As a union branch secretary Kaz is involved on a daily basis in fighting for workers' rights, for public services, against privatisation and for the public who use those services. These battles continue, such as the fight to stop the closure of Charlotte Turner school (see last week's issue of The Socialist). This struggle demonstrates how the wishes and interests of local people are being ignored by New Labour and the other mainstream parties.
Both speakers stressed that No2EU is the only voice being raised in this election against the policy of cuts and privatisation, as well as posing a clear class alternative to the racist and anti-working class BNP. They also exposed Ukip as offering absolutely no alternative to working people. In effect, Ukip's stance on cuts and privatisation is that this policy is OK as long as it is done by British bosses!
Our position on the other hand is: against the bosses' EU, for a workers' Europe! For international workers' solidarity!
On 26 May, a well-attended public meeting in Birmingham included speakers Dave Nellist, Joanne Stevenson (general secretary of the Young Communist League and No2EU candidate), Brian Denny (RMT journal editor and No2EU candidate) as well as Alice Mahon, a former Labour MP for Halifax and left activist.
Each of the speakers gave excellent speeches before taking questions and the additional support given to the campaign by Alice Mahon was inspiring and further helped to convey why in these elections, fighting against the Lisbon Treaty and for the struggle for socialism are such important aims.
The time allocated for questions was well utilised with contributions coming from those supporting the campaign but also those who were more sceptical, although in every case the issues were thoughtfully tackled by the speakers without the use of deliberately planned sound bites and evasion tactics commonly seen employed by the likes of the Conservatives and New Labour.
Over £200 was raised for the campaign.
In The Socialist 5 June 2009:
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party review
Marxist analysis: history