Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/17365

Posted on 6 September 2013 at 12:16 GMT

Merseyside People's Assembly - A lost opportunity

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool 47 and TUSC Liverpool mayoral candidate in 2012

The scene at the Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool. An anti-austerity attendance of 800-plus. An atmosphere of expectation for a fighting programme of action to defeat the Con-Dems.

The adoption of a socialist alternative to the policies of the three main parties who all agree on maintaining austerity?

The reality was that the event failed to rise to the occasion. A line-up of speakers attacked the Con-Dems without, with one or two muted exceptions, taking up the position of the TUC leadership or the Labour Party.

It was astonishing that neither the speaker from Unite the Union, Steve Turner, nor left Labour commentator Owen Jones, made any reference to the events in Falkirk or to the attacks which Miliband made on Unite. 'Malpractice, bad practice or even corrupt practice' were the scandalous words used by Miliband to attack Unite, and this was not deemed worthy of comment by these speakers.

They shuffled off any responsibility of the trade union leadership to organise industrial action to stop the Con-Dems and instead called for civil disobedience and community action to stop austerity. Civil disobedience and community action is to be welcomed and developed, but must be viewed as an important auxiliary to the potential power of the organised working class taking industrial action.

The bulletin of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) has reported on important trade union victories for Unite, the RMT, the PCS, and locally the binmen in Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, demonstrating that workers, responding to firm leadership, can stop the attacks from employers in their tracks. But these facts were completely lost on the majority of speakers.

Mark Steel gave a humorous speech ironically articulating the brazen policy of the Con-Dems who are making the poor pay for the crisis caused by the rich.

His criticism of Labour was muted, and even suggested that Labour could be 'changed'. He referred to two events for which he admired Liverpool's history of struggle: the dockers' struggle and the Hillsborough 96; for him the struggle of the 47 councillors is a closed book.

Shrinking audience

At 8.30 there was an exodus of speakers who had trains to catch to return to London.

Disabled People Against Cuts comedian Laurence Clark gave a humorous performance in which he graphically portrayed the plight of the disabled under the Con-Dems.

In a speech markedly different to the others Martin Kelsey, PCS regional chair, told the meeting of the struggles of the PCS and praised the action of the 47 who had taken on the Tories and won.

He urged people to attend the 47 exhibition which is on display at Unite HQ in Liverpool. He also attacked Mayor Anderson for his programme of cuts and congratulated, to applause, the decision of the GMB to slash its Labour Party funding.

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool 47, addressing NSSN conference June 2013. Tony received 4,792 votes, 4.73%, in the 2012 Liverpool mayoral election, photo Senan

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool 47, addressing NSSN conference June 2013. Tony received 4,792 votes, 4.73%, in the 2012 Liverpool mayoral election, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

The absence of a programme of action resulted in the initial enthusiasm draining out of the assembly.

In the dying minutes of the event rebel Warrington councillor Kevin Bennett reported on events which culminated in his suspension by Labour and declared his determination to continue to oppose and campaign against cuts. This was greeted with loud applause from a by then diminished audience.

Trades Council secretary Mark Hoskins, at the fag end of the meeting called for support for a 24-hour general strike, this was greeted with applause from the remaining rump of the meeting.

This event was a lost opportunity to raise the whole issue of an alternative programme to austerity, and to mobilise support to pressurise the TUC to enact the policy agreed at its last congress, and to link that to the need for a political challenge to the three capitalist parties.

No speaker from TUSC or the Socialist Party was called on, so any concrete proposal for action was absent.

The theme from keynote speakers was 'unity', which translated into a subliminal 'don't attack Labour or Labour councillors'. Nye Bevan famously described this as the 'unity of the graveyard'.

It remains to be seen whether the People's Assembly will develop into another weapon in the armoury of the working class.

TUSC and the Socialist Party have indicated their willingness to work with the People's Assembly in the interests of unifying all anti-austerity forces.

What is certain if this meeting represents the outlook of the leadership of the PA, it is unlikely to act as a rallying point for those sections of the working class who are moving into action, or those millions who will make their mark in the next stage of the struggle.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 6 September 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Liverpool:

triangleNorth London Socialist Party: When Liverpool council defied the Tories

triangleMerseyrail protest

triangleObituary: Maureen Mulhearn 1945-2018

triangleLobby pushes Liverpool council to oppose privatisation

triangleStrikers rally in Liverpool

Peoples Assembly:

triangleLetter to organisers of 16th July demo

triangleLondon: National anti-austerity demonstration

triangleCity of London fills with defiance against austerity

trianglePeople's Assembly demonstration: End austerity now

Merseyside:

triangleHuge support for strikes of bus drivers and train guards

triangleMerseyrail strike over safety: Labour mayor and councillors must reverse their decision

Labour:

triangleNo fudge with the right wing

triangleBuilding support for Corbyn's anti-cuts policies in the local elections

Unite:

triangleSadiq Khan's bus drivers' London licence doesn't go far enough

Austerity:

triangleWe can win the fight for the NHS

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/2/18

Haringey

No fudge with the right wing

15/2/18

TUSC

TUSC statement on sentencing of Derby TUSC agent

14/2/18

Haringey

Haringey protests HDV - but Labour fails to kill it off completely

14/2/18

UCU

Uni strike: coordinate public sector fightback

14/2/18

Cardiff

Enjoyable and successful Cardiff Refugee Rights gig

14/2/18

Carlisle

Carlisle debate - socialism or social democracy?

14/2/18

Firefighters

Staines fire services saved

14/2/18

Surrey

Threat of action defeats pay cut at Surrey council

14/2/18

Woolwich

Woolwich Crossrail walkouts to demand promised bonuses

14/2/18

London

Sadiq Khan's bus drivers' London licence doesn't go far enough

14/2/18

Mansfield

Stop press: victory - campaign saves NHS rehab ward

8/2/18

Newham

Teachers strike again as anti-academy pressure mounts

7/2/18

Unison

Unison national women's conference

7/2/18

Royal Mail

Royal Mail forced back under threat of action

7/2/18

Walthamstow

'Occupy to save the town square'

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999