Wednesday, November 08, 2006

John McDonnell - candidate of the left - speaks in Brighton

I’m just back from listening to John McDonnell speaking about his leadership bid at a meeting in Brighton. We also heard from the Save Omar campaign (campaigning for freedom for a Brighton man locked up in Guantanamo Bay), the World Court project (campaigning to outlaw nuclear weapons), Friends of the Earth and Hands Off Venezuela.

50 people seemed to me a good turnout for a midweek evening meeting in November, and the range of speakers and breadth of intelligent contributions from the floor (predominantly but not exclusively Labour Party members) underlined to me what is impressive about John’s campaign. This is a new type of Labour Party politics which reaches out to engage with those campaigning for change and justice whether or not they agree with us.

If the left is going to force the necessary debate on policies - not personalities - and take the opportunity offered by the forthcoming leadership election then we need this new approach. We don't need to recycle a 1980s candidate. We need a twenty first century socialism with a leadership candidate who has consistently supported socialist policies.

So it is disappointing to hear that Michael Meacher may still be being led into a doomed leadership bid. I hope Harry Perkins is wrong about this and that Michael will still throw his weight into a united left wing challenge around John’s campaign. If not he can’t possible expect significant support from the left for someone who backed the Iraq war, Foundation hospitals and ID cards!

No comments: