I’m not quite up to serious demonstrating at the moment (though I hope that regular exercise will help me better to combat the fatigue caused by my cancer medication so that I can get back out there more).
Therefore, just as I missed the March for Moulsecoomb last Saturday so I would have missed today’s Palestine solidarity march in London - though as it turned out I wouldn’t have been able to attend even if I had been fit - as I was attending (online) the Annual General Meeting of Brighton Pavilion Constituency Labour Party (CLP).
My comrades did me the honour of re-electing me (unopposed) as Chair of the CLP, a position which I have held since the reconstitution of the CLP four years ago. These have been an eventful four years.
As to myself personally, in these four years I stood down from my trade union positions, was diagnosed with cancer, nearly died of sepsis, retired from my employment with the London Borough of Lambeth and then discovered that my cancer had spread - but have also been as happy as I have been in my adult life.
As to politics, the Labour Party has had at least as eventful a four years as I have. At a national level, in 2017 we fought a General Election we didn’t ask for and came closer to victory than anyone believed possible (in spite of what we now know was the deliberate undermining of our campaign by some within our own ranks).
Two years later, whether as the fruits of Brexit or because of unprecedented media hostility (or - if you prefer - because the same leadership who had led us so close to victory in 2017 had become toxic by 2019) we were slaughtered in the (last ever) European elections and lost badly in a General Election, leading to a change in leadership.
Locally, these four years saw us re-establishing a Local Campaign Forum, and selecting a slate of candidates for local elections in 2019 in which we did not make the advances for which we had hoped, but from which Labour formed an administration which - with support from the then Green opposition we made some headway in implementing a radical manifesto written by Labour Party members, before we lost the administration last summer.
As a socialist who has been a member of our Party since 1980 I have been through a lot of different times. These, now, are times in which some socialists find ourselves leading CLPs, others may be leading branches within CLPs where a majority take a different view, and still others may find themselves in a minority within both their branch and CLP.
The Labour Party remains the right place for socialists to be and to focus at least part of our political activity, along with trade union organising and other progressive campaigns.
We need to campaign for a Labour Government (under any Leader) because the worst day under a Labour Government is better than the best day under a Tory Government - but socialists cannot just sit and wait for a change of Government, we need to work to make the Labour Party the campaigning organisation it ought to be.
Every socialist who is a Labour Party member can do something - for example by bringing a motion to your branch meeting calling for action, not only by the Party as an organisation but by Party members as activists in our local communities.
That action could be around support for a decent pay rise for public sector workers, or opposition to the arms trade, support for anti-racist campaigning, opposition to authoritarian legislation in the UK or solidarity with oppressed people around the world - the key is to advocate, and practice, activism in order to draw around the Party those who want to struggle for a better world.
This is the next step on a long, hard road forward. Many of us will not see the destination - but what we need is a vibrant, radical civil society, with the Labour Party at its heart, if we are to win power (rather than just office).