Over fifty Labour supporters and members gathered together for a half day conference on fighting Tory policies. Most of those present were from Beeston North ward which now has 300 members, gaining nearly 200 since the last election. We met at the Boat and Horses in Beeston Rylands.
First on was Richard Burgon, the 35-yr-old newly-elected MP for Leeds East and a member of John McDonnell’s treasury team. “Whatever the outcome we will always remember the result of the Labour Party Leadership this year when Jeremy Corbyn polled 60% of the votes. Now is the time to get behind him for he has the largest mandate of any Labour leader ever elected. Politics has become more inclusive and more democratic and the party catch phrase is now ‘It is the right thing to do’.”
“What can we expect from Labour? Labour has now become the anti-austerity party challenging economic orthodoxy, promising not to revoke the Family Tax credits and to review how the Bank of England works. Labour will work as a team on welfare, housing and immigration. The problem is not the public sector debt but the private sector debt.”
More than a dozen questions and statements followed on climate change, welfare, Trident, the role of the local council and ‘what happens to all the motions the Constituency Party sends to Labour headquarters?’
This was followed by a fascinating illustrated talk on early women leaders of the Labour Party with film clips of the thirties and forties including Jenny Lee [wife of Aneurin Bevan]. A picnic lunch followed, interspersed with lots of informal debates. Then we were gathered into three groups to discuss the cuts, health issues, and climate change; analysing the problems and suggesting what can be done locally and nationally. Everyone was invited to sign up for ongoing groups on these and other issues such as education.
Finally Milan Radulovic, leader of the Labour Group on Broxtowe Council, gave a passionate speech on how politics affects every part of our lives. He answered the question’ What can we do?’ by giving examples from Broxtowe Borough Council under the Labour Party. Climate change means clean energy, promoting the environment, solar farms and reducing global warming. The cuts means supporting people like his constituents in Eastwood who have no future, no holidays and no shopping trips. It means being at the end of a phone whenever you are needed. Eighty people who have to depend on foodbanks in Eastwood every week. The present cuts are throwing millions into poverty. Social care means building social houses and Dementia Friendly bungalows and fighting the stigma of dementia.
What we can do is important. Milan concluded ‘I’m in the Labour Party to get a spirit of togetherness and to show there is another way’. We went on our way inspired and determined to find that other way.