Today is the first day of the Convention of the Left in Manchester, England. It runs for five days as a counterpoint to the Labour Party meeting there, and has attracted the support of virtually all the Left in the UK. The primary theme is unity, how can the Left best work together, even with differences about tactics and beliefs. This is an encouraging and inspiring idea. The US Left needs and would greatly benefit from a conference like this. After all, our antiwar movement fractured and splintered because of sectarian differences that were pointless and didn’t need to happen.
If Unity is Strength, then the Left is very weak, not only has it suffered from three decades of defeat, but since the late 1990s has systematically failed to take advantage of the many opportunities for it to substantially extend its influence.
Most notably out of the enormous stop the war movement it failed to build a mass alternative to New Labour, rather the opposite, the anti-war movement, in spite of its many awe inspiring achievements, consolidated the Left’s fragmentation, its general retreat from class politics and overall decline.
We do resolve to find ways that the Left as a whole can co-ordinate action both nationally and locally wherever we can. We are not aiming to displace existing united campaigns, but to strengthen these and to encourage working together across the widest range of organisations and individuals.
From the Red Pepper blog about the conference
It was Derek Wall who best summed up the Convention of the Left’s opening session, and he did it by quoting Chumbawamba. “Even though we disagree,” they sang, “we share a common enemy”.
It was a call for non-sectarianism that echoed through almost every contribution, whether from the speakers or from the floor.
“The convention is a brilliant idea because sectarianism gets you nowhere,” was how Tony Benn put it. “Socialism should be a mosaic, not a monolith.”