By Theo Russell
LABOUR movement and trade union activists came together last Saturday at the TUC’s Congress House for the third Progressive London conference, at which two of the main topics were Ken Livingstone’s campaign to become mayor in 2012, and mobilising for the TUC demonstration on 26th March.
Livingstone told delegates that spending cuts had begun early in London with the election of Boris Johnson, hitting every capital spending programme. He said the proportion of GDP going into wages has dropped from two thirds to 54 per cent in 30 years, and declared: “I’m delighted that my campaign is proudly supported by trade unions.”
Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, pointed out that the cost of servicing Britain’s national debt was less than any time between 1945 and 1977. “This is class warfare that we are seeing against us, and they try to make us believe there’s nothing you can do about it.”
He recalled how Margaret Thatcher, who at the time seemed unassailable, was brought down over the Poll Tax and predicted: “Justice will prevail – we will achieve what we want”.
Diane Abbott pointed out that the NHS is Britain’s largest employer, especially for women, and recalled the past struggles for minorities to achieve equal status, and said “in the new NHS, it will be last in, first out”.