By New Worker correspondent
WHERE is Labour going? That was the question three labour activists tackled at a meeting in Harlow last week. Rod Truan, a Harlow Labour Councillor and Cabinet member, John Pickard, former editor of Militant and Socialist Appeal activist and Theo Russell from the New Communist Party opened the discussion at a meeting organised by the Harlow Trades Union Council last Wednesday.
Rod Truan, a teacher, pointed out that in the last century Labour was in power for only 23 years and said: “We don’t want to see a Conservative-dominated 21st century,” adding that the very first Labour government set out a Housing Act calling for half a million council houses. He said Labour’s achievements in 1997-2010 included a school building programme, 100 hospitals built, and more textbooks in schools. “But by 2010 Labour had lost the trust of many supporters, for example, by not enabling councils to build new housing.”
John Pickard drew attention to calls for national strike action at TUC Conference and the Fire Brigades Union motion calling for public ownership of the banks, saying these resulted from rank and file pressure and demands for new policies. He said: “This generation will be the first in 100 years to bequeath a worse standard of living to the next generation,” and said that that large-scale industrial action in Britain was looming. The issue for Labour, he added, “is not extending the timing of spending cuts, but ending cuts altogether”.
In his contribution Theo Russell outlined why working class voters should support Labour and the organisational link with the union and cooperative movements, and said the NCP would like the next Labour government to end monetarist austerity policies and restore trade union rights, income tax and the public sector to their pre-1979 position.
He added that the NCP calls for unions not affiliated to either Labour or the TUC to affiliate in order to strengthen the organised working class. In the discussion it was pointed out that 84 per cent of Labour’s income is from trade union members, and it was announced that Harlow Labour Party is submitting a motion to Labour Party conference to re-nationalise the railways.