BY MARCUS GREVILLE
LONDON — On October 29, at a crammed public meeting called by the Stop the War Coalition, the call was made for the creation of a new united party to challenge the British Labour Party in the 2004 London Assembly and European Parliament elections.
George Galloway, recently expelled from the Labour Party, spoke in favour of the creation of a broad-based party that would aim to electorally mobilise the more than 2 million people who demonstrated in February against the US-British invasion of Iraq. The party would stand in every European Parliament seat in England and Wales. In Scotland, he urged support for the Scottish Socialist Party.
Other speakers included chair of the Birmingham Stop the War Coalition Salma Yaqob, socialist filmmaker Ken Loach, anti-globalisation writer George Monbiot, Linda Smith of the Fire Brigades Union, John Rees on behalf of the Socialist Alliance and Bob Crow of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union. The meeting was also addressed by a representative of the postal workers' union, which is taking strike action across the country.
In support of the call for a new party, the trade union speakers reported that rank and file members are asking why their unions are still funding the Labour Party when Prime Minister Tony Blair's government is working so hard to crush them. In 2003 alone, there have been bitter strikes by firefighters, train drivers, underground railway staff, airport workers and now postal workers.
John Rees argued for a new party based on the combined leaderships of the mass anti-war movement and the militant trade unions.
The London Assembly and British seats in the European Parliament will be elected on a proportional representation basis, making the election of left-wing candidates much more likely than in the traditional first-past-the-post electoral system.
[Marcus Greville is a member of Australians Against the War UK. Email <email@example.com>.]
From Green Left Weekly, November 5, 2003.
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