Tuesday, 11 May 2010

There are going to be a lot of events assessing the outcome of the General Election and suggesting ways forward for the rest of the left. Leeds Taking Soundings will be making its own modest contribution with our usual monthly meeting on Weds, May 26th with interesting local speakers. We hope you can make this and contribute.

On a national scale there are a number of conferences from across the leftwing political spectrum that might be of interest.

To start with what might be called the 'class-struggle' left there is an emergency conference called by the Right to Work Campaign in London on May 22nd focussed on resisting the cuts we know are coming. This is essentially organised by the SWP, but the line-up of speakers comes from a left-wing spectrum of trade unionists and includes speakers from Greece and Portugal.

The SWP will also be hosting their Marxism 2010 event in London from Thursday July 1st to Monday July 5th on the theme of 'Ideas to Change the World'. As usual there is an impressive line-up of speakers from a variety of radical corners and movements, including Slavoj Žižek, Sheila Rowbotham, Tariq Ali, Tony Benn, Gary Younge, Ben Fine, Alfredo Saad-Filho, Guglielmo Carchedi, Costas Lapavitsas, Graham Turner, John Holloway, Istvan Mészáros, Gerry Conlon, Moazzam Begg, Gareth Peirce, Ghada Karmi, Sami Ramadani, Mark Serwotka, Jeremy Dear. Jeremy Corbyn MP, Danny Dorling, Steven Rose, David Edgar, and Nina Power (who should be speaking to Leeds Taking Soundings in September). The line-up makes it worthwhile, despite the constant invites to join the SWP.

On a smaller scale the Alliance for Workers Liberty is hosting its annual Ideas for Freedom on July 11th-12th. This is focussed on 'Trotskyism and the Capitalist Crisis', but includes other invited speakers such as Neal Lawson from Compass and Philip Blond (author of Red Toryism).

Moving towards the leftwing mainstream there is a short day conference organised by the Labour Representation Committee on May 15th in London: After the Election . . . Join the Resistance!
Here's their blurb: "Whatever the outcome, the forthcoming General Election will be a watershed for the labour movement. With all the major parties threatening massive cuts in public spending, there is clearly a need for the Left to discuss how it can cooperate on this and many other issues. There will be plenary sessions with contributions from John McDonnell MP, Sarah Evans (Labour PPC in NW Hampshire), Billy Hayes (CWU General Secretary) and Mark Serwotka (PCS General Secretary)
This event is co-sponsored by the LRC, CLPD, Convention of the Left, CWU, Labour Briefing, NUJ, Save the Labour Party, Right to Work and the Socialist Campaign to Stop the Tories and Fascists.
One point - this seems to represent the current of left-wing social democracy exemplified by John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn - and they did well in the election.

The Fabian Society are not to be neglected. Also on May 15th is their 'Next Left: The First Post-Election Conference', also in London. Keynote speaker is Ed Miliband but also with David Lammy MP, John Denham MP, Steve Richards (The Independent), Sunder Katwala (Fabian Society), Gaby Hinsliff (former political editor of the Observer), Mary Riddell (Daily Telegraph), Ellie Gellard (Stilettoed Socialist), Chuka Umunna MP, Mark Pack (Co-Editor, Liberal Democrat Voice), Ellie Levenson (Journalist & Author, The Noughtie Girl's Guide to Feminism) and more.

There is also the big conference organised by Compass: A New Hope, The Robin Cook Memorial Conference, Saturday 12 June 2010. again in London. Compass' enthusiasm for a Lab-Lib coalition spearheading a new politics of progressive forces has proved rather controversial, but you've got to respect an organisation that references Star Wars.

Here is some of their blurb:
Ideas, campaigns and coalitions needed to create a progressive consensus for the 21st centuryOver 90 speakers including: Neal Lawson, Chair, Compass; Jon Cruddas MP; Andrea Nahles MP, General Secretary, SPD; Baroness Helena Kennedy QC; Chuka Umunna; Polly Toynbee, The Guardian; Mehdi Hassan, New Statesman; John Harris, The Guardian; John Kampfner, Index on Censorship; Pam Giddy, Power 2010; Jonathan Rutherford, Soundings; Hilary Wainwright, Red Pepper; Gavin Hayes, Compass; Jon Trickett MP; Sam Tarry, Young Labour; Andrew Simms, nef; Anna Coote, nef; Prof Stephen Haseler, Global Policy Institute; Prof David Blanchflower, University of Stirling; Paul Mason, author & broadcaster; Kevin Courtney, NUT; Fiona Millar; Kat Banyard, UK Feminista; Ruth Davis, Greenpeace UK; Tim Baster, Climate Outreach Information Network; Robert Falkner, LSE; Will Straw, Left Foot Forward; Alex Smith, LabourList; Ceri Goddard, Fawcett Society; Belinda Calaguas, ActionAid UK; Colin Meech, UNISON; Louise Rouse, Fair Pensions; Erin Van Der Maas, Carnegie UK Trust; Nick Dearden, Jubilee Debt Campaign; Deborah Doane, World Development Movement; Kate Hudson, CND; Seamus Milne, The Guardian; Paul Hackett, The Smith Institute; Nick Johnson, Institute of Community Cohesion; Noel Hatch, Compass Youth; Aaron Porter, NUS; Laurie Penny, Liberal Conspiracy; Ken Macdonald QC; Prof Alan Johnson, Dissent Magazine; Carolina Amador Pérez, Cuban Womens Federation; Alvaro Sanchez, Venezuelan Embassy; Louise Christian; Clifford Singer, The Other Tax Payers' Alliance - who'll be joined by other leading figures from across the progressive community
Hosting over 40 sessions organised by the leading think tanks, pressure groups, NGOS and publications all at the one event including: Action Aid, Child Poverty Action Group; Citizens UK, CND, Compass Youth, The Co-Operative Party, Carnegie UK Trust, The Electoral Reform Society, The Equality Trust, The Fabian Society, Fawcett Society, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Index on Censorship, Jubilee Debt Campaign, LabourList, Lawrence & Wishart, Left Foot Forward, New Political Economy Network, nef, NUT, NUS, One Society, Oxfam, Power 2010, Philosophy Football, Progress, Red Pepper, RENEWAL, Republic, Shelter, The Smith Institute, Social Liberal Forum, Socialist Health Association, Soundings, Tribune, UCU, UK Feminista, Vote for a Change, War On Want, World Development Movement.

Finally, Soundings is also holding its annual event (also in London) on Saturday, July 3rd. I think I've seen an email about this, but there doesn't seem to be anything on the web about it yet.

There must be other events coming up and further information would be welcome, especially anything comparable with a Green hue. But note how everything is in London - the centralising political bias of Londoncentrism remains. Can the provinces strike back?

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