Monday, 20 July 2009

Tolpuddle and rise of the left

I attended the annual gathering of trade unionists and socialists, this year with my daughter and her boy friend. The festival gets bigger each year. In 2005, when I last went with my son, we were able to get the pick of the pitches in the camp site on the Friday night. This time we only just managed to get onto the site! The parade through the village on the Sunday took almost an hour!Last year I am told they introduced for the first time an additional over-spill car park. The meeting is an important celebration of the guiding principles of trade unionism -solidarity and unity in struggle. Interestingly the presence of Labour MP's, CLP's and rank and file Labour party members appears to be less and less. The numbers of those in political organisations to the left of Labour seems to have grown each year. The Communist Party of Britain had considerable numbers. Clearly some unions give the event a real focus of importance -the RMT for example had a real presence. I had a brief conversation with Bob Crow, the leader of the RMT who informed me he was meeting that evening to discuss proposals to take forward the RMT initiated 'No2EU' coalition. In talking with other trade union activists I gained a clear sense that the demise of the Labour Party was going to herald the formation of a new party of Labour.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Crystal Palace Park

As a young lad in the 1970's my parents were keen caravaners. We were a large family and my Dad was on a relatively low wage, so foreign holidays were out of the question. Caravaning always seemed a step up from tenting -seated around a stead table, on comfortable seats and cooking on a two ring stove, which could even cooked toast -if a careful eye was kept on the bread under the grill! Real luxury. When the weather was warm and dry it was great. When wet it was as miserable as hell, stuck in a muddy field-still, I have retained a soft spot for caravans.
My reading of the funding stream for the planned improvements to the park, seems to be largely funded by the development of 180 luxury executive homes on the Caravan Club site at the top of the park. Unsurprisingly, Tory Bromley does not even make a token nod in favour of even limited affordable shared ownership, let along much needed social housing. In addition I have learned that the football pitches will also be lost! No wonder the application has been called in by the Secretary of State. The planning enquiry opened today into the master plan for the park. Lets hope the Planning Inspector decides the plan needs substantial amendments and has enough red ink in his pen! The local Labour leadership, clinging onto the last toe hold in Bromley, gives the private property speculators a clearer run to privatise a chunk of the park! Not a sqeak from Jim Dowd MP however!