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.