Saturday, 23rd September and an estimated 30,000, probably more on the day, assembled in Manchester ahead of the Labour Party Conference to express frustration, anger at continued violence and deaths from foreign policy. Old friends assembled for the coach from Soho Road in Handsworth, Birmingham, comrades on the left split between a variety of organisations as New Labour took on the left and pursued its Thatcherite policies. Some had been memebers of the Socialist Alliance, others had joined Respect while some of us cling to our Labour membership. At one of the service stations we met up with our friends from the Indian Workers Association, many of whom supported Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour. New Labour were well satisfied when comrades were forced out, as was Raghib Ahsan, while interminable killings and violence were too much for others. Gurdev Manku and I were among the remnants inside Labour, still a thorn in the flesh to the increasingly discredited and beleaguered Blairites.
Albert Square by Manchester Town Hall basked in warm sunshine. Placards familar and unfamilar were held aloft as we assembled for a march around the G-mex complex where the Conference was to start the following day. Soni, Gurdev’s daughter, joined us having started her university course in Manchester a week earlier. She chose a blood spattered “Time to GO” banner and took a liking to a picture of Bush with the caption “The World’s Greatest Terrorist”. Quite so.
At one point on the march people lay down in the road with blood-stained sheets, symbolic of lives lost by ordinary woemn, children and men in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the Lebanon and elsewhere the U.S., British-backed war machine ploughed its way.
A pity the left remains so fragmented and unable to form a coherent political force, but it seems it was always so. With the rise of the Third Reich it was impossible to stop the rise of fascism in spite of the extreme dangers looming. During the May local election this year, former Labour supporters expressed their political frustration with claims of support for the B.N.P. Is this to be New Labour’s legacy?