Just come back from a Southend Against The Cuts meeting. This was pretty well attended. This organisation brings together those who are broadly opposed to the austerity regime of the current Conservative and Liberal Democrat Government. It would be fair to say it has a fair mix of views, and a number of political parties are represented. Labour usually has the most representatives in attendance, but there are a smattering of Greens, Communists, and Socialist Workers Party activists as well. I do not know everyone’s allegiance, but I know most. It is a broad alliance of trade unionists (mostly) who want to change the Government’s direction, if not a change of Government.
Tonight a number of decisions were made.
There will be a hustings arranged for the week commencing April 20th. The exact date and venue has yet to be set, but a start time of 7.30pm is almost certain.
There will be one representative from each of the parties contesting the General Election in the two Southend constituencies; well, almost. There was a bit of a debate over whether UKIP should be invited to attend.
I thought UKIP should be invited. Unfortunately I was heavily out-voted and they will not be asked to attend. Whilst I respect the democratic decision (it was carried on a decisive show of hands) I am still convinced it was the wrong decision.
Those present felt that UKIP’s anti-union policies ruled them out. Having unfriendly policies should not exclude anyone from a public debate, not in my opinion anyway. I can understand a no platform policy for parties like the BNP, NF and English Democrats, but despite my view of UKIP’s policies I can see there is some daylight between what they stand for and fascism.
Hustings organisers are free to include or exclude who they want; I am not sure how this decision will encourage the undecided along. I am very supportive of trade unions, I belong to one myself. The debate was not acrimonious, not at all. However, I am keen to ensure that this is not seen as a decision endorsed by me. I repeat, I am still convinced it was a mistake. At our next meeting I will ask for this decision to be reconsidered.
There is going to be a May Day celebration on May 2nd (Saturday), with a stall of some sorts at the north end of Southend’s High Street. Southend Against The Cuts annual general meeting will be held after the General Election, and is likely to combined with a public meeting of some sorts (possibly examining what the election results means for trade unionists). There is also going to be some leafleting on Saturdays in the High Street, with an emphasis on the future of the National Health Service.