the Disillusioned kid: Labouring under delusions
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Friday, February 23, 2007

Labouring under delusions

The other night I was invited to a Labour Against the War meeting in Nottingham. As the event was limited to Labour Party members and their friends, I had to pretend to be Tom's friend, although I suppose that's better than having to pretend to be a party member. Entry requirements aside, the event provided an interesting insight into the plight of deluded progressive elements within the party.

Maya Evans and Milan Rai from Justice Not Vengeance (neither of whom are party members as far as I'm aware) discussed the burdgeoning conflict with Iran and the ongoing assault on our civil liberties. As ever Mil was incisive and informative. Maya ran through territory with which I am more familiar, but her personal experiences (she was the first person arrested under Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 after she read out the names of the dead in Iraq outside Downing Street) were something I hadn't heard before.

Mohammed Azam from the National Assembly Against Racism arrived late after getting lost in the Meadows. Once he got underway he laid into the BNP and urged party members to make anti-racism central to their campaigning. While none of this was particularly disagreeable, it equally didn't strike me as particularly original.

Christine Shawcroft from the Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) meanwhile hit all the right notes on Iran and Trident, but decided to couple that with the hoary old cliche about "reclaiming the party," even encouraging people to rejoin "for peace." It would presumably be churlish to point out here that the combined forces of the nine people in the audience (of whom I was one) is likely to be insufficient to reclaim anything more impressive than the local bus shelter. Not that this seemed to lessen Christine's apparently boundless enthusiasm.

The key-note speaker was to have been Alan Simpson, Labour MP for Notingham South. He's always an interesting speaker and I'd figured he'd be even more so following his announcement over the weekend that he was standing down as an MP. Unfortunately, Alan was defeated by the complexities of the British public transport system, i.e. he got of at the wrong station and missed the meeting entirely.

My conclusion at the end of the evening was that the reclamation of the Labour Party is dead in the water. It's time to put the old girl out of her misery. This isn't a great surprise to me, but I hope it gave some of the people there pause for thought.

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