40-50 there. 5 AWL, Socialist Appeal, PR, CPGB/WW. Most others local W. Yorkshire activists.
The meeting was chaotically organised but came down to a discussion about how to fight the BNP while waiting for speakers to arrive, speeches from MPs and Brian Caton, Gen. Sec. of the POA and then a discussion with McDonnell on the situation in the LP and where to go now. Caton's speech was interesting for our discussion of the POA dispute - I'll write something separate about that.
The discussion on the future of the LP was dominated by a clear line between those for whom last week's decision on LP Conference was a turning point (us, McDonnell, PR) and those for whom it was 'business as usual' (Soc. Appeal and many of the non-aligned activists). Socialist Appeal set the tone for the second group by just getting up and literally shouting 'You have to be in the Labour Party', without any indication of what it was possible to do there (other than taking positions in moribund Labour Parties).
McDonnell argued very strongly that last week was a turning point but rather than proposing anything practical to reverse it, seemed to say the game was up and "the old strategy was over.. and the idea of the unions reclaiming the LP had failed too." (This despite him saying he thought the left could have won at Bournemouth "if the trade unions had drawn a line in the sand.")
His contribution largely consisted of the position outlined in the document posted above, i.e. that we should go outside the LP to link up with all sorts of campaigns in building a sort of general counter-hegemonic movement for socialism. In this, the unions are just one social movement among many.
It occurred to me that this is probably in his head something of a re-run of the GLC of the 80s. The whole package was contradictory in that despite saying the left could do nothing effective in the LP, he didn't advocate leaving or an alternative. Rather he saw this action outside the LP as somehow creating an atmosphere such that the left inside the LP could no longer be marginalised despite the absence of democratic structures. The idea that these movements and the unions required political representation was totally left out of his speech - it obviously reflects the fact that he has discovered the 'anti-capitalist' movement.
Accordingly, he sees the role of the LRC as the structure that will bring together the social movements and LP activists and is intending to propose that LRC conference is thrown open to all the social movements however defined. Whatever the merits of this in the abstract, it amounts to a major de-focussing of the LRC from the practical steps it could take now to prepare a fightback against Brown's plan
and preparing the ground for an alternative in the event of our defeat.