ESF in London...as resources allow!

Submitted by vickim on 23 December, 2003 - 9:42

There were about 200 people at the European preparatory meeting for the ESF (in Britain) on Saturday 13/Sunday 14 December; good attendance from all over Europe. About 100 people from Britain, though not the range of organisations yet that will need to be involved if the ESF is to be a big success.
I attended on Sunday.
Comprehensive reports - not mine! - are at Indymedia - http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2003/12/282866.html - and at http://www.mobilise.org.uk/view/ESF/EuroAssemblyDec03
This is my brief report of how things stand.
The bid to bring the ESF to London has been put forward by the SWP and CND, mainly, in a bureaucratic way, to the consternation of many activists in the social movements.
It was hoped that the Greater London Authority and London mayor Ken Livingstone would back the bid, but it transpires that they cannot put in much money. They are unlikely to support the bid at all if a substantial amount of the money needed - £1 million at least - cannot be found by the start of March. So far, no other major source of funding has been found.
The next European preparatory meeting is on 6-7 March, and it is then that the decision will be taken whether the London bid can proceed or whether another location/time must be found.
There was acrimony during discussions about how to get the structures of the organisation as open as possible, especially given widespread distrust of the SWP. But on the positive side, a number of open working groups were set up to deal with the various aspects - e.g., practicalities (first met 18 Dec); programme group (first meets 10 Jan); culture group (first meets 17 Jan). More details of these groups are at http://www.mobilise.org.uk/view/ESF/EuroAssemblyDec03
Crucially, there will be the first planned UK assembly for the London ESF on 24 January. Without our "European" brothers and sisters present to guarantee fair play, there might be big battles over procedure between the SWP and the autonomist current; it might well break down in complete disorder.
The European preparatory meeting discussed and confirmed some dates for common European political action in the spring; these are likely to be fluid but you could put them in your diaries in case:
· February 15: anti-privatisation protests in cooperation with the European trade union movement (might be called off because anticipates April 2-3 below…)
· March 20: anti-war protests on the first anniversary of the start of the war against Iraq;
· April 2-3: ETUC has called two days of action against the dismantling of state welfare provision
· May 9: protests against the proposed European Union constitution, which had been due for ratification on that date (might be called off because… there might not be an EU constitution! Nice to see that the bosses fall out, as well.)
Vicki Morris

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