Packed meeting in Hackney
The Hackney Empire’s Marie Lloyd room was packed to capacity on Wednesday 18 October with over 100 people turning up to hear John McDonnell make his case to be leader of the Labour party.
The left-wing backbencher was joined on the platform by a host of trade union leaders. Former Hackney firefighter Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, pledged his union’s support for McDonnell’s campaign for a real Labour government and condemned the neo-liberal consensus in British politics. Maria Exall of the Communication Workers Union executive described a crisis of working-class political representation and urged union members to cast their vote for McDonnell in the coming ballots. Gill George from St Leonard’s Hospital, a member of the AMICUS executive as well as the Respect Coalition, attacked the government’s policy of privatisation in the NHS and declared that the fight to maintain a publicly funded health service would be strengthened by a victory for McDonnell.
McDonnell was received with warm enthusiasm; he criticised the government for squandering a landslide majority and shattering the hopes placed in it after years of Tory government. There are many that feel the party has lost its way. Many of the policies being pursued in government have broken up the broad coalition of support Labour has relied upon throughout its history to bring it to power. New Labour has systematically alienated section after section of our natural supporters. He attacked the failure of Tony Blair to call for an immediate ceasefire during the war in Lebanon — did he not see the same pictures of dead children as the rest of us? Warning of a real possibility of a Tory election victory unless there was a radical change of direction, he called on those who had left to rejoin the Labour Party.
John welcomed the initiative by the Hackney Trades Union Council and Leabridge Labour Party. Barry Buitekant, Labour Councillor for Haggerston, who chaired the event, said that for far too long the Labour Party had been separated from the trade union movement in Hackney.
A touch of comedy was added to the event when leading supporter of Tony Blair, chief whip Councillor Luke Akehurst was purportedly amongst the number refused entry on grounds of health and safety... (due to the large crowd).
A future meeting is planned in the south of the borough in the near future.
Amicus left unanimously endorses campaign
John McDonnell’s campaign for the Labour leadership was given a significant boost when he received the unanimous backing of Amicus Unity Gazette, the centre left campaigning group within Amicus which helped elect Derek Simpson as General Secretary.
At a national meeting of the Unity Gazette on Saturday 7 October there was an unanimous decision to campaign for John McDonnell on the basis of the policy programme he is endorsing, in particular his support for pensioners, trade union rights, council housing and an independent foreign policy.
This added to the warm reception McDonnell received following his address to the CWU London Regional Executive on 3 October, and the developing relationship with the left activist organisations within other Labour affiliates shows that the John4leader campaign is already making substantial headway despite the media black-out.
John McDonnell MP said: “The support of the Amicus Unity Gazette for this campaign is critically important. It demonstrates that there is a growing determination at grassroots level amongst party members and affiliates to have a say in this election. This shows that Amicus members are not prepared to be told that the future leadership of the party is a forgone conclusion.”
“At meetings all over the country it is clear that there is a subterranean momentum gathering which is impossible for the New Labour elite to control. People want to see Labour take a radical change of direction which reconnects us with our supporters.”
(Why not use this as a model in your union).
The AMICUS Clerkenwell and St Pancras branch welcomes the announcement by John McDonnell MP to stand for the leadership of the Labour Party which will ensure there will be an election for the post. The Branch also notes that already General Secretary Derek Simpson has given his support to Jon Cruddas MP as a candidate for deputy leader of the Labour Party.
The Branch welcomes John McDonnell’s set of six key policy pledges in his leadership campaign
1. Withdrawal of British troops from Iraq .
2. End to privatisation.
3. Abolition of student fees and full support for comprehensive education.
4. Restoration of civil liberties and trade union rights.
5. A green energy policy based upon renewable power sources.
6. Increase in the Basic State Pension and the immediate restoration of the earnings link.
This Branch agrees that in the forthcoming Labour Party leadership election:
1. The Branch will recommend a vote for John McDonnell in the ballot of AMICUS members to decide which candidate our union supports.
2. The Branch will issue publicity in support of the John McDonnell campaign.
3. The Branch mandates any delegates to Constituency Labour Parties to which it is affiliated to endorse the candidature of John McDonnell in any votes of recommendation or nomination.