By Vicki Morris
The London Social Forum was launched on 4 October in a lively day-long event at LSE attended by around 150 people.
The topics covered were as eclectic as the organisations offering to organise workshops on them. Life in London was examined from the point of view of transport and-in a workshop organised by No Sweat-work. Major political questions of the anti-war movement, solidarity with asylum seekers, education, Israel/Palestine, and solidarity with people in conflict zones-including now Iraq-were addressed. Inevitably there were also some frankly bizarre offerings.
A closing plenary discussed but did not vote on two opposing statements of aims, one very general indeed, provided by the majority of the event's organisers, and one far more 'programmatic' submitted by Workers' Power. This included support for ending the "occupation of Palestine": would this include the whole territory of Israel?
The LSF is the preferred British partner of the organisers of the European Social Forum. Preferred, that is, to SWP/Globalise Resistance who are manoeuvring to bring the ESF to London in 2004-entirely on their own terms-and who declined to send anyone along on Saturday, saying they did not want to give it any credibility!
The LSF can succeed and grow-if more people get involved and if it remains genuinely open and does not fall prey to the tyranny of structurelessness that would leave its initiators-nice people, but not infallible-running everything behind the scenes.
The next meeting is on Monday 25 October, details soon on the website www.londonsocialforum.org along with reports of all the workshops.