At the end of July, local AWL organisers met to discuss remobilising members to respond to the economic and political upheavals that face labour movement activists as the lockdown eases. Our window for that remobilisation may be short if lockdowns are partially or fully reintroduced.
As socialist activists whose political bread-and-butter is face-to-face communication and outward-facing activity such as meetings, street protests, and picket lines, we need to learn the lessons of lockdown.
Some trade union activity has been possible in some unions, at the local level and among leftists, but mostly the central controls of unions have been shut down. Likewise the Labour Party has been shut down. Only now are local parties beginning to have decision-making meetings. As working-class people face job cuts and other economic deprivations, it is vital that we and others on the left are pushing open these organisations and making them fight the Tories.
There have been gains for the AWL. Our regular online meetings and study groups have enabled us to reach out to, and meet (albeit virtually) many new people. Our local online meetings have also been well attended.
But socialists also need to be active and visible in the offline world, and we have missed that. Activity helps all of us to develop an individual sense of what socialist ideas mean and how they can change the world. We need to stretch our demonstrating muscles, get out and sell the printed version of our paper Solidarity, talk with people on the streets, and make our solidarity work with Hong Kong and Uyghur human rights activists visible. We are asking all comrades, and others who are sympathetic, to help do that.
Local organisers also discussed preparing for the start of the university term at the end of September. All UK university students will be studying largely online at least in the first term, but most will be required to go onto campus once a week. In the first two weeks of term we will be organising many stalls in London and the big cities, to talk with as many students as we can about our political work. AWL students will host an informal online political discussion every Thursday, advertised across the UK.
We’ll begin this push to remobilise ourselves and others by attending, mobilising for and selling Solidarity at the NHS protests on Saturday 8 August.