"Philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point however is to change" - Karl Marx

This blog is my interpretation, I will do everything I can to change the world along those line

Thursday, 24 June 2010

What a difference opposition makes...

On Monday I attended a meeting at the University of Glamorgan organised by UCU, the speakers were two Labour Party members, the first Owen Smith the MP for Pontypridd, the second was the proposed candidate for the Welsh Assembly election, though his name escapes me.

As I was 11 years old in 1997 when Labour came to power this was the very first opportunity I had had to hear the wisdom of Labour in opposition. Of course I had seen bits and pieces from Labour since the election, but this was my first opportunity to see it in the flesh so to speak. But what I saw could only ever be described as pathetic.

Whilst both speakers were so keen to agree with each other and both were so keen to agree with each other and denounce the tories, in fact they were falling over each other to point out that the tories policies towards education were “ideologically driven” and of course they are correct. But what both Labour Party representatives neglected to mention was the last 13 years of a Labour government and their very own attacks on education including academies which can only be described as the ideological pursuit of the right-wing. How else could you describe the privatisation of schools?

So whilst the labour representatives were willing to condemn these tory policies and even added that the lib dems had let people down (at which point I had to chuckle as the lib dems have never been on our side, but such is the degeneration of labour that they could even say that openly) neither of them was willing to respond to questions about Labour’s own record. Neither was willing to promote any alternative other than saying that the tories were wrong in the vaguest of ways. There were a couple of other labour party members in the room who I guess would be described as the ‘grassroots activists’ and again what they said was virtually the same. Though it is also worth noting that there were move people in the room who had either resigned from the labour party or who would have joined 20-30 years ago.

The message that the Labour representatives were trying to convey although in the most of sloppy ways seemed to be, that the solution was to vote Labour, now there are several problems with that theory the main one of course was that people did and 13 years later things were worse. Secondly though as the Labour candidates acknowledged they are in a minority and they effectively have no influence over government policy, so what they were really saying is until the next election there is absolutely nothing that we can do!

This is the most disastrous of roots to take and effectively meant that Labour at this stage were attempted to quell the organised working class from organising effectively! It was left to myself to and other members of Socialist Students to publicise a demonstration at the Welsh Assembly organised by Cardiff Trades Council, after all one of the Labour representatives spoke of the need to organise effectively in trades councils but this once again proved to be hollow words.

I spoke during the meeting and despite the notable speakers from Labour on the platform and other members in attendance I was the only one to raise the need to take a campaign against cuts forward. I stated the need to build a campaign on campus amongst members of all three trade unions (UCU, Unison and GMB) as well as students and pointed out the need to extend this to the local area to other universities to colleges and throughout the local community to defend schools and other public services as well as pointing out the extreme failure and hypocrisy of the Labour strategy, well if you can call it a strategy.

The points were well received and as the meeting ended we faced many requests for more information about the Trades Council demo and others congratulated me on what I had said, which included a few trade unionists who were eager to offer me their contact details in order to build a campaign in the future.

This strategy in my view demonstrated coherently that the strategy I put forward of arguing for the need to build campaigns to defend education and attacking Labour’s record was extremely beneficial towards building links amongst organised workers and to remain outside of the Labour Party. It would be interesting to see how PhilBC over at A very public Sociologist would respond; after all he rejoined labour precisely for that very reason!

What difference does opposition make? At this stage it seems to make very little.


  1. Labour is, at this point, basically the third coalition partner.

    While I respect the work done by the UCU colleagues at Uni Glam, I have to admit I am uncertain as to the reasoning behind inviting Labour politicians to an event combatting what is essentially Labour's programme of cuts in a blue-and-yellow wrapper. In my speech to Cardiff Uni's trade unions on Monday, noting our vice-chancellor Doctor Grant's background in engineering, I paraphrased Saint-Exupery: "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." A university, to most effectively be a university, needs students to learn, lecturers to educate, support staff to keep the whole process moving. A vice-chancellor -- someone who makes £243,000 a year for doing something but nobody's quite sure what -- is a superfluous part, an inelegant component easily taken away, a waste of money.

    So too are Labour politicians: even worse, because instead of not doing the job they're designed for, they're actively counterproductive!

  2. I'll vote Labour when I want another Tony Blair, be priced out of university and a few million more slaughtered in the middle east.


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