CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Labour rallies with a new breath of life

23 January, 2020 — By John Gulliver

Speakers Tariq Ali, left, and Aaron Bastani

IF the rapturous atmosphere at a Labour Party rally on Thursday was anything to go by, the party may have an afterlife after all!

By contrast, a rally the week before at the same venue – the Indian YMCA in Fitzrovia – seemed to generate the atmosphere of a wake following the election debacle of the party.

But the corpse breathed again, it seemed, on Thursday. Again, unlike the previous week, the packed audience – mainly youngsters – loudly applauded platform speakers as they rounded on the leadership for refusing to back a Brexit policy, and for relying on petty parliamentary manoeuvring instead of more open public pressure.

Among the speakers was the author Tariq Ali who emphasised that a second referendum insisted on by John McDonnell had been a strategic blunder – a verdict he stated in the current edition of the London Review of Books.

A colourful speech by Aaron Bastani of Novara Media rounded on the mainstream media for biased reporting of Labour’s policies and its demonisation of Jeremy Corbyn – much of which I found it difficult to find fault with. In contrast to previous elections, the BBC’s coverage had been markedly one-sided. Wasn’t it playing safe, fearful of powerful voices among the Conservatives who want to end its licence policy?

The audience of more than 400 – possibly a Momentum crowd judging by the applause – seemed to have been given a breath of new life which they surely need as the party staggers about. Needless to say, whenever speakers said they backed Long-Bailey a good ripple of applause would follow.

Some speakers referred to the climate crisis but almost in passing – like other politicians they seem blissfully unaware of the terrible shadow hanging over the world.

They treated the subject as just one of the many problems facing the nation. It isn’t just one item, it is the only one to be really concerned about.

Turning the oil tanker around is taking too long – perhaps it is even too late!

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