In message <20010223154245.MEBL29541.email@example.com>, schulte-
>Just off the cuff, what might possibly be useful is to get support
>from a protest group, linked with an active political movement.
>But is there a significant protest group, for example, concerned with
>the activism at Seattle, Washington, Melbourne, Davos?
>I doubt it.
The UK omens look promising, the precedents less so. George Monbiot, UK
campaigning environmentalist addressed a ragged army of 500 anti-
globalisation protesters in Manchester recently as part of UK tour. He
and his caravan had an audience of 500 in Glasgow and one of 1300 in
London. Here's how I described the event in a mail list note.
Army is the wrong word; it was an aggregate of loosely
affiliated people I saw when the Resist Globalisation tour reached
Manchester yesterday, Friday 9th February, with its huge banner
proclaiming Our World Is Not For Sale. Over 500 attended the various
workshops and the plenary session, representing a number of groups. The
Socialist Workers Party and the Bookmarx bookstall were in evidence, as
were the Green Party, Socialist Alliance, Tamils, Earth First, RMT
Union, UNISON and a number of local lobbies concerning council housing,
loss of local amenities. There were many young people such as students
from Manchester, Salford, Sheffield and Keele, who identified themselves
There was opportunity for many participants to say their piece
and there were keynote speakers, such as Kevin Danaher (Seattle), George
Monbiot, Hilary Wainwright, Lindsey German. They've already visited
London, Scotland, Coventry and Birmingham. Then it's Liverpool today
and Sheffield tomorrow: that's a punishing schedule. This brief report
can only touch on some features that seemed significant to me.
First the huge turnout, noted above. Undoubtedly the largest
political rally in many years in this city (the same remark was made
about the London event).
Next a kind of resentful bewildering incoherence of the event,
but it was not the politics of envy, but as Neil Kinnock once said, it's
the ethics of community. Yes it was well organised in terms of the
workshops and the schedule was fairly well maintained. The resentment
turned into anger as speakers gave first-hand testimony to situations
they had encountered where they had no voice or their representatives
were not heard, or where even worse, councillors or MPs from the Labour
party seemed to be part of the problem: Manchester MPs Graham Stringer,
Gerald Kaufman, Keith Bradley, and Paul Goggins seemed not to be
present. The RMT and ASLEF trade unions were being harassed by the
legal system over their activities, there were stories of councillors
pretending to resist privatisation of housing while becoming directors
of housing trusts. It was said of Hilary Armstrong (due to speak at the
CSM conference in Durham), that her husband is an adviser on Housing
Trust management. George Monbiot gave a detailed account of one PFI
operation in Coventry where the request for government funds to renovate
two hospitals was refused and the management told to seek PFI help. The
outcome was a hugely expensive replacement which will offer fewer beds
and fewer staff on completion - a familiar story. The brief testimony
from a Kenyan post grad student about World Bank/IMF policies was heard
in silence: her mother and other elders of the church having little
except sympathy to offer to the sick, confine their activities to care
of the dying and burial of the dead.
One topic figures in so many of these complaints - money. And
when I read a free copy of Socialist Worker I read reports from all
around the UK of similar unrest about PFI, poverty, poor housing, asylum
seekers, and a parliamentary system that appears immune to these cries.
The media seem pretty cowed by economic orthodoxy, and although the
Guardian does have George Monbiot's column most weeks, little direct
criticism of the money system ever appears. Larry Elliott, the G's
economics editor says of the Tobin tax that there is no interest in it
in the places where it matters: Frankfurt, NY, London and Tokyo.
I just have to start again about the presentation of monetary
reform ideas. The half dozen or so young students I met seemed bemused
by the conference and even more so by my attempts to explain what
monetary reform is about. Corporate Britain seems impregnable, the
opposition ill-organised yet numerous. One hopeful sign is that the SWP
seems prepared to co-operate with others to help form a coalition,
according to Chris Harman. Which reminds me to write to him about
money. Sheila Rowbotham could not answer my question about who on the
left knows about money. CCMJ activists have all their work cut out to
address the churches!
We, too, have a world to win. I start again on Saturday in
Leeds at a conference on money, where I shall have a valuable leaflet
based on Geoffrey's TTM. Incidentally, Mark Seddon, editor of Tribune,
the Labour Left weekly, rang me today to reassure me that my article
based on TTM will appear at the end of March or beginning of April. Dum
spiro spero (while I breathe I hope) was the motto of Philip Doddridge
18c Independent minister and hymn-writer. I welcome the gritty
encouragement of people like that who knew that they were not called to
be successful, but to be faithful.