A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Disagreeing with Hopi (but only once)

It's not often I disagree with Hopi Sen but I will now politely proceed to do so.

He says here - http://hopisen.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/talking-bout-a-nationalpolicyforum/ - that:

"I’ve always personally been sceptical about the value of street protests. Mostly because I went on quite a few as a student, all of which did sod all good, and most of which hijacked by idiots, usually SWP idiots.

With one exception, I’ve felt that the British street protests I’ve seen as an adult have been damaging to the cause they promoted. The one exception was the Iraq war. So I tend to think of them as a mistake, even if I have sympathy for the cause."

On one level he is right. There is very little chance that street protests will get a Government with a majority to change its policies. And as we have already seen, and I have already blogged about, there are the usual Trot and anarchist groupings who will try to hijack them. They are not "idiots" though Hopi, they are extremely clever and calculating.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't both attend and organise demonstrations against the Coalition's cuts.

  • Morally I am not prepared to leave the public protest and opposition to the cuts to school kids. We all - Labour activists, trade unionists and councillors - need to stand up and be counted and provide political leadership against the Coalition for our communities.
  • Because silence and lack of protest will be taken by the Government and media as acquiescence or apathy in the face of the cuts. It'll just encourage them to go further, faster.
  • Because people are angry and sad and they need a forum and an activity to express their political discontent. We can't expect people to sit passively and wait for the next General Election in five years time. In the interim we have to provide people with a channel for political expression and protest.
  • If we don't organise and lead protest the SWP or other malign forces will. The Coalition's policies are creating a generation of radicalised young people. We as democratic socialists need to be mobilising them, otherwise we'll lose them to the paper sellers. If we lead protests we get to steward them and liaise with the police to maximise the chances they are peaceful. If we don't, you get an increased chance of chaos and violence. The more of us that go on each march, the more we dilute the percentage of extremists on each one.

So I think mainstream Labour and trade union activists should all be building for the highest possible turnout at the TUC National Demonstration against the cuts on 26 March 2011 (http://www.tuc.org.uk/mediacentre/tuc-18709-f0.cfm) and where we have the weight of numbers organising local protests before that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What this war needs is a futile gesture...

11:13 pm, November 25, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you demonstrate when Labour introduced tuition hees in 1998?

Did you demonstrate when Labour tripled tuition fees in 2004 breaking their election pledge?

So ok for lefties to triple tuition fees but totally unacceptable for any other government to do the same.

Are you telling us that Labour,if they had been re-elected,would have ignored the Browne report that they actually commissioned.

A little more sincerity and less hypocrisy might start to restore some credibilty to your party.

2:20 am, November 26, 2010

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I didn't demonstrate in 1998 because I agreed, and still agree with the very small tuition fees introduced then.

I publicly opposed the 2004 Top-Up fees throughout my selection and election campaign as PPC for Castle Point.

8:53 am, November 26, 2010

Blogger Hughes Views said...

I agree about protests against cuts but I don't think tuition fees is the right cause.

Since the abolition of up front fees in 2004 I can think of no very good reason to oppose fees. Why shouldn't graduates contribute to the cost of their education?

My generation had it "free" but only a handful of people went to university and when I graduated standard rate tax was at 33% so I was still paying more than my children do (28%) and not only on the bit of my income above the equivalent of £18,000 as they have to.

If anyone can propose a better system that doesn't mean taking money away from other budgets I'd love to know what it is. The "I'd prefer a graduate tax" line is weaker than a ten stone weakling with sand in his face.

Hopi is right, a genuine cause for complaint is the coalition's callous abolition of EMA that encouraged children from poor families to stay on to do A levels.

11:35 am, November 26, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having faced demonstrations in a crowd contol and policing role, I have witnessed first hand how quickly they can be hijacked by those of a different agenda. Then when facing the vicious hatred that can ensue, the mindless criminal damage and the intent to inflict serious injury on fellow citizens who are just doing their job, I have always wondered what purpose is served.

For the life of me I cannot see how such can further any legitimate cause and, if anything, is more likely to turn the great law abiding majority against it. Some TU leaders one accepts as often having little savvy but why would responsible politicians want to risk being associated with criminal behaviour?

12:12 pm, November 26, 2010

Blogger Conor Foley said...

Quite right. Amazing to hear John Humphrey affecting surprise that Ed Miliband might attend a peaceful demonstration at some point in the future.

12:50 pm, November 26, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I’ve always personally been sceptical about the value of street protests. Mostly because I went on quite a few as a student, all of which did sod all good, and most of which hijacked by idiots, usually SWP idiots"

"Because silence and lack of protest will be taken by the Government and media as acquiescence or apathy in the face of the cuts. It'll just encourage them to go further, faster."

Luke has clearly contradicted himself here. The second statement is actually correct. Governments generally do not advertise the fact that demonstrations are affecting their behaviour. However, if you look at the politicians' memoirs, then they often do admit it.

2:40 pm, November 26, 2010

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Anon 2.40pm the first of those 2 statements is from Hopi Sen, not me. That's why it's in quote marks.

10:21 pm, November 26, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bit late to rally to the trade unionist, isn't it? No government in the last thirty years has come out for the trade unionist, I'd hate to see infighting within the ranks when the trade unionist finds himself alongside a parliamentarian who would stand up and tell BA staff to go back to work, fail to backdate police pay rises and destroy the civil service

11:50 pm, November 26, 2010

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Luke was quoting the first time and I did not notice. Apologies to all concerned.

10:24 am, November 27, 2010


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