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  • Progressive London conference

    by Sunny
    24th January, 2009 at 4:55 pm    

    Hello all!
    I’m live blogging from the Progressive London conference in central London, organised by Ken Livingstone to set up a more active coalition against Boris. The place is packed with several hundred people thronging various sessions and talks. I’m actually surprised it’s so busy, which indicates there are a lot of people out there still annoyed with Boris’s win.

    More on the sessions later… there’s a blogging event later with Tory Troll and Tom/BorisWatch speaking. Right now the main session is with Ken Livingstone, Bonnie Greer, Eric Hobsbawm, Harriet Harman and Jon Cruddas.
    Ken spoke first and gave us a broad history lesson about economics and the environment. Bonnie then made some predictions about where she sees the world going - including the dissolution of race and racial differences.
    Prof Eric Hobsbawm is giving a speech also focusing on the economic crisis. This has been a big topic today and you won’t be surprised to hear there has been plenty of big corporations that didn’t pay their taxes, neo-liberal capitalism and New Labour’s part in all this.
    Have we developed an alternative narrative yet? Remains to be seen…

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    Filed in: Events,London Politics

    17 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

      [...] impressed with the energy devoted to addressing the new political and economic circumstances.   Sunny Hundal posted on Pickled Politics from Congress House on the day. “The place is packed with several hundred [...]

    1. Boyo — on 24th January, 2009 at 5:11 pm  

      Sunny, you’re saying everything thrice!

    2. Rumbold — on 24th January, 2009 at 5:32 pm  

      Oops- corrected.

    3. Cyburn — on 24th January, 2009 at 5:42 pm  

      Well I dont care much for Boris myself, he is at least better than RED KEN

    4. SE — on 24th January, 2009 at 6:54 pm  

      Pretty much a stupid nickname made by the right.

    5. MaidMarian — on 24th January, 2009 at 7:22 pm  

      Narrative does not matter - it really doesn’t. There is plenty of narrative, in fact there probably is too much narrative.

      You just need to get someone to vote for it.

    6. marvin — on 24th January, 2009 at 7:35 pm  

      Err, SE, Ken has been known as Red Ken for yonks, by both lefties and righties.

    7. A.H.S. Mohamood — on 24th January, 2009 at 9:36 pm  

      Hi everyone,

      I hope Progressive London stays as an ecumenical thing and doesn’t become a long campaign for Ken (who I do support). If we are to prise back London from the Tory boys then Labour, Lib Dems and the Greens need to come together as they easily represent the majority.

    8. SE — on 24th January, 2009 at 11:27 pm  

      “Err, SE, Ken has been known as Red Ken for yonks, by both lefties and righties”

      I’ve never seen anyone on the left call him that, just the boris-lovers (Mostly Righties)

    9. marvin — on 25th January, 2009 at 1:00 am

      You really are a twat SE. He’s far left. Everyone knows that.

    10. ac256 — on 25th January, 2009 at 10:12 am  

      There is just nothing progressive about Red Ken. The word progressive seems to be used by lefties to mean lefty, and to try unsuccessfully to deny the word to progressive conservatives.

      The disolution of race- now there’s solid proof that the left are leaving race politics in the 20th century. That’s a cool narrative :)

    11. chairwoman — on 25th January, 2009 at 11:02 am  

      “Err, SE, Ken has been known as Red Ken for yonks, by both lefties and righties”

      I’ve never seen anyone on the left call him that, just the boris-lovers (Mostly Righties)

      Is being wrong a career choice SE? Red Ken was a soubriquet applied to him, as a complement, by the Left about 30 years ago.

    12. cjcjc — on 25th January, 2009 at 2:41 pm  

      Several hundred - is that a high or low number?

      How were Galloway and Bungle?

    13. chairwoman — on 25th January, 2009 at 3:08 pm  

      cjcjc - Bungle and George had gone to tea with Zippy and Geoffrey.

    14. billericaydicky — on 25th January, 2009 at 6:13 pm  

      Certainly in his GLC days he revelled in the name Red Ken even though it was bestowed on him by the newspapers that disagreed with him, that was everything except the Mirror and the Guardian!

      The Politics Show was good today especially Nick Cohen who I like, I know a lot of people don’t but everyone is entitled to their opinions. His book “What’s Left” just showed why the left is like the French Royal family, they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. And, like the Bourbons, they are being punished for it.

      I don’t know if anyone out there has actually read the book but I suspect that it is one of those things that everyone disapproves because they have heard it is reactionary from somebody else but have never actually gone to the extent of reading it.

      When I read it I saw all of the arguments that I have been having with the left for years down on paper and Cohen was correct today when he said that Progressive London was the last fling of the generation of 1968.

      Every single one of those speaking is a has been, the world has moved on and they either don’t realise that or won’t admit it. To them the election of Johnson is some kind of right wing military coup which they now have to oppose with all their might or the forces of democracy are to be smashed under the jackboots of Young Conservative Storm Troopers.

      What non of them understand is that it is precisely because of their antics that Johnson is Mayor. I have told this story before and I will tell it again and it sums up why Livingstone lost and why, the left don’t wise up, they will keep on losing.

      The day that Livingstone made his apology for slavery and shed his crocodile tears I was meeting someone in a pub in that part of London where it merges into Essex. It was early evening and that much maligned figure, white van man, was having a few beers before heding off home and the car park was filling up with vans and lorries.

      Also arriving was WVM’s relations suited and booted from their jobs in the city. When Livingston was shown making the apology on their behalf, because that was what he was doing, the place went ballistic. The telly was turned off and turned around. I sat in the corner and thought to myself “Ken, you’ve justlost the election”.

      What Livingstone did was to forget that white van people, chavs and Essex girls have votes and on election day used them. They were sick and tired of being called racists and seeng millions poured into the various scams dreamed up by Lee Jasper and co while they were struggling to pay bills.

      Livingstone’s constituency was reduced to people who belive that there is little difference between the Tories and the BNP and ethnic minorities. The black press ran hysterical campaign which verged on the racist but in the end those much maligned trailer trash whites were the deciding factor.

      What happened at the TUC yesterday is an end not a beginning and is probably little more than an attempt to position Livingstone for a run as an independent in 2012 because I very much doubt if the Labour Party will have him again.

      The centre left are in the wilderness and will stay there until they take a long hard look at why they are in the wilderness. Unfortunately they are not yet ready as they are repeating the same old mantras. There is a lot of ideological baggage to be dumped and in all of the rhetoric of the last week or so it seems to have escaped everyones attention that the BNP is making steady progress.

      On Thursday they came withing eight votes of taking a seat in Bexley in South London beating Labour into third place. This is what you should all be worried about not the antics of a bunch of intolerant left wing has beens.

      Let me make some predictions. In six months PL will have run into the sand. Whenever the next election is Galloway will lose to Jim Fitzpatrick in Limehouse, Respect will have disappeared as its remaining Cllrs in Tower Hamlets will have done deals with the other parties to change sides, get the nominations to bring their voting blocks with them so they can keep their ten grand a year allowances. Salma Yakoob will have joined Labour and Nick Griffin could be in the European Parliament in Brussels.

      Let’s get some eyes on the prize here. We face the greatest threat from the far right in a generation and still the deck chairs are being arranged on the deck of the Titanic while the band plays on. Wake up please.

    15. Dave Cole — on 26th January, 2009 at 1:21 pm  

      I share some of the worries about over-emphasising the narrative, but there did seem to be a general trend at a few of the talks I went to.

      1 - London became over-reliant on the City and we now have to find a replacement. That could be green technology.

      2 - the BNP are a threat, immediately in the Euro-elections, and will still be a threat in the next London election

      3 - Ken didn’t appeal enough to better-off, outer London voters and wasn’t seen to do enough on knife crime.

      If anyone’s interested, more thoughts over at my place.


    16. Noel — on 27th January, 2009 at 9:16 pm  

      It seemed from the conference that there are alternative narratives - moving from the “what worked” under Ken (living wage, congestion charge, etc) to the “what matters” (fairness, care & solidarity) which…well really matters lot in how we frame our responses to the recession to Londoners out there who are really feeling the bite.

      But is it enough to bring together politicians from across the “progressive spectrum” to show our solidarity on issues like Heathrow or the living wage which portray that alternative narrative to the government? Is it enough to congratulate ourselves on getting such a massive turnout at the conference? People will be fairly interested in a range of issues but there’ll be one issues that really drives them - whether it’s Gaza or civil liberties - these wedge issues were all represented…but there was no mechanism for people to take these forward from the grassroots…

      It slightly astonished me when Ken talked about all the networking to get this conference off the ground, but surely this should be the start of something not just the ultimate hangover cure from the elections?

      At our “young london” workshop, the room was packed out - with people but mainly with ideas - mentoring scheme for young people to get into green jobs, youth mayor for London with a capacity building budget, making CRB checks portable, a virtual youth club and cooperative schools. To be honest, with an hour an half and with four exciting speakers that we were keen to listen to as well, as well as competing against other heavweight sessions at the same time, we were scared that either no-one would turn up or not many people would want to put forward, let alone work out together what campaigns we should take forward for young Londoners.

      To be even more honest, the winning idea, making CRB checks portable to enable more people (young or old!) to take part in volunteering, isn’t something that we may have thought of on our NEC, but we committed to campaign on idea that won most votes and that’s what we’ll do. In fact, we’ll support people who want to take forward the other campaigns put forward.

      Why? Because if you give people an inch, they’ll give you a mile…oh, and because we enabled people to give us their email addresses so we can get in touch with them in doing this. It’s pretty basic, but if you ain’t got their contact details, how are you going to build a progressive coalition?

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