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9 September 2008

Real passion at the TUC fringe

Martin Bright finds anger and genuine belief but not necessarily the right answers at the Morning St

By Martin Bright

There is nothing like a visit to TUC to remind you of the passion with which some people still pursue their politics. The Morning Star fringe this lunchtime paraded three of the most passionate men in British politics.

Mark Serwotka of the PCS and Bob Crow of the RMT argued for a new political movement to represent the interests of the working man and woman, while Derek Simpson of Unite argued that trade unionists should fight to change the Labour Party.

The rhetoric was sulphurous. Crow said that while the Labour Party supported big business and privatisation there would sooner or later be the need for a new party. What is the point of the electorate having a choice between three Tory parties, he concluded? Well quite.

Mark Serwotka said that the government was loathed by working men and women. He did not want his children to be faced with being told to vote Labour only because a bad Labour government would always be better than a good Tory one.

It was actually good to see someone addressing the issue of the politics of the lesser evil. But I’m not convinced a new party is the answer.

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Derek Simpson agreed with the Crow-Serwotka analysis but felt that the answer could only be found by changing the Labour Party from within. He’s not quite as good a speaker but he had some good phrases. “We can indulge ourselves in a wish for something better, but walk into something worse” was good. He also said, rather movingly: “Some of us are not going to live to see another Labour government if the Tories get in and we won’t see another political party.”

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It would be easy to caricature these three men. But their passion was real. Their points were well made. But I came away thinking: set up this new political party, true to the values of socialism. Or transform the Labour Party along the same lines. But for goodness sake stop talking about it and get on with doing it.