Minutes of the 5th meeting of Left Unity Leamington Spa, 12 September 2013, at Gaia
Present: Ally, Colin, David, Lynn, Mary-Ann, Maureen, Nigel, Peter, Roger, Skip, Stuart, Tim
Apologies: Anna, Kate, Rob, Sharon, Trevor
Minutes of previous meeting: Agreed.
Matters arising: Lynn gave a report of the NCG meeting in Birmingham on 7 September. See notes previously circulated. It was agreed that Ally be our representative at the next NCG in London on 19 October. Stuart to look into transport arrangements for the founding conference in November.
The group continued its ongoing discussion of what kind of left party we want to build. We started by looking at some of the differences between the Left Party and Socialist platforms, then moved on to a passionate discussion of more practical and personal issues: the viciousness of the current government’s ‘austerity’ measures, the situation in Leamington, including our MPs’ and council’s collusion in it, and the rich/poor divide in the town – how the poor ‘dark side’ is glossed over in the media and hidden from public life by the selling off and destruction of public buildings and community ventures and their replacement with shopping malls and cafes.
We discussed how ‘austerity’ is actually just a cover for an attack on the working class, lowering wages and working conditions (zero-hours contracts, etc), demonising benefit claimants, and destroying the welfare state. How austerity is actually affecting people – we heard personal stories of job losses and struggles with poverty and ill health. The dismantling and privatising of the NHS, and how this is proceeding locally, with the worst still to come. The coming Post Office privatisation, and how we should be prepared to support coming strikes and protests.
The group felt that our new left party must prioritise these sorts of issues – not just in supporting or organising the next campaign, but in ongoing community and solidarity work. It was felt that these are really the most important things, and that our group locally, and the new party nationally, and the founding conference, should not get too bogged down in debates about platforms and so on at the expense of campaigning priorities. At the same time, we can’t solely be about such campaigns or single issues – we need to create something more permanent, that will remain and keep building after whatever the current priority campaign is has died down.
Leamington against the bedroom tax:
It was agreed that this should be the main focus of our campaigning locally and that we should build towards holding a public meeting as soon as possible. Roger to follow up his Freedom of Information request to the council and report back. Skip to continue his great work organising the protests (every Saturday, town hall, 12pm) and to build up a list of names and contacts of people who will be affected. Stuart to organise leaflets. Colin to put the word about at Brunswick Healthy Living Centre. Skip and Pete to do the same at the Sydenham community centre. Stuart to write to the local press.
We now have a Facebook page, Twitter account and blog (see top of these minutes). If anyone has material they’d like shared on these, please just send to Stuart (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Stuart has discussed with people from Birmingham, Coventry and Northampton groups. Agreed good idea, but to leave till after founding conference. Perhaps Christmas drinks in Birmingham?
Spirit of ’45 showing:
Spirit of ’45 showing in conjunction with Leamington Underground Cinema (http://leamingtonundergroundcinema.wordpress.com) and Leamington Arts and Music Project (http://leamingtonlamp.co.uk). At LAMP on 8 November at 7.30pm. Free entry. Publicity and press being organised by Stuart in cooperation with LUC and LAMP.
Note: Please support LUC’s film festival: http://leamingtonundergroundcinema.wordpress.com/festival-2013/
You must become a founding member AND pay an attendance fee to attend this conference. Amounts are very modest. See the home page of the website (http://leftunity.org) for details. The conference will only decide on the new party’s:
n Aims – including voting on platform statements and so on – and party name.
n Campaigning priorities – anti-austerity, anti-racism, and so on.
n Policy on elections.
n Internal democratic structures and election procedures.
Agreed to discuss these in more detail next time.
Next meeting: 3 October: Agreed to hold at Leamington LAMP (http://leamingtonlamp.co.uk/info-media/where-is-lamp/), 7.30pm (to be confirmed).
£14.50 + £6.80 (from last time) – £12 (meeting room hire) = £9.30. Agreed to discuss setting up bank account next time.
Notes and links
Become a founding member:
Contact email addresses here (just write and say that you’d like to be involved and the convenor will contact you to tell you more): http://leftunity.org/policy-commissions/
Discussion forum here (you’ll need to register before contributing, clink on ‘Register’ link in top right hand corner, just under the banner): http://forum.leftunity.org/main/
28 September: Manchester: Left Unity policy conference. Open discussion and debate only. No decisions to be taken. All welcome.
29 September. Manchester: Demonstration against Tory party conference.
3 October: Leamington Spa meeting, Leamington LAMP (http://leamingtonlamp.co.uk/info-media/where-is-lamp/), 7.30pm (to be confirmed).
11 October: Deadline for submission of statements, resolutions, etc, for founding conference. See below for what will be decided at the founding conference.
16 October: All statements and resolutions and so on will be circulated to local groups for discussion, amendment and compositing.
19 October. London: NCG. Leamington delegate to be decided.
8 November. Spirit of ’45 showing at Leamington LAMP, 7.30pm, free entry.
16 November: Deadline for submission of amendments.
22 November: Statements, resolutions and amendments circulated to local groups.
30 November. London: Left Unity founding conference.
December: Regional Christmas meet-up and social? Date to be confirmed.