Left Unity Leeds Meeting Report (17.4.13)

Really good first full meeting of the Leeds Left Unity group. Twenty-three in attendance, would have had thirty plus but for apologies for absence and a little unfortunate misdirection which strikes me as a great start with a good turnout, I think possibly a damn sight better than many of us might have expected so that’s a win!

Fairly mixed bunch drawn from a number of disparate groups / traditions: trade unions, single issue campaigns like Hands Off Our Homes, Keep Our NHS Public, current and ex-members of the usual suspects as far as activist parties of the left are concerned, and those with no real or recent history of activism but perhaps feeling that desperate times call for desperate measures like myself, the emphasis being very much on the formation of a new, inclusive, broad coalition with no particular ties to, or priveleging of any one of them. Key concept I think was the recognition that we need to start over on the left to an extent and work once more from the ground up, reaching out and engaging at grass roots, local community level in a properly meaningful and constructive way with campaigning that has a real chance of changing people’s lives for the better.

Some lively discussion with input from I think pretty much everyone there to a greater or lesser degree, covered some important ground once the agenda had been decided on and further discussed. Some of the things we decided we wanted to support for example were sending the two members we elected between us down to the Left Unity Delegates Meeting in London in May, providing what help and funding we could, the Hands Off Our Homes bedroom tax protest in Leeds this Saturday, the May Day event in Leeds city centre and the UAF anti-EDL rally in North Leeds that same day, and the Band Together to Save the NHS event in June.

On the whole a most encouraging meeting for me personally as someone whose activist days were fleeting to begin with and long in my student past, and hoping to find a clear direction in which to focus my frustration, anger and absolute disgust with the state of politics in our so-called ‘democracy’. It felt good to be there and be a part of it, I’d strongly encourage those who didn’t attend but are maybe thinking about it to try and make the next one. Very much looking forward to the next planning meeting in preparation for the official 22nd May launch of Leeds Left Unity with guest speaker children’s author, teacher and libraries campaigner Alan Gibbons.

Neil Barber

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