Wednesday, 24 September 2008

LEAP @ the Convention of the Left

LEAP held a session at the Convention of the Left on Monday lunchtime 'The Economic Crisis - how we got there and how to get out' . . . or at least we were due to.

We had a room that seated about 60 allocated to us, but by the start time there were already people standing and more trying to get in . . . meanwhile in the main hall, a meeting on globalisation was questioning why the two meetings could not merge as neither topic could be discussed without reference to the other.

After some swift negotiations, shuffling of papers, scraping of chairs and about 10 minutes, we were all sat in the main hall - about 150 of us to discuss globalisation and the economic crisis. There were contributions from a number of LEAP regulars: Prem Sikka, Gerry Gold, Rosamund Stock and Graham Turner who had articles published in both the Morning Star and the Guardian that day! I also said a few words about why LEAP was setup, what it is and what it is trying to do.

Raphie de Santos from the SSP also spoke from the (informal) platform, as did John Hilary of War on Want - from the session on globalisation. Like the LEAP speakers they explained the complexities of the economic system that had led to the current economic crisis, how that crisis would develop and what the effects have been and might be in the future. The contributions from around the packed hall proved that there is a real appetite to discuss economics at the moment.

The meeting was also attended by Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Kelvin Hopkins, John McDonnell and Austin Mitchell. Former MP Alice Mahon also attended and spoke about the corruption of former Ministers taking up lucrative positions with companies to which they had awarded contracts while in office.

The debate went on for over three hours, time which despite my burgeoning cold actually seemed to fly past - as the level of debate was so high, with a range of perspectives and prescriptions being aired. Both the Convention of the Left and LEAP will be taking forward some of the ideas raised in the debate.

If you were there, what do you think should be a campaign to come out of that meeting? And even if you weren't what areas do you think LEAP should focus on in the coming months?


  1. I think an area to discuss would be the problems heading for carers and the disabled the welfare reforms,"I know the disabled again".

    15 million people in this country with a disability and nobody to speak up for us, with Carers now being told they will go onto JSA and not get a carer allowance is disgusting but something this government has done without many people saying anything.

    I know we are not important people anymore but sadly 15 million people or even seven million voting Tory might help Brown get his feet under the oppositions table, and boy are people angry

  2. You're absolutely right - the welfare reform agenda is an area LEAP should definitely take up. We'll look at doing something over the autumn. promise.

    I know one of the areas discussed at the Convention, which seems to be coalescing towards a campaign, is fuel poverty - a major issue for pensioners and those on benefits.

  3. I attended the session and was really stimulated by the contributions made. As someone who has worked within applied microeconomics/academia, my residual thoughts are that whilst I could follow the threads of argument in discussions that were wide-ranging and at times quite demanding, what could emerge is a clear campaign that can convey something as 'straight forward' as say a price control for fuel etc this winter. This could connect with the wider movement which I think has a nascent but rapidly developing appetite to enter the opening 'space' spoken of by Raphie de Santos whereby market regulation can be confidently discussed, perhaps for the first time in many years.

    It is amazing to realise that the discussion went on for three hours. I didn't notice until it had ended. It was quite amazing to be part of something so participatory, with a maturity/seriousness of discussion to be contrasted with what often happens on the Left.

    It seems that LEAP and others can nurture the serious questioning of the market which is potentially seismic in its implications,

    It is telling that Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley's contributions in the conference itself were warmly received, even if they were 'grandstanding' etc etc.

  4. A campaign for price controls would be great. John McDonnell suggests that - as an alternative to a windfall tax - on Radio 5. There's an excerpt on the LRC website: . The suggestion gets a good reaction from those listening, and he deals well with the interviewer knocking public ownership!