FightBack2021 was held online January 2021. Thousands of Labour activists tuned in to be part of Arise Festival’s kickstart to a year of activism, ‘Fighting back in 2021: How Labour’s Left should respond to the current crisis’. Listeners heard from an impressive array of speakers, ranging from MPs in the Socialist Campaign Group, left journalists, trade unionists, and activists in the Labour Party and wider social movements. The message was loud and clear – the Labour left is here to stay, and will be at the forefront of both resisting the Tories’ reactionary agenda, and standing for socialist solutions to the crisis and democracy in the Labour Party.
In the first session, chaired by Laura McAlpine and entitled ‘Understanding the crisis – the Tory agenda and the alternative: for #ZeroCovid and a #PeoplesPlan’, speakers discussed the Government’s response to the crisis, and what the Left’s strategy should be. Diane Abbott, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Jon Trickett, Ben Chacko from the Morning Star, Andrew Murray from Unite the Union, and Amy Smith from Arise Festival agreed that the public health crisis had to be understood in class terms – the Government response had most adversely affected working class people, especially Black communities.
In concluding her initial remarks, Diane Abbott said ‘the Tories, through their mishandling of the crisis, have turned what was a public health crisis into an economic crisis, so we have to fight for the correct strategy to fight the virus – a Zero Covid strategy – but we also have to fight for equality and the right economic measures to make sure that the poorest and most vulnerable do not pay the price for fighting coronavirus’.
The second session, Chaired by Rachel Garnham (Campaign for Labour Party Democracy), saw participants debate ‘Resisting the Tories: Mobilising Labour’s grassroots, the trade unions, communities and the movements’.
Sian Errington, from the Arise Festival team, set the scene by arguing that ‘work inside the Labour Party and building movements in our workplaces, communities and the streets are not in any way counterposed or contradictory. As Tony Benn argued again and again, both are essential and supplement each other’.
Building on that point, Andrew Scattergood, national Co-chair of Momentum, emphasised that we should ‘focus on building power in local government and in our workplaces… building a confident movement that leads resistance against the Tory treatment of working class communities, that elects the best of our movement into national and local chambers, and continues the task of democratising the Labour Party, pushing it to adopt transformative, socialist policies’.
The panel featured further contributions from Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, Christine Blower (former NUT General Secretary and Labour peer), Helen O'Connor (The People's Assembly Against Austerity), Ronan Burtenshaw (Tribune), Gemma Bolton (Labour NEC), Sean Waters (Sussex Uni Labour), and Dr John Puntis (Keep Our NHS Public). All emphasised the importance of socialists in the Labour Party joining with trade unions, community campaigns and social movements to resist the Tory’s agenda.
LRC conference 2020
"Rally for Socialist Change"
Labour report back
Socialism - Unity - Internationalism
"A Jobs-Led Recovery"
Centre Left Grassroots Alliance candidates
November 1 2020 Julia Bard, John McDonnell, Laura Smith, Laura Pidcock, James Schneider, Aaron Bastani, Roger McKenzie, Andrew Feinstein, Lindsey German, Salma Yaqoob, Howard Beckett, Nadia Jama, Daniel Kebede, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Ian Lavery, Tariq Ali took part in an online rally to defend Jeremy Corbyn from suspension from the Labour Party.