As the Labour Party conference opened in Brighton on 27 September over 1,500 students, workers and young people demonstrated outside in protest at the party's cuts, unemployment, wars and tuition fees.
Called by UCU (University and College Union) and backed by other unions including the NUJ, NUT, PCS, CWU and the RMT, the demo demanded "Peace, Education and Jobs".
On the demo was a strong Youth Fight For Jobs contingent, calling for the Labour Party to invest in green, socially useful jobs for young people alongside demands for an end to slave labour internships and for free education. This attracted a lot of support from passers-by.
The latest opinion polls put Labour's vote at 23 per cent and they face a growing public backlash. Even Labour chancellor Alistair Darling sees the party in dire straights, saying that it had simply "lost the will to live". Like rats escaping a sinking ship, senior figures like Peter Mandelson say they are willing to work with the Tories. This shows how little difference there really is between the two parties.
However, although most on the demo agreed that the Labour Party no longer represents them, the organisers put forward no programme on how to build an electoral alternative. Without any plan of what to do next, such a demonstration can only act as an outlet for people's anger and, come the next election, will leave people face with a choice between three anti-worker, pro-capitalist parties.
Without the building of a genuine left alternative to appeal to the working class, we could see and increase in disenfranchisement of workers, a lower turnout and more people turning to groups like the BNP in a desparate search for answers.
Only one speaker at the final rally, PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka, raised the need to build an alternative left wing party based on the trade union movement. PCS members are currently discussing giving support to candidates who will stand in workers' interests against public sector cuts, etc.
The trade unions need to disaffilliate from a Labour Party that consistantly fails to represent them. 35 people attended a successful meeting of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP) after the main protest had finished and the local group is continuing to discuss the potential of standing in the next general election. If you'd like more information and/or want to get involved send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org