Friday 15th

Life generally throws up certain things for everyone, things that you’ll remember for years, perhaps for life. Today I had potentially 2 of mine. Firstly I went to Aleida Guevarra’s talk. I was pleased in a politically starstruck way just to see Che Guevarra’s daughter, she was not how I expected her to look, I expected I guess a thick set dark woman but she was mid-height stocky and jocular looking in a hispanic way. She spoke through an interpreter and gave some ideas of Che from the inside. The talk was interesting but the crucial point for me was that she spoke of how Che had had to give up Cuba and his life and family etc. for what he felt he had to do and he went to Bolivia where he was killed. Her description of him saying goodbye to his 1 month old son when he left Cuba nearly moved me to tears. It made me feel a sense of personal solidarity with the man knowing that my kids suffer for the political activist decisions I make and I hope that one day they will be able to understand like Aleida does. I do hope I’ll be alive tho’ when they do!

The second was the talk on the Media. I took my seat and saw John Pilger standing in a small group in front of the stage, lots of people in the hall but not a lot around him, so I thought well now is the chance to thank the man -so I did, I shook his hand and said that I had just wanted to thank him for Hidden Agendas a special book, a mind-boggling book. He said “Oh good, well, yes, thanks a lot” He was warm and friendly, I got the feeling he would have stayed and chatted but they were starting to usher people onto the stage and there were a couple of autograph hunters behind me and who was I to deny them the same moment I had had. I know it’s stupid but shaking the great man’s hand meant a lot to me – it was after all his book that resulted in me deciding to politically stand up to be counted, my political contacts and activism stem from his book and programs and a forum that used to be on his web site. His talk was emotive, empassioned and excellent, he got a standing ovation and he deserved it.

Sadly I hadn’t taken my camera up to the Ally Pally so I wasn’t able to utilise it which was a shame because there were a couple of good pics that I missed out on -and I don’t mean a cheesy picture of me holding the camera standing next to John Pilger and smiling inanely!

Sat 16th

First miracle of today was after having got back last night at 11.50pm knackered I still managed to get up and get to Ally Pally for a 9am seminar -ok I was 10 mins late but let’s not split hairs the seminar didn’t start until 9.30 in the end -see even the German left are late!!! I really went for the full seminar experience going to every session German, French, Italian even Polish and Turkish altho’ I hadn’t a fecking clue what those bits were but they were part of a session and I couldn’t find any translation sets. And that was part of the fun the myriad assortment of languages just added much to the ambience of the whole place. I love it, there’s stacks of people to talk to from all over the place, smells of world cuisine and people chattering in different languages everywhere. There are colours loads of flags and colours mostly red but there’s a fair bit of green as well! The prevailing thing that is coming out of these meetings is the recognition of the fact that we all need to unite across Europe and the world our strength lies in in the fact that the established parties like the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire in France and Rifondazione Comunista in Italy can help those of us just starting like Respect and Wahlalternative Arbeit und Soziale Gerechtigkeit in Germany.

The Respect fringe meeting in the evening was great -it was packed and there were a load of French and Italian comrades and we had a speech from the LCR chap Olivier Besancenot -he was excellent, very good speaker -he’s a presidential candidate in France I wish him well. Gennaro Migliore from the Italian Rifondazione was also there and he’s been with us before, a good bloke and seems to be turning into a serious staunch ally of the British movement. It was nice to have a German perspective from Suzanne Kim from the WASG because we get precious little info from that side and it is important because of Germany’s current economic and workplace upheavals. From the ‘home’ team we had one of the strongest team of left-wing orators that could be assembled. George Galloway and John Rees from Respect and Tommy Sheridan from the Scottish Socialist Party all of whom are good old fashioned firebrand socialist preachers. There was singing and chanting and flag waving it was what you wanted a political meeting to be about. At the end the whole hall whilst filtering out of the door launched into the Internationale which just seemed to give this feeling of everyone going away feeling buoyed up and hopeful that we can do this.

Sun 17th

I managed to just miss the train today but I got up to Ally Pally about 20 mins late, the seminar on the media didn’t start until nearly 10 which was a bollocks because with the demo in Central London assembling at 1pm it left it a bit late so I sadly had to slope off before the end. I managed to get myself a Communisti Italiani flag for the march and a couple of badges for what has now clearly become my ‘demo jacket’. People started to assemble in Russell Sq. well before midday so there were plenty of people to chat to, I spoke to the former Lady Mayor of Nottingham for a bit who is disolutioned with Labour but not really knowing whether a viable alternative exists. She mentioned quite strongly that the sectarianism and in-fighting on the far-left often put her off and I agreed entirely. After our conversation she said she would consider voting Respect next time around. I said I hoped she would at least give us some serious thought. The whole split thing bugs me I mean whilst it is perhaps not representative as I do not live in France or Italy but I hear far less about the sort of franctionalisation there than is going on here. The Communist Party here used to be strong, not electorally but it had power through the Trade Unions to influence Labour policy. There are many who believe one day it may again but I think this is a rather ostrich styl;e view of politics. So now you have the CPB (Communist Party of Britain); the CPGB (Communist Party of Great Britain); the CPB (M-L) (Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)); the CPGB (M-L) yeah you get the picture! I also saw a banner for The New Communist Party Central Committee on the march, I didn’t have the heart to ask them if they were the new CPB or new CPGB (M-L) etc. etc. It’s estimated that between 50,000 (police estimate) and 100,000 (Morning Star Estimate) went on the march, it was lively if more musical noise than political. It was good tho’ to have such a broad coalition of people there. Suffice to say the mainstream media hardly gives us a mention.

Conclusion

I enjoyed the ESF enormously it was a meeting of cosmopolitan politics with languages and music and solidarity and thoroughly justified the £30 I spent for the whole event. I think it was good for us all to have a moral booster and a sense that we are not alone this is a big movement, natiowide, Europe-wide and global and therein can lie either our strength or our weakness. I think we must try to focus on the things we have in common rather than look for the differences to stand alone. It is all very well to boost morale but there has to be substance in the middle -we could meet every year and pat each other on the backs and say what good comrades we all are but it would do nothing to tear down the inequitous system that we all to man, woman and child opposed. Anyway my lasting impression is good enough that I’d like to go to the next one which is in Athens (I may try to get on the interpreters list for the German, it’s a volunteer service but they do pay travel expenses.) On a slightly more disquieting note I did feel a bit old at times, which was bizarre because I suspect I was in the younger half of the delegates but I seem only to judge myself against like 20 something year olds for whom of course I am old. I must sort this age concern thing out. Oh and there was this girl right (bout 25ish) I damn near lost the power of speech, she registered me and gave me my wristband, she was looooooovely! I decided to leave her alone and not inflict a drooling fat old twat on her!! So to sum up if you want to know whether I’d recommend it I’d say if you’re to the left of centre and you like discussing political or social things or current affairs and such like then you’d love it. I think the 5000 odd who slept in the Milennium Dome had a blast as well despite having to sleep on the floor and endure cold showers. Who’s up for crashing in the Accropolis in 2005?!

I have photos and stuff which I will put up in the next couple of days just in case anyone was interested.

Song Of The Day – Red Army Choir ~ The Internationale

Original Comments:


A visitor made this comment,
Multiple parties…that are actually a going concern. I dream of such options. Glad you had a nice time, Baron.
Kristie

comment added :: 18th October 2004, 21:13 GMT+01

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