The first conference of Another Europe Is Possible (AEIP),which took place in London on December 8th, was arranged rather hastily writes Alan Thornett. A draft strategy document and constitution were only circulated about a week beforehand. Nevertheless, the gathering could not have been more timely.
At the time of writing Theresa May looks certain to be heavily defeated when MPs vote on her Brexit deal in a couple of days; Labour activists are eager for a general election to happen as quickly as possible and support among the membership and parts of the leadership for a second referendum is growing.
As is inevitable at these events, particular currents wanted the crucial aspects of their world view to be reflected in AEIP’s key public documents. For some this involved committing the campaign to endorse its analysis of Stalinism and for others it was a very precise definition of the British state. The 150 or so voting members at the conference showed themselves to have a sounder political judgement than this and opted for an approach which could engage the widest possible coalition of radical forces opposed to Brexit.
Most AEIP members are Labour supporters and activists, but the campaign includes the Green Party, Left Unity and a few other organisations. The strategy document and the tenor of the contributions leaves no room for doubt that this a campaign which actively seeks to be radical and distinct from the politics of the pro-referendum campaign fronted by Alistair Campbell and Anna Soubry.
Campbell and his old boss Tony Blair personify the type of pro-capitalist politics which so disengaged many voters that they opted to vote to exit the European Union (EU). By contrast AEIP is in favour of free movement, workers’ rights and all those progressive demands that Blair and Campbell oppose.
The conference was rounded off by Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party. While strongly anti-Brexit she was largely uncritical of the EU. At this moment that is a secondary matter. Her party’s voters are left leaning and overwhelmingly anti-Brexit and are an essential part of any campaign to halt it.
She was followed by Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, Lloyd Russell-Moyle. He was recently in the news for revealing in Parliament that he is HIV positive. As a constituency MP he is seeing up close how Brexit is wrecking the lives of EU nationals living in Britain. He described a constituent who, after spending £2000 and having worked as a dentist for fifteen years, had had his leave to remain rejected by the Home Office. His own partner is in a low wage job and doesn’t have the spare cash or time to go through the bureaucratic nightmare than Brexit is creating for EU nationals in Britain. His reasons for telling the conference that “Brexit is a racist endeavour” were personal and political.
The conference puts AEIP on a good footing for the coming year. It elected a national committee, adopted a constitution and has a well-defined political project. Any readers of this site who want to part of a radical campaign to stop Brexit should join it. More than that, get involved with your local Labour Party and campaign groups to show that Corbyn supporters wantthe party’s leadership to campaign for a second referendum with anti-racist,radical politics that meet the needs of working class voters.