Tonight (September 7th), I felt the winds of change. Not just in the general state of things globally but in my community in particular where over 120 people came to have their voices heard at the ‘Edinburgh East Save our Services!’ meeting in Portobello’s town hall. The mood was not of anger, nor even that of resentment, but of militancy towards those who were placed in their positions to represent us, the workers. The same representatives who are elected to fight against the dictates of big business and place our needs first.
Labour was represented by MP Sheila Gilmore who put forwards the party line of the right-wing leadership and spoke against reversing the ConDem’s atrocious cuts to the welfare system. Instead of supporting the interests of struggling workers, she gave a vague defence of more affordable housing, provoking the 120 people present to outrage. With the chair struggling to regain order people were shouting out ‘leave the poor and get the rich!’ and ‘labour has to come out on October 20th to fight with us the Tories!’.
Labour wasn’t alone in hearing the truth from the people. The SNP representative, who had to back down several times from the outrage of the room, had his veil of Scottishness ripped away from him. After criticism of cutting services, epically from those most vulnerable in Scotland it was clear that the showmanship of the SNP had dissipated. With people calling out that independence and the SNP offer no real alternative for Scottish workers, the focus was again placed on labour to return to its base and start working for the people again.
It was clear that despite the mistrust of labour, the workers are still focused on calling the Labour leaders out for their treachery rather than turn their backs on the party, and rightfully so. Ordinary people don’t abandon their party lightly, but will seek to force it to do the job it was made for – to defend and fight for working-class interests. The criticism of the massive failures of the right wing Labour leadership is only the first step towards turning this party round. As a Labour member I can only hope that this continues, so that we might, take our party into workers hands, and use it to fight for a clear socialist alternative.