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#GrassrootsVoice NEC Candidates Stand for Peace & Internationalism – George Holmes, Leeds East CLP.

“Another world is possible, but it will be our national & global organisation that makes this happen.”

Laura Pidcock, #GrassrootsVoice NEC candidate.

On Thursday evening hundreds of socialists watched the online event put on by Labour CND and Arise featuring the six #GrassrootsVoice NEC candidates of the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance.

The meeting was chaired by the Assistant Chief of Staff for Unite and member of the National Policy Forum Adrian Weir, who introduced our first speaker and member of the CLGA slate, Mish Rahman. Mish spoke about the current plight of refugees and called for Labour to put human rights at the heart of foreign policy, saying the Party should end indefinite detention and push for the closure of centres such as Yarl’s Wood, and should champion an immigration system benefiting all working-class communities.

He paid tribute to Black Lives Matter’s work challenging structural racism, calling it a lasting movement, not a moment; he argued that the police murder of George Floyd isn’t an American problem, and the killings of Mark Duggan and Steve Lawrence illustrate that. He concluded by saying that Labour should stand in solidarity with BLM.

Current NEC member Ann Henderson spoke next, noting that during Jeremy Corby’s time as Party leader, Scottish Labour Conference and Labour members of the Scottish Parliament had voted for a policy opposing Trident, bringing hope to those hoping for a world without nuclear weapons. She made it clear that the pandemic and recent climate catastrophes are the real issues the Government should be focusing resources on; there isn’t a choice on this – we must ban the bomb.  

Nadia Jama argued the case that the pandemic had reiterated the importance of internationalism, and Labour had to continue an independent foreign policy prioritising peace and dialogue, ignoring the interests of big business and the United States. She spoke about supporting bringing about peace and justice in the Middle East, and criticised the continued sale of weapons to the Saudi Arabian regime fuelling the conflict in Yemen. She explained how her politics had a huge influence on when she travelled to Palestine, citing it not as a conflict, but an occupation, and lauding the strength of the Palestinian people, arguing we must end the arms sales to the Israeli Government.

Yasmine Dar spoke about the Kashmiri people. She explained how it remains the most militarised area of the world, and how the Universal Declaration for Human Rights has not been upheld there as Indian army has been able to do what they want without accountability, committing countless atrocities. Yasmine argued that as internationalists we need to support their right to self-determination. She concluded with a call for action, saying: yes, we need to lobby Councillors, MPs, CLPs and the Indian Government, but we also need to remember that we are all of the same human race. The time for words is over.

The fifth speaker and CLGA Candidate was Gemma Bolton, who spoke about how she was politicised by the vote to bomb Syria in 2015. From a young age she believed it was morally wrong to have foreign policy based on intervention, and marched against the Iraq war as a child. Fundamentally she believes that the UK shouldn’t be the lapdog of the United States, and commended Ed Miliband to begin to turn Labour’s foreign policy into the internationalist outlook we have now. 

She also spoke about Latin America and how US intervention to control natural resources was often done under the guise of liberation. While this has always been the case, Donald Trump has exacerbated this and we in the movement needed to stand against the US backed coups in Latin America. She also spoke about the role of “lawfare” in taking down democratically elected socialists such as President Lula in Brazil, and the ousting of Evo Morales by a US backed Military Coup in Bolivia. Labour must oppose these interventions, including by working with our trade union allies in Latin America. 

The sixth and final member of the NEC slate, Laura Pidcock began by saying how we are in a serious set of circumstances with the eviction ban and furlough scheme ending. Additionally, years of austerity driven cuts and the devaluation of labour has put the lives of working people more at risk. 

But she stressed the need for optimism within our movement, continuing that our vision had to be internationalist and global, and the Trade Union movement would lead us in this. She stressed that unless we changed things, deep uncertainty about the future would continue. She ended with a powerful statement calling for action: “Another world is possible, but it will be our national and global organisation that makes this happen.”

Labour Outlook is proud to support these candidates and urges members to vote for them to ensure we have an NEC committed to a socialist, internationalist and democratised Labour Party.

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