“Despite all that has happened in the last few years I am incredibly optimistic because what we are seeing is the strength of the working class and the rejuvenation of the working class movement in our country on a mass scale.”Former Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP
By Logan Williams, NEU Activist and Arise Festival Volunteer
Wednesday night’s Arise Festival event, ‘Liz Truss the new Tory PM – What next?’, saw hundreds gather online to see politicians and labour movement activists join together to discuss the left’s response to Liz Truss’s election.
You can read the report-back or watch it in full below:
The event was chaired by Ruth Hayes, a Unite executive member and Labour Women Leading activist. Setting the framework for the meeting, Hayes highlighted the intensification of the cost of living crisis following a summer of inaction by Boris Johnson and, the proposed further attacks on our human rights under the banner of the “war on woke”. However, Hayes highlighted that despite these attacks, it is inspiring to see working people leading the resistance to this crisis over the “summer of solidarity”.
The first speaker of the meeting, the MP for Salford and Eccles, Rebecca Long-Bailey, stressed that despite the removal of Boris Johnson now was no time celebrate. As twelve years of austerity have left our communities in despair and, pointed to Liz Truss’ support for tax cuts for the super rich.
She said “that Liz Truss is an ideologue… who will revive the most malign aspects of 1980’s trickle-down economic doctrine that said it is fine to have uncontained greed”.
“It is time to stand up”, she continued, “it is time to stand up and fight for our children’s futures and for the lives they all deserve”.
Long-Bailey finished her speech by offering solidarity to the striking workers and, urged all participants to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder to those on the front line of resisting the cost of living crisis.
Simon Fletcher, a writer and labour movement campaigner, spoke next. He noted that the appointment of Liz Truss does not reflect a break from the previous twelve years of conservative government, instead it reflects a continuation of the worst aspects of the former leaders’ times as Prime Minister.
Fletcher highlighted that the policies offered by the incoming Tory leadership will not address the core issues at the heart of the cost of living crisis. Instead their policies will deepen the pain felt by working-class communities through maintaining the high cost of goods and, the so called “bonfire of workers rights” promoted by the upper echelons of the Tory party in response to the CWU and RMT strikes over the summer.
He also offered advice to the left within the Labour Party to ensure the party; which has the potential to form the next government, can fundamentally solve the cost of living crisis. Fletcher argued that it is the duty of the left within Labour: to continue to press for open and full support to the trade union members fighting back, to build a bold and positive policy offer to form the wider national debate on how to rebuild Britain and, organising solidarity at every level of the party to the wider campaigns such as Enough is Enough and Momentum’s Labour for Labour.
The final speaker, John McDonnell, began his speech with a direct challenge to the myth that an increase in wages has exacerbated the current cost of living crisis. Instead McDonnell argues it is due in part to three key reasons: the effect of the COVID-19 on supply chains, the crisis in Ukraine, an increase in profiteering from large multinational corporations and, the increasing number of speculators effecting food prices.
McDonnell went on to argue “that Truss and her cabinet are the most reactionary and right wing government we have faced in decades” and commended Sir Keir Starmer’s attacks in Parliament against the new cabinet’s dogmatic adherence to trickle down economics.
“We win elections yes by the unpopularity of the government but through inspiring people around a popular message”, He said, “we have to recognise that electoral politics must play a role in this so we must support the election of a Labour government… but we must create a mass movement based upon the trade unions and civil society as a whole so that even the Labour leadership can’t avoid taking up our radical economic policies to solve the crises facing us”.
John McDonell finished by stating “despite all that has happened in the last few years I am incredibly optimistic because what we are seeing is the strength of the working class and the rejuvenation of the working class movement in our country on a mass scale”.
- Logan Williams is an NEU activist and a volunteer for Arise: A Festival of Left Ideas. You can follow Arise to watch and listen to all past and upcoming events on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Spotify.
- “Liz Truss New Tory PM – What Next?” took place on on September 7th, 2022 – you can watch it in full here or listen to the event as a podcast on Spotify.