Unity coalition to take on Labour in euro poll

George Galloway has announced plans for an anti-war coalition to stand in next year's European elections. Galloway has also declared that he had no intention of seeking readmission to the Labour Party.
December 2003

Speaking to the 1,000-strong "British Politics at the Crossroads" meeting in London in October, Galloway announced the idea of a "Unity Coalition" to fight the European elections in England and Wales. The coalition could also contest the Greater London Assembly (GLA) election.

Not wishing either to join or compete with the Scottish Socialist Party, Galloway intends to stand in the London constituency in the European elections. He will continue to serve as the Westminster MP for Glasgow Kelvin.

Galloway has been addressing meetings in towns and cities across the country, declaring his intention to make the European elections "a referendum against Blair and Bush".

CND activist Rae Street chaired a meeting Galloway addressed in Manchester. "People are really frustrated," she said. "The Stop the War Coalition brought so many people together. We need somewhere to go. We can"t find a home in the Labour Party."

One of the speakers at the London meeting was George Monbiot, who said: "The excitement was palpable. I"ve never felt such a sense of being swept along by the mood of the meeting."

But questions about where people are being swept to and by who remain unanswered. Organisers gathering names after the Manchester meeting did not know where the signatures would go. "I just obey orders," said one.

Galloway was candid about the lack of organisation. "This may seem a strange coalition," he said. "It has no office, no bank account. If you are interested, just email me at the House of Commons."

The next step, said Galloway is a "convention of the left", perhaps at the end of January. "I"d like to see an organisation of both individual members and affiliated organisations," he said.

Two organisations intensely debating their involvement with the coalition are the Socialist Alliance and The Morning Star newspaper. And the coalition's organisers say they want the trade unions to be closely involved.

RMT national executive member Alex Gordon was enthusiastic about the general idea of exploring coalitions. "There is a crisis of political representation," he said. "We"re looking to develop a political debate with different organisations to build a coalition based on genuine trust and genuine democracy."

But Gordon sounded a note of caution about Galloway's proposals. "We need a lot more open debate," he said.

One important area for discussion will be the new coalition's relationship with the Greens, a broadly left-wing party that has already proved itself in European elections.

Currently, Galloway is working with the SWP, the Socialist Alliance and Stop the War Coalition organiser John Rees on drawing up a provisional manifesto.

Monbiot and Salma Yaqoob of Birmingham Stop the War are working on an alternative version. Neither document is meant to be seen as exclusive or definitive. "We"re jut preparing a draft," says Monbiot, "to stimulate as open a discussion as possible."

There are also local initiatives for "people's manifestos".



Hilary WainwrightHilary Wainwright is a member of Red Pepper's editorial collective and a fellow of the Transnational Institute.


 

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