Convention of the left: statement of intent

Convention of the left We explicitly challenge Labour’s programme of warmongering, neoliberal privatisation and failure to tackle environmental destruction. We believe that there is an alternative. The wealth exists in the world to abolish famine and poverty and to pay for our essential needs; the debt-fuelled culture of conspicuous consumption does not produce a fairer […]

September 8, 2008 · 3 min read

Convention of the left

We explicitly challenge Labour’s programme of warmongering, neoliberal privatisation and failure to tackle environmental destruction.

We believe that there is an alternative. The wealth exists in the world to abolish famine and poverty and to pay for our essential needs; the debt-fuelled culture of conspicuous consumption does not produce a fairer or happier society – and is anyway unsustainable; and peaceful collective public enterprise is preferable to the private profit-making of the unregulated market and its escalating competition for scarce resources. The problem is capitalism, which produces only for profit not need, which destroys the environment and carries out endless warfare in pursuit of market domination.

But we also believe that we must win these arguments. We must find ways to develop and promote alternative positive policies and demands – of peace, social and environmental justice, public ownership, workers’ rights, civil liberties and equality.

We must join together with all those seeking a better society, as an anti-capitalist left fighting for an alternative socialist society.

Question time for the left

The Convention of The Left takes place in Manchester 20-24 September as the alternative to Labour’s conference (held right next door at the same time). The Convention aims to debate alternative strategies that are critical of capitalism – environmentally and socially just, inclusive and peaceful, pluralist, tolerant – in pursuit of a greater common objective that benefits the many and not the few. We aim to ask ourselves the essential questions – and we hope to arrive at some of the answers.

We also aim to encourage participation from below, not top-down platforms. We want to start defining new ways of working – so that we can join together in making policies, putting forward demands and campaigning in practice – regardless of the organisations (or none) that we may belong to or support.

Participation in debate – unity in action

We are not saying that this means the construction of another political party. But we do resolve to find ways that the Left as a whole can co-ordinate action both nationally and locally wherever we can. We are not aiming to displace existing united campaigns, but to strengthen these and to encourage working together across the widest range of organisations and individuals.

We therefore resolve to encourage the development of local left forums, where appropriate, and to support those already in existence, in order to promote discussion and co-ordinate united action across the Left, in an inclusive, participatory, pluralist, tolerant and democratic way.

We also resolve to hold a “Recall Event” on Saturday November 29th at which we will seek agreement to ideas and demands emerging from the Convention.

Signed (among others) nationally :

Tony Benn

Alice Mahon

John McDonnell MP (Labour Representation Committee)

Robert Griffiths (Secretary, Communist Party of Britain)

John Haylett (Editor, Morning Star)

Derek Wall (Principal Male Speaker, Green Party)

George Galloway MP (Respect)

Councillor Salma Yaqoob (Respect)

Professor Gregor Gall (labour movement academic)

and by members of the Convention of the left organising group including:

Declan O’Neill

Chris Jones

Margaret Manning

Richard Searle (Respect)

Dr Kay Phillips (Respect)

Linda Clair

Norma Turner

Chris Hyland (Green Party)

Peter Allen (Green Party)

Cllr Susan Press (LRC)

Denise McDowell

Bill Jefferies (Permanent Revolution)

John Nicholson

Roy Wilkes (Socialist Resistance)

Ann Papageorgiou (CPB)



Copper mining in a climate emergency

Sebastian Ordoñez Muñoz reports on the red metal mining at the heart of a new wave of colonial expansion in Latin America

Scientists against the machine

Jane Shallice examines the history of radical research at the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science

Austerity starves our culture

Museums – and museum workers – have been hit hard by austerity policies and cuts. Clara Paillard outlines some of the key battlegrounds and considers what an alternative cultural policy might look like


Locking people up won’t help combat sexual violence

We need look beyond individual punishment to tackle a crisis which pervades the fabric of our society, argues Ann Russo

200 years from the Peterloo Massacre, we need a new movement for real democracy

Jon Narcross reflects on the legacy of the mass gathering for political representation, which was brutally shut down by the military and police.

Organising the ‘unorganisable’

A cleaners’ campaign flies in the face of traditional impressions of trade unionism, writes Lydia Hughes