Even in the wake of the December 2019 election trauma, there’s much to celebrate. Labour are Europe’s largest socialist party and we have just won 10.3 million votes (32 per cent) for the most socialist manifesto I’ve ever seen. That’s a cornerstone to build on that socialists elsewhere would love to have, but in order to sustain and grow it the 21st century socialist spirit Jeremy Corbyn represents has to remain at its heart.
Only Rebecca Long Bailey is promising to deepen the democratic revolution, with overdue open selection for MPs and a mass membership who can act as catalysts for that democratic revolution in our workplaces and communities.
Once Rebecca wins, we can and I hope will move beyond largely social media activism to actually being the change we want to see, building that democratic revolution in our own workplaces, unions and communities at grassroots level.
For example, here in Marsh Farm, Luton, we’ve spent years struggling to lay the foundations for a new, more participatory way of doing local economics and democracy. We call it BUD (Bottom Up Development).
In place of boring meetings attended only by a few, we will be piloting quarterly Peoples’ Assemblies where residents can come together to hold service providers to account, distribute funds, debate local issues and build our collective power to act. The Assemblies will have added spice with creative performance and art provided by local ‘artivists’ whose creative contributions will be blended in with the civic duties, making it an enjoyable and creative experience for all.
The ‘generator’ for this new democracy is ‘Marsh Farm Futures House’. This is our community-owned enterprise centre, which provides the space, resources and funds our community needs to become less reliant and more self-managed.
Marsh Farm hosted an ‘Organisation Workshop’ where 40 unemployed locals reclaimed and restored two acres of disused land for a community farm and brought a disused 18th-century farmhouse back into use.
Both sites are now in development and serve as home to six new social enterprises (Fidel Gastro’s Bar Restaurant, RevoLuton Arts, Marsh House Music Studio, Luton Urban Radio, Sauce of the Lea Cafe and Henge Farm). Profits made from the project after wages and running costs are covered will be recycled into a ‘RevoLuton Fund’ seeding more social enterprises.
This is just one example of many, showing that we can be the change we want to see. And the struggle it results in is a more valuable learning experience than doing a Politics degree at university.
As our much loved and missed brother Matt-I Chance put it: “Providing alternatives and fighting vested interests at micro level in my own community made me better overstand power and how it’s exercised in the same way at macro level. It’s the same dynamics.”
And Matt-I is right. Enabling organisation at grassroots level is the key to unlocking the democratic revolution. This is what Labour needs to do.
#228 Climate Revolutions ● Transitioning beyond climate and Covid-19 crises ● Conservation without colonialism ● Prisons, profits and punishment ● Surveillance capitalism in India ● The uses of comedy ●Simon Hedges ● Book reviews ● And much more!
And you choose how much to pay for your subscription...
Keval Bharadia argues for a super-tax on financial markets to curb extreme inequality in the wake of Covid-19
Affordable healthcare means breaking the stranglehold that Big Pharma has on our medicines system, writes Dana Brown
The BBC hit drama shows the complexities of class mobility, but can’t avoid class and gender stereotypes, says Frances Hatherley
Democracy isn’t a distraction, says Deborah Hermanns - it’s the only way to transform Momentum and the Labour Party and effectively build power in our communities.
Aisling Gallagher explains why Liz Truss’ recent rhetoric on proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act signals a worrying shift.
Cleaners are being ignored in the government’s provision of a safety-net during the pandemic. The current crisis is rooted in a long history of domestic work being made invisible, writes Laura Schwartz