Socialist Worker

Debating the way forward for the People's Charter

Issue No. 2179

Up to one hundred people gathered in London last week for the People’s Charter convention.

The charter is a six-point petition which includes demands to create jobs, stop cuts, build council houses and tax the rich. It is backed by 21 trade unions and the TUC.

Matt Wrack, the FBU firefighters’ union general secretary, said, “There is a fundamental division between those at the top and those at the bottom. We are not ‘all in it together’.”

There was debate over whether the charter should be used as a petition to Labour MPs or as the basis of standing candidates outside the Labour Party.

Bob Crow, the RMT transport union general secretary, said, “The vast majority of MPs will not support the charter.

“The unions built the Labour Party but now they can’t even put resolutions in. It’s over, it’s dead, in my view.

“The reality is, the charter isn’t a political party. But if people want to stand in elections and use it as their manifesto, there’s no copyright on it.

“My personal view is we need alliance candidates at the next general election. If we don’t stand, who are you going to vote for? We should be putting an alternative.”

Labour MP John McDonnell said, “I’ve got a homelessness crisis in my constituency now as bad as it was after the Second World War. The simple answer is: build the homes. And where there are homes standing empty, occupy them.

“The People’s Charter sets out what we believe in common sense terms. We can approach candidates across all political parties and ask them their opinion on it. It can be the benchmark for what we can support politically – and what we can’t.”


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Tue 24 Nov 2009, 18:05 GMT
Issue No. 2179
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