THE QUESTION of political representation for the movement loomed large at a meeting on “War, social movements and political parties” which produced one of the best debates of the ESF.
Andrew Murray, from the Stop the War Coalition, said the anti-war movement had the potential to change the course of history.
Dianne Abbott, the left wing Labour MP, denounced Tony Blair’s “illegal, immoral war” and called on Blair to resign.
She acknowledged that the Iraq war was a “moment of truth” for many in the Labour Party.
“I am proud to be one of the Labour MPs who fought, marched and voted against the war,” she added.
Alex Callinicos from the Socialist Workers Party argued that social democratic parties such as Labour were “experiencing a strong decline” all over Europe. “It’s essential to build a political alternative to social liberalism,” he said.
Initiatives like Respect in Britain are best placed to be the political expression of the new movements against war and privatisation, he added. But he stressed that it was essential to maintain the unity of the anti-war movement.
As usual, the discussion from the floor raised key debates. The debate was dominated by the question of what form a new political alternative would take.
“People have lost faith in the Labour government,” said Oliur Rahman, the Respect councillor from Tower Hamlets. “They’re never going back to reclaim the Labour Party again.” Oliur invited Dianne Abbott to leave Labour and join Respect.
The seriousness of the debate showed a new political mood emerging from the social forum movement. There was a general consensus that the movement had to take on some sort of political form to challenge Bush and Blair’s imperial project.