OVER 100 people from across the north west of England and Yorkshire attended a "trade teach-in" at Manchester University last Saturday. The event, organised by the World Development Movement, People and Planet and Friends of the Earth, brought together activists from a variety of organisations.
The cynicism towards New Labour was shown in a role play quiz in the opening meeting, with such posers as, "I am furious that muddle-headed NGOs helped to bring about the collapse of the Seattle negotiations. They are preventing poverty reduction. Who am I?" (Answer: Clare Short.)
Workshops covered issues such as the environmental and health impact of the World Trade Organisation, and campaigning on General Agreement on Trade in Services.There was a real sense of anger at the "bulldozer" of neo-liberalism and the ability of business to put its wishes before the needs of ordinary people. There was also a recognition that governments are happy to push the free market, and that they are only forced to act when people fight back, as they did in Seattle, Prague and Nice.
Duncan, from Friends of the Earth, emphasised, "We're not going to go away and do it as individuals. We're going to do it collectively."