The Class Conference Experience Part 2

Dan Lewis, Youth Officer at the Bootle Financial Services Branch attended the inaugural Class Conference in London on Saturday. We are publishing his report of the event in four parts. Today, in part 2, Dan gives discusses the contributions of Professor Doreen Massey and Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey.

Doreen MasseyDoreen Masseymade me smile, because she spoke about a great thing that has been lost so much, which is common sense. Doreen said we need to bring common sense back. Corporate greed is wrong, this is common sense. We need a political economy that challenges commonsense.We are always answering their questions and account for our policies on their terms.The Tories should be on the defensive, they caused the crisis.Let’s turn the tables Doreen said.Let’s ask them what the economy is for and what we want it to provide.Their political economy has failed, let’s put that to them.We need to put our policies into a bigger vision. What she spoke, was as she said, Common Sense.

Doreen spoke about economy being a part of oursociety and that it is not a beast outside of it. We need to defend the public sector as it is a part of our society and economy.

Doreen wasintroduced and she immediately for attending on crutches, but the chair rightly said that no apology was necessary and that the conference wasgrateful for her attendance under the circumstances. Doreen, spoke about taxation and its purpose. This meaning – collecting money for the good – collective provision – for example when she recently needed A+ E services. She said that she is happy to pay her taxes like we should be, even proud. This is something that I can say I am proud of, that I am a contributing member of society.Doreenused this point to say that we must challenge the way we think about the economy, challenge the terms of debate and she ended byencouraging us to say something different that will wake people up.

By this point my 4am wake-up call felt years away, I was fired with thoughts and inspired to do more in society. I thought, “What a start to a day” and it got better, it got so much better. In his casual way, to the rostrum came Mr Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary. The Daily Mail currently seems to “love” Len at the moment, as you are probably aware, relating to Grangemouth. Len has been made out to be a monster, called a ‘baron’ and disrespected by many media organisations. I believe Len has maybe been aggressive and shown no sign of backing down when others thought he should have, but I believe unions in the UK need to do so more, I think unions need to exercise their strength when necessary, and at this time for the Grangemouth staff, this was necessary. Big businesses should not be able to play withpeople’s jobs and when running power stations, should not have the ability to just shut down, with a nationally owned power station, this would not happen.

Len McCluskyLen’s arrival brought a large round of applause and a very warm welcome. Len madehis thank you’s and made it clear that Unite is proud to be a large supporter of Class and that he does not want people to be afraid to challenge Unite over any issues at the conference because of this matter. He then took a breath and moved on to Grangemouth. He said showing the power of privatisation and effect it can have on a country, shows the fight trade unions go through constantly.We can say that the ruling elite are starting to get the message, especially after examples like Grangemouth.Conservative ideology will take us back to the 70’s, the 1870’s.There are some things too important to be left to the market; even john major says there is something in the energy price rises.More people want control on energy prices, rent prices and financial institutions, Len said:let’s bring more back into public ownership, we are a community not a market place. He believes,if we challenge the market we will have to fight every step of the way. Len then pointed out thatUnite are being attacked because they are a threat and theywill carry on making sure bad bosses have no place to hide.

Len finished by saying, a progressive political economy needs strong trade unions; he is calling all to support Unite and other unions.