The Labour left Arise Festival provided a valuable opportunity to discuss how we fight for a Corbyn Labour government. With a general election on the horizon, Labour needs to inspire workers and youth with bold socialist ideas.
Last weekend, the Arise Festival 2019 took place in central London. Billed as “a festival of Labour’s left ideas”, the event was a three-day long event with discussions exploring Labour’s vision for government.
The event kicked off on Friday evening with an energetic rally entitled “general election now – time for a Corbyn government”. Speakers included senior MPs such as Diane Abbott, Laura Pidcock, and John McDonnell. Alongside them were a number of leading trade unionists, journalists, and activists.
Saturday was focused around panel discussions. These ranged from practical topics such as “socialists, social media and winning #JC4PM”, to more policy related discussions such as “homes for all – why the market can’t solve the housing crisis”.
The question of nationalisation came up in a number of these sessions. There was a consensus that the establishment would oppose such policies in any way they could.
On this issue, Socialist Appeal supporters put forward the importance of bringing back the original Clause 4, which would commit Labour to common ownership and socialist policies. Restoring Clause 4 would be another nail in the coffin for the Blairites and their attempts to move Labour to the right and away from demands for nationalisation.
How to bring about a socialist Labour government was a pressing concern for attendees of Arise 2019. Many interventions lamented the hostility of the media and the difficulty of getting the message of our movement out to the wider public.
This question came up most urgently in the session titled “socialist solutions to climate chaos – for a green industrial revolution”. Socialist Appeal activists raised the power Labour has with its mass membership and its connections to the unions and grassroots trade unionists. The Labour Party leadership therefore has a huge platform to support and build the climate strikes by calling for mass action by workers and students.
Jeremy Corbyn closes #Arise Festival 2019 with an inspiring call to action to deliver the social transformation people have met in Conway Hall over so many years to try to achieve. pic.twitter.com/ECgHuDNfIY
— Arise: A Festival of Labour’s left ideas (@arise_festival) June 22, 2019
The evening’s closing remarks featured an appearance from Jeremy Corbyn, who received a thunderous round of applause from the packed hall. Corbyn urged Labour members to launch a summer of campaigning, pitching it to party activists as the antidote to the media’s attacks.
The general mood of the weekend was enthusiastic and empowering. The main downside, however, was the notable lack of new faces. Most attendees seemed to be veteran activists and older Labour party members and trade unionists. Notably there were few young people.
Despite the event focussing on exploring socialist policies and how they can be achieved, there was little attempt to turn outwards. The very conclusions reached by the event’s discussions, however, point towards the need for Labour to inspire and mobilise workers and youth with bold socialist demands.
These are the people who helped propel Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party. These are the people who have supported his left-wing ideas at every step of the way. Most importantly, these are the people who Labour will need to forge a society for the many not the few. As Corbyn put it in his closing remarks to the conference, “politics works when people mobilise together”.