- Created: Friday, 18 May 2012 15:01
- Written by Newcastle FRFI
May Day celebrations in Nottingham were marred by the decision of Notts Trades Council to invite Sir Alan Meale, Labour MP for Mansfield since 1987, as the headline speaker at a rally on 5 May. Local activists describe the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party as the main political forces with the Trades Council, and the President as a member of the Alliance for Workers Liberty.
Since 1997 Meale has voted most actively in support of the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and against investigation of the Iraq war, for increased criminalisation of asylum seekers, for terror laws and for ID cards. He is on record as claiming £13,000 in expenses for gardening and £7,000 for decorating his home. To have such a privileged reactionary on a platform at International Workers Day is absurd. In response to criticisms of their decision to invite Meale, representatives of Notts Trade Council said they wanted to be ‘inclusive’. It is simply not possible to include in the same movement racist, warmongering, anti-working class politicians, and the working class people they are attacking - you cannot be on both sides at once. Notts Trades Council appears to have made its choice.
In advance of May Day, local anarchists wrote an open letter to the Trades Council (http://bit.ly/NottsOpen), but were told that Meale’s presence on the platform was not up for discussion. In the face of this, anarchists and others intervened at the rally, heckling, booing, and holding up placards. As in Newcastle (http://bit.ly/NewcMay12), the organisers of the rally tried to silence opposition to the Labour MP with threats and shoving, but failed. The chair of the meeting suggested that if people wanted a say in who spoke at May Day, all they had to do was to go to their workplace trade union branches and get elected as a delegate to the Trades Council. It appears from this that Notts Trades Council, and the opportunist forces within it, think that the 70% of working class people who are not in a trade union should have no say about International Workers Day – or are those who are unemployed or in casual work, those prevented from working because of illness or disability, the retired and young people outside of the working class? The rally ended with Meale scurrying away to his waiting taxi, while those who had opposed him headed back into town for a series of protests against companies cooperating with the government’s workfare policies.
There have been angry accusations from sections of the left in Nottingham that the intervention against Meale was a threat to free speech and democracy. It is Meale and his party who are the real threat to democracy and those who pretend he is part of the working class. As an anarchist who had been part of the intervention wrote on the Indymedia website:
‘No doubt the finger will be pointed at "the anarchists" as the troublemakers who ruined May Day (even though there were many more in support of the protest than just us), in an attempt to gloss over the underlying schisms that were exposed today. There is a massive disconnection between relatively comfortable, unionised workers in stable jobs and those who are unemployed or in precarious work, who are not seen as a priority for the unions…The decision to invite Alan Meale betrayed a fundamental lack of solidarity by the Trades Council towards all those working class people who were fucked over by the Labour party whilst it was in government. ‘
For more information on the class basis of Britain’s trade unions read:
For an analysis of the material basis of the Labour Party’s politics see: