If you happen to be the owner or a member of a far left group then summer time means just one thing – the annual political school. It is the highlight of the year for lefty students and the weary sectivists alike and there is no shortage of events to choose from.
They are called ‘schools’ or ‘universities’ in pretence of offering an academic standard of debate. In fact all that happens is that the party hacks churn out the party line all day and then everyone retires to the bar to gossip about other sectarians, recount exciting stories of adventures at AGM’s or suspense filled trade council votes.
For the younger members it is also a giant shagfest, with students and ‘young workers’ offered ‘free accommodation’ no doubt to ease the chances of what is euphemistically known in sect circles as ‘horizontal recruitment’. Comrade 18-30 would be the more accurate title for some of the activities that go on.
Basically unless you can organise a summer school you don’t count as a major league sect – so they are all at it. As mentioned previously the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain have reintroduced the old Communist University and to help muddy the waters the jesters of the Weekly Worker also have an event by the same name.
But by far the biggest (and most decadent) of these jamborees is Marxism 2003 organised by those lovely people, the Socialist Workers Party.
There are some intriguing topics for debate on the agenda. “A Marxism approach to international law” is offered by China Mieville, to which one is tempted to ask the novelist if a course in the basic structures of the English language might not be a better use of his time?
“How we won the vote” is the session that will be presented by ‘awarding-winning, campaigning journalist’ Paul Foot. Surely that depends on who is the ‘we’? After all comrade Foot hails from a distinguished family, his late father was Lord Caradon, the former colonial governor of Jamaica and Cyprus. ( I might attend this one as I am keen to know which Great Reform Act resulted in the British aristocracy ‘winning’ the vote?)
There is useful careers advice: George Galloway asks “What is the alternative to New Labour?” (better find out quickly Gorgeous) and shock, horror, there is even some salacious tabloid gossip – ‘Was Engels more than Marx’s partner?’.
All of which got me thinking. Why are we war-mongering, former hard-left, neo-neo-con bastards left out of all this fun in the sun? Why can’t we have our own summer school?
Even better, rather than us spout on about our own politics, why not invite a broad range of left opinion to address an agenda of our choosing?
We don’t have thousands of student’s direct debits to fund our school so it will have to be a one-day affair but here it is brothers and sisters, the recently agreed agenda for
9am: Round-table discussion – Playwright Harold Pinter of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic leads a debate among victims of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosova and asks ‘Are you sure your village was burned?’
10:30 am: PFI and Public Sector Reform: The Lessons of Liverpool – Peter Taafe and Derek Hatton take a fresh look at the 1980’s in Merseyside local government, in particular their pioneering private-finance initiatives. (Speakers from Swiss banks to be confirmed – advanced taxi bookings recommended for this event)
12:00: Lunch provided by ‘Juice Bar Lefties’
1:30: How the Iraqi Communist Party returned to life– Communist Andrew Murray, Chairman of the Stop the War Coalition looks at the events that allowed the Iraqi communists to re-emerge after decades of repression and explains the lessons that the left can learn from the successful overthrow of the Ba’athist regime that murdered thousands of his comrades.
3:00 pm The struggle for Human Rights in Saudia Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – George Galloway, MP, brings the insight gained from his extensive fundraising efforts in the region. (Event Sponsored by Dubai Duty Free Shopping World)
5:00 pm: Special video presentation: Enjoy once again Tony Benn’s moving televised interview with Saddam Hussein. Afterwards Tony will take questions, as long as they are lobbed gently under-arm and you bring some Quality Street chocolates along.
6:00 pm: Nick Griffin of the British National Party discusses his differences with the Socialist Workers Party over the War in Iraq, Israel, ‘The Jewish Lobby in Washington’ and Britain’s membership of the European Union (estimated duration, six seconds)
6:01: Celebrity Pass the Parcel – A little fun to end the day as our expert panel let their hair down with this parlour game sponsored by Hamas. Which layer of wrapping will trigger the explosive? Featuring: Abu Hamza, George Galloway MP, John Pilger and John McDonnell MP.