Report from Liverpool: Resist, SLP and Sinn Fein meetings

The following report is made by a member of the branch who was in Liverpool today to attend meetings organised by Resist, the Socialist Labour party and Sinn Fein.

Liner Hotel in Liverpool

Resist announces intention to join SLP

Around 30 were in attendance today at the Liner Hotel in Liverpool for the formal announcement of the merger between Chris Williamson’s Resist group with Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party.

Socialist speakers included comrade Chris Williamson, who spoke by video link, and Tosh Macdonald, who sent a pre-recorded interview. No representative from the SLP was present.

Substantial speeches were given by the ever reliable Bob Gill, who apologised for depressing the audience with his story of ongoing NHS privatisation.

His personal stories about patients who have died due to deliberate lack of care and refusal of service are surely not for the faint-hearted, but it’s anger that they rouse rather than pessimism.

Other speakers of note were two activists with Palestine Action, who gave a spirited call to action against British manufacturers of weapons used in Israel’s war on the Palestinians.

Palestine Action should be commended for their focus and their courageous victories in shutting down Elbit Systems through occupation of the factory roof.

With regard to the merger of Resist and the SLP, the Workers Party in Birmingham is unanimous in wishing all parties the very best, we hope the “democratic socialists” in attendance at the Liner Hotel today find the warmest of welcomes in the Socialist Labour Party.

Sinn Fein: The Promise of Good Friday: Real Change in Ireland

Friends of Sinn Fein meet in Liverpool

It was standing room only at the Atlantic Tower Hotel in Liverpool as London Friends of Sinn Fein held a fringe meeting on The Promise of Good Friday: Real Change in Ireland.

Arranged to speak was SF vice president and MLA for Mid Ulster Michelle O’Neill, who unfortunately couldn’t be present due to illness.

In her place spoke SF MLA for South Down, Chris Hazard, alongside Jon Tonge from the Dept of Politics at the University of Liverpool and Peter Kyle, Labour MP and Shadow Sec of State for Northern Ireland.

As all speakers were keen to point out, there is much to be optimistic about. Sinn Fein are the largest party north of the border, and recent census results have indicated for the first time there is a Catholic majority in the North.

Moreover, talk of Irish unity has spread beyond its traditional confines and is being – rightly – considered seriously by mainstream academics, political commentators and journalists.

Of course there was much back-patting with regard to Labour as the architects of the Good Friday Agreement. That’s the same Labour Party whose conference opened this weekend bedecked in Union Flags and with a stirring rendition of God Save the King.

Much was made of the neglect – even blatant disregard – the Tories have shown to the North of Ireland since they took power in 2010. That much can’t be argued with.

But can SF expect less disregard from a Labour government?

Does it even matter?

Irish republicans will understand very well that they do not require the complacent patronage of any section of the British ruling class – still less a Labour party that cannot run a city council, nevermind guarantee the promises of the Good Friday Agreement.

It was made very clear today that a balance of power has shifted – that the future of the island of Ireland is being returned to those who live on it.

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