Beyond Labour: A Different Set of Liverpool Leftists at The Caledonia
Glasses are clinking, the floor is suitably sticky- all that seems to be missing is a fug of rollie-induced smoke, completing the TV trope of the 70s pub backroom meeting. But make no mistake, on this Saturday afternoon The Caledonia was host to a group of people sharply focused on the present.
Working at a national level, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! or the Revolutionary Communist Group has been a publication and organisation for almost forty years. The information they provide on their website firmly and unequivocally plants the group to the left of all party politics, stating that “the only way for human society to progress […] is for capitalism to be destroyed” (RCG 2012). Their Britain is a version still acting on the ideals of its damaging, imperialist past. An age-old and controversial claim, one thing is clear- these strong principles carry through into their activities.
Without a doubt, Britain today is a country where many left-wing voters are most engaged with the social democratic approach of Jeremy Corbyn. With this event and beyond, it is clear that the RCG cast a critical eye over his politics. More specifically, they are eager to closely examine the actions of his Labour-run councils- those who do not necessarily support their party leader. Of even more importance are the decisions they make as Labour’s one current policy making power. The effects that may have on the working class (and Corbyn’s response to that) provided ample material here.
Courtesy of Wikipedia
An empty room eventually became filled with supporters varying in age and gender; these attendees were met with a constructive talk on the aforementioned topics. In a word, the main feeling was one of scorn. The speaker heavily referenced the recent Labour party conference as a kind of proof that a potential Corbyn government would be one of more compromise and less radical politics. This included criticisms of Clive Lewis (Shadow Business Secretary) who had a speech supporting the “militarist” and “aggressive” NATO and John McDonnell (Shadow Chancellor) who was called out for asking to protect the concerns of the City of London and the financial sector.
The talk eventually centred on Corbyn himself, pointing out a handful of the compromises he has made as Labour leader. This included failing to mention problems Palestine has had when faced with an Israel/Palestine question when debating Owen Smith; there was also further commentary on his conference speech, and its failure to address problems the working class may face in the coming months. This seemed especially pertinent when the discussion began to focus on initiatives carried out by Labour councils, such as one where as many as 2,000 Merseyside families may face homelessness by the start of next month due to losing housing benefit.
As the room was opened to questions, almost everyone who was present seemed eager to share a point of view. This ranged from people local to Liverpool lamenting years of working class demoralisation in the face of council led cuts, to others insisting on the importance of politicising class oppression. Although turnout was small, those who attended clearly felt anger towards the status quo and hoped to find a way to mobilise that.
Regardless of political views, most people could agree that such a level of dedication to helping vulnerable people was heartening. To judge based on this event, perhaps the biggest challenge for Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! has always been mobilising this dedication- from run-down spare rooms to the streets.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! is running a series of events discussing Marx and his critique of political economy every Tuesday. These begin on 11 October and will be held at The Caledonia.