Initiatives designed to foster greater unity on the left, in particular geared towards possible electoral alliances, are developing in a number of local areas. In the longer term it's possible a national electoral project might develop out of these. Such grassroots dynamism is certainly preferable to passively waiting for national figures, e.g. union bureaucrats, to cobble together something behind closed doors.
I participated in last week's 'Uniting the Left' meeting in Newcastle. Attended by 45 people, it must be the best-attended planning/organising meeting for political activists in Tyneside since January, when the same number gathered to plan action in response to the assualt on Gaza. Such a turnout is in itself a remarkable achievement, such is the history of bitterness, division and mutual incomprehension on the left in Tyneside.
The meeting divided into smaller groups for part of the time to discuss political priorities - like climate change, privatisation and trade unions - which allowed a much higher level of active participation than might be expected. Key political and practical ideas for each area were identified and shared - and we at least made a start on pulling the various strands together. It was reassuring to discover there was so much common ground in what people stand for, regardless of past animosities.
Crucially, a committee emerged from the meeting which can take organisation and co-ordination forward (its first meeting is tomorrow). The meeting agreed to build support for an independent socialist candidate, Peter Burnett (who I work with in Tyneside Palestine Solidarity Campaign), standing in opposition to privatisation of the Metro system in a council by-election on 24 September. It was also agreed to campaign against the BNP in a council by-election taking place in South Shields tomorrow.
Read a good report of the meeting, published on the website of the North East Shop Stewards Network HERE.