As the Labour Party lurches towards it existential crisis it reminds me of the Democrats in the US at the time of the Vietnam War. In 1968 I spent the summer working in New Jersey for the campaign of the anti-war US Presidential Candidate, Eugene McCarthy. I was present at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. This was the occasion of what became known as a police riot: the contrasting feelings of mainstream America and of the peace movement spilt over into violence. I was far too cautious to get involved but I do have a walk-on cameo in a film made at the convention (Medium Cool by Haskell Wexler).
I have one abiding bizarre memory of the occasion. While the Democratic Party was about to tear itself to pieces, a large, syrupy choir of young people called ‘Up with People’ opened the Convention. It was the incongruity of their performance that struck me. Their superficial optimism bore no relation to the gravity of the political situation that was unfolding.
I feel the same way about the regular e-mails I receive from the Labour Party’s Training and Communication’s team. I know I shouldn’t be too hard on them but as a former training manager I can’t help feeling a dose of realism is needed urgently. There is no point in pumping out the old favourites when an organisation is in meltdown.
On 21st August I will be publishing a short book:
Labour’s failure and my small part in it: a memoir for my grandchildren
It will be made available free of charge as a download on this site and my personal website http://www.martynsloman.co.uk. I also intend to produce a Kindle edition. The book is based on my experiences of 50 year’s activism, my despair about the current state of the Labour Party, and the steps that we need to take to regain credibility.