17 Nov 2007
Two RESPECT conferences hear Dr Wall
What a surreal day. The bit which was most surreal was vigorously clapping a speech by Tower Hamlets Councillor Rania Khan attacking me. It is polite to clap, even when one is being slated.
I get lots of invites from other political parties, I have even spoken to my local Tories in Berkshire, certainly I have talked to every socialist group you can think of, once did a speech in defence of Mumia Abu-Jamal at a Spartacist rally (in an official Green Party capacity). So today, I spoke to both RESPECT conferences. I even heard Andrew Murray of the Stop the War coalition deliver the same speech twice. And yes I bumped into friends at both conferences. Very bizarre. I think that within political parties bitter disputes are almost universal but this is a particularly bitter one, certainly heard criticism of the other side at both.
Both talked much of the values I espouse as a green...peace, justice, environment. Same leaflets and literature at both.
It was a great opportunity to have a platform, I talked about how capitalism with constant economic growth was the root of environmental crisis, how we could develop a new economy with prosperity without pollution, name checked the green bits in Marx, flagged up the commons and the gains in Venezuela. Thought it churlish to say 'join the Green Party' but while thanking both made it clear that I was in another political party.
At the Respect Renewal, I unveiled a huge banner against rainforest destruction in Tasmania and urged people to make sure their Aussie friends voted in the General Election.
Councillor Khan, who apologised to me to her credit, condemned Respect renewed for having 'Derek Wall from the Green Party' on the platform, she didn't realise that I was to speak on the same platform as her about 20 minutes later. Very funny.
Only got a few speakers at the University of Westminister event, at RR was impressed by Jerry Hicks a very funny passionate guy and Salma Yaquub gave a great speech.
I don't think either RESPECT is going to fly, although I would like to see Greens work with socialists, the socialists outside the Green Party are painfully divided, Socialist Party and Labour Representation Committee from the Labour Left had conferences as well today. At least I and other speakers at both conferences were able to flag up important work that all radicals could get involved with...solidarity with Venezuela, 'building' support for the climate change march on December 8th and the February 9th Trade Union Conference on climate change.
Gave me two bites of the cherry to talk about all the things I talk about on this blog, gay and lesbian rights ('I think we call them human rights'), radical green politics, the need for commons, green bits in Marx, liberal Islam.
Difficult to judge and not for me to do, both conferences a couple of hundred, the RR seemed much more upbeat but clearly not just the SWP are in the other one. I don't think that two RESPECTs will flourish but party politics for radicals in England is a tough game. Even in Scotland with the divisions between the Socialist Party and Solidarity and Green losses, politics looks a lot fresher, more radical and green.
I think I was invited to talk about ecosocialism and I did, at least both greens and socialists are thinking more about ecosocialism, so we are winning on this!
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