May Day is an international day of celebration and commemoration of working class struggle. This year, a Nottingham May Day march and rally is being organised by Notts Trades Council. The organisation has invited Sir Alan Meale, MP for Mansfield since 1987, to speak at the rally.
It takes a very short memory to forget the Labour Party imposing their brand of neoliberal capitalism on the working class. Neoliberalism leads us to ever more precarious working practices and decreasing wages, in tandem with the rolling out of huge personal debt to keep up our consumption levels. Alongside this we saw massive increases in executive pay under Labour, increases in prison building, the rolling back of welfare and asylum provision and the associated demonisation of their recipients. Labour embraced the process of privatising every part of the public sphere. Most recently we see one of Labour’s policies, workfare, being seized upon as a flagship Tory policy. Labour were also more than happy to export this model abroad via the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The same government also completely failed to repeal some of the most restrictive anti trade union laws in the EU. The Trades Council, being a council made up of representatives of trade unions, putting this man on a platform to speak has all the logic of turkeys putting the owner of the local slaughterhouse up there. Unlike many of us, trades unionists included, when was the last time Sir Alan Meale worried about paying his rent? When did Sir Alan Meale forgo a trip to the pub because he was skint? When was the last time Sir Alan Meale borrowed £20 to see him through till pay day? Having someone on the salary of an MP with the associated expenses and perks lecture us on the ills of austerity is a joke.
Some Labour MPs have supported working class struggles, against the wishes of their party. Alan Meale is not one of these. Sir Alan is loyal to the New Labour project and voted in favour of the Iraq war and against subsequent investigation of it, was strongly in favour of draconian anti-terror legislation and the authoritarian ID cards scheme, and voted strongly for making the asylum system tougher and more punitive. He has also treated the working class with contempt by claiming £13,000 in expenses for gardening and £7,000 for redecorating his home whilst many of his constituents struggle to make ends meet. “Sir” Alan Meale got his knighthood because of his political contribution. He has demonstrated himself to be an opportunist politician who has not hesitated to sell-out the working class to further his career prospects.
Representatives of Notts Trades Council say that they are inviting a broad range of speakers from the labour movement to make the event “inclusive”. We think that inviting Meale is guaranteed to alienate the working class people he has betrayed time and time again over the course of his political career. Indeed, some local campaigns have refused the invitation to speak on the same platform as him at May Day. Therefore we urge the Notts Trades Council to withdraw its invitation to Meale and not to give a platform to the anti-working class politics he represents.
Autonomous Nottingham and Anarchist Federation (Nottingham).