The World Transformed (TWT) has released what it calls a “combative” programme for this year’s left-wing political festival of ideas. It will coincide with the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, which TWT is looking to counter with a line up of events and speakers it is calling “the real opposition”. With groups like Extinction Rebellion (XR) attending, it will be awkward for Keir Starmer – not least because XR activists have literally just repainted his party HQ with fake oil.
TWT: the real opposition?
TWT is running from 7 to 10 October. As it has before, the yearly programme of culture and politics will again run alongside the Labour conference. However, it has come to contrast starkly with the party’s now right-wing policy platform.
Moreover, conference season could be a tricky time for Starmer – because the Labour leader has U-turned on almost all of his ‘ten pledges’. These formed the basis of his leadership campaign to succeed Jeremy Corbyn. For example, during his leadership campaign Starmer pledged to “support the abolition of tuition fees” for university students. Then, just before May 2023’s local elections, he scrapped this.
More recently, Labour has even reneged on pledges just weeks after it made them. As the National reported on Sunday 17 September, the party:
have been slated for dumping yet another key pledge to ban all zero-hour contracts.
According to a policy blueprint seen by the BBC, there is a ban proposed only for “exploitative” zero-hour contracts. If workers welcome flexibility themselves, this would not be prevented.
Only last week deputy leader Angela Rayner gave a “cast iron guarantee” that Labour would bring in a new bill to ban the contracts within 100 days of government if they win the General Election.
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There are also reports that according to the party’s full policy programme – produced following a tense meeting of the National Policy Forum in July – that Labour is no longer committed to raising sick pay rates or extending it to the self-employed.
As TWT tweeted:
— The World Transformed (@TWT_NOW) September 16, 2023
With all this in mind, there will probably be some on the left of the party at the conference wondering why they’re bothering. However, TWT will offer an alternative.
Tackling the big issues
The festival will be hosting more than 100 sessions over four days, taking on what TWT calls “the big political issues of the moment” – from refugees to climate change. It said in a press release that there will be:
sessions with titles such as ‘The Coming Climate Insurrection’, ‘Lessons from the General Strikes in France’ and ‘Left Strategy Under a Labour Government’. The festival will also platform Jeremy Corbyn, Jamie Driscoll and Neal Lawson, all of whom are considered persona non grata by senior Labour figures.
Attendees will be trained in industrial action and climate activism – as well as the manufacturing and distribution of left wing propaganda – and listen to talks on police abolition, sex work, trans rights and ‘ victories of the Latin American left’.
TWT is characterising its attendees as ‘the real opposition’, and its ‘no one is coming to save us’ slogan reflects left’s belief that Starmer offers no hope for working people.
Packed with the best speakers, teachers, artists & opportunities to build a better world: https://t.co/3ZLzgfcHOP
Whether you want reading groups, panels or workshops to take you to new levels, we’ve got you!
— The World Transformed (@TWT_NOW) September 16, 2023
As the Canary previously reported, Corbyn and Driscoll’s appearances at TWT are likely to ruffle feathers within the Labour right – and that’s without counting the party’s sitting MPs who are attending. TWT said:
Join trade unionists, organisers, academics and artists from across Britain and beyond as we collectively imagine, demand and build a world transformed. Featuring Ash Sarkar, Mick Lynch, Graham Smith, Jamie Driscoll, Li Andersson, Owen Jones, Jeremy Corbyn, Zarah Sultana and so many more!
Moreover, groups like Extinction Rebellion (XR) are supporting the festival – making it even more feather-ruffling for the centrists and right wing in Labour. This is because, on Monday 18 September, XR targeted Labour HQ demanding it “cut the ties to fossil fuels”. Activists poured fake oil outside the building, set off smoke bombs, and then climbed it. XR are calling on Labour to do more in its manifesto than its current pledge to:
stop issuing new oil licenses and cancel any licenses granted by the Conservatives before the election.
With little hope that Labour’s conference will offer anything remotely radical, TWT said in a press release:
TWT is a home for thousands like you – the REAL opposition to the status quo – to discuss, debate, learn and strategise. And to have a good time whilst doing it!
We can’t and won’t wait around hoping to be saved from the crisis of capitalism. We have to take the future into our hands; through our own education and organising.
That’s exactly what we’ll be doing at TWT23 – and we want you to be a part of it. We have a tiered ticket system so that you can choose an option you can afford, and we even have some cheap community hall accommodation options too.
Featured image and additional images via XR/Luke FleggSupport us and go ad-free
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