Co-conspirators from inside TUC HQ have been reporting back from Netroots UK. Undeniably a good turnout for the event, the subsidised £5 ticket price including lunch and booze clearly worked as an enticement.
The speeches from Sunder Katwala of the Fabians and Clifford Singer of MyDavidCameron fame where well received. Sunder cited polling evidence of the cuts losing popular support as a sign the left are winning, Clifford gave a humorous talk which went down well claiming that the Daily Mail was co-opted into spreading UK Uncut’s message by the nature of their campaign.
Nigel Stanley, Head of Campaigns at the TUC, was surprisingly candid, admitting that the “Coalition’s narratives of bloated public sector and wasteful welfare are strong” and that the “unions are seen as vested producer interests (with gold-plated pensions)” – a backhanded compliment to the success of the Taxpayers’ Alliance campaigning. Does have the strategic campaigning advantage of being true…
Polly Toynbee went down less well, Sunny Hundal in the chair allowed her to ramble on for too long and the audience – judging by the Twitter reaction – was not impressed with her acceptance of the fact of the cuts – the audience wants to fight to stop the cuts, she took comfort from the fact that they will damage the popularity of the government. A realpolitik stance that was far too defeatist for left-wingers in the audience.
Tom Watson went down badly with his “Comrades” opening line which is a bit too old school “scary” for the kids and his plea for everyone to join Labour brought the inevitable left-wing reaction from Maeve Mckeown raging against Labour over Iraq, tuition fees and the usual Blairite crimes. Lefties love ranting against Labour sell-outs…
Guido managed to get a mention from the floor – apparently this blog shaped how the election turned out – Sunder reckoned Guido was too extremist and that left-wing blogs have more “range and depth”. In other words they are more boring.
The New Statesman’s Laurie Penny summarised the morning thus: