HS_4Communists from across the East of England--from Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex-met in Cambridge on a wonderful sunny day to elect a new District Committee and to take stock of the challenge of a new government, the forces which can be brought together to block the ruling class offensive, and to draw up plans to build the CP. If you want to contact or join the CP in the East of England go here.

 

Speaking to an audience which included National Organiser Andy Goodall, branch secretaries, new members and supporters, guest speaker CP General Secretary Robert Griffiths talked about the aftermath of a general election which resulted in a Blue-Yellow Tory coalition. Over recent weeks "it has become clear, and Vince Cable let the cat out of the bag, that it is very much a Government in favour of the rescue of big business, the markets, and big profits. These can only come at the expense of the people."

Griffiths continued, "The opposition is still in formation but is hindered in opposing cuts when the first ten billion pounds of cuts was set by a Labour government, with six billion for this year added by the new government and a further interim budget on the way.

"There is a credibility problem as to where the real opposition to the Tories will come from. We are looking for a real change in the policies of the Labour Party. We are facing the biggest onslaught on public services since the 1970s, and the unions and local communities must prepare for a broad opposition of resistance.

"People will see the need for resistance as the cuts impact.

"The CP is planning to help build a truly broad and non-sectarian movement against austerity, as in Greece and Spain. We are planning to take the CP message out widely in to local communities.

"To achieve this the CP has worked with others to initiate the People's Charter, with opposition to the cuts as a key theme."

Griffiths announced that the CP will be launching a campaign with Palestine Solidarity Campaign to free Marwan Barghouti.

The Congress went on to hold a broad discussion on the following topics: the need for Communists who have a rich tradition of campaigning in rural East Anglia as well as in urban areas to develop a 'Food' policy, the influence of UKIP, the danger of academies and the privatisation of schools, the threat to the delivery of key social services including community and youth support services, the danger of the relaxation of curriculum controls on the teaching of religion, the difficulties of CP organising in small rural communities and the creeping control of the EU on daily life and a stranglehold on Government policy.

It was agreed that special attention should be given to working together with other progressive forces, and that it was important to talk to them in terms they could identify with. Communists were active in a wide range of areas from trades councils to the allotment movement, in industry, services, peace, church and faith groups, and in solidarity organisations.

In a question and answer session discussions took place about youth unemployment in the area. nationally unemployment is past three million and young people account for 25 per cent of this figure. Locally, in pockets it is chronic with young people leaving the area in big numbers to look for work.

In response, Robert Griffiths said, "The organised movement can deal with it from within its own policies campaigning for jobs, apprentices, quality training, restrictions on overtime. Resolutions will not do. The official movement has to back unemployed centres and demonstrate for jobs - we have begun to develop policies with major trades unions on industrial strategy which encourages unions to fight for high skill work that is sustainable. It was an important feature of our recent general election Manifesto.

"We are all agreed that there is pressing need to defend public services--with all their pressures and imperfections--because the situation has now become as sharp as to be whether they will exist at all, and there is a clear move by some local authorities to turn themselves into enabling bodies which dole out contracts to private companies. With academies, the whole of education is going down that road.

"What is at stake here is the principle of public services. Policies should be shaped by unions and communities. The labour movement needs to again educate a whole new generation to the need and possibility of public services.

"We must emphasise that when people talk about cuts in public spending they mean cuts in public services, many of them essential to the cohesion of communities, youth services and leisure services, meals on wheels, even lollipop attendants."

Concluding Robert said that  "Communists are at their best when they are active, conscientious, committed community activists. Workers do not fear the title 'communist' when they know and trust CP members. We can be confident that the CP will become a campaigning force in the lives of communities in the East of England."

The Congress reviewed the campaign to raise the sales of the Morning Star which is widely available now. It also agreed to actively participate in the celebration activities around the Burston School Strike on the first Sunday of September. This celebration of Britain's longest-running strike (from 1914 to 1939!) was started by the local CP councillor Wilf Page, and is an excellent day out for all in the labour movement.

A new District Committee was elected to serve for two years until the next Congress, and agreed to meet quarterly, with its first meeting in July in Norwich.