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This Saturday, join us at the Morning Star conference!

Editor BEN CHACKO explains why the people's paper is hosting its first public conference in years and the issues that union reps, peace campaigners and MPs participating will be looking at

IT’S a busy weekend for the labour movement — but if your Saturday plans aren’t fixed yet, we’d love to see you at the Morning Star Conference in Bloomsbury.

The For a Workers’ Fightback and a Workers’ Media event runs from 10.45am (doors open 9.45) through to five and is an opportunity to discuss the key questions facing us on the left — with sessions on the role of the media and the need to build our own media voice, on stopping a third world war that looks likelier every month, on developing new left strategies in the wake of the defeat of Corbynism and of course on the significance of the biggest strike wave in generations.

Lots of groups are discussing these questions. But are we discussing them together? 

In the past, Morning Star and before them Daily Worker conferences have provided a broad forum for trade unionists, socialists and peace activists to exchange ideas and debate the key campaigning priorities of the hour. They’ve also been a great chance for the readers of this reader-owned paper to come together to discuss how we can better promote, build and improve it.

We’ve not had a conference for a few years, but several factors led us to decide last year this needed to be rectified. 

One was the fallout from the defeat of Corbynism. Since Labour’s defeat in 2019, and the ferocious war on its left being waged by its current leadership, it can feel like the left has been shattered into a thousand bits. 

There is no coherent resistance to Labour’s rightward march. There are lots of localised cases of it, there are stands on particular issues by particular MPs or councillors or CLPs, but given the sheer size of Corbyn support in the party and its significant support from unions from 2015-20, it seems astonishing that such an uncompromisingly right-wing programme, combined with active and blatant persecution of the former leader and a big chunk of the membership, has not encountered more opposition.

Meanwhile many unions appear to have given up on Starmer’s Labour as a bad job and focused all their energies on the current upsurge in industrial action. The wins and challenges here need addressing too — partly because of the right-wing character of Labour, of course: when Labour echoes the Tories on opposing inflation-proofed pay rises, renationalising energy profiteers or kicking the private-sector leeches out of the NHS, then to secure a change of direction we need to show we can beat a Tory government — because we may next have to beat a Labour government on the exact same issues.

Then there’s the threat of war. The peace movement in Britain has been big and significant. In 2020, Labour members ranked Stop the War the most popular campaigning organisation in the party. Now it seems to have been excommunicated from official British politics entirely. But the importance of anti-war voices could hardly be more important given the risks of the Ukraine war going nuclear and the military build-up around China. 

How do we make our voice heard? And how do we confront the sweeping censorship being deployed against dissident voices, encapsulated in the appalling persecution of Julian Assange?

This is an opportunity to hear and discuss answers to those questions with leading peace campaigners, MPs — including Jeremy Corbyn himself, who will be addressing the final session — as well as union reps, activists and leading officers from Unite, RMT, the NEU, PCS, FBU and the GMB at the forefront of current industrial struggles.

The Morning Star, a newspaper embedded in the trade union movement with 12 national trade unions on its management committee, a newspaper that alone among British dailies consistently supported and campaigned for Corbyn-era Labour and the sole daily currently warning of the dangers to peace, is ideally placed to host these discussions.

Avoiding clashes with other important events has been impossible, such is the range of battles being waged by the labour movement currently — but then, you can show up on the day. A ticket is only a fiver (£10 solidarity) and if you’re engaged in strike action it’s free — so you can pop in just for one session that interests you if that’s all you have time for.

The Morning Star Conference takes place at Bloomsbury Baptist Church, 235 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2 8EP from 10.30-4.30 on Saturday March 11.

Come and join us — register here https://bit.ly/Mstarconference

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