( one of over 60 such meetings round the country ).
Report from Geoff Gay.
Attended by around two dozen people, mostly Leicester University students, but not entirely – one chap ( who spoke a lot of sense) was older than me ; another notable attender was Sheila Mosley, convenor of the Leicester Left Unity group ( had a very good chat with her after the meeting – she promised she would be at the Loughborough LU launch meeting at JSH Wed. 19th ).
My apologies for telling everyone that the “host” of both the Leicester and Loughborough meetings was the well-known Owen Jones, author of “Chavs” , co-convenor of People’s Assembly etc.
In fact, its another person of the same name, a worker for HnotH.
The brief opening addresses were all from Leicester students, from the HnotH group, the Labour students, and the Conservative students. The HnotH speaker set the scene by saying that, following on-line consultations, the proposed reactions to the rise of UKIP fell into five broad categories :
- Ignore them.
- Monitor and expose racism within UKIP but don’t explicitly campaign against the party as such.
- Do campaign against the party as such.
- Recognising that much of attraction of UKIP is cultural, offer positive alternatives to communities.
- Some form of combination from the above four.
The Labour students representative drew attention to the fact that, as well as the racist remarks from the UKIP leader on Lincolnshire Council, his group of councillors had refused to sign an anti-racist declaration. He also noted that UKIP were a threat to Labour because of their populist appeal to the traditional working class voter.
The Conservative representative said that UKIP’s threat to his party was feeding off the perception of his party being weak and divided. But he thought that UKIP’s showing in the CC elections could well represent their peak ( Maybe he is in for a shock from the Euro-election next year ! )
There was then a lively debate with plenty of diverse contributors, several of whom commented on the role of the media which generally gives UKIP, in spite of ( or because of ? GG ) their “bonkers” policies, like denying climate change, much more coverage than the smaller parties of the Left, in particular the Greens. I explained that this was because the media tend to support the system which feeds them, contributing to the general hegemonic position of capitalist ideology, so that the genuine Left have a much more difficult job.
Although there were a few supporters of position 3 above, there was overwhelming support, including from myself, for a combination of 2 and 4 ( an actual vote was taken ).
Finally, the “other” Owen Jones told us that there had also been overwhelming support for 2 and 4 from the meetings which had already taken place, and asked us to consider the best ways of campaigning in the circumstances of Leicester and Leicestershire.