Why have I modified the classic poster Moscow – Heart of the World Revolution this week to substitute Croydon for Moscow? Well, the skyline depicted in the original does look a bit like Croydon’s, does it not? More significant, however, there were two events of some significance in our town over the weekend. On Saturday the Croydon Assembly, sponsored by Croydon TUC, held a day of speeches, workshops and discussions at Ruskin House. The day was opened by John McDonnell MP and Philipa Harvey, Vice Chair of the NUT. At lunch time it was addressed by Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS union. Thus at one meeting Croydon hosted the leading socialist parliamentarian, a rising star in the NUT and the country’s most prominent left wing trade unionist. In between there were a series of dynamic workshops on topics as diverse as how to save the NHS, democracy and trade union rights, education, climate change and welfare cuts. Most of these workshops agreed to meet again in the New Year to press on the political parties standing in Croydon at the forthcoming General Election the need for progressive reform and an end to creeping privatisation, cuts and austerity. If they want our support and our votes, they can no longer rely on the old argument Vote for us, we are the least bad option.
The other big event in Croydon over the weekend was the 53rd Congress of the Communist Party, held at friends Meeting House on Saturday and reverting to Ruskin House on Sunday. The keynote speech by General Secretary Rob Griffiths took a similar line. Mr Griffiths said that “if Labour is serious about winning the General Election” it must commit to “taking the railways, Royal Mail, gas, water and electricity back into public ownership.” Resolutions passed by Congress included commitment to step up campaigns to save the NHS and oppose discriminatory policies against the disabled.
Perhaps Croydon – Heart of the World Revolution is a little over the top, but it was a moment of optimism and hope in Croydon last weekend. Revolution? Not yet perhaps, but the fightback against the rich and powerful is just beginning.