Sunday 18 November 2007

First Test of LRC Broad Front Strategy Comes this Week on Climate Change

Yesterday's LRC conference was an overwhelming success. About 250 delegates from Labour parties, trade unions and various campaigns came together in an open, lively democratic discussion about the role of the LRC in the coming period. There was a serious and honest analysis of the situation of the Left within the Labour Party, trade unions and outside of the party.

After a no punches pulled debate about the future role of the LRC, agreement was reached on the need for the LRC to work both within the Labour Party and outside the party to form a broad united front, campaigning issue by issue with all those who have a shared concern on these issues. This includes working in solidarity not just with organisations within the Labour and Trade Union movement but also linking with the social movements campaigning within the wider society.

The LRC's strategy statement, available on the LRC website, sets out this analysis of the current circumstances facing the Left and describes the principles of this broad front strategy.

An early test of this strategy will come this week. The media is full this weekend of the latest UN report on the rapid deterioration of the global environment under the impact of climate change. As usual the Brown administration has tried to spin its way out of real action by briefing the media that he may raise the UK target for reducing emissions by 2050. This would be laughable if it wasn't so serious.

In the week we receive the hard evidence that the plight of the world's environment is reaching desperation point Brown will launch on Thursday the consultation paper which commences the process of expanding Heathrow airport. This would in one simple action undermine all efforts and plans to reduce emissions in the UK by 2050.

What is worse is that we now learn that the British Airports Authority has been able to influence the evidence upon which the consultation paper has been drafted to try and convince us that a third runway and 6th terminal at Heathrow can go ahead without harming the environment.

The decision on Heathrow expansion is the issue which will determine whether any government or political party is serious about climate change. It will be the most significant and I predict the largest environmental battle over the next generation across all of Europe.

If the LRC is to be taken seriously on climate change and environmental issues more generally it will need to link up with all those within the Labour movement who are opposed to this expansion policy and as importantly with all those environment campaigning groups within our wider community. If a broad united front can be established on this critical issue I believe we can win in transforming the whole approach to environmental policy making in this country. Instead of allowing our environment to be polluted for profit, we could start the process of planning the preservation of our planet.