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July 03, 2004

Should London tax-payers' money be funding anti-capitalist jamborees?

Posted by Michael Mosbacher

From the 14th-17th October 2004, the European Social Forum will be held in London. This will be a vast international meeting for assorted anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation groups. As the event's preliminary website puts it:

'The ESF is a unique opportunity where social movements, trade unions, NGOs, refugees, peace and anti-imperialist groups, anti-racist movements, environmental movements, networks of the excluded and community campaigns from Europe and the world can come together to discuss how to achieve global social justice for all and debate ways of making "another world possible"'.

Organisations involved in organising the European Social Forum in London - as shown from the co-ordinating committee's published minutes - include: CND, Globalise Resistance, the Communist Party of Great Britain, Workers' Power, and Socialist Resistance. Such organisations, however misguided one may feel them to be, obviously have every right to organise lawful protests. What is however an issue of concern is that the European Social Forum appears to be receiving support, both financial and organisational, from the Greater London Authority.

The co-ordinating meetings are taking place in City Hall. Redmond O'Neill, recently re-appointed on £111,000 as Ken Livingstone's 'Director of Transport and Public Affairs', is very much involved in organising this carnival of anti-capitalism. Redmond is himself apparently a leading member of Socialist Action, a secretive Trotskyist sect.

What is more, according to the Weekly Worker, a communist paper, this jamboree will receive substantial funding from the Greater London Authority:

Livingstone’s grip over the ESF comes in no small measure from his control over its finances and the GLA’s promise of £250,000. £40,000 has apparently already been spent on the ESF website (which is supposed to go live on July 7) and another five-figure sum is rumoured to have been paid out to insure the ESF directors against financial liability if the ESF were to make a loss. The rest of the £250,000 seems earmarked for the hire of Alexandra Palace.

Is this really an appropriate way to spend London tax-payers money? At least the Weekly Worker has the decency to think that such money should be refused by all self-respecting anti-capitalists.

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This is ridiculous, if not entirely shocking. What's almost as infuriating is that this isn't a huge scandal.

Posted by: Jackie D at July 4, 2004 12:31 PM

I have to agree with Jackie. Obviously I am unhappy to be paying such high levels of tax to support services that I do not consider need to be provided by Government. However to hear about this financial support from the GLA is not surprising but then when the Mayor of London is organising a RESPECT festival in Victoria Park this month and following on from his known beliefs it is unfortunately not surprising to be honest!

Posted by: Duncan Webster at July 5, 2004 12:27 PM

Ken Livingstone is now inviting radical muslim's - in the shape of Yusuf al-Qaradawi - to the European Social Forum as well.

Posted by: James Furnival at July 13, 2004 04:08 PM
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