By Allan Brack reports on a radical cultural initiative
Now more than ever, in the face of the most right-wing Tory Government in living memory and a world in turmoil, we need to radicalise and build a broad Labour Movement of solidarity, unity and strength. Alongside political debate and education, art and creativity have a huge role to play in combating the power of the media oligarchs, and those who seek to destroy our living standards and our hope and belief in a better world.
In Bradford a small group of us have organised a programme of diverse events – a Left Book Club, Red Ride cycling trips, radical film shows, an alternative agenda for local government in Bradford, a cabaret and music events, banner design and production workshops, alongside meetings and debates ranging from the fight against Universal Credit to the struggles of the Cuban solidarity campaign – all under the campaigning force of Bradford Transformed, a localised version of “The World Transformed” event which takes place at the Labour Party Conference.
Where we can, we create collaborative events together with other progressive organisations and venues, sharing costs and also any funds raised with local food banks, projects for the homeless, and other causes dear to the heart.
In the wake of continued austerity and further attacks on our public welfare, education, health and security services, together with the threat from the global elite to destroy any prospect of world peace and all of our futures, the Labour Movement will need to develop a mighty grass-roots movement, drawing on our finest traditions and reaching out into every community, town and city. Help, advice, welfare, organised resistance and creative solutions to the alternative outcome of personal isolation and despair are the challenge and clarion call to a society beset by the shackles of corruption and austerity, yet yearning for a better way of being.
On the last Saturday before the General Election, a group of us performed our own version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in Shipley market place, along with the fabulous Bradford street band The Peace Artistes. We brought the Victorian story up to date, raising issues like zero-hours contracts, the vile role of the tabloid press and the choice between Labour “Hope” and Tory “Despair”. When we took our final bow to an appreciative audience and looked up, workers at the local Iceland store on their lunch break were cheering from the first-floor windows of their canteen above. For an instant it felt like the upper circle of a grand theatre; but in truth it was us really finding and connecting with our roots!
You can follow us and our programme of events on our facebook page: Bradford Transformed.