Tuesday, July 14, 2009

From Venezuela To Dronfield

Colin Burgon addresses the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign with Hugo Chavez and Ken Livingstone alongside.

At a packed discussion group meeting on Sunday, Colin Burgon the Labour MP for Elmet gave a talk on the impact of Neo-Liberalism on Venezuela and the socialist response to this under the Presidency of Hugo Chavez. This has led to public ownership in the oil industry, banking, the food industry and elsewhere. With resources being redistributed to the poor. Oil being the keystone to the Venezuelan economy.

Colin extended his analysis to relate to the impact of neo-liberalism on both politics throughout South America and our own experiences of it as initially shaped by Thatcherism.

His talk stimulated a particularly keen discussion which continued when we moved to socialising in the lounge bar of the Dronfield Contact Club. For further details on Colin's analysis see this speech that he made in the Commons in March.

After the first election of Chavez in 1999 a Military Coup temporarily removed him from office in 2002, but within 2 days his supporters re-established him back into the Presidential Palace without a shot being fired. Thanks to the presence of an Irish TV crew the events were filmed and appear on the DVD "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". As Colin said this is highly dramatic, rather as if a film had been made of the storming of the Winter Palace in 1917 which led to the triumph of the Bolsheviks. Copies of the DVD can be obtained from here.

Chavez (left) signing copies of the DVD.

The extent to which Venezuela can be a model for reshaping democratic socialist objectives will depend to a large extent on how democratic its political system, its nationalised industries and the internal arrangements within its major political parties are - especially in the newly established and leading
United Socialist Party of Venezuela. It is a good sign as Colin pointed out that under the Constitution the President can be subject to a recall election by 10% of the voters and that the new Constitution is widely read and studied by Venezuela's working people.

1 comment:

  1. I have received this response about the meeting from one of the regulars - "The address and discussion was/were superb and VERY much to the centre of the problem that besets the labour movement right now. It might be worth having another thrust at the neo-liberal theme because there are plenty of related facets to mull over; and to consider what can/cannot be done to break the grip that the 'NL's' have over our policies and future progress."

    There will in fact be an opportunity for this theme to be raised at our next meeting on September 13th which is to be an open debate entitled "Labour : What Is To Be Done?". But I take the point that it would be worth our while to have a meeting where we focus on the issue itself.