ESF England: Preparing for Paris

The English planning group for the European Social Forum convened in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Saturday May 17 for its first meeting outside the capital. Steve Cooke reports

Chaired by Unison’s regional convenor Claire Williams, the meeting was attended by around 25 people - mostly from the North East, but also including comrades from London.

Socialist Workers Party member Chris Nineham introduced the four-hour session by outlining the ESF’s development as a network bringing together thousands of anti-capitalist, anti-war, green, left and radical activists to discuss common concerns. Building on the success of last year’s 60,000-strong gathering in Florence, the ESF plans to hold its next big event in Paris on November 14-17.

Jonathan Neil (SWP and Globalise Resistance) explained that ESF 2003 would be organised around a series of seminars and workshops, each of which had to be approved by the organising committee. Anyone who wanted to get a particular topic on the official programme needed to find co-sponsors for their proposed session.

The discussion was of a high quality and raised a number of issues, including the democratic deficit in the ESF’s current decision-making structures, the need to avoid bureaucratism and the unwillingness of some protagonists to translate discussion of issues into collective action to address them.

The meeting agreed to promote four potential seminar/workshop themes:

It was agreed that Claire Williams should represent the North East group in any planning meetings in London and elsewhere in the country.