Frightening Tony Blair

Bob Paul spoke to George Monbiot at the European Social Forum

What was your thinking in setting up the ‘Principles of unity’ initiative with Salma Yaqoob?

Salma’s thinking, which I support, is that we have built an incredible coalition against the war. And the logic is that, if we have done that, why can’t we build something against all the other issues that so many people in Britain disagree with? Privatisation of public services, erosion of workplace rights, persecution of asylum-seekers, destruction of the environment - all these issues that are not properly represented by any major political party in parliament.

The idea is that we could try to sustain this incredible power that we mobilised when we were trying to stop the war with Iraq. We should start to put that weight behind parliamentary candidates - unity candidates drawn from the left, the Greens, the muslims, the people who are currently not properly represented in parliament.

My main ambition is to frighten Blair. At the moment it is easy for them to dismiss us, because we are not represented in parliament and we do not seem to be able to change anything. We have to show that we will not fall apart as soon as a particular issue is over and that we are actually going to provide a real opposition that can steal seats from the Labour Party. When that starts to happen, then Blair will get worried. That is my immediate ambition.

If this is a serious option, then surely you are talking about building a new party of the left.

I am not sure such an opposition should be party-based. My impression of our coming together here is that party structures are not necessarily the appropriate means of leverage at a global level. What we need to do is to globalise and concentrate the moral authority that we already seem to possess. The international institutions claim to act on behalf of the world’s people, but we won’t let them get away with it and we will demonstrate again and again against them.

All our large mobilisations want exactly the opposite of what those institutions want. They are beginning to get worried about that, because there is an evident crisis of legitimacy. We have to accelerate this crisis of legitimacy and show that they act not on behalf of the world’s people, but that they act on behalf of the world’s corporations.

What role would you see for groups like the CPGB within such a coalition?

They are of course an essential part of the coalition. I see this movement as multi-headed. What makes me so hopeful about today is that we can absorb a wide variety of views, while taking the same oppositional stands. It seems that we can hold these together. We have a diversity of debate and opinion, but we have a unity of purpose.

That is to me the way forward for the new political movements around the world.