Assembly offers chance to talk about issues that really matter

ANDREW FISHER welcomes the opportunity to improve the level of debate on important issues including the NHS, the economy, schools and housing

The national political debate could not be more irrelevant.

Union leader Mark Serwotka is one of the national political figures speaking at Saturday's first Croydon Assembly

Union leader Mark Serwotka is one of the national political figures speaking at Saturday’s first Croydon Assembly

The newspapers obsess over whether Ed Miliband looks “weird”, while the media-aided rise of UKIP has the Conservative-led government panicking and posturing over Europe and migration.

There is a vacuum where real political debate should be. This is a void created by the consensus of the major political parties who are all signed up to austerity.

They pursue a perverse Dutch auction on who can devise harsher policies for migrants, benefit claimants and public sector workers.

In a diverse borough such as Croydon, with a large public sector workforce and where thousands have been hit by the bedroom tax, benefit cap and other benefit cuts, there is an urgent need for that real debate.

Saturday’s Croydon Assembly will bring together people to discuss the local and national issues that face our borough. The Assembly is a non-partisan initiative by Croydon Trades Union Council that has participation from a wide range of community groups and trade unions, as well as individuals with no affiliation.

The programme for the day has several workshops, including on our increasingly part-privatised and underfunded health and education systems, the environment, political representation and democracy, housing, the local economy and developers, welfare, and race and immigration.

I’ll be leading a discussion on the austerity, the banks and privatisation, busting some of the myths and setting out the alternatives, to facilitate a debate about how we can effect change.

Croydon AssemblyThis is not just an opportunity for discussion, the aim of the Assembly is to encourage people to come up with ideas for how we can campaign together for what we want – and to build links between those participating.

The two sets of workshops follow two plenary sessions with prominent speakers and activists. John McDonnell MP and Philipa Harvey, a local teacher and senior vice-president of the National Union of Teachers, will open the morning session. Local resident Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, and Nero Ughwujabo, chief executive of Croydon Black and Minority Ethnic Forum, will kick off the afternoon session.

This is the first meeting of the Assembly, but the aim is to make it an ongoing feature of Croydon life. So whether there’s something local that is concerning you or you’re a seasoned activist, please come along and participate.

Croydon Assembly
Saturday November 15, 10am-4.30pm
Ruskin House
23 Coombe Road

Coming to Croydon

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