On Monday night I had the huge fortune to attend a meeting of the Red Green Club in Milnesbridge – just up the Colne Valley in Huddersfield. The place and the people filled me with hope that we can do politics in a better way and build a better world . Here is why.
The Club is on the site if one of the oldest Labour Clubs in the country – established over a century ago. The Club ran into trouble and was left empty for a while until a local band of activists decided to revive it – this time not just as a Labour Club but as the Red Green Club – an open space for people who want to stop the poor getting poorer and the planet burning and recognise the link between the two.
A small committee was formed, some funding raised and more promised. The building is a meeting place and bar and hosts event throughout the week – on ideas, practical support and culture.
The wonderful Paul Salveson had been asking me up for a while and the stars aligned to enable me to be there. Paul is a rail expert and a proponent of radical devolution – not least through the Hannah Mitchell Foundation (link). Paul has a terrific none egotistical way of operating and leading – quite, thoughtful, open and encouraging. He recently left the Labour Party and joined Yorkshire First – a party dedicated to the devolution of power to the county. Its telling, that like Scotland, people like Paul see radicalism and hope in new places.
Back to the meeting. I rambled around for a bit on the evenings theme of creating a good society – but then people started speaking and talking and asking questions. This was when the night was lit up. The most informed, aware, compassionate and testing thoughts I could barely cope with. One man, Tim I think, brilliantly self-edited when asked to make his point and said no – there had been too many men – it was a woman’s turn. And then at the end a women who didn’t say her name, sitting at the front, joined it all up as not being about this or that strategy – but matching the complexity of the world and the complexity of our response and doing so with a sense of compassion and care.
So here we had it –a place that people had constructed and occupied not just to demand what the state should do to build a good society – and we all agreed that was important – but a place where they could prefigure a good society – by their actions in making the Club possible and they way they thought and behaved with each other in it. Generosity, empathy, compassion , inquiry, honest and love. I came away more certain than ever that there is hope.
The Club have decided to establish a regular Red/Green Compass event to talk about radical ideas and the future of politics. The next meeting is scheduled for 4th Dec. More information from firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d like to reiterate my thanks to Paul and all the people who made me feel so welcome and so much better about the world and the prospects for change.