This month, twenty Equity members took part in a delegation to The World Transformed (TWT), the UK’s largest annual festival and political education event for the trade union and labour movement.
It currently takes place alongside the Labour Party Conference, and it provided an important opportunity for Equity members to connect with the wider trade union movement, and discuss, learn and organise around contemporary issues faced by trades unionists in these troubling political times. Hazel Roy, one of Equity’s delegates from the North West, shares her experiences of the festival below.
Equity delegates came from the North West, Northern Ireland, and the South East. For many it was their first such experience in the wider trade union movement, and everyone welcomed the opportunity for this and more political education as part of Equity’s education programme for members.
The active participation of the Greater Manchester and Merseyside branches; in covering members costs, offering childcare, and the efforts of North West Councillor Vicky Brazier in finding new members to participate in these events, sets a fantastic example for other branches and Councillors around the country to follow.
Union networks such as Equity for a Green New Deal really came into their own at The World Transformed, sending delegates to build solidarity with workers from other industries and forging strong relationships to organise around climate transition. Sam Swann, a key Equity for a Green New Deal activist, was instrumental in coordinating not only Equity’s delegation, but the entire TWT festival, whilst also preparing for a new show at the Globe in their day job. The union’s networks are a really valuable place to start being more active in Equity.
If you are interested in taking part in Equity’s next political education events, or want to become involved in the union’s branches, committees or networks, contact Campaigns and Education Officer Gareth Forest firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
My experience of The World Transformed - Hazel Roy
"Back in 2017 in what now seems heady days of hope, I made my first visit to The World Transformed at the BlackE in Liverpool to hear some debates about what we might do should Labour be able to form a government. The number of transformative ideas that circulated during my brief visit left me with an immense sense of optimism for the future and a real sense of confidence that we really could transform society if we were given the opportunity.
"I wanted to know if TWT 2023, which could well be the last fringe political festival alongside the Labour Party Conference, could restore a sense of hope and offer a chance to network once more with people who broadly shared my view of the world. I also wanted to see if it could help me become a better-informed and useful member of my union Equity, so I was pleased to be able to attend as a representative of my branch.
"Between Saturday 7th October and Tuesday 10th I managed to attend 15 workshops.
"The first was Equity: Creative workers against the far right attended by a full Equity delegation to hear Paul Fleming, Giovanni Bienne, Kudsia Batool and Sarah Jaffe discuss how creative workers should respond to the far-right. As creative workers we have a real responsibility in our work to get anti-racist messages across. Issue like boycotts were also discussed and the support needed to help our fellow artists internationally.
"Other highlights were The kids aren’t alright looking at issues of expulsions from school – a very vocal group of black activists led the discussion on this, and the ex Education Minister from Finland (where school expulsions are against the law) offered a saner view of a test free system in her country where education does not start till 6 but extends to 18. The declining role of the arts under the present government was discussed and their importance for emotional and social development.
"More interesting events included a PoliticsJoe live podcast recording with Mike Lynch, an interesting discussion on Sunday evening on Moral Panics which considered the seminal work of 70s sociologists like Stan Cohen (Folk devils and Moral Panics) and applied them to the current moral panics against migrants, LGBTQ and other communities considered “socially disruptive”, and on Tuesday a look back to the Troops out movement : Anniversary and Lessons with John McDonnell. What was apparent from that session was that while the older ones of us there had very clear memories of The Troubles, there is a dearth of information available for young people especially those who want to explore their Irish heritage. Archive material is available and a new book by one of the speakers Godfrey Bell The Twilight of Unionism was also available at the session.
"I returned stimulated and buoyed up by the event if only for sharing it with like minded people – as ever the networking was important."