Who would have believed it ? On a damp Saturday afternoon in January in downtown St James Northampton over 200 folk gathered to hear a Labour Party shadow cabinet MP.
There was a time not so long ago when a real labour Party cabinet minister couldn't attract an audience of much more than a few loyalist hacks and the odd passing dog.
Yet times have changed, and the crowd from Northampton and other parts of the County turned up at the Rodber suite at Franklins gardens to hear a range of speakers culminating in the shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
And unlike many such meetings in the past the crowd stayed on because he was delayed on his journey down from another meeting in Derby, and the meeting over ran my a good half hour.
Such is the pulling power of the new leadership of the Labour party these days.
There were other quite inspirational speakers there too, top of the platform was young Richard and his Mum.He is a very brave young disabled man who spoke movingly and with a sly sense of humour about the plight of young people with disabilities.He spoke as the Youth Ambassador of the Ron Todd Trust and a damn fine ambassador he is too.
It was therefore a pity that a local self-styled anarchist,writing on Facebook chose to describe Richard's presence as being an example of patronisation,as some sort of cynical manipulation on behalf of the organisers,perhaps even emotional blackmail.
However it would appear that the anarchist who left in protest-he thinks of himself as an eagle amongst a flock of pigeons-didn't really listen to what was being said, that solidarity is starting to mean something once again.
He demonstrated all the political skills and nuanced analysis of those Labour shadow cabinet ministers who are leaving the shadow cabinet with great purpose and no effect!
Yes,I've never heard of them either and I didn't notice them leaving!
Most of the speakers were drawing attention to two areas -Dave Ward the General Secretary of the CWU and Lee Barron the Regional Secretary of the TUC were laying great emphasis on the need to build and organise the trade union movement.
In times of great difficulty,indeed growing difficulty,it's not the Parliamentary Labour Party that will make the difference to peoples lives-that may come later,but it is organised labour that will hold the ring.
One small observation is that both Trade Union speakers came from the CWU-is there something about postmen and women that is breeding a new militancy and a new desire for change?
Speaking on behalf of the Unison members employed by Northamptonshire County Council their secretary made it clear that the biggest danger in the immediate future is the wholesale privatisation of the County Council.
Northamptonshire is being used as a blue print(in every sense of the word) for the future of public services in this country.If the Tories have their way,then there will be less than 200 people working for the County Council (and they will all probably be senior managers!) whilst all other jobs and services-those that haven't already been decimated,will be in the private sector.
What we see happening in the public sector is nothing less than what the last Tory government did to the mining and steel industries-no if's and no but's.
John McDonnell despite arriving late and not hearing the other contributions brought together the strands quite effectively, which I must say suggests that at last the Labour movement is singing off the same songsheet.
Nobody at Franklins Gardens that afternoon underestimates the scale of the problem facing the Labour movement today.But the reality at last that we are talking about a movement, that is parliamentary and extra-parliamentary, that brings together all sections of the community and understands instinctively that an injury to one is an injury to all.
The labour party grew out of mass movements, it didn't emerge a fully fledged parliamentary group that understood the archaic traditions of the Palace of Westminster, that didn't really give a monkeys about the gibberish and gentleman's club rules of the Commons, and more important than anything realised that all struggles are interconnected.The fight against austerity is not simply an economic argument, but is a social and an equality issue too, that involves healthcare,education,housing,military spending,overseas aid-everything in the end is political.
Yet the solution is not simply 'political'that is a catch all word that is about as meaningless as the Liberal-Democrats and the Progress group in Parliament.
What is changing in Europe,and indeed all over the world is that people are starting to see that there is a common interest that transcends nation states historic game playing.
Capital is global,our response must be international too.I see that there is a new grouping,or grouplet in the Labour Party called 'International Labour'.I gather they want to replace Trident and keep bombing other bits of the globe.
I expect they are called 'International Labour' because they couldn't quite get their collective heads around the idea of 'International Socialists'-hey ho!
And finally to the young Northamptonian who left in protest to continue his lonely fight as an anarchist can I remind him that the most effective strain of his particular ideology can be found in the Anarcho-syndicalist movement, that understood the need to combine and work together-in solidarity!