Saturday in Southampton (July 26) was a day of music, comedy, free food and, yes, politics. Hundreds of people from Hampshire and beyond poured into a packed church hall to enjoy the port city’s first ever Unite Community-organised “Left Fest.”
The event, which even included an all-day poetry tent, was held to celebrate the first birthday of Unite’s Community Branch in Southampton.
The Unite Community Branch, which organised the day, represents a wide range of local people including retired and unemployed workers, people with disabilities and home carers.
The crowd of over 300 heard speeches from branch chair Mike Dukes and Unite’s Executive Council chair, Tony Woodhouse.
Tony called on the people of Southampton to reject austerity and to resist further cuts. Picking up Mike’s theme, Tony issued a plea to the union’s industrial branches across the country to back Community colleagues.
“The Community branches need your support,” said Tony. “Dig deep into your pockets.”
The throng was entertained by stand-up comedienne and political activist, Kate Smurthwaite, serenaded by folk band Polite Mechanical (main picture) over from nearby Portsmouth, and ‘cider’ band legends, Farmaggedon.
But the highlight for many was the fabulous catering – all created from scratch – by Southampton Unite Community’s own Joe Dukes.
The Southampton branch was supported by South East Community Co-ordinator Kelly ‘Poppadom Queen’ Tomlinson ( pictured above) and Ian Woodland, regional political officer, as they rolled up their sleeves, busily helping the many volunteers.
“Our first Left Fest was a huge success,” said Mike Dukes afterwards. “As well as being a great first birthday party, the event has given a kickstart to future campaigning activity in Southampton.” Unite Community member
*Sean Cannon is a Southampton Unite Community member