London's Bishopsgate was crowded on Saturday an hour before official starting time for the best-attended Morning Star conference in many a long year, writes Graham Stevenson.
Ultimately over 250 people crowded in to hear from an array of almost 30 left political figures, trade unionists, and campaigners.
By any standards this was a marvellous success, but this was no mere vanity project.
The aim from the outset was to bring together a range of labour movement and anti-cuts activists in a display of unity. A key objective was to promote the role of Morning Star readers in building an anti-monopoly alliance.
The session, Against a Bankers' Britain, saw top-notch speakers forcefully agree the need to give direction in the fight against the Con-Dem government. It was understood that campaigning organisations and the labour movement are key allies in the fight to develop alternatives to the ruling class strategy of cuts and austerity.
The point of the conference can be summed up in a single question: how do we answer the questions that face the working class today, ensuring that we banish any sectarianism that divides us from the mass of working people and each other?
For many, this government is just as much an unelected bankers' dictatorship as those imposed by the EU in Greece and Italy.
The voters of Bradford have grasped this. So too did the energetic and lively crowd at Bishopsgate.
Maybe the answers are still all out there, but on Saturday a start was made on many problems at the conference.
We will need to find means to force the Labour Party leadership to be part of the solution - not part of the problem by siding with the class enemy, or even adopting its policies wholesale.
We will need to unify all those unions in struggle as well as forging an alliance between organised labour and the mass of the people.
16 workshops ran back to back in four locations. Stories of steps to strengthen relations between the Morning Star and the wider left and progressive movements were heard.
Enthusiastic workshops considered the future of the paper, how to build a movement around mass unemployment, to understand the impact on women of the cuts, fighting for rights in retirement, uniting workers with disabilities, campaigning against the arms trade, fighting for LGBT rights, and launching civil disobedience campaigns.
Anger at the need to end forced unpaid work for benefits mixed with eager debates about how to set up Morning Star readers and supporters groups, the role of the media, attacks on health and safety, new shackles for unions, and the fight against NHS privatisation.
The mix of views in the final plenary, For a People's Britain: the Way Ahead, was a powerful expression of how strong the 21st-century awkward squad is.
Delegates came from local trades union councils from all around the country, with Morning Star activists drawn in from similarly far-flung corners.
Formal representation came from union branches of Bectu, GMB, the Musicians Union, NUT, PCS, Prospect, RMT, Unison, Unite, and Usdaw, with welcome visitors dropping in from the Communist Party of Ireland and the Tudeh Party of Iran, Lambeth Save Our Services, the Labour Land Campaign, Lewisham People Before Profit along with Epping Forest Green and Democratic Left.
Both the Red Flag and the Internationale were sung with gusto and a bumper collection was taken for the Morning Star, producing the astounding sum of £2,285.22.
The conference was filmed throughout and a campaign DVD will be made that will convey the mood of confidence for all to observe and also provide funds for our paper.
We will continue the fight and unite in national action in defence of our class. Readers and supporters' groups will be issuing calls in every nook and cranny of Britain to start a united fightback now.