US congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a prominent and outspoken critic of Donald Trump’s presidency, will address activists at a Momentum-backed event held alongside Labour’s virtual party conference next week.
The Democratic representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district is due to appear in conversation with former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott at The World Transformed festival, which has shifted its programme online due to the pandemic.
In the US, Ms Omar is widely known as part of the “squad” – a group of four progressive Democratic women elected to Congress in 2018. Fellow members include the influential New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
The 37-year-old politician, who is seeking her second term at the US election in November, was one of the first two Muslim American women to serve in Congress, and has recently called for rent and mortgage payments for citizens struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic.
Speaking to The Independent, Ms Abbott said: “The ‘squad’ have revitalised progressive politics in he US, led the charge on policies like the Green New Deal and taken on Donald Trump with his racist and anti-immigrant policies.”
“On both sides of the Atlantic, with both Trump and his friend Boris Johnson, this is a moment of utmost peril for the poor, black people and immigrants. Look forward to working with her on the fight back.”
Ms Abbott and Ms Omar are expected to share their thoughts on the future of the transatlantic left in the wake of Labour’s crushing defeat at the 2019 general election and Bernie Sanders’ defeat in the US Democratic primaries.
The event will take place on 25 September and forms part of The World Transformed festival, which has been held every year, unofficially, on the fringes of the Labour conference since Jeremy Corbyn’s second leadership victory in 2016. It is typically attended by thousands of left-wing activists and Labour Party members, but due to the coronavirus pandemic events will be held online.
Labour’s official conference has also been replaced with a series of virtual events between 19 and 22 September, including keynote speeches from Sir Keir Starmer, deputy leader Angela Rayner and shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds.
Gaya Sriskanthan, co-chair of Momentum, said: “Having been part of the organised left in both the UK and the US, I know our movements have a lot to learn from one another. It is vital for socialists across the Atlantic to be able to exchange experiences and reflections on the past five years, and forge a path to socialism together.
“In the US, when we didn’t get Bernie elected socialists kept organising to build power in communities and to get Ilhan and other Squad members elected, who are transforming US politics and shifting the national debate. Now, after Jeremy’s leadership, we need to organise in our communities across the UK and find more of our own Ilhans and AOCs to become future socialist leaders.”
Hope Worsedale, the lead organiser of The World Transformed, added: “Both IIhan Omar and Diane Abbott are inspirational figures who have for years fought relentlessly against racism and nationalist populism, and for a transformative political agenda that puts power into the hands of working people.”
“In the context of the current crises, from Covid-19 to the climate emergency and the global rise of the far-right over the past decade, we need radical solutions that reach beyond national boundaries. At The World Transformed, we want to build links between progressive movements on both sides of the Atlantic and facilitate a dialogue about our strategies going forward.”