Resolutions Passed/Remitted at the
CNWP Launch Conference, 19 March 2006
Resolution One : The Socialist Party
The Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP) brings together trade unionists, socialists, anti-capitalist young people, and community, anti-war and environmental activists. Our premise is simple: that we urgently need to campaign for the establishment of a new party that represents the majority - working class people. The three mainstream parties, while there are differences between them, are all fundamentally the same in that they represent the interests of big business and put forward a programme of privatisation and cuts.
The millions who voted for New Labour in 1997 - hoping that things could 'only get better' after 18 years of Tory government - have been cruelly disappointed. Under the Tories the gap between rich and poor had reached the highest level since records began. Under New Labour it has increased further. Since 1997, the wealth of the top 1% has doubled from £355 billion to £797 billion - more than the government spends in five years on education, the NHS and housing combined! At the same time, every year 200,000 babies - one third of all those born - are born into poverty.
The government's reliance on Tory votes to force through the Education Bill graphically demonstrates both the narrowness of the gap between the parties and the determination of the New Labour government to use its third term to step up its destruction of the public sector.
We believe that the chance to reclaim the Labour Party has long past and there is no point in continuing to fuel false hopes. The recent success of the new left party in Germany, winning 8.8% of the vote and 54 MPs, gives a glimpse of the potential for a new left force. We pledge to do all in our power to bring a new workers' party into being in England and Wales.
This is an initial conference of the CNWP. Our task from today is to popularise the idea of a new mass workers' party amongst as wide a section of the working class as possible.
We therefore agree the following:
o We will actively support any initiatives towards the development of a new party. In particular we will encourage those trade union and trade union leaders that no longer believe that New Labour can represent their interests to take active steps towards founding a new party.
o We reaffirm our support for the declaration for a new workers' party and will continue to use it as a means build impetus for the idea of a new party. We aim to have at least 5000 trade union, community and anti-war activist signed up by the end of 2006. We recognise that there are many important points not included in the declaration but we think it would be premature at this stage to start deciding what should, or should not, be added to the declaration. Instead it would be better to keep a minimal declaration and concentrate on building momentum for the campaign.
o However, it is important to emphasise that any future new party, if it is to be successful, must be something completely different to the existing neo-liberal order. As we state in the declaration a new party would need to represent a fundamental break with the big business parties which currently dominate politics, giving workers the opportunity to resist the neo-liberal capitalist agenda and fight for a socialist programme - including a living minimum wage, full trade union rights and for fully funded, democratically controlled public services.
o We agree to establish affiliation to the CNWP. Affiliation for national organisations will be £50 and for local community, trade union and campaigning organisations £25. All national affiliated organisations with 100 or more members would have a seat on the steering committee.
o We appeal to local community, trade union and campaigning organisations to invite CNWP speakers to their meetings.
o We organise a CNWP speaking tour in May out of which we aim to develop local CNWP campaigns in those areas where they don't yet exist.
o We organise CNWP fringe meetings at as many trade union conferences as possible.
o We give support to genuine socialist and anti-cuts, anti-privatisation campaigns in the local elections.
o We ask the steering committee to act to develop the campaign as far call a second national conference, by the end of March 2007 at the latest, to assess the progress we have made and look at how we take the campaign forward from here.
Resolution Two : Socialist Alliance
The SA welcomes the initiative of the SP in setting up the CNWP, and offers its full support for the Campaign. We urge the March 19 Conference to launch the CNWP to ensure the following:
1. A data base is set up of Supporters/Signatories to the CNWP Petition/Conference delegates, and that such potential members are subsequently grouped by region or area
2. These regional/area groupings are used to contact local trade unionists, tenants, left groups/alliances, community activists and other local progressive forces, with a view to organising regional/county/town/community launches of the CNWP, which would be expected to elect their own local Organising/Interim Steering Committees
3. The CNWP Committee is asked to start considering which type of structure would best suit a Campaign for a New Workers' Party that would encourage supportive left groups/alliances, unions, independents, tenants, community groups and others to work towards unity at their own pace.
Resolution Five : Reading CNWP group
This national conference of the CNWP congratulates the Socialist Party on its initiative in calling this conference. There is a clear need for a new party that represents the interests of workers and their families as opposed to the New Labour government that sides with big business.
If a new party is to succeed it must be open, inclusive and democratic and represent all strands of the Labour and Trade Union movement as well as those struggling in their communities against cuts in services and conditions. As well as appealing to traditional left groups and trade unionists the CNWP must reach out to those millions that have opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and those that campaign on environmental issues, pensions, racism and tenants rights, etc.
If we are to succeed no single group or organisation must be allowed to dominate any new party that may emerge from this conference or future conferences.
We must learn the hard lessons of previous attempts to unite the left such as the Socialist Labour Party and the Socialist Alliance.
We must put in place mechanisms that ensure that full and frank discussions are allowed and a wide range of opinions are represented on all policy making bodies.
We should try to see that from the outset, in all our meetings and literature etc., propaganda for the individual groups/parties is seen as clearly distinguishable from propaganda on behalf of a new mass party.
Resolution Nine : International Socialist Resistance (ISR) (REMITTED TO THE COMMITTEE)
Growing up in the Britain New Labour have created is no joke. Over generations the trade unions and the working class have fought for the right to a decent life and the right to a future. That is now being snatched back by this government and the big business fat cats they represent.
Our education system is being sold off to the highest bidder. Our hospitals are being shut down due to a lack of money while the oil companies declare the most obscene profits ever. We are told there is no money to pay us a decent wage while city workers get millions in bonuses alone. There is no lack of money or wealth or resources but there is a system that allows the wealthiest to own and control the majority of trade to run for their own profit. But around the world and in Britain young people are not taking this sitting down.
Blair has claimed that young people are apathetic towards politics. He claims this in the face of more and more young people participating in demonstrations and campaigns; in the face of school students booing him during his general election campaign; in the face of over 75% of young people taking part in civic and political activities outside school. The truth is that young people are apathetic towards him, his party and the other parties of big business.
Many initially became active around the issue of the invasion of Iraq. This was significant in a whole number of ways. It gave many, and school students in particular, their first taste of political activity. It brought some up against the forces of the state and many have since drawn on those conclusions to form political analyses.
Since then, a whole range of international events have provoked a development of consciousness and questioning of capitalism. The tsunami, Asian earthquake, Hurricane Katrina and other environmental disasters have made the massive chasm between rich and poor impossible to ignore. The G8 meeting in Gleneagles raised discussion on both the question of poverty and what is the solution and to an extent was part of the larger discussion on the environment that is taking place.
But it is not the international issues alone that are posing such devastating questions in the minds of young people in Britain. While a minority will be politicised by these issues even more are forced to think about it because of their experience of coming up against it in their day to day lives.
Students in schools and colleges around the country are experiencing the reality of league tables, privatisation and all the other aspects of Labour's plans for education. Over-testing, under-resourcing, fees, the abolition of the grant, student debt, student poverty, student stress to get a good degree, to get a good job; this is the student experience in both the higher and further education sectors.
Many young people are workers as well as students and mainly through agencies or on temporary contracts. Over half (54 per cent) of graduate jobseekers, who left university in 2004 or earlier, are still looking for their first graduate job, according to a report released in August by Manpower.
While young people in Britain do not have identical experiences as those in France there are similar features to both. The criminalisation of young people, the application of ASBOs and the other attacks on the rights to protest and strike combined, in the case of black and Asian youth, with racist police harassment will contribute to the anti-establishment and to a certain extent alienation from society that is one side of the response to the attacks.
During previous elections ISR has campaigned against privatisation, against racism, against the war and occupation of Iraq and against low pay. We have also campaigned for votes at 16 but have always linked that demand to the need for a political party that will actually represent 16 year olds and all young people.
We want a party that will represent us and fight for our future. We want a party that is clearly democratic, where we can have a say as socialists and as young people. We therefore support the initiative to launch a campaign for a new mass workers' party. At our 2002 conference we resolved to fight for a new party that will be a genuine political alternative and which will:
* Offer a radical voice for workers and young people, a genuine socialist alternative to the profit-driven policies of all the mainstream parties.
* Stand against war and imperialism, and support the international solidarity of oppressed peoples.
* Guarantee decent pay and rights at work for all workers.
* Abolish tuition fees and guarantee all students a living grant to support them through their education.
* Fight against discrimination on the basis of race, disability, gender or sexuality.
* Be funded by, and run in the interests of, the masses not the millionaires.
We believe that the Socialist Party's initiative is our best chance to achieve this.
Therefore we call on conference to agree to make every effort to involve young people in the campaign, to ensure that there is representation of young workers and students on the organising committees and that material is produced that will appeal to the experiences of young people growing up in Blair's Britain.
Resolution Ten : Resolution on steering committee
1) Given the early stage of development of the campaign any structure we set up will of necessity be interim and, to some degree, ad-hoc.
2) However, it is important that we elect an interim steering committee from today's conference in order to coordinate the work effectively whilst ensuring that different points of view are heard.
3) We therefore agree to elect a secretary, chair, vice-chair, treasurer, trade union liaison
officer and press officer who will together act as a day-to-day coordinating committee.
4) In addition we agree to form a broader interim steering committee which will meet at least once a quarter. The steering committee will be made up of: the officers; one representative per affiliated political organisation with 100 or more members; one representative elected by each group meeting at today's conference (one for each trade union present, plus one for community campaigns, and one for youth and student groups).
5) We agree to invite those national trade union leaders who see the need for a left alternative to New Labour to attend as observers or full members, as decided by the trade union.
6) The steering committee has the right to co-opt new members or observers prior to the next conference in the event of new forces becoming involved in the campaign. At the next conference we will review the structure of the steering committee.
The following Officers were elected:
Chair: Dave Nellist; Secretary: Roger Bannister; Vice Chairs: Kevin Kelly & Jeremy Dewar; Press Officer: Pete McLaren; Treasurer: Fiona Pashazadeh; Ass Sec: Hannah Sell; Trade Union Liaison Officer: Glenn Kelly
Motions passed at CNWP Conference, 19 March 2006