Report from the CNWP launch 19 March 2006
Dave Nellist chaired the Conference that was attended by some 450 people. He announced supportive apologies from the General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association, a NATFHE Exec and Labour Party member, Pat Sikourski (Deputy President RMT) and Matt Wrack, Gen Sec FBU.
The SP's Hannah Sell spelt out that there must be no false starts as happened with the SLP. It would take time to build support for the Campaign. We needed something bigger and better than Respect. We need to be open, democratic and welcoming. We need to enable groups to retain their own identity.
Roger Bannister moved the resolution on behalf of SP. He argued for trade union support, the aim to recruit 5,000 people by December, the need to keep policy debate to a minimum at this stage, the need to fight for a socialist programme, a structure that includes affiliation to the CNWP, meetings to promote the CNWP and a re-call Conference by March 2007. This resolution was overwhelmingly passed.
Pete McLaren moved the resolution from the Socialist Alliance which called for signatories to the Declaration to be grouped geographically to contact local activists to meet and elect local Interim Committees. It also asked the CNWP Committee to start considering the most suitable structure to encourage the left, unions, independents, tenants and community groups to work towards unity at their own pace. He argued that the SA included comrades with 14 years experience of working for socialist unity, which had included high points like the 98 SA candidates in the 2001 General Election, but included negative lessons including the domination of the SA by one group, the SWP. This resolution was (very) overwhelmingly passed.
Workers Power moved their resolution on steps towards a new mass, internationalist and socialist party. This was defeated, by a card vote, by 213 votes to 77.
Lee Rock from the CPGB moved their resolution on the CNWP becoming a campaign for a Marxist party. This was overwhelmingly defeated.
The Reading CNWP group moved a resolution for any new party to be open, inclusive, democratic and representative. It must appeal to anti war activists , those that campaign on environmental issues, pensions and against racism. It called for no single group to be allowed to dominate, and mechanisms to ensure democratic policy making. This was passed overwhelmingly.
Steve Freeman moved the RDG resolution to recognise that the struggle for a new workers party is a political and ideological struggle. It called for members to form platforms on the party question. This resolution was defeated.
Revolution moved a resolution on organising young people. This was overwhelmingly defeated.
John Pearson moved the DSA resolution to support a non federalist structure similar to that of the SSP, to campaign for a party based on the fundamentals of Marxism and that adopts PBP and is opposed to the bureaucratic centralism and sectarianism of many left groups. This resolution was heavily defeated.
The resolution from the International Socialist Resistance was remitted to the Committee
During the debate, many points were raised including:
* We need our own party to transform society
* We can link with workers and community campaigns
* We need to develop the confidence of the working class, and its capacity to achieve socialism
* We need a party to represent the deprived and oppressed
* We need a new Party to oppose Labour's privatisation and to give TUs a voice
* We need a Party for tenants and community activists
* We must include environmentalism in our programme
* We may need to make compromises to build a broad based party
* Getting rid of capitalism is relevant : we need an honest debate, not to trick workers
Alan Thornett addressed the Conference on behalf of Respect. He explained that Respect would not be signing the Declaration for the CNWP, but he accepted discussions were needed between Respect and the CNWP. He argued Respect was part of the process to building a new movement, but not the answer. Respect was the best opportunity yet for a broad based pluralist party. The left should join Respect to build it
Dave Nellist moved the resolution on the formation of the Steering Committee to meet quarterly, with 8 Officers and an Interim steering Committee with the Officers plus one rep for all political affiliates with over 100 members, with co-options from new forces, and observers from trade union leaders or representatives. This was agreed almost unanimously.
The Officers were elected unanimously as follows:
Secretary - Roger Bannister (SP)
Chair - Dave Nellist (SP)
Vice Chairs - Kevin Nally; Jeremy Dewar (Workers Power)
Press Officer - Pete McLaren
Treasurer - Fionna Pashazadeh (SP)
TU Liaison - Glenn Kelly (SP)
Ass Sec - Hannah Sell (SP)
Dave Nellist concluded the Conference by thanking everyone who had attended and helped to organise it. He stated that Conference had clearly concluded that Labour was no longer an option for working people. The CNWP needed to become the clear option for the working class, but it must first be rooted in communities and within the left.
Pete McLaren 19/03/06
Report of CNWP Conference, 19 March 2006