REPORT SA NEC SAT MAY 22 Lucas Arms

INTRODUCTIONS AND CONFIRMATION OF THE AGENDA

The agenda was confirmed as published. Gerry Byrne was in the Chair. Others present: Dave Church, Dave Landau, Pete McLaren, Steve Freeman, Toby Abse

FINANCE REPORT

Pete McLaren reported a balance of £233.38. This was higher than expected because of £170 in donations, £125 from Southampton SA following its closure. However, £100 would be need for travel and the cost of the room for this meeting.

COMMUNICATIONS REPORT, including Web Site

Pete McLaren reported that Dave Trussler had enabled him to update aspects of the web site, and had suggested a more newsworthy type Home Page. It was agreed in principle that NEC members would take it in turn to do this. Gerry Byrne offered to set up a Facebook page

REPORT FROM AFFILIATES, and election of delegate to next AGS Committee

Toby Abse reported that he was still accepted as the SA delegate. The AGS and SA remained affiliated to each other despite money not passing hands – fees were almost identical. He added that the AGS had backed an initiative from Nick Long, which Pete McLaren was now helping to promote, to bring together left community activists such as the Wigan Community Action group and the Barrow Socialist Peoples Party – a meeting to discuss a loose national structure was being organized in Rugby on July 24.

OPPOSING THE EDL

Gerry Bryrne reported about the national EDL march in Newcastle on May 29. NEAR had organized a counter demonstration, with a mobile response to ensure minorities were not targeted. Communities had been leafleted. NEAR wanted support from May 28, and they were in contact with other anti racist organizations including the Nottingham Network

REPORT FROM LEFT UNITY LIAISON COMMITTEE MAY 15th and MAIN DISCUSSION ITEM: THE 2010 GENERAL ELECTION

Pete McLaren introduced the discussion. There was a swing to the Tories of 5%, but that was not evenly distributed. Labour did better in its traditional urban areas, regaining control of a number of Councils. The BNP failed to make the Parliamentary breakthrough they had threatened, and they lost a large number of Councilors, including all in Barking. Their % vote increased by 1.8% overall, however. UKIP’s vote, 914,154, was 3%, up by 0.9%. Despite winning their first ever MP, the Green Party vote fell slightly to 0.96%. Labour Left candidates had mixed results – 5 out of 22 increased their total vote, others lost out.

18 different left organizations had stood 121 candidates between them, gaining 55,596 votes, an average of 1.5%. This was no worse – or better – than 2001 (Socialist Alliance) or 2005 (SP) but, with the recession, high unemployment, public spending and benefits cuts, Iraq and Afghanistan he felt the Left should have done better, and had not been helped by the lack of unity evident in the high number of different campaigns. He went on to outline the view being increasingly put forward that the Left should seriously consider re-joining Labour and re-claiming it. His own view was that there had to be a working class response to the Crisis, particularly the Public Spending cuts. The Left needed to unite and help organise the resistance. That response would be better co-ordinated if it is part of a movement to build a new Left umbrella organization/party, and that needed to be done quickly otherwise the LRC view would resonate. We needed a timescale for a new Left Party otherwise we will not move forward. What we do create must be inclusive and democratic, he concluded.

Steve Freeman commented that the LULC had shown what we have achieved as a SA, and it had some influence on TUSC. We were helping to promote non-sectarian co-operation, and we must not give up this role. We are at a turning point – will we carry on with TUSC, with the CNWP, or even the SA? Standing as a Parliamentary candidate had changed his outlook. He had only finally decided to stand at the last minute after gaining £400 of the £500 needed for the deposit. Subsequently, the other £100 was raised, along with £400 for leaflets and £100 for a banner. He had rarely been out on the streets, but when he was he got support for promoting parliamentary and banking reform. The campaign had had an effect within the University, but there was no organization on the ground in Bermondsey. He would have done better, he felt, if that organization had been built – he should have registered ‘Republican Socialist Party’, he suggested. At this point, he would consider standing again and hoped to set up a local Socialist Society which would campaign for a Republican Socialist Party at the next General Election.

Other points made in the discussion included:

  • Although they had organizational problems, the combined BNP/UKIP vote was 5%, reflecting far right and racist views.
  • The Tory/Lib Coalition was outflanking Labour from the left, for example on equality, its withdrawal of ID Cards, the £10,000 tax threshold, stopping the 3rd runway and controlling bankers – yet we would not join that, let alone Labour
  • The Coalition was softening people up before the attacks on the public sector.
  • The working class did not vote Labour for positive reasons, it was just to keep the Tories out. Labour remained very right wing.
  • On the left, sectarianism remained, with the CNWP and TUSC seen as front organizations for the SP.
  • The CNWP has been put on the shelf by the SP
  • We need to call, through the CNWP, for a co-ordinated national anti cuts campaign, defending the welfare state and in defence of migrants
  • TUSC was last minute, undemocratic, with no lasting structure. Using ‘social weight’ was ridiculous
  • TUSC had “social weight’ but did no better than the SP as the SP
  • TUSC should have an open Conference
  • The Left needs to unite and help organise the resistance.
  • We need a unified approach, but no one seems to take any notice when we say the left needs to get its act together
  • That response will be better co-ordinated if it is part of a movement to build a new Left Party.
  • We need a timescale for a new Left Party otherwise we will not move forward
  • The working class did not vote Labour for positive reasons, it was just to keep the Tories out.
  • We need to respond to the LRC argument about rejoining Labour. The working class had itself clearly returned to Labour
  • We can not opt out of elections – they are important politically to people
  • Labour will continue to attack migrants and those on benefits
  • There is no argument to join the Labour Party as it has no democratic procedures to enable members to have any influence whatsoever
  • Caroline Lucas will now be a left voice in Parliament, and this could gain support for the Green Party
  • The LULC has shown what we have achieved as a SA, and it had some influence on TUSC. We are helping to promote non-sectarian co-operation, and we must not give up this role.
  • We need to argue that the CNWP must work to unite the anti cuts campaigns.
  • We must still raise the banner of socialist unity and get involved in any campaigns that spring up to try and unite the forces around us.
  • We want both Marxists and democratic socialists in one organisation
  • We need to be in one organization/party as a left, uniting around what we can agree upon – then all the different party perspectives can be debated internally
  • 10% of the vote would give us a base: we need a united Party to achieve that, and quickly
  • We can build from a small base and encourage others to come on board
  • We should have a further attempt at persuading the CNWP to commit to a new Party with a timescale to achieve it, with a straightforward federal constitution that recognises existing organizations and individuals, with blocks to ensure no one organization takes over. If the CNWP does not do it, we should as the SA. Without a Party, there is no Left focal point for the media. We need to work inside just one organization around what we can agree upon, and argue out our different perspectives from within – a broad, pluralist socialist party
  • We should set up a Republican Socialist Party with a programme for Parliamentary reform
  • We need to highlight the need to take up the question of democracy and popular sovereignity
  • We should promote the national meeting of socialist/community activists on July 24
  • We need a socialist party which is also republican, green etc – a broad pluralist party
  • We should support united fronts against the cuts and link to trade union struggles

It was agreed

1. To support the initiative from Nick Long, which Pete McLaren was now helping to promote, to bring together socialist organizations and local left community activists such as the Wigan Community Action group and the Barrow Socialist Peoples Party, and endorse the national meeting to talk about creating a loose national structure in Rugby on July 24

2. Draw up a resolution for the CNWP, which could also go the national meeting of community activists on July 24, on the need for a timescale for a new Left Party with a simplified constitution on the lines suggested. Dave Church and Pete McLaren to draft

3. If appropriate, we will promote all of our policies, including Parliamentary sovereignty and reform of Parliament, at the July 24 national meeting

4. The NEC would meet again in September, with the AGM in November

Draft SA Resolution for the CNWP (as agreed by the NEC)

The CNWP notes that at its 2008 Conference

  • It recognised there was an urgent need for the left to get its act together given the fact that:

v Workers increasingly accept that Labour can no longer be reclaimed

v Labour’s shift to the right – or far right – means there is a vacuum which the left could, and should, fill.

v There is the growing threat posed by the racist/fascist BNP

  • It confirmed its view that the best way to confront these issues was to campaign for a new socialist party – a new workers’ party – and agreed that, as part of the process of building a new workers’ party, it was necessary to bring together as many of the disparate left forces as possible, in addition to the work being done to build the Party within the working class
  • It also agreed that the time was right to start moving towards a pro-party alliance or a pre-party formation that, as well as campaigning for a new party, would also begin work to determine the structure and rules for such a party

As part of the process of implementing these policies, we agree that the prototype of such as new Left Party will be established before the end of 2011 at the latest. This process will include the drawing up of a simplified draft constitution for consideration by a founding conference which, initially, incorporates the following requirements:

  1. simplified objectives outlining the long-term aims of the Party,
  2. a federal structure recognising the rights of both affiliating organisations and individuals,
  3. a mechanism to ensure that no single affiliated organisation can impose its views on the Party as a whole,
  4. clear democratic structures to ensure that any internal Party body is representative of the Party as a whole,
  5. recognition that affiliated organisations remain free to campaign externally to the Party,
  6. recognition that members are entitled to form open political factions able to campaign both internally within and externally to the Party.

Pete McLaren 11/06/10

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