Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/312/11671
Discussing a new Left party in Wales
About 80 trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists from all over Wales attended a "Summer gathering" in Wrexham on 9 August, to discuss the possible formation of a new party of the left.
The conference was called by John Marek who, after being deselected by the Labour Party, left the party and successfully stood as an independent for the welsh Assembly
Here is the statement distributed at that meeting by Socialist Party Wales:
Socialist Party Wales welcomes John Marek's initiative for a new party of the left in Wales. There has never been a more burning need for an alternative to the pro-capitalist policies of New Labour and its pale expression in Wales, "Welsh Labour".
Working people in Wales are eager for a change from the policies of the four main parties as NHS waiting lists lengthen, schools crumble and other public services are privatised and cutback.
The potential exists for the formation of a new mass party of the working class.
It is precisely because of the growing support for something new that the left has a duty to ensure that in its development, such a party must draw into its ranks the broadest layers of the working class and fills the vacuum that is developing in Welsh politics.
We would propose that a committee for a new workers party is formed, on an all Wales basis, with the intention of drawing around it representatives from the trade unions, young people, socialist, environmental and community campaigns to form a new party based on the working class.
With such widespread representation this committee would then have the authority to call a conference to launch a new party involving the organisations of the working class.
A large number of individuals enthusiastic for a new socialist party is a good start, but a strategy has to be adopted to draw in wider layers of the working class and youth from the trade unions, community organisations and anti-war movement.
It will not be enough to just declare a new party, but support from wider layers will have to be built. We would suggest that a number of lessons can be drawn from the experiences of the false starts with the Socialist Labour Party and the Welsh Socialist Alliance and the electoral successes so far of the Scottish Socialist Party.
The most important lesson is that the new party must attract wider layers of the working class to prevent any attempts to dominate by one group or individual.
We think that this will have to be built for and will require a patient orientation to the leftward moving trade union movement.
A party of the left will have to be pluralistic encompassing many trends and ideas but uniting around the idea of a socialist challenge to the pro-capitalist parties.
Indeed a federal-type structure including all strands of socialist opinion is the best guarantee for unity of the new party.
The new party will have to attract the new layers of young people radicalised by the anti-capitalist and anti-war movements. They will never accept a party that resorts to bans and proscriptions to prevent debate within its ranks.
For the party to succeed in winning mass support it will have to prove itself championing the questions that matter to the working class, the bread and butter issues, to earn its right to represent the working class in Wales.
Bread and butter issues
The example of the Scottish Socialist Party demonstrates that a long period of campaigning by the forerunners of the SSP in Scottish Militant Labour on everything of importance to the working class in Scotland from the poll tax to water charges laid the basis for the success of the SSP.
The SSP's gains were built by explaining the ideas of socialism in the language of jobs, health, education and public services. In this period this process can be shortened in Wales but it cannot be skipped over.
To merely focus on election campaigns would be insufficient.
So Socialist Party Wales would suggest:
The formation and building of a committee for a new workers party in Wales which must be genuinely representative of trade union, youth, socialist, environmental and community organisations and therefore have the authority to call a launch conference for a new mass workers party
An inclusive federal structure with rights for all socialist trends and platforms
For a new mass workers party in Wales with a socialist programme.
In The Socialist 23 August 2003: