Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/794/17968
Building the Socialist Party
Help make the Socialist even more effective in 2014
Sarah Wrack, Paper sales campaigner
In 2013 the Con-Dem government and their mouthpieces in the right-wing press stepped up their war against working class people.
They called us lazy scroungers and they spewed bile about striking teachers, firefighters and countless other groups of workers.
When Thatcher died the praise for her was deafening and attacks on working class people who refused to mourn her were scathing.
When Mandela died every effort was made to claim the legacy of the anti-apartheid movement for those who were its enemies.
The need for a paper that counters the lies and gives a voice to working class people has never been greater. Without the Socialist, who in Britain would have known about the 90,000 votes for socialist Kshama Sawant in Seattle? How would workers in dispute have told the real stories of what has pushed them to take action? Where could they get a fighting strategy for taking the anti-austerity movement forward?
And with no end in sight to cuts to jobs and services, this year will be no different. That's why our sellers and writers will be using the next few months to make the Socialist even more up to the job.
We want even more articles - reports from every protest and strike, letters expressing your anger at everything the government is doing, comments explaining what life is like in Con-Dem Britain.
And we have to make sure the Socialist's message gets out as widely as possible. Socialist Party branches should think of what extra activity they could organise each week to do this in the best way - what workplaces don't currently have a regular sale of the Socialist?
How many people do each of our members know, at work, college or on their estate, who might take out a subscription or buy a copy regularly?
The Socialist is a key tool for all Socialist Party members, branches and supporters to be able to organise the struggle and put forward a socialist alternative to austerity. Get involved in the Socialist's campaign to help make it even more effective.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the campaign and with reports of plans or successful activities in your area
Women's meeting - a source of inspiration and affirmation
To most, Saturday 11 January was just like any other frosty afternoon. However, in the upstairs of a pub somewhere in London a group of women met together to talk about Marxist economics. Unusual?
It was the Socialist Party's national women's meeting. For one weekend we travelled from far and wide to discuss the challenges facing women under capitalism and the current climate of austerity.
As socialists we understand the class basis for the oppression of women. It's no surprise then that the idea of working class women discussing politics and economics is unusual when a general lack of education, confidence and support stands in the way of our involvement in these fields.
But don't forget - we are 50% of the population, and being doubly disadvantaged, we have a higher stake in the fight for a more equitable society. Women therefore have more reason to be involved, not less!
As it is, two thirds of public sector workers are women. With the vast majority of unionised workplaces being public sector, women currently make up 54.7% of trade union membership.
While the cuts rain down, women are consequently being disproportionately affected with 253,600 women in local government losing their jobs since 2010.
We are suffering cuts to benefits as jobs are lost, to childcare services as family incomes are stretched and losing women's refuges as violence against women is rising. Women's equality is apparently yet another 'luxury' that austerity cannot afford.
On the university campuses and among young women we have also seen a huge swell of reaction over the past year against 'lad culture' and sexism in the music industry.
Campaigns have included over 200 protesting against a tequila bar's 'Freshers Violation' night in Leeds.
All this goes to show the increasingly combative mood of women. This year's national women's meeting was a source of inspiration and affirmation.
It showed the capability and commitment of our female members, as well as the wider successes of the women's movement in the face of stacked odds.
Our task now is to make sure this discussion doesn't remain in the upstairs room of a London pub, but is taken out into our movement by all our members.
Women face battles against sexism and discrimination every day - we must ensure women are able to play a leading role in the fight for a socialist future.
- Make sure your branch gets a report back of the discussions at the meeting
Members' unstinting efforts smash 2013's finance targets
Ken Douglas National treasurer
Another successful year for the fighting fund in 2013 was complete when £27,375 was raised in the final quarter - smashing the target and raising £101,802 for the year as a whole.
The fighting fund underpins the campaigning work of the Socialist Party. We rely on the support of ordinary working class people - from the paper sales and donations in the streets and town centres throughout England and Wales.
Socialist Party members have been unstinting in their efforts, holding social events and fundraisers in the festive period.
A Nottingham quiz night raised £58, a 'mid-winter' film night raised £57 in Newcastle and a quiz night in Leicester raised £24.
Heading into 2014 we have to continue our campaigning and fund-raising. The relentless attacks from the millionaire Con-Dems continue - Osborne has pledged still more cuts on top of those already outlined in his autumn statement.
With Ed Balls and New Labour promising to match Osborne's budget, the only political alternative to austerity will be that posed by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) which will be standing a record number of candidates in the local elections.
Our members will be out campaigning for TUSC, standing as candidates and arguing for the trade unions to coordinate strike action against the cuts in the course of building for a one-day general strike against austerity.
On 8-10 March delegates from every Socialist Party branch will be meeting at the Socialist Party Congress 2014 to discuss the political situation in Britain and the way forward for the party.
We will be asking our members and supporters to donate to the finance appeal at this congress but also to commit themselves to a personal target of raising at least £2 a week for the fighting fund as well.
In this way we can make sure that we can build on last year's total and raise even more in 2014. Can you help by regularly raising money yourself for the fighting fund, or by making a regular or one-off donation?
Go to www.socialistparty.org.uk/donate or telephone 02089888777
Fylde fighting back
The newly formed Fylde Coast branch of the Socialist Party is starting to make an impact. Ray Smith stood in the recent Rossall Ward byelection for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and polled 28% of the vote.
Ray has led a high-profile campaign to keep Fleetwood hospital open and oppose spending cuts.
Fylde branch members supported the PCS union on the picket line fighting the privatisation of shared services. Meetings are held monthly in Fleetwood and Ray can be contacted on 07407465179.
- Has your branch got news for the Socialist?
West Midlands prepares
Over 60 people attended the West Midlands Socialist Party conference. General secretary Peter Taaffe kicked off the day, touching on important developments in South Africa, in the US, with great election results for socialists in Seattle, and more.
Dave Nellist spoke of the need to arrange meetings with local campaigners, unions and any others likely to want to stand under the TUSC banner.
Regional secretary Dave Griffiths reported important work done by the Socialist Party across the region in 2013 and the need to build the party.
An inspirational meeting set the region up for a busy year. Reflecting the enthusiasm for continuing the struggle, over £900 was raised for the fighting fund.
National congress will take place from 8 to 10 March. Every branch should plan discussions on the congress documents and set aside time to elect the delegates. Congress is the main decision-making body of the Socialist Party.
In The Socialist 15 January 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party review