Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/275/24515
Socialist Party Leaves Welsh Alliance
AT A special all-Wales meeting on Sunday 20 October, Socialist Party Wales members unanimously agreed to withdraw from the Welsh Socialist Alliance (WSA). Below are extracts from the Open Letter which Socialist Party Wales sent to the WSA National Council.
The Welsh Socialist Alliance was founded nearly five years ago by the Socialist Party, Cymru Goch (left republicans) and other socialists to provide an organisation in which socialists in Wales could work together in an electoral front ensuring that all trends of socialist opinion could stand candidates under one umbrella and could play a role in other campaigning issues.
All socialist organisations were invited into the WSA. The Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) declined because of its principled opposition to standing in elections. When the SWP changed its position and decided to stand in the 1999 Assembly elections, but still refused to join the WSA, the Socialist Party and the majority of other members in the WSA entered a pact to stand in the elections with the SWP under the banner of the United Socialists.
Since the belated entry of the SWP into the WSA we have attempted to work with them in the WSA, but this has increasingly become difficult as the SWP struggled to gain control of the organisation.
An attempt to remove the rule ensuring that no party can gain more than 40% of the leading positions of the WSA at the 2002 conference was thwarted by the wide opposition of WSA members.
But other conference decisions have been undermined or distorted by the SWP members in leading positions to ensure that the SWP retains a disproportionate influence over the WSA.
The Socialist Party has the greatest weight on the left amongst the Swansea working class and youth and a long and distinguished history in the Swansea labour movement. In previous elections in Swansea, we have achieved some of the best electoral votes of any socialists in Wales.
Nevertheless, we still bent over backwards to work together with other members of the WSA in Swansea for the Assembly elections. We stood down from our original choice of Swansea West where we stood in the general election in favour of another candidate and proposed instead standing in Swansea East.
The use of dishonest tactics to prevent a Socialist Party candidate from standing under the banner of the WSA, by packing the meeting to 'win' the vote and announcing an SWP candidate for Swansea East at the last minute, has given the Socialist Party little choice but to stand independently.
When the sudden appearance of a third candidate for the two Swansea seats was announced we suggested delaying the decision to allow a discussion between all interested parties to reach an amicable resolution of the problem which was immediately rejected by the SWP.
Such tactics are incompatible with the idea of a socialist alliance in which a spirit of co-operation and compromise should exist.
With the exit of the Socialist Party, following the disaffiliation of Cymru Goch, both the founding organisations of the WSA have felt compelled to leave. To lose one founding organisation could be unfortunate; to lose both can only mark the decline of the WSA as a genuine alliance.
We will support co-operation by the left and new alliances in fighting for socialist policies in the trade unions, community campaigns and in elections.
But this co-operation can only succeed if the left has an open, flexible and democratic approach, where we work together on the issues that unite us whilst respecting the right of all trends to put an independent position.
"The decision to leave the WSA was taken with regret because, as a founding party of the WSA we have consistently striven to achieve the maximum unity on the left in Wales.
However, since the entry of the Socialist Workers Party into the WSA two years ago, it has become increasingly difficult to work as a genuine alliance with the trust and co-operation that needs to exist if such an organisation is to succeed and grow.
The dishonest and underhand methods of the SWP over this period, culminating in their crude attempt to stop Socialist Party Wales candidates standing under the WSA banner at next year's Assembly election has resulted in the further decline of the WSA as a genuine alliance."
Alec Thraves, Socialist Party Wales Secretary
Crisis In The Socialist Alliance
THE SOCIALIST Party took the decision to leave the Socialist Alliance (SA), England in December last year after its conference voted for a constitution which completely changed the nature of the Alliance.
The Alliance was initially formed as an open, inclusive organisation uniting socialist groups and individuals. We explained that the new constitution would destroy what remained of this concept of a genuine Alliance. Instead it would be dominated by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and become little more than an electoral front for their organisation.
Now Liz Davies, one of the most prominent members of the SA has resigned from its executive and from her position as national chair, appearing to confirm our perspectives for the Alliance.
Below we print a copy of Liz Davies' resignation letter.
As members of the Socialist Alliance executive are aware, I have resigned as national chair of the Socialist Alliance and from the executive. I have done so with deep sadness.
I feel strongly that minimum standards of accountability and probity have not been upheld by some leading officers and members of the executive. Under the circumstances, it is clear to me that I will not be able to discharge effectively my duties to the members.
The premise of the Socialist Alliance was that individuals and groups from differing political backgrounds and perspectives could work together on a common political project. It was always clear that trust among the elements of the Socialist Alliance, and in particular trust among members of the executive and national officers, was essential to this endeavour. As a result of recent events, I feel that trust no longer exists.
I remain committed to contributing towards the development of a viable socialist alternative to New Labour.
In The Socialist 1 November 2002: