Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/525/3898
Building a campaigning, fighting socialist party
Informed by discussions on likely political developments, worldwide and in Britain, the Socialist Party congress also examined what these mean for us organisationally in the session on 'building the Socialist Party'.
Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party secretary
The National Shop Stewards Network, the Campaign for a New Workers Party, defending the NHS, fighting against tuition fees, pushing for united public-sector action on pay, the fantastic turnout of 900 people to Socialism 2007 - these are just some of the areas in which the Socialist Party has made a significant impact in the last year.
These achievements are matched by our involvement in winning local victories, including against housing privatisation in Lewisham and the significant victory on single status in Greenwich.
Several newer young members reported on how they are building their branches. Jake Moore from Shropshire emphasised the importance of social relationships in the branch. One new member had likened the party to an iced bun: "the cake is that there's a branch in Shropshire, the icing is that you're active and campaigning, the cherry on the top is that you go to the pub after!"
With the present turmoil in the world economy, more people are likely to conclude that the capitalist system doesn't work and look for alternatives. We agreed to make sure all branches are welcoming to new people.
All branches can hold regular public meetings. Lots of people have been to our meetings on ideological issues like Che Guevara and the world economy after seeing leaflets and posters. Branches are holding public meetings on abortion rights and on Cuba, and are planning meetings on France 1968.
We discussed our regular public activity, and how branches can initiate local campaigns, such as against post office closures and on the NHS.
Ross Saunders moved a Cardiff branch resolution on improving party stalls, which was agreed by the congress. Tom Scott reported how Barnsley/Doncaster branch has been reinvigorated with new members and more activity, including their anti-BNP campaign.
Nick Parker from Lincoln and Nick Kirk from Reading discussed some of the detailed work necessary to properly recruit and integrate new people, while Peter Knight reported on the success of Brighton as a youthful branch with well attended public meetings.
We agreed we need to help new members develop the best methods in our campaigning activity and introduce other people to Marxist ideas. Political discussions, individually or in groups, and where possible regional day schools, are particularly important.
Leah Jones explained how Leytonstone branch in London had turned itself around with a lot more activity and new people joining.
Greg Randall raised the importance of work amongst lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Vicky Perrin and Eleanor Donne stressed the need to campaign amongst women on abortion rights and other issues.
The session also discussed developing the Campaign for a New Workers Party, and urged party members to help upcoming election campaigns, particularly in getting Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist re-elected in Coventry.
The congress fighting fund appeal raised £13,357, which was followed by a successful appeal for members to increase their party subs.
In The Socialist 19 March 2008:
National Union of Teachers Conference
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party news and analysis
Post Office closures
Socialist Party congress 2008
International socialist news and analysis