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From The Socialist newspaper, 12 January 2006

National committee report:

Priorities and opportunities in 2006

The national committee meeting of the Socialist Party on 7-8 January was held in preparation for our national congress on 11-13 February (see page 8). CHRIS NEWBY reports.

Peter Taaffe, General Secretary, underlined the uncertainty that exists across the world. Over the Christmas period, we saw the clash between Ukraine and Russia over gas supplies and more recently the severe stroke suffered by Israeli prime minister Sharon and the resignation of Charles Kennedy as leader of the Liberal democrats.

Economic growth is extremely vulnerable, based as it is on high levels of debt and overpriced housing both in the USA and the UK. It has not benefited the majority of the population and the gap between the rich and poor is widening. But Bush's position has been seriously weakened with the various corruption investigations and the continuing quagmire of Iraq.

A key issue is the resistance that is developing to governments' and bosses' attacks, including the first ever national strike of workers in the magistrates courts. The discussion highlighted the potential for further battles in the workplaces, including on the critical issue of pensions both in the public and private sector.

The discussions underlined the crucial role that Socialist Party members are playing in these and other struggles, such as the protests in Pembroke in support of the Irish Ferries workers, and in campaigns to defend health services in Warminster and Huddersfield.

This first discussion underlined the critical need for a new mass workers' party. Hannah Sell, introducing the discussion on this campaign, highlighted the work that had already been done, such as in Manchester where members are holding weekly stalls outside Job Centres and other government workplaces. The discussion showed both the positive response the campaign was getting and the amount of campaigning work being carried out, with local launches being organised in the run-up to the national conference on 19 March.

Hannah then outlined the priorities for our work in 2006. Building the Socialist Party is crucial and new recruitment targets for the year were proposed for the congress.

2005 was a very successful year for the party including raising over 100,000 fighting fund. The national committee agreed to propose to the national congress an increase in the quarterly fighting fund target to 25,000 and a monthly increase in the membership dues of 3,000 above what we are currently receiving. The meeting also agreed to propose a major campaign on the sales of the socialist newspaper.

In the report from the International Executive of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) Judy Beishon outlined developments in Latin America highlighting Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela.

CWI members in Brazil are playing an important part in the development of P-SOL, the new left party there. Venezuela is an important country in this region and Socialist Party members will be attending the World Social Forum there to raise the policies and programme of the CWI (see also page 5).

The meeting then ended with a discussion on the proposed national committee, to be voted on at the national congress.

This was an excellent meeting underlining the enormous volatility in Britain and internationally and the big opportunities within this situation to build the Socialist Party and to reach out to a far wider audience through our ideas and campaigning work.

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In The Socialist 12 January 2006:

Defend the NHS

Fight back against far right

Stop the privatisation of council housing

Tuition fees repel poor students

Striking for jobs, services and rights

Successful tube strike must be escalated

Make your mind up time for Lib Dems?

For an alternative to New Labour

Democratic discussion, debate and decision-making

Priorities and opportunities in 2006

Fighting for socialist ideas world wide

109,315 - a record year for the fighting fund!

Solidarity with Tehran bus workers

After Sharon, what next?


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