Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/440/5210
Socialist Party National Committee report
Building on our election successes
FRANCE, GERMANY, Italy... no not the World Cup finals but Europe in revolt against neo-liberal policies - this was the inspiring final discussion at the Socialist Party (SP) national committee meeting on 13-15 May.
Alistair Tice, Sheffield
Lynn Walsh described how French workers and students, in eight weeks of protest and five days of action, had defeated the right-wing government's youth (un)employment law and dealt a devastating blow to neo-liberal policies.
Tanja Neimeier gave a first-hand account of political developments in Germany, where a new Left organisation, the WASG, has emerged out of struggles against Blairite attacks on wages and conditions and public services. The Sozialistiche Alternative Voran (SAV), the German section of the Committee for a Workers' International, is playing a key role in opposing these attacks, particularly in Berlin where a coalition of the SPD and the Linkspartei are carrying them out. (See pages 4,6 and 7)
The question posed in the discussion was will these events happen in Britain. Well, they did in 1926 during the nine days of the General Strike - the 80th anniversary is this month. Peter Taaffe's new book, 1926 General Strike - workers taste power, will prepare active trade unionists and a new generation of young workers for such future struggles.
The beginnings of this process are indicated by the recent local election results. Peter explained that New Labour is in meltdown. Blair is finished, Brown is fundamentally no different. In the absence of an alternative, the Tories could make a comeback; the far-right BNP have also made gains.
However, the potential for a new workers' party is shown by the SP's election successes, which featured prominently in the discussion on building the SP.
Lois Austin highlighted SP member Jackie Grunsell's sensational victory for the NHS campaign in Huddersfield, along with the election of Rob Windsor in Coventry and the re-election of Ian Page and Chris Flood in Lewisham. These campaigns show how a working-class approach, uniting all sections of the community in a fight-back, can cut across racism and push back the BNP.
There was also discussion about how to advance the numerous campaigns erupting against NHS cuts. Jackie's election, the Big Demo in Stoke against NHS cuts and the resolution for action passed at the Unison Health conference show the effect SP members can have. All branches should be campaigning on the NHS crisis, which is affecting every area of the country.
Ken Smith outlined the progress made by the Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP), initiated by the SP last November. The launch conference in March attracted around 420 delegates and 1,800 have signed the declaration so far. Fringe meetings at the trade union conferences are attracting new supporters and a series of public meetings are planned to build up the campaign in local areas. The officers and steering committee meet this weekend to draw up further plans.
The NC meeting reflected the seemingly non-stop activity SP members have been involved in for the last nine months. It therefore is even more vital that we see all all the people who have expressed an interest in joining the SP during our election and community campaigns, visits to the picket lines and the CNWP. New targets were agreed to prioritise increasing our membership over the next two months.
It is amongst young people that we are still most likely to find those looking for an alternative to war, poverty, environmental destruction and ultimately capitalism itself said Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, introducing the youth discussion.
Radicalised by the effects of globalisation and war, a growing number of young people have turned to the ideas of genuine socialism. This was graphically demonstrated in the session itself, in which many young members spoke as visitors to the NC.
It was agreed that we need to emulate the success of Socialist Students in the universities (societies now exist in 36 universities) amongst wider layers of young people. The socialist youth organisation, International Socialist Resistance (ISR) has achieved a reputation through mobilising on anti-war and G8 protests.
A thought-provoking debate, with 30 contributions, centred on how ISR can attract more young people to socialist ideas and the party. Frankie from Bury St. Edmonds reported that she had been told: "ISR is better known than the principal" at her college.
The principal at a Southampton college also thought so when he dragged three ISR members out of their class to interrogate them for putting up anti-cuts posters!
We need to make ISR that well known everywhere. Campaigning against the BNP, low pay, academies etc - we're confident that our young members will do just that!
In The Socialist 18 May 2006:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Campaign for a New Workers Party
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis