"Looking forward to changing the world"

Socialism 2005:

"Looking forward to changing the world"

Socialism 2005 rallyA
BUZZ filled the main hall at the Friends Meeting House as we began to
pack in for the main Socialism 2005 rally – older members who had been
part of the mass struggles of the 1970s and 80s and, in their hundreds,
school students, college and university students, young workers. A new
generation of fighters who want to change the world, who are looking for
socialist ideas.

“We’re angry” said Hannah Sell, national organiser of
Socialism 2005. “Angry that 20,000 people die from poverty every day;
angry at Bush and his murderous war in Iraq; angry that a collection of
individuals own more wealth than three billion people on the planet.”

Big business thought they had seen the end of socialism with the
collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s but as more and more workers
enter struggle to defend their wages and conditions, then socialist
ideas are arising again.

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, national co-ordinator of International
Socialist Resistance (ISR) described her experiences at the World Social
Forum in Brazil and how ISR had tried to bring the culture and vivacity
of Brazilian socialists to Britain. The red contingent of ISR and
Socialist Students, the flags, the music, the chants mark them out on
every demo, particularly the massive Make Poverty History demo in

Socialism 2005 rallyBut
young people aren’t joining us just because we’re the brightest and
liveliest but because of our socialist ideas.

The young people who marched behind our Make Capitalism History
banner in Edinburgh know that every aspect of their lives is under
attack. A 16 year old on the minimum wage of £3 an hour would take
200,000 years to earn the same as Top Shop boss Philip Green! Climate
change threatens our future while Exxon/Mobil make $110 million profit
every day.

Nathan Aldridge, a member of Military Families Speak Out and
Socialist Alternative (sister party of the Socialist Party in the US)
explained how the anti-war movement is growing. With two brothers, one
just back from Iraq and one in Afghanistan, he knows the brutal
realities for US soldiers.

Up to 100,000 protesters participated in vigils over the summer to
support Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, as she
held her own vigil outside George Bush’s ranch, to ask him why her son
had to die. Students have walked out of school to protest against the
war and occupation (see page 5 reports).

The hall then rose to salute the family of Jean Charles de Menezes
was shot by police following the bomb attacks on 7/7. They spoke
movingly about their determination to fight for the truth about his
death and for justice. They thanked the Socialist Party for our support
and Jean’s cousin added:

“Tony Blair thinks that he rules the world, but compared to the
people he is very small. You have to fight to the end, not just for
dreams. Maybe this is a new beginning, to try and build a society
where something like this doesn’t happen.”

“Workers must stand and fight together. If we can’t fight against
capitalism then we can’t stand up. Fight together and bring socialism
back.” This was the call from Harbinder Singh, one of the Gate
Gourmet workers who are still fighting for their jobs and justice.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS civil servants union Mark
, general secretary of the PCS civil servants union declared
that he was proud that his union had led the fight back against Blair
and Brown’s attacks on the public sector, where 104,000 workers were
sacked on TV. PCS is one of the fastest-growing unions in Britain
because it is prepared to stand up and fight for its members. The union
was responsible for 48% of strikes in the last year – think what
millions more workers could do to fight privatisation and war.

Trade union officials who don’t want to fight should get out and we
have to ensure that the tide sweeps out these corrupt politicians who
look after big business and stab workers in the back.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBUMatt
, general secretary of the FBU, which disaffiliated from the
Labour Party in 2004, echoed the importance of socialist ideas – having
the chance at a meeting like this to look up from the detail of union
negotiations to the wider perspective of struggling for a socialist

No one could help but be inspired as the rally was shown film footage
of Joe Higgins, Socialist Party TD (MP) in Ireland taking on the
establishment in the Dail (Irish parliament) over the scandal of Turkish
migrant workers employed by multinational company Gama (see page 9 for
more details).

Speaking at the rally in person, Joe described the huge vacuum that
exists on the left. The situation internationally is crying out for a
socialist lead.

Hurricane Katrina ripped away the cloak and exposed capitalism. The
most powerful country there has ever been, able to send 700,000 soldiers
halfway around the world to Iraq, was unable to rescue its own people in
New Orleans.

Joe emphasised the need for socialist ideas to be taken out to all
those who want to change the world and become a mighty force –
preventing environmental catastrophe, abolishing poverty and war.

Sascha Stanicic general secretary of SAV (the Socialist Party’s
sister party in Germany), echoed the need to build an international
socialist workers’ organisation. He reported on the massive attacks
that had been launched against the German workers, the formation of a
new Left party, and the role of SAV in initiating a demo of 100,000
workers and you and winning councillors.

Socialism 2005 RallyPeter
, general secretary of the Socialist Party, said how inspiring
the rally had been, how every contribution had informed and showed a way

He explained how Blair’s legacy would be a weakening and worsening
of the conditions of the working class, the destruction of Fallujah, the
shooting of Jean Charles, and 90 day detention without trial.

In the past Britain had been a haven for revolutionaries. Marx,
Engels, Lenin and Trotsky had all lived in exile here; now it is a haven
for gangsters and privateers, like Russian billionaire Abramovich. The
rich flaunt their wealth in the face of the working class because of the
capitulation of the Labour and trade union leaders.

Victory could have been guaranteed at Gate Gourmet. Solidarity
action, spread across Heathrow, would have smashed the opposition of the

We have to build an alternative. Inequality is woven into the very
fabric of capitalism – there is enough food for everyone but 800
million go to bed hungry every day. This is a system that doesn’t
deserve to survive.

Socialism 2005 rallyWe
have a program, a policy, an idea. Karl Marx said: “Once an idea
captures the imagination of the working class it becomes a material

We must build our party, open our doors but for every ten who would
join us there are many more who would be ready to join a mass party. The
Socialist Party are launching a campaign for a new workers’ party. We
applaud and support Bob Crowe’s initiative for a conference towards
building a mass alternative to New Labour.

The best layer of a generation are coming to join the struggle for
socialism. We have held the line and now we can go forward and take on
the greatest task in history, the liberation of humankind.

Socialist films

FILM FOOTAGE at the rally showed members of the Committee for a
Workers’ International (CWI), the socialist international to which the
Socialist Party is affiliated, at the World Social Forum (WSF) in

Another film showed the devastation wrought by the earthquake in Bagh
in Kashmir and how the Trade Union Rights Campaign Pakistan, supported
by the CWI, has delivered food and aid to the stricken area.

A brief history of the Socialist Party and its predecessor, Militant
depicted the tremendous struggle of Liverpool city council against
Thatcher’s Tory government, the 1984-85 miners strike and the
million-strong Poll Tax non-payment campaign.

Youth Rally

Fight for your future

“Britain has produced a generation of angry youth, it’s vital
that we show them that there is something worth fighting for.” Frankie
Langeland, ISR organiser in the Eastern region emphasise how young
people may start discussing with us because they are against the war but
then they find they agree with our ideas.

Socialism 2005Jim
Thompson, Socialist Students organiser in Exeter mentioned just some of
the campaigns we have organised. There was the campaign against ‘Miss
DMU’ at DeMontfort university and unionising student workers, cuts in
lecturers at Brunel, bus fares and library prices at Swansea university
and against the devastation of Fallujah at Sussex university.

It shows that we’re not just a discussion group, that we fight on
day to day issues and seek to link up with workers and trade unions
wherever possible. Socialist Students have organised solidarity visits
to PCS picket lines and lecturers strikes.

Mark Treude, SAV councillor in Aachen in Germany brought solidarity
greetings and explained that he was the only councillor who had spoken
out against privatisation and cuts at council meetings. After one
meeting, workers had stayed behind to applaud him and he had persuaded
one of them to begin to build opposition to the cuts in their trade

Nathan Aldridge from the US described the mass walkouts led by Youth
against War and Racism in several cities.

Bush and Blair thought the invasion of Iraq would be easy but it is
our analysis that has been proved correct, said Colin Wray. We have to
continue to campaign for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq
and support the right to resist the occupation while opposing
indiscriminate terrorism.

James Kerr stressed the importance of discussing socialist ideas.
Many young people who first joined us because they were against the war
and wanted to organise themselves and discuss politics. Many have now
moved into the workplace, joining trade unions and fighting cuts,
privatisation and attacks on pensions.

The inspiring G8 protests showed the power and anger of young people.
Young members now have to take on the responsibility of leading,
organising and building ISR. Youth are the future of society but they
have to fight for that future, a socialist future.

Finance appeal raises £27,614

The Fighting Fund appeal at the rally raised a magnificent £27,614
– quadrupling the amount raised at Socialism 2004.

Jane James described the collection as a chance for some audience
participation and the response was incredible.

The collection began with a tremendous donation of £8,000 from Steve
Glennon in Stevenage who had inherited some money. A young student from
Leicester gave £1,000 inherited from his nan “who was a proud

Porters from Whipps Cross hospital in Walthamstow, London had clubbed
together to donate £50. Danni, who is unwaged gave £5.

Some branches and regions had collected money from members and
supporters to make group donations. Hackney branch donated £1,125,
Lambeth £768.50, Tower Hamlets £725, Wales £2,695 and £700 from
Mansfield and North Derbyshire.

Thanks also to Paula and Chris (who work for the London Party) who
donated £250, Daunett Kelly £1,000 and Oliver Campbell £5.

We are just sorry that we can only mention some of the donations
because every one is immensely appreciated.

Thanks to all our members and supporters who contributed to the
appeal. The tremendous result reflects the confidence and determination
to struggle for socialism.

10% of the collection will be sent to the Trade Union Rights Campaign
Pakistan to help trade unionists there to assist the earthquake

What you thought

Beth Baker and Martin Clements (PCS Bradford) "The rally was
really quite inspiring – to see everybody in solidarity. The worst
thing was having to choose which session to go to – there were so many
good ones!"

Robbie Faulds (PCS Sheffield) "It was much better than I
expected. Level of debate was very high. I wish it could have gone on
for a couple of weeks!"

Iain Dalton (Huddersfield University Socialist Students)
"Really enjoyed the input from the international comrades. You
can read about it in the socialist, but it’s so much better to hear
about it first hand."

Neil Jacques (new young member Wakefield) ""Getting
together with socialists from all around the country gives you real
hope for the future."

Nigel Poustie (Leeds SP) "Best thing was singing The
Internationale – never done that before."

Ollie Paton (Sheffield University Socialist students)
"Increased my knowledge. Answered quite a few questions I had.
Made you want to go out and increase your activism."

Babs Hamilton (Huddersfield SP) "Wonderful weekend. Would have
liked to go to all the talks. Highlight? Just being here, being free
to think. Away from all the pressures of everyday life."

Vicky Perrin (Huddersfield SP) "Creche was absolutely
fantastic and made all the difference to me. Didn’t have to miss
anything. Jake (my son) loved it, and he got two meals a day which was
more than me!"

Abeer Ali Aljuhanay (new Sheffield SP member) "Brilliant. Very
inspirational. It was not just talking about old socialism but about
what’s happening now."


General strike needed

YANN VENIER from Gauche Revolutionnaire, the Socialist Party’s counterpart in France, spoke about the strike movement sweeping France and the recent riots in many cities. He explained how young people have every reason to be angry, even if they have chosen the wrong target to protest against.

They are facing unemployment and a government intent on cutting most
of the social gains won by the working class. The measures are like
those pursued by Thatcher in Britain – privatisation, cuts in social
security and pensions, attacks on working conditions and wages,
redundancies and the introduction of authoritarian laws.

The trade union leaders are trying to negotiate with the government
but the government are not interested. A general strike is needed but
the union leaders are actively blocking any attempts to build the
struggle. When the sailors from nationalised ferry companies were
struggling against privatisation, their leaders accepted partial
privatisation. The CGT leaders were still trying to negotiate whilst the
sailors were being attacked by the paramilitary state forces.

The political organisations of the left and the far left are no
better. All they are doing is looking forward to the presidential
elections in 2007.

The Gauche Revolutionnaire (GR) has a strong position in Rouen and
when riots broke out there, GR were alone in arguing against the
repressive measures and coming out in support of young people.

“We see the need for a combative programme against the government’s
cuts – which links to the need for socialist change, ” Yann concluded.

Trade Union Rally

Campaign for a new workers’ party

LINDA TAAFFE, a member of the national executive committee of the
National Union of Teachers opened the packed final rally on the campaign
for a new workers’ party. She introduced Janice Godrich, civil service
union PCS president.

Janice explained that she was supporting the declaration because the
PCS is in the front line of the battle against the government’s attack
on the public sector.

She called for all young people to join a union and build a united
struggle against the attacks on working class people.

Roger Bannister, a member of UNISON’s national executive, related
how he had recently been asked by UNISON head office why his branch,
Knowsley, had significantly increased its membership several times over
the last few years.

“Strike action is the best recruiting sergeant” he explained
and the person from head office seemed a bit surprised.

“Few national trade union leaders are really up to the task” he
said. Many examples show this – the most notorious recently being the
British Airways baggage handlers being sent back to work when they
came out in solidarity with the Gate Gourmet workers.

“In the 1980s in Liverpool we picked up the banner of socialism
and delivered a body blow to the Tory government. During the struggle
against the poll tax in the 1990s, when many on the left, including
the SWP, had abandoned non-payment, we picked it up and went forward
to victory.

So now’s the time to pick up the banner of socialism again and
build a new workers’ party.”

Sultans of bling

Tony Mulhearn, one of the 47 heroic Liverpool councillors who stood
up to a vicious Tory government, introduced his speech underlining the
degeneration of New Labour into neo-liberalism. This degeneration is
summed up by David Blunkett’s demise – a man “who thinks it’s his
good looks and charisma which makes him attractive to bourgeois women”.

“These people are the real Sultans of Bling” he said. “You
can judge them by the company they keep – which inevitably has an
effect on the policies they carry out."

He ended by explaining how in the 1980s, when supporters of the
Militant had a huge influence in the city, the Liverpool District Labour
Party (DLP) had policies about jobs, homes and services. But it also had
a policy for the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the

Then would have been a good time to launch a new workers’ party
which could have kept the traditions of socialism and struggle alive
through the subsequent years when New Labour was on the ascendant.

“Now the objective situation is rotten ripe for the establishment
of a new party.”


The weekend was fantastic, very uplifting and encouraging not to
mention informative. There was so much going on, shame it had to be
condensed into a weekend.

Andrew, hospital worker, Kendal

Also, the feeling that we are part of something progressive and
radical rather than just a small detached group in the North West puts
a different perspective on things. Anyway, I phoned my mum after the
weekend and explained in detail what happened and how affected I was
by it and, well, she might come herself next year!

Also, Jonathan Swift from Lancaster is now completely
"sold" to socialism and this has given us real impetus to
put together a fighting strategy for our area! Thanks for everything
you did, especially in regards transport to make this possible.

Jon Swift from Lancaster, who joined at Socialism 2005, says
"I had a top weekend. Eye-opening, inspiring, motivating… I
look forward to changing the world!"

The new Kendal/Lancaster branch is launching a campaign against
cuts to the A&E and mental health wards at Kendal hospital, as
well as building at Lancaster University.

An outstanding weekend, well done to the comrades who organised it
– it’s inspired and re-inspired all comrades who attended with a
fantastic turnout and excellent sessions.

Australia protests

OVER HALF a million Australian workers marched on 15 November,
protesting against the anti-union industrial relations laws of the
right-wing Liberal government. Around 250,000 workers marched in
Melbourne, during the country’s biggest ever national stoppage.

Hundreds of people attended a meeting in Melbourne to discuss
political representation for working people. Speakers included leaders
of the electricians’, postal workers’, plumbers and fire fighters’
unions, and Steve Jolly, Socialist Party (CWI) councillor.

Some union speakers said workers have no choice but to
"reform" the Australian Labor Party (ALP). Steve argued the
ALP is no longer a vehicle for workers’ struggles and carries out
pro-market policies when in power. Steve got a very good response to his
call for a new mass, workers’ party, with socialist policies.

For more details/photos visit: www.socialistworld.net