The Socialist 28 April 2021 |
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South West regional conference shows that socialist ideas can grow
Defending the right to protest, in Bristol, photo Mike Luff
Robin Clapp, Socialist Party South West regional secretary
Socialist Party members from 29 towns, cities and even villages gathered over Zoom for the Socialist Party South West region conference on 18 April.
Hannah Sell, Socialist Party general secretary, introduced the first session with an analysis of the current volatile political situation in Britain and internationally. This prompted a wide-ranging and rich discussion that dealt with the crisis in working-class political representation, impending battles in BT, the lessons of the British Gas workers' defeat over 'fire and rehire', and the dangerous situation smouldering in Northern Ireland.
In the afternoon, we reviewed the work of the Socialist Party in the last year, a uniquely challenging one that had nevertheless seen us recruit 56 new members in the region. Stand-out contributions from young workers Joe and Henry highlighted the role that the Socialist Party had played in arming them both with a programme and the confidence to go out and recruit others.
Both sessions were chaired by members who had joined since December 2019 and are now branch secretaries. New party branches are beginning to flourish in Dorset, North West Somerset, and Cornwall, and we were very pleased to have representation at the conference from visitors in Swindon.
Reports were given about the successful trade union work we have helped to initiate, with several regional National Shop Stewards Network meetings being held over the last year. We have also been the catalyst through our work in various trades councils for the launching of regular regional 'key workers summits'.
With another 26 new members already signed up since January, and a group of at least ten more who want to join following further discussion, there is plenty to do. Standing as part of the nearly 60 candidates in the local elections under the banner of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), members appreciated the few hours at conference to stand back and acknowledge the strides forward we have made.
Discussing ideas is important, formulating perspectives and tactics indispensable, but matching words with deeds determines whether a party is serious about succeeding. To that end the conference finished on a triumphant note with the announcement that the meticulously planned fighting fund appeal had yielded a colossal £3,505 in donations.
Despite working in often challenging and inhospitable geographical areas of Tory terrain, South West members continue to demonstrate that in this period socialist ideas can be popular everywhere.