Socialist Alliance - response to majority recommendations
What CPGB proposes
Point one. The CPGB does not and cannot "agree" with the 'Founding statement' of the Socialist Alliance. It has nothing to do with socialism and reeks of sentimental anti-capitalism. However, we can critically accept it as the basis of joint work. A crucial distinction. Either way, like comrade Nellist, we believe it is best to delete point one.
Point two. There is an all-UK election. Yes, there should be "liaison" with the Scottish Socialist Party, Welsh Socialist Alliance ... and let us not forget revolutionary socialists and communists in Northern Ireland. That is why we propose the following addition: "The Liaison Committee of the Socialist Alliance would be greatly strengthened with the inclusion of delegates from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Every effort should be made to field a united list of socialist candidates in the general election. All negotiations between the Liaison Committee and comrades in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be conducted in the spirit of equality, solidarity and transparency."
Point three. We favour this addition: "We will encourage as many organisations as possible to stand under the name 'Socialist Alliance'. Ways must be found to ensure that affiliated political organisations who want to stand candidates and are prepared to carry the necessary financial and logistical burdens are given that opportunity."
Point four. The whole section should be deleted. Here we have the unmistakable hand prints of comrade John Nicholson - our joint convenor. Socialist alliances, affiliated organisations, etc, are expected to pass a restrictive quality control test: "substantial level of activity/activists" - a figure of 150 has been mentioned; "credibility of candidate"; "appropriateness of local circumstances"; "local agreement to the chosen candi-date(s)", etc. If imposed, all these criteria would limit us to no more than 20 candidates in the general election. Far too few. The Socialist Alliance should be seeking to maximise, not minimise our impact.
The SWP's John Rees emphasises that "votes matter" (Socialist Review October). He is right. But to achieve high votes, here at least we would be well advised to follow the lead of the SSP. It is publicly committed to the aim of standing in every constituency: ie, 72 seats. The LSA did exactly that in the GLA elections. As we showed, boldly fighting an election campaign not only builds organisation and finances locally, but enhances our profile and overall vote. The CPGB believes that we should set a target across the whole of the United Kingdom of standing at least 100 candidates - apparently the threshold now set to get a nationwide TV broadcast. Hence we obviously need to cooperate closely with others, especially the SSP.
Point five. The Liaison Committee, which includes all affiliated political organisations and local socialist alliances, rather than just the unrepresentative officers, should be our main body between conferences. We propose to replace point five with the following: "The Liaison Committee of the Socialist Alliance will have responsibility for resolving disputes, formally endorsing candidates, coordinating the work of the Socialist Alliance during the election campaign, our national media profile and national fundraising initiatives. Before the general election it should meet monthly. The Liaison Committee will elect extra officers and/or committees, as the need arises. During the general election campaign meetings of the Liaison Committee should be at least weekly. A headquarters must be established in London and a staff appointed."
Point six. We can go along with comrade Nellist's alternative formulation (Minority officers' report, point 5), except that the word 'agree' must be replaced by 'accept', and 'officers' by 'Liaison Committee': "The nominating officer will provide nomination papers for all local socialist alliances/groups and political organisations who accept the minimum programme in order for them to be able to use the name 'Socialist Alliance' on the ballot paper. In return all such local socialist alliances/groups and political organisations will agree to supply the Liaison Committee with whatever financial information is necessary to comply with the new election legislation."
Point seven. Gives all power to the existing unrepresentative officers. Delete.
Point eight. This protocol lasts "only" for the general election. We must keepgoing forward. Delete.
Point nine. "There is a commitment from this conference to hold a policy and review conference (possibly in February)." Too late. We should begin to campaign politically as soon as possible. Replace 'February' with 'December or before'. We must also give comrades drafting our manifesto clear guidelines. The CPGB therefore proposes the following addition:
"The following principles should be included in the Socialist Alliance's general election statement:
- The Alliance considers:
- Socialism is the beginning of human freedom.
- Socialism and democracy are inseparable.
- Socialism is conquered by the working class. It cannot be delivered from on high - neither by a parliamentary majority nor a revolutionary party.
- Socialism is international or it is nothing. There can be no socialism in one country.
- The Alliance fights for the maximum democracy under existing social conditions. The struggle to extend democracy under capitalism prepares the conditions which make socialism possible. In particular the Alliance commits itself to:
- Abolition of the monarchy, abolition of the second chamber of parliament, annual elections.
- For a federal republic of England, Scotland and Wales. For the right of Scotland, Wales and Ireland to self-determination. For a united Ireland within which a British-Irish province exercises self-determination.
- For the closest political and organisational unity of the working class - including in and against the Eurod. The Alliance opposes all forms of racism, chauvinism, sexism, nationalism and separatism".