Coventry by numbers
Two unions, three rooms and three trends
Due to an unforeseen double booking the September 30 Coventry conference of the Socialist Alliance was a somewhat disjointed event. The 700-seat upstairs room and balcony, which we were scheduled to use, was actually given over by the management of the Central Methodist Hall to a local wedding party.
To their bemusement and amusement guests had to negotiate their way through a determined phalanx of leftwing paper sellers. Snaps of the newly weds arriving at their reception might well have in their background the blurred images of some of Britain's leading revolutionaries. Given the country's high rate of divorce, our 'Deeper unity not break-ups' headline carried a particularly apposite message for the difficult years to come.
As for us, the 400 Socialist Alliance members who travelled to the conference from near and far, we were crammed into three adjoining ground floor rooms. The comrades sat in the two annexes must have been very frustrated. They could neither see the speakers nor hear them properly. Sometimes exactly what was going on in the main body of the conference must have been a complete mystery.
Nevertheless by the end of the day there were two unions to celebrate. The core components of the Socialist Alliance emerged united and ready to fight as one the forthcoming general election. The final vote for a much amended election protocol was overwhelming. We might not as yet love or even like each other, but the main parties and groups of the left have entered into a binding agreement which eventually, if consistently carried through, at least in terms of logic, unmistakably points in the direction of a single organisation. Needless to say, there is a fair distance to go and many hurdles to cross before that happy day.
1. Three trends
Prior to, and during any serious meeting of the left, there usually emerge key issues and points of difference which reveal, or actually cohere, the existence of distinct and rival political trends. The Coventry conference proved to be no exception. Indeed it should be stressed that the whole future of the Socialist Alliance will be determined by which trend eventually emerges the strongest. Precisely because of that members of the Socialist Alliance are well advised to pay particular attention to the debates which took place at Coventry. No matter how pinched and truncated, they have great significance.
The first thing to note is that Coventry verified that the Socialist Alliance contains three basic trends. What distinguishes these trends is not merely the immediate organisational issues involved in the general election protocols, but the programme, principles and purpose of the Socialist Alliance. Of the three trends, by far the largest - at least for the time being - are, on the one hand, the Socialist Workers Party and, on the other hand, the Socialist Party in England and Wales.
Of the 400 present at Coventry each of these two organisations must have mobilised in the region of 150 apiece. The SWP thankfully observed its self-limiting pledge - it could have easily swamped the conference. SPEW, in contrast, seemed to have bussed in everything available - Peter Taaffe, the national committee and all. Around each of the big two, smaller groups and like-minded flotsam and jetsam gathered. The SWP's closest allies being Greg Tucker's and Dave Packer's International Socialist Group - publishers of Socialist Outlook. SPEW found its additional support in the Socialist Alliance's anarcho and localist elements.
It must be emphasised that what divided these two trends was not simply the bitter confessional animosity and organisational squabbles that habitually characterise relations between the SWP and SPEW. As we shall show, the SWP advocates economism and bureaucratic centralism in the Socialist Alliance - as it does within its own internal regime. SPEW is equally economistic, but, when it comes to the Socialist Alliance, comrade Taaffe wants to enact a series of crafty protocols which put the rights of the part above the whole: i.e., he adopts the anti-centralist stance of anarcho-bureaucracy.
What of the third trend? At Coventry it was in the main represented by members and supporters of the Communist Party of Great Britain. The Alliance for Workers' Liberty and Workers Power appeared to view the event more as an opportunity to make abstract propaganda than a living process to build and shape. Though a scattering of smaller delegations and freelance individual members rallied to our principles and perspectives, there is no dispute whatsoever that this third trend was in comparative terms tiny. We accounted for just over 10% of the conference.
The parity in size between the bureaucratic centralist (SWP) and anarcho-bureaucratic (SPEW) trends allowed the third trend to play a crucial role. Though we lost both our programmatic motions by wide margins in the morning session, from there on in, almost without exception, the amendments proposed by, or backed by, the CPGB narrowly squeezed home. As indicated by the consistent string of majorities - ranging from three to 49 - we could make or break.
The voting saw us bloc with the SWP, only then to bloc with SPEW at the next moment. That caused an alternation of annoyance and uncomprehending surprise in both of these camps. However, it goes without saying that our intention at the start of the day - when those in charge of our delegation frantically worked through the 27 amendments being tabled - was neither to flatter, punish nor to hold the balance of power. Obviously that was an unpredictable accident. Nevertheless one leading SWPer, who should know better, left the conference angrily informing us that never again would we be allowed to play such a role. I trust that this implicit threat to pack meetings was delivered in the heat of the moment and that more sober councils will prevail. Either way, as everyone is aware, the CPGB has its own distinct principles and perspectives.
We have openly stated from the start of the Socialist Alliance that we want to mould it into a unity of Britain's revolutionary left and encourage the whole process in the direction of a single democratic centralist party. The CPGB seeks neither a soggy red-green formation nor a 'broad' new workers' party, dominated by a resuscitated left reformism, in which revolutionary socialists and communists constitute a tolerated but loyal minority.
Our goal of democratic centralism and a Leninist minimum-maximum programme dictated the CPGB's amendments to the officers' report and recommendations and explains why we supported this, then that, formulation coming from, or supported by, the big two. I will concretely expand on our stance below.
Hence the other charge levelled against us by our SWP alliance partners, that the CPGB constituted itself as a kind of Menshevik Internationalist faction vacillating between the poles of Menshevism (SPEW) and Bolshevism (SWP), is altogether baseless.
As the reader will doubtless be aware, the Menshevik Internationalists were formed during World War I in opposition to the defencism of the majority, who backed Mother Russia against the German foe. Trotsky counted himself amongst their ranks. The position of the Menshevik Internationalists was not far from defeatism.
After the October 1917 revolution they proposed a coalition of all soviet parties, as against those Mensheviks who simply condemned the Bolsheviks out of hand as usurpers. Though that came to nothing, the Menshevik Internationalists remained in the 2nd Congress of the Soviets after the other Mensheviks and the Right Socialist Revolutionaries stormed out. During the civil war the Menshevik Internationalists urged members to enlist in the Red Army.
Martov, the foremost leader of the Menshevik Internationalists, was famously dubbed the Hamlet of the Russian Revolution. He could never quite make up his mind. One of the original editors of Iskra, he split with Lenin at the RSDLP's 2nd Congress in 1903 over the Party's principles of organisation. Martov subsequently swung between the politics of Bolshevism and maintaining his filial links with mainstream Menshevism. He once tried to "frighten" Trotsky, with the prospect that by breaking with the Mensheviks he would "deliver himself into the hands of Grisha Zinoviev" and the Bolsheviks. Unlike Trotsky, he never did. In 1923 Martov died an exile in Berlin.
Besides our consistent revolutionary programmatic and democratic centralist principles, the idea that the CPGB plays a similar role to the Menshevik Internationalists is flawed on another count. It relies on an equals sign between Bolshevism and the SWP. In fact both the SWP and SPEW are qualitatively alienated from Bolshevism. In terms of a political category they are much closer to the spirit of Menshevism - albeit, respectively, being its centre and right. As the votes at Coventry prove, the SWP was responsible, in tandem with SPEW, for first defeating amendments embodying the Bolshevik principle of 'one state, one party', and then rejecting as guidelines the basic Marxist understanding of what socialism is and what it is not. More on this revealing moment below.
Finally in terms of introductory remarks, let me mention Norma Turner's little missive in the morning session. This comrade, one of John Nicholson's sidekicks in Greater Manchester, rounded upon those having the effrontery to submit amendments to the officers' recommendations. The poor thing dislikes sharp conflict and narrow votes. Instead she would have us obediently sitting, listening and clapping the reactionary musings of greens and triumphalist reports from Prague, or whatever the latest 'success' of the left is deemed to be from on high. Worryingly there was a philistine ripple of applause from certain quarters.
The only amendment comrade Turner would countenance came from the ISG (backed by the SWP). It would have surgically downgraded the importance of political organisations and political affiliations in the Socialist Alliance. Twice it was narrowly defeated, primarily through the joint efforts of SPEW and the CPGB. Obviously comrade Turner would feel at home at one of Stalin's staged-managed congresses. More to the point, the fact that the Socialist Alliance could passionately debate a whole range of contentious motions and amendments and emerge united bodes well for those determined not to imprison their minds.
There was no walk-out by SPEW. Though if the SWP trend had won everything across the board I am convinced that we would have witnessed one. Comrade Taaffe was there not to make friends and mend fences - he snubbed Catriona Grant, the SSP fraternal delegate - but to lead his troops out of the hall if the need arose. Whether or not Dave Nellist would have meekly followed him, who knows? (As an aside I must comment upon comrade Nellist's chairing of the conference - given that there was an unnecessary cut-off point at 4pm, he was businesslike and scrupulously fair.)
It is no secret that Taaffe and his lieutenants have a jaundiced view of the Socialist Alliance. No one should forget his disgraceful 'Ken Livingstone and a new workers' party' article in which he damned the SWP and every other component of the LSA (Socialism Today April).
True SPEW was responsible for launching local Socialist Alliances as a counter-response to its exclusion from Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party. But, as the only serious force that manifested any interest was the CPGB, Taaffe's enthusiasm quickly drained away. SPEW did hardly a thing to build the LSA, everything to wind it down. SPEW's attitude slid into aggressive hostility once the SWP decisively threw its lot in with the Socialist Alliance project. During the GLA campaign SPEW actively sought to undermine the LSA, although its Ian Page in Lewisham ran as an LSA constituency candidate.
My guess is that SPEW is deeply divided over the Socialist Alliance. While comrade Taaffe was quite prepared to "break up the Socialist Alliance general election electoral challenge" and stand under SPEW's legally registered title, Socialist Alternative, comrade Nellist and co have managed to force a compromise. As things turned out, none of the three trends won everything, none lost everything. Such healthy democracy prevented a damaging split.
2. Divisions before the conference
Prior to the Coventry conference the Socialist Alliance's six officers found themselves split four to two. Affiliated organisations and individual members received a majority recommendation and a minority set of proposals signed by comrade Nellist. One day before we met, affiliated organisations received an e-mail with a much more acceptable version redrafted at the 11th hour. We were asked to submit our amendments to this brand new document.
Originally the officer's majority of Declan O'Neill, Dave Church and Rob Hoveman had waved through a batch of proposals drafted by comrade Nicholson - the joint convenor of the Socialist Alliance. It included some terrible formulations. E.g., socialist alliances, affiliated organisations, etc, were expected to pass his 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 candidate(s)", etc.
If imposed, all these restrictions would have limited us to no more than 20 candidates in the general election. Far too few. The CPGB believes that we should set a target across the whole of the United Kingdom of standing at least 100 candidates - the threshold now set to get a nationwide TV broadcast. Hence we obviously need to cooperate closely with others, especially the SSP.
Two additional points ought to be made. Firstly, the fact that the final officers' protocol underwent some drastic changes must have caused severe discomfort for comrade Nicholson. Out went his demand that we must all "agree" with the awful founding statement of the Socialist Alliance. Out went his sectarian "anti-sectarian approach". Out went his quality control test. That he was left alone, isolated as the sole advocate of the Socialist Alliance's general election campaign being run solely by the unrepresentative body of officers, shows just how out of touch he has become. His status and authority is much reduced.
The second point is that comrade Nellist's minority report allows us to explore the underlying issues and arguments that divide the bureaucratic centralist and anarcho-bureaucratic trends. According to comrade Nellist, the majority proposals "represent an extreme centralisation of our structures". Supposedly comrade Nicholson's recommendations "are designed for a party, not an alliance". The Socialist Alliance, wrote comrade Nellist, is made up of a wide range of individuals and organisations, which despite political differences can "work together for common objectives". It would be "a major error to change this approach now, without discussion, under the pressure of the impending election campaign".
Comrade Nellist held out the prospect of involving "far wider" forces. He vaguely referred to groups of trade unionists and political organisations, but in the end could only cite the Campaign Against Tube Privatisation and the anti-cuts campaign in Kidderminster. According to comrade Nellist, it would be "unreasonable and unrealistic to demand that, the first time they work with us, they have to adhere to a centralised party structure".
In truth they are hardly hammering on our door. Nor is CATP or the Kidderminster campaign socialist in terms of programme. They are both determinedly single-issue. There is no indication whatsoever that they would commit themselves to a "common socialist platform". Nevertheless for comrade Nellist these organisations should only be "encouraged" to put 'Socialist Alliance' on the ballot paper. Even if they do not do that, provided they have 'Socialist Alliance' in their election material and "agree to" a minimum election programme, then we should be "prepared to welcome them on board", and presumably into our decision-making processes and structures. Socialist Alternative would of course also qualify according to these criteria.
In opposition to the majority's "extreme" centralisation, comrade Nellist insisted that it was essential to "continue" to organise on the "principle of the united front". We shall deal once more with that old chestnut below. Suffice to say, for comrade Nellist himself a united front is based on principles that include a "common socialist platform" and allowing organisations and individuals "the right to uphold their political positions".
The fears of SPEW are, of course, not without foundation. Earlier this year an SWP bloc in the LSA voted through an ill-advised ban on organisations selling partisan literature while canvassing. That is nothing to do with a united front, nor is it anything to do with a party structure based on the principles of democratic centralism. Within SPEW, comrade Nellist's own "centralised party structure", individuals have no "right to uphold their political positions" in public. But that is typical of bureaucratic centralism, a counterfeit which passes for genuine democratic centralism in most sects, SPEW and the SWP being no exceptions. Apart from definite actions, every individual in a workers' party ought to have the "right to uphold their political positions" openly. That must apply to all components of the Socialist Alliance - not least when we fuse into a single party.
3. One state, one party
How distant the SWP and SPEW are from Bolshevism can be judged by the first of the two amendments submitted by the CPGB on the Socialist Alliance principles. Our argument is simple and solidly based on the Leninist dictum 'one state, one party'.
The Coventry conference was designed to equip the forces of socialism to fight the next general election. Obviously, this election will not be confined to England. There is to be an all-UK general election. So, yes, there should be more than "liaison" with the Scottish Socialist Party, Welsh Socialist Alliance ... and let us not forget socialists in Northern Ireland.
That is why we proposed the following addition to the officers' protocol: "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".
Our main enemy is the UK state, and the organisational principles of the Socialist Alliance should reflect that material reality. We should therefore seek the maximum voluntary unity of working class and socialist forces against our common oppressor. The CPGB has members throughout Britain and so does the SWP. Chris Bambery is national secretary of SWP members in all parts of Britain, not just England. Why then has the Socialist Alliance introduced the divisive principle of organising according to nationality, not opposition to the state?
No one is suggesting frogmarching the Socialist Alliance in Wales or the SSP into our Liaison Committee - the CPGB simply wants to issue an invitation so as to promote the elementary proletarian precept that unity is strength. Nor is the CPGB indifferent to the rights of the peoples of Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The CPGB has an outstanding and unequalled record. As a minimum the CPGB demands a federal republic of England, Scotland and Wales within which the right of self-determination is constitutionally enshrined. We also fight for an independent and united Ireland - for that unity to be democratic and lasting it must rely on consent. The British-Irish in the north must have self-determination within a united Ireland through a one-county, four-half-county province.
Evidently upholding the right of Scotland and Wales to self-determination does not mean promoting the break-up of Britain and the division of the historically constituted working class - neither into separate organisations or class states. To do so represents an unjustifiable concession to petty nationalism ... and that is exactly what SPEW and the SWP did by raising their hands together to defeat our amendment. Shame on you, comrades.
4. Socialism or a reformed capitalism?
The second amendment submitted by the CPGB witnessed the SWP and SPEW forming an economistic bloc. Point three of the officers' protocol refers to drawing up a minimum programme. Excellent. We are in favour of minimum programmes ... as long as they are designed to equip the working class with the strategy and politics needed to ready it for revolution. However, we also favour a maximum programme that describes our ultimate aims after the overthrow of the existing capitalist state.
We therefore proposed to give comrades drafting our manifesto clear guidelines: "The following principles should be included in the Socialist Alliance's general election statement:
"The Alliance considers:
a. Socialism is the beginning of human freedom.
b. Socialism and democracy are inseparable.
c. Socialism is conquered by the working class. It cannot be delivered from on high - neither by a parliamentary majority nor a revolutionary party.
d. Socialism is international or it is nothing. There can be no socialism in one country."
As our speaker, John Bridge, explained, such guidelines were of particular relevance, given the discrediting of socialism in the 20th century by 'official communism' on the one side and social democracy on the other. Voters need to know that the Socialist Alliance envisages a socialism that takes democracy to its extremes and represents a mass self-liberation movement by the working class.
The SWP and SPEW united against our amendment. Not, of course, that the SWP disagrees with anything we proposed. However, their speaker, John Baxter, insisted that ordinary folk on the doorstep were uninterested in such fancy ideas. What mattered to them were the so-called bread-and-butter issues: e.g., "a fully funded NHS", "abolish the anti-trade union laws", "link pensions to earnings", etc. The sort of election statement favoured by the SWP can be seen in the draft we have just selectively quoted above produced by Greater Manchester Socialist Alliance and commended by comrade Baxter.
Most of its formulations are unobjectionable, though somewhat conservative: e.g., "a £7 minimum wage". But democratic questions - a united Ireland, self-determination for Scotland and Wales, abolition of the monarchy, etc - are almost completely absent. Nor is there any notion of what ought to replace capitalism. Hence, while the comrades tail the anti-capitalist movement abroad, in Seattle, Melbourne and Prague, at home the SWP offers nothing much beyond a more benign wage slavery. That will not do.
Presumably what excuses the SWP's programmatic poverty in the Socialist Alliance is the notion that it is a united front. Shades of comrade Nellist's orthodoxy, but downright wrong. Within the tradition of Marxism a united front normally refers to a particular tactic, or set of tactics, designed to win over the working class to the side of communism. The 3rd and 4th Congresses of Comintern provide the classic account of the united front.
By entering into negotiations and agreeing to jointly campaign with social democratic misleaders, communists gain a wider audience. Despite the betrayals of World War I, the social democrats and centrist parties still maintained their hold over many class conscious workers. The aim was to put us, the communists, at the forefront of the workers' day-to-day struggles and in the process win over the majority. So the united front is an initiative whereby communists actively fight alongside the mass of workers in order to defeat and replace reformist and centrist traitors.
Does that describe the Socialist Alliance network? Hardly. The unity we have achieved is between small revolutionary groups - the largest being the SWP, which still counts its membership in the few thousands, not tens of thousands ... certainly not the millions necessary for a decisive socialist breakthrough in a country like Britain.
It is not a matter of abstruse theory. By pretending that the Socialist Alliance network is a united front, leading comrades in the SWP, SPEW, the International Socialist Group, etc want to chain the whole project to the right. Instead of systematically arming ourselves with a common revolutionary programme, and taking a stand on our own principles, a largely phantom social democratic left is artificially inserted into the Socialist Alliance equation. That is what John Rees means when he refers to the Socialist Alliance as being "incomplete". Throughout the country as a whole there are millions of workers still under the sway of reformist ideas, but the Alliance contains only a sprinkling of social democrats.
Supposedly to give them "a home" (Weyman Bennett) we have been told that the Socialist Alliances should shun 'controversial' demands such as 'No to all immigration controls' - and presumably, along with that, programmatic descriptions of socialism and how it "cannot" be won through "parliament" or in a "single country".
The fact of the matter is that, to the extent that unrestricted debate is encouraged in the Socialist Alliances, honest left reformists have nothing to fear from the revolutionaries, who at present constitute the overwhelming majority. More to the point, reformism as a coherent philosophy, let alone a road to socialism, completely failed in the 20th century and now lies totally exhausted.
In order to rally the broad mass of the working class to our banner there is no need to reinvent left reformism. One might just as well try to resurrect Stalinism (we can leave that particular form of necromancy to Arthur Scargill). The working class might be unfortunate enough to get a halfway house if we partially fail, but objectively there is no requirement for one. There is no political DNA which makes the working class movement in Britain inherently reformist.
Marxism and revolutionary communism represent the truth and humanity's necessary future. Its basic ideas, immediate propositions and long-term goals are easily understood by any reasonably intelligent person. The working class in the 21st century needs a mass Bolshevik Party, not a re-run of Labourism. That is why the CPGB envisages a rapprochement within the Socialist Alliances around Marxism, not around left reformism or economism.
5. Democratic centralism
The remaining CPGB amendments - we had to withdraw about half of them because of time considerations - centred on more detailed organisational arrangements. Also, as mentioned above, our delegation supported or opposed various amendments coming from the other two trends.
What guided our voting? The CPGB generally sided with SPEW in defence of factional and democratic rights within the Socialist Alliance. At the same time we sided with the SWP to promote the centralism of the Socialist Alliance.
We sought to promote the highest unity in action on the ground between comrades organised in different groups. The CPGB is against the idea implicitly trailed by SPEW of go-it-alone constituencies. We do not want a non-aggression pact between the left groups, but a single united general election campaign that lays the foundations for a process of ever closer organisational and political convergence, eventually into a democratic centralist party.
That is why we insisted that every candidate must have 'Socialist Alliance' on the ballot paper. Our successful amendment to point four of the officers' report removed an escape clause which would have allowed SPEW to stand as Socialist Alternative. The same centralist principle saw the CPGB's vote bring about a narrow majority for the SWP's amendment, which called for affiliated organisations to "exercise self-discipline" in promoting their own views from within the Socialist Alliance.
Though they were defeated on the principle of centralism versus federalism, Hannah Sell declared that SPEW wanted to fight as Socialist Alliance and have our common name on the ballot paper. I very much welcome her forthright statement of intent.
Of course all candidates can promote their particular affiliations and political beliefs. That encompasses their manifestos, speeches made in public, statements to the media and their canvassers - they are free "to describe their own backgrounds and their own party/organisation affiliations", including by selling partisan literature. But, having said that, it is quite right that we act with self-discipline and put what we have in common to the fore during the general election.
The SWP stresses centralism too. It is easy to understand why. The SWP could swamp the Socialist Alliance as things stand. For the moment the SWP leadership has little or no problem in disseminating its views. Nor does the SWP fear losing its distinct group profile, as is the case with SPEW. But our concern for democracy lies not simply in the fact that we are a small minority, but as an overarching principle which gives force to centralism. Without the fullest, most extensive democracy, the Socialist Alliance is in danger of becoming a mere front for the biggest component. It would then shrivel and die. More than that, if the Socialist Alliance is to overcome the old factional divisions and fiefdoms, then democracy and the freest debate are essential. That explains why we combined promoting centralism with defending minorities.
Minorities must have the right to become majorities; though we trust and hope than in the future both majorities and minorities will shun factional forms of organisation and will prefer to exist as shades of opinion within a great party of the working class.
6. Liaison Committee versus an election committee
The final votes at Coventry concerned our leadership. The SWP proposed an election committee option which would consist of the existing officers plus representatives of the "principal socialist organisations" affiliated to the Socialist Alliance: i.e., the SWP, CPGB, SPEW, ISG, Workers Power, the AWL and the Leeds Left Alliance, plus four other comrades not members or aligned with any of these core organisations.
The CPGB opposed this election committee, though we could have easily lived with it. Such a body, unlike the existing officers, would be serious, representative of what is real and well placed to conduct a proper general election campaign ... But it would disappear the day after.
The Liaison Committee option won the day by just three votes. We voted for it because it is a constituted part of the Socialist Alliance structure and will continue after the general election. True, it is full of nano-grouplets, localist oddities and strange fragments. No doubt, as presently made up, it is quite capable of coming to the most bizarre decisions. Certainly, if unrectified, that could endanger our general election campaign.
So the "principal socialist organisations" affiliated to the Socialist Alliance, in particular the SWP, will have to do something about it. Local and regional socialist alliances must elect delegates or replace existing delegates with new ones. Such comrades are recallable, as would be the subcommittees, including a political committee that must be elected by the Liaison Committee in order to move things forward on a wide front.
In proportionate terms the CPGB will have a much smaller voice on the Liaison Committee than we would have enjoyed with the election committee option. No matter. We are interested in promoting the whole and want all individual members of the Socialist Alliance to regard the Liaison Committee as their own.
The CPGB has no problem with the SWP having a big presence or even an absolute majority on the Liaison Committee. In fact we would very much welcome such a development. It would tie in the SWP at the level of middle cadre into the Socialist Alliance. As delegates from local socialist alliances or affiliated trade union branches, these comrades will have to report back and account for their actions. The same goes for comrades from the other "principal socialist organisations".
Though we lost our amendment calling for the Liaison Committee to meet monthly before the general election, and weekly during the general election campaign, reality will soon force the pace and sort things out. Life teaches. We need both continuity and change. A revamped Liaison Committee with a radically improved and expanded composition will immeasurably strengthen the Socialist Alliance from top to bottom.