United election fight

General election protocol, as agreed at the Socialist Alliance national conference on September 30

1. The Socialist Alliance will stand candidates in the next general election to give people a chance to vote for a socialist alternative to New Labour and the Tories. For this to be a credible alternative for people, we have to have maximum unity. To mount the most effective challenge as the Socialist Alliance we believe that local Socialist Alliances should seek to build the broadest, most inclusive and united organisations possible.

Local Socialist Alliances, together with the national network, should begin raising money and winning working class support in the unions, the local communities and from all progressive campaigns now with the aim of recruiting wider forces to the alliances in preparation for the election campaign.

This means building Socialist Alliances locally as active, campaigning organisations oriented to the struggles of the working class. We must not limit the alliances to being electoral vehicles to be used only at election time for the benefit of the various organisations who make up the national network.

2. The Socialist Alliance will work to coordinate the widest possible number of socialist and other anti-cuts candidates to fight the Westminster general election, in seats in England. We will do so in liaison with the Scottish Socialist Party, which will fight seats in Scotland, and with the Welsh Socialist Alliance, which will fight seats in Wales.

3. A further conference will be held (possibly in February, certainly before the election) to finalise a national election manifesto; the national committee should invite drafts to be put forward now and should vote on a substantive draft to be put to such a conference for discussion and amendment. A short series of demands (our key pledges, so to speak) should be agreed by the manifesto conference as the demands carried on all leaflets as a summary of what we are fighting for.

4. All local Socialist Alliances/groups and political organisations which are members and which want to fight this election are invited to contribute to fighting together under the electoral registration name of the 'Socialist Alliance' - with the freedom to describe their own backgrounds and their own party/organisation affiliations (a protocol to be developed by the election committee). All affiliated organisations within the alliance are free to publicise their own programmes in their own name.

5. Local Socialist Alliances/groups should seek to build the broadest, most inclusive and united organisations possible. Whilst affiliated political organisations clearly have the right to produce their own political material, the establishment of broad, inclusive and united organisations will mean affiliated political organisations having to exercise self-discipline in promoting their distinctive political positions and identities within the Socialist Alliance. Only by putting what unites us in the Socialist Alliance first will we attract the candidates and active supporters beyond the existing organisations affiliated to the Socialist Alliance who will be vital to our success.

6. All local Socialist Alliances/groups and political organisations that accept the minimum programme are invited to stand under the electoral registration name of the 'Socialist Alliance' in the general election. We will encourage as many organisations as possible to stand under the name 'Socialist Alliance'.

7. The diversity and pluralism of the Socialist Alliance must be reflected in our candidates. Therefore:

8. Local Socialist Alliances/groups in negotiation with affiliated political organisations will have responsibility for electing their own candidates and agents. They will also be responsible for their own election campaign including raising finance and the production of election material for their campaigns. Provided their material supports the minimum programme of the Socialist Alliance they will be free to raise additional demands and ideas within their material.

9. The election committee of the Socialist Alliance will have responsibility for co-ordinating the work of the Socialist Alliance during the election, including the election campaign, other campaigning work, our national media profile and national fundraising initiatives.

10. The election committee will act as a clearing house, in order to resolve any difficulties locally and to enable agreement to be reached on seats which are proposed to be contested, so as to be able to endorse SA candidates formally. The Election Committee will thus formally endorse local candidates, agents and treasurers.

11. The national agent will provide nomination papers for all local Socialist Alliances/groups and others who agree with 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 others will agree to supply the officers of the Socialist Alliance with whatever financial and other information is necessary to comply with the new election legislation.

12. The election committee will consist of the Liaison Committee, which is the elected officers, national agent and one delegate for every affiliated organisation and local Alliance.

13. This protocol is for the purpose of fighting the Westminster general election only. We commit ourselves to building on this unity in our future work.