Our principles

Policy paper for March 10 Socialist Alliance conference, drafted on behalf of the executive committee by Mark Hoskisson Every local Socialist Alliance is entitled to submit one majority and one minority amendment. Supporting organisations are allowed two amendments

There were 17 submissions to the programme commission (15 circulated in advance, one from the International Socialist Group arriving on the day of the Liaison meeting and one, from the Workers International, arriving after the Liaison meeting, but apparently submitted prior to the original deadline of February 8). There are a number of amendments which I have not seen since they were not circulated with the documents.

My understanding of the decision on February 17 is that the executive should attempt to composite, out of these documents, a single policy statement draft that can be discussed and amended on March 10. It was suggested by several executive members that I try to produce such a draft as quickly as possible to give all comrades time to consider amendments prior to March 10. The idea behind such a draft is that it attempts to incorporate all of the areas of policy on which there is broad agreement across the alliances - and is therefore relatively inclusive - but one that also allows differences on this or that policy to be discussed on March 10 via amendments.

In order to do this I have produced a draft that is strictly a statement of policies. I have left out altogether the various preambles/introductions/statements of intent and lengthy explanations of policies. Instead I've given a title, an introductory general policy sentence, followed by the policies. The reason for this is that commentary is best dealt with by a small committee (or even a single author) charged with writing up a manifesto that is acceptable from a literary point of view rather than by a conference of several hundred people. Providing the manifesto includes all of the policies agreed at conference there should be no problem, from a democratic point of view, with proceeding in this way. However, I have included a short introduction, in note form, which could be agreed as the political basis for a preamble/commentary in such a manifesto.

Nearly all of the contributions included a commitment to a socialist society over and above the immediate policies advocated in the various programmes. I have therefore included a statement on this at the end which I hope will be acceptable to the different viewpoints within the alliances.

Several of the contributions did - as Steve Freeman's report pointed out - have different emphases and different end goals (republic, workers' government, future form of workers' state, etc). I believe that it is legitimate to debate these at conference precisely so that the various forces within the alliance have the opportunity to try and convince comrades of the value of the inclusion of such positions or emphases in the manifesto. Comrades can move such positions as amendments (either from supporting organisations or as minorities or majorities within local alliances) to the policy document draft. This will ensure that the procedure is fully democratic and that nobody in the alliance is left feeling that their right to put their point of view has in any way been blocked.

The order of the policies in the draft below is not meant to signify any sliding scale of importance with regards to demands. It just seemed to me to be a logical order to follow for a manifesto. The question of prioritised slogans should be the subject of a separate discussion and decision at conference (ie, the small number of demands - the key pledges, as the Coventry conference protocol calls them - that we put on all leaflets).

Finally, given that we agreed two amendments per local alliance and supporting organisation, we will need a conference arrangements committee on the day that can recommend to conference either the compositing of particular amendments or their acceptance 'nem con' (without dissent) so that time is not taken up at conference discussing things over which there is no disagreement within the alliances and time is freed up in order to clarify and discuss those areas over which there may be disagreement.

The text of the policy document is 2,356 words, which is well short of a traditional general election manifesto length. Anyhow, here it is. Plus, at the end, I have put in for consideration the versions of the 'prioritised pledges' that we have received so that maybe we can get a version of that out for amendment prior to the conference as well.




Substantive policy document


The Socialist Alliance is standing against New Labour because New Labour is pro-big business and anti-working class/oppressed.

New Labour has betrayed those who voted for it in 1997 - e.g. privatisation, education, pensions, benefits, NHS, etc.

The Socialist Alliance exists to give people the chance to vote for a socialist alternative and a working class voice which aims to tackle the injustice of a world in which massive wealth and power is in the hands of a tiny minority while millions face low pay, joblessness, poverty, racism, etc.

The Socialist Alliance is different because it actively supports all struggles of workers, poor, oppressed, those fighting the destruction of the environment, etc; is a campaigning organisation, not a cynical 'here today, gone tomorrow' vote-grabber; is a democratic alliance of socialists and activists from various backgrounds, traditions, etc; and because any of its candidates who get elected will only take a workers' wage for the job and will stay accountable to those who elected them.

Vote Socialist Alliance, become part of the growing anti-capitalist movement worldwide, put people before profit.

Our right to work

New Labour is standing by while jobs are massacred in manufacturing and cut to the bone thanks to privatisation in the public sector. The Socialist Alliance stands for:

Our rights at work

Deregulation, short-term contracts, cowboy and anti-union bosses mean that thousands of us face insecurity and harassment at work. The Socialist Alliance solution to this is:

Health before profit

The NHS is not safe in either Tory or Labour hands - both have opened it up to the private sector, both have run down patient services and staffing levels, both have under-funded it. The Socialist Alliance will create a first rate health service free to all:

Education is a right

Tony Blair wants to end "bog-standard" comprehensive education, introduce selection and create a two-tier system that benefits the well off but leaves countless children as fodder for Britain's low wage economy. When the Socialist Alliance says, education, education, education, we mean it:

Stop the warfare on welfare

Behind New Labour's rhetoric about getting Britain back to work lies a relentless attack on every aspect of the welfare and benefit system. The Socialist Alliance will stop this and rebuild the welfare system with:

Homes for all

The Tory sell-off of council housing has been followed by Labour's attempts to privatise remaining public housing stock. The Socialist Alliance believes that homes for all is a basic human right and will:

Restore local democracy

Local democracy has been eroded and now Blair has even replaced the limited democracy of the councils with elitist cabinets and powerful mayors. The Socialist Alliance stands for real local democracy:

End the transport chaos

Privatisation has wreaked havoc on the country's transport system, yet Labour cannot bring itself to renationalise the railways. The Socialist Alliance will end this mess:

Save the planet

Prescott and Blair are fiddling while the globe gets ever hotter, not to mention polluted water, the threat to our health from BSE and, potentially, to crops by GM trials. The Socialist Alliance is committed to doing everything possible to stop the developing destruction of the environment:

Where will the money come from?

Gordon Brown preaches prudence and "living within our means", yet Britain is a country of huge wealth and means; but it is in the hands of a tiny elite. The Socialist Alliance stands for a transformation of society that will enable this wealth to be used for the benefit of the great majority:

Against all forms of discrimination

New Labour has shamelessly scapegoated asylum-seekers, hounded single mothers, called for curfews on young people and has buckled before the House of Lords' bigotry against lesbians and gay men. The Socialist Alliance opposes every variety of discrimination:

How democratic is Britain?

Despite having the 'mother of parliaments' countless decisions that shape our lives are made behind our back by people who are neither elected nor accountable, a system riddled with sleaze and corruption. The Socialist Alliance believes in consistent democracy:

Socialism is international

Bomber Blair stands for the unchecked rule of global capitalism. The Socialist Alliance stands for international solidarity with all workers and oppressed peoples struggling against the poverty, famine and military repression inflicted on them by the big global powers and multinationals:


The Socialist Alliance stands for a totally different society to the one we have today. We believe that people should come before profit, that decisions should be made by the people themselves through democratic means. In short we stand for a socialist society in which need comes before greed and in which the economy is democratically organised to achieve this.

Within the ranks of our Alliance there are different views on how to achieve this, on whether we require a revolution, a struggle through parliament, or a combination of both. But what we are all united on is one principle: the decision on how to fight for socialism will be made by the working class itself, through its own democratic organisations.

Socialism will never be achieved behind the backs of the working class by decree, or by some committee or other. It will be their choice and theirs alone. Because we are united on that we are also united in our support for every struggle that takes the working class forward.

In this election that makes the Socialist Alliance unique. It is socialist, it is democratic and it is honest. Vote for us. Join us. Join the fight for socialism.



Prioritised pledges - proposals

From the Alliance for Workers' Liberty

We advocate an emergency plan for the workers and jobless.

Tax the rich and slash the arms budget to provide proper healthcare, housing, education, childcare, public transport and other public services.

Restore benefits and pensions; free access to high-quality education and training for all.

Guarantee decent jobs for all by expanding public services and cutting the work week. A 35-hour week without loss of pay and a minimum wage of £7 an hour.

Every worker should have the right to join a union and oblige their employer to recognise and negotiate with the union. Unions should have the right to gain access to workplaces, to inspect company plans and books, to strike, to picket effectively, and to act in solidarity with other unions or social causes. Repeal the Tory anti-union laws.

Companies threatening closures should be taken into public ownership. Profiteers should not be allowed to cut jobs.

From the Socialist Party

For a minimum wage of at least £5 an hour as a step towards achieving a minimum weekly income for all of £280 a week - the European Union decency threshold.

For an immediate 50% increase in the pension as a step towards a living pension for all pensioners - with annual increases linked to average earnings.

Stop the privatisation of education, health, London Underground and Air Traffic Control.

Bring the NHS back under democratic public control to rebuild a top quality service free at the point of use.

Renationalise rail and other public utilities with compensation only on the basis of proven need. No compensation for the fat cat shareholders.

Stop council housing sell-offs. For a massive crash building programme of decent, affordable public housing.

From the Socialist Workers Party

Stop privatisation in all its forms and bring the rail back into public ownership l Ensure a fully funded NHS and an end to privatisation and cuts. l Provide decent earnings-linked pensions. l Oppose the sell-off of council homes and end homelessness. l Raise the minimum wage and restore union rights for all. l Establish tough controls over water, ground and air pollution. l End discrimination on the basis of racism, sexism and homophobia and defend asylum-seekers.

End student tuition fees and provide high-quality education for all.

Tax the rich to rebuild the welfare state.

Cancel Third World debt and abolish the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade organisation.

From Workers Power

The Socialist Alliance will:

Stop privatisation in all its forms and bring every privatised utility, including the railways, back into public ownership and under the control of those who work in and use them; no compensation to the privateers.

Implement a minimum wage of £7 an hour, real equal pay for youth and women and repeal of all anti-trade union laws.

Guarantee the right of all to work by implementing 35-hour week now with no loss of pay.

Tax the rich to pay for public services that meet people's real needs.

Abolish all immigration laws and defend asylum-seekers.

Establish a government fighting for workers' power and international socialism.