Jubilee v health service

When the time is right, it seems, the Socialist Workers Party does want to prioritise the Socialist Alliance. But only when it sees its hegemony over the project challenged. This is the situation in Nottingham, at least, where the latest members' meeting descended into acrimony. There was a healthy turnout, with around 30 comrades of all stripes coming together to discuss what will ultimately see our 2003 local election campaign start a year early. As part of the long build-up we will shortly be holding a public meeting on the education crisis in Nottingham in particular and the UK as a whole. Comrade Liam Conway of the Alliance for Workers' Liberty had prepared a draft leaflet, which was passed around for members' comments. This was the first opportunity of the night for the SWP members to go onto the offensive. Admittedly comrade Conway's slogan of "Hey, Mr Blair, leave those kids alone" was clumsy and would be largely ineffective for those who were not members of the Nottingham branch of the Pink Floyd fan club. However, many SWP criticisms and suggestions seemed nit-picking and motivated by the comrades' mistrust of anything not driven by themselves. Comrade Conway had arranged for Christine Blower, prominent NUT activist and SA member, to address the meeting, but the SWP seemed determined to relegate the meeting from a serious political debate about what was to be done into yet another SWP proclamation that people on the streets are "sick of Blair". It was suggested by an SWP member that the following public meeting should be on the NHS, "as a response to the budget". I pointed our that, actually, the steering committee meeting had decided that this meeting would be used as part of our local anti-jubilee work. Cue snorts of derision from SWPers, who rubbished the idea, saying that "the working class aren't bothered about the jubilee". According to the comrades, the monarchy should simply be ignored. Obviously the NHS is a very important subject, but, as comrade Harry Paterson pointed out, we have a whole year to campaign on health, whereas the jubilee is almost upon us. But the SWP seems to hold the view that combating the UK constitutional monarchy system is not the concern of socialists. So, instead of agreeing to a meeting first on the monarchy and then on the NHS, the SWP insisted on a vote. Ridiculous. The jubilee v the NHS. Surely we should not have to operate in such a way. Whatever, the meeting voted 11-9 in favour of holding the meeting on the jubilee. While this was pleasing, I doubt that we can count on the SWP for any help in building and promoting the event over the coming month. The SWP comrades did have their moment when a motion from Pete Radcliff (AWL), calling for a democratic two-state solution for the Israel/Palestine conflict, was defeated and their own, which does not recognise the national rights of the Israeli jews, voted through. The meeting was held in an atmosphere of continuous animosity and for the most part was not in any way constructive. However, a rare moment of unanimity occurred when comrade Andy Birchenough of the SWP was elected chair unopposed. Sam Metcalf