Active boycott campaign victory

An early and important victory has been won for the active boycott position in the debate within the Socialist Alliance on the forthcoming euro referendum. South Manchester Socialist Alliance, a stronghold of the alliance's largest affiliated organisation, the Socialist Workers Party, will submit the following motion for the agenda of the SA's special national conference, to be held on October 12: "We are for a boycott of the referendum on the euro because it does not give any real choice for ordinary people. On one side it is inevitably giving support for the European monopolies and on the other a 'no' vote implies support for the status quo and Britain's subservient role to the United States of America. "However, the referendum on the euro provides the Socialist Alliance with an opportunity to build links with socialists across Europe and to make the case for a socialist Europe, but only if we carve out a distinctive campaign and avoid the pitfalls of shadowing either of the mainstream campaigns. The real referendum should be on the policies of privatisation and destruction of the welfare state. Thatcher and Tony Blair between them have transformed Britain into a beacon for free marketeers and advocates of anti-trade union laws the world over. Whether Blair (and Bush, the puppet master) decide to carry forward their policies in Europe or not, we are not being given a choice on these policies. "On the question of the euro, it has already been launched and 12 nations are part of it. Few on the left in the euro-zone are calling for withdrawal. A British 'no' vote will not scupper the euro or undermine a 'bosses' Europe', but a 'no' vote will mark the start of a process that is likely to see Britain detach itself from the EU and become even more a US client. "Yet the 'yes' campaign will provide a platform for New Labour and big business to discuss how Europe should learn from Britain's 'flexible' labour markets and privatised industries. Far better for the Socialist Alliance to boycott the anti-working class policies of both campaigns and develop an exciting campaign that advocates a 'social Europe' with a positive, humanitarian and egalitarian outlook to the rest of the world, and especially the third world. "Lastly, it may well be that by the time of the Socialist Alliance conference in October the Americans and British will have embarked on the next phase of their war by bombing Iraq. Most of Europe will be against this and this will be the priority issue of the time. "The Socialist Alliance reaffirms its current policy on Europe and the euro as set out in our 2001 general election manifesto People before profit - ie: * For workers' and socialist unity across Europe. * For a democratic and federal Europe based on solidarity and cooperation. * Against the Europe of the bosses, the unelected European Central Bank, and the creation of 'fortress Europe' as a bastion of racism and exploitation. * Against British nationalism and the re-raising of barriers between nations in Europe. * No to the monetarist criteria for European monetary union - we neither advocate the euro nor defend the pound. "In the context of the forthcoming referendum on UK entry to the single currency, the Socialist Alliance will organise upon this basis and for an independent working class position. We should neither ally with the pro-euro wing nor the pro-pound wing of the British ruling class. We will aim to organise the largest working class and labour movement active boycott of the referendum possible. Through the methods of spoiling ballot papers, public meetings, demonstrations and the most militant methods objective conditions allow, the Socialist Alliance should campaign for this independent working class position." The successful resolution is a composite of two active boycott motions which were submitted to the meeting - one by the CPGB and the Alliance for Workers' Liberty and the other by two ex-Socialist Labour Party comrades, who have recently joined the SA. In a straight contest against the model motion for a 'no to the euro' position, proposed by the SWP (see Weekly Worker June 13), it was carried by a convincing margin of 17 votes to 10. All I spoke to afterwards agreed that it had been a high-quality of debate - one and a half hours in length - which had been well prepared for by the preceding issue of Left Turn, the Greater Manchester and East Lancashire SA bulletin, which carried statements from proponents of the 'yes', 'no' and active boycott positions. The attendance, at 30, was 25% better than the previous best attendance this year - and this during the week of the SWP's 'Marxism 2002' summer school. Six new members were signed up on the night. This is strong evidence that SA members do want discussion and the development of SA positions on issues of high politics. The European theme of the meeting was maintained with a contribution from Maria-Angela Luciano, a member of the Italian communist party, Rifondazione Comunista, which is in the process of establishing a Manchester branch. Comrade Luciano described the state of the class struggle in Italy, which has recently been manifested in a three-million-strong demonstration in Rome and a 24-hour general strike, involving 10 million workers. Both actions were focused on opposition to the attacks by the Berlusconi government on workers' rights and, in particular, on the right to reinstatement of workers who win unfair dismissal claims. Italy has three main trade union federations and, whilst the two rightwing groupings have entered into a compromise agreement with the government, the left federation, CGIL, is continuing the fight to extend protection to small workplaces with less than 15 employees, which are excluded from the present law. Rifondazione Comunista has entered into talks with the CGIL on the furtherance of this campaign. The comrade went on to talk about the plans for a major three-day demonstration in Genoa on July 19-21, the anniversary of last year's protests at the G8 capitalist economic summit, to demand a public inquiry into the killing by police of Carlo Giuliani and preparations for the European Social Forum in Florence in November, for which an aircraft will be chartered from Manchester. John Pearson