Protection from a kicking

A debriefing meeting for supporters of the active boycott position took place immediately after the end of the Socialist Alliance conference. About 40 people were in attendance, largely made up of AWL and CPGB members, though some RDG and non-aligned members of the SA were also present. Opening for the AWL, Martin Thomas noted that the advocates of the 'no' position were now reverting to a line of argument akin to those put forward by the old 'official' CPGB in the 1970s. No longer attempting a Marxist position on the question, the SWP and their hangers-on in the ISG are making do with a left version of Europhobia which paints developments like that of the euro as representing calamitous defeats for the working class. Marcus Ström for the CPGB observed that the vote at the conference should be treated as an indicative one, showing the state of play now. With a referendum likely to be some years away, supporters of the active boycott position should not shut up shop. Instead, we should take heart that 35% of the conference endorsed our arguments and seek in future years to transform ourselves from being a minority in the SA to becoming the majority. Some controversy did ensue about the implications of the vote that had taken place. Both the AWL and the RDG expressed some surprise that the CPGB had not voted for David Landau's amendment. This amendment, if passed, would have meant that the SA had no official position on the question of the euro. Clearly for the AWL suspicion of the role of the SWP within the alliance means that it does not consider itself under any obligation to uphold SA democracy. Comrade Jim Denham expressed this forcefully when he stated that the CPGB naively "plays by the Queensbury rules whilst the SWP kicks the shit out of us". John Bridge of the CPGB rejected such arguments. He noted first that it was much better that the SA had adopted the wrong position on the euro than to have no position at all. He added that we should take our commitments to the SA seriously and be exemplary in our approach to decisions taken. Therefore, in a referendum campaign on the euro the CPGB would seek not to disrupt an SA 'no' campaign. As partyists in the SA, it would be hypocritical if we encouraged minorities to flagrantly disrupt SA activities. An interesting intervention was made by Jill Mountford of the AWL. Not normally noted for her enthusiasm for the SA, comrade Mountford made the very constructive suggestion that the active boycottists should now step up their campaigning within the alliance. To this end she suggested that we should produce an A3 publication, with the aim of reversing the agreed position on the euro at a future conference. Excellent. But if we can do this on the euro, why not also on other issues - let us say on the 'war against terrorism' or on Palestine? The logic, intended or not, of comrade Mountford's comments are clear - the need for an unofficial and regular publication within the SA. Let us hope that the AWL turns its mind seriously to the urgent need for such a publication. Can one think of better protection from an SWP 'kicking'? Cameron Richards