Uneven and creaking

Around the web: Socialist Alliance

The Socialist Alliance is standing still, prevented from advancing in the direction of becoming a party thanks to the misleadership of the Socialist Workers Party. Does the SA website reflect this reality? When I logged on, the main part of the screen led with 'Free the park', calling on the government to reverse its ham-fisted attempt to thwart the February 15 anti-war demonstration rallying in Hyde Park. Usefully, the email address of the parks authorities was supplied, allowing site visitors the opportunity to quickly shoot off a protest. Scrolling further down the page, more Stop the War Coalition information is provided, along with details of the March 3 public meeting, 'Where is New Labour going?' Next on the list is a collection of documents relating to the SA's March 15 annual conference, which, like the Scottish Socialist Party's conference material (see Weekly Worker January 30), is open to general viewing. Unfortunately the documents are presented inconsistently: some are text versions, others are in Microsoft Word format, and another set of motions is only available as a zip file. This main page also includes text versions of the SA's National Bulletin and the minutes of the last national executive meeting. The firefighters' dispute also features prominently, and there are links to a large number of SA solidarity resources (leaflets, support groups, petitions, etc). It was good to see that the recently launched SA newsletter, Left Turn, is available in pdf format. The rest of the page is devoted to old news items. The side bar is well presented, its dark blue offsetting the lighter shade of the main page. However, the contents of its links are something of a mixed bag. Clicking on 'Campaigns', you are presented with three more links, which urge you to sign up for last October's SA conference on Europe, mobilise for the following month's European Social Forum in Florence and join in the alliance's campaign against the 2002 royal jubilee. The 'Events' section is slightly better, featuring the upcoming STWC demo, the March 15 SA AGM, and links to local SA and anti-war meetings. The SA women's conference is, however, still advertised, even though it was held on January 25. The 'Media' and 'News' sections are frankly embarrassing. The latter consists of various messages to the membership from the executive, the most recent being the results from the Hackney mayor election of October 17. The 'Media' link is even worse - the last press release commenting on Brown's budget of last April! In fairness, the webmaster cannot be blamed for the inactivity of the comrade responsible for the SA's media profile - only material that has actually been released can be uploaded. The 'Resources' link is quite useful, affording the opportunity to download old SA leaflets, resolutions, policy documents and the People before profit manifesto. 'Trade unions' is less so, repeating firefighter material from the front page, a year-old report from SA-sponsored trade union conference and an advert for Matt Wrack's pamphlet, Whose money is it anyway? There are no links to unions themselves, with the obvious exception of the Fire Brigades Union. Finally, the external links section is very useful. Links to all supporting SA organisations are present (SSP webmaster, take note), as well as to a variety of campaigning organisations. Strangely, the links to 'Our track record' and 'Individuals who support the Socialist Alliance' take us to pages still carried from the old architecture before the website was redesigned. Not only does its garish colour scheme clash with the present style: the inconsistency in presentation makes the site as a whole look unprofessional. One final note: links to local SAs are not included. This is strange, considering 30 SA websites are available via the links on the CPGB homepage. To summarise, like the SA itself, the website it supports is uneven and creaking. Overall it could do with a good update, but now that anti-war activity is being eyed by the SWP as a promising recruitment opportunity, I am not holding my breath. Phil Hamilton