Socialist Alliance AGM 'postponed'

SA fails Bush-Blair war test

The Socialist Alliance is dead. Long live the Socialist Alliance. That must be our slogan. The executive committee, in "consultation" with the membership, has decided to postpone the annual conference - due next Saturday, March 15, until May 10. In an email to members, the executive majority has cited the burden of "an absolutely unprecedented situation" and the fact that "the anti-war campaign is reaching a crucial crescendo" to justify liquidating the SA just as the anti-war movement reaches new heights. Activities mentioned in justification include the Ms Dynamite concert at Wembley on the evening of March 15 and a number of regional demonstrations in solidarity with the march on Washington DC. Surely we could support these events as well as run a full conference? The executive had already taken the unanimous decision to postpone conference by one day if a national demonstration was called on March 15 in the event of war breaking out. Questions of democratic process aside, what does this move mean? That the SA as a political organisation is worthless within the anti-war movement. The five principal supporting groups will each go their own way and the 'indies' will be left to their own devices. In effect it demonstrates that decisions taken at conference would have no bearing on what our members actually do at this critical time. War has seen the pace of political life increase exponentially. Of course, Socialist Alliance members up and down the country are throwing themselves into the anti-war movement, but not, as a rule, as Socialist Alliance members. Rather than put off our conference, if the Socialist Alliance was truly uniting and organising its members, a conference would be an urgent necessity. George Galloway and John Rees spoke at the March 3 'Where is New Labour going?' meeting of the need to provide the working class with a party it deserves. The Socialist Alliance should be rising to that challenge, uniting in our conference behind a campaign to achieve just that - an anti-war party, a new workers' party. It should then take that campaign to the anti-war movement. Instead the SA will be seen to have clearly failed the test - it has effectively liquidated itself. Truly united, socialists could make a real impact on such a movement: far from putting the SA on ice, we should be looking to launch our own daily paper to oppose the war from a consistent working class viewpoint instead of relying on the pro-capitalist Mirror. One reason given by the SWP's Lindsey German against the SA becoming a party is that it would fail its first serious test if it took that path. She gave as an example ... war. So it is ironic that, by not continuing with the momentum set by the 2001 general election and taking the path of partyism, it is this war crisis that has led to the liquidation of the Socialist Alliance. By contrast the Scottish Socialist Party is striding ahead, united in the anti-war movement. Its candidates will do well on May 3; ours will in general do poorly. The postponed annual gathering in May (if it takes place) should therefore be regarded as a relaunch conference. The fight for a new workers' party must be at the very top of its agenda. We condemn the politics that lie behind the irresponsible decision to postpone the conference. Then there is the issue of democracy as well. One executive member quipped that our executive, elected in December 2001 for one year, is beginning more to resemble the Cromwellian long parliament. For its part, the CPGB will continue to maintain its financial and other commitments to the SA during this period. However, let us be clear: the SA is now in a state of suspended animationl Marcus Ström How the executive lined up: In favour of postponementMandy Baker, Weyman Bennett (Socialist Workers Party), Steve Godward, Mark Hoskisson (Workers Power), Rob Hoveman (SWP), Lesley Mahmood, Margaret Manning, Declan O'Neill, Martin Thomas (Alliance for Workers' Liberty), Alan Thornett (International Socialist Group), John Rees (SWP), Nick Wrack. Against Tess McMahon, Marcus Ström (CPGB) No reply John Fisher, Celia Foote, Will McMahon, Tony Reid