Mark Steele's beacon

On Saturday May 3, at Edinburgh's May Day celebrations, Mark Steele of the Socialist Workers Party spoke at length of his admiration for the SSP's "beacon" of success. He congratulated the Scottish comrades for bringing passion back to the political arena. He ridiculed the pro-big business parties' claim that the 49% turnout was due partly to apathy among the electorate. Comrade Steele correctly pointed out that the millions on the streets of London and Glasgow overwhelmingly contradicted this claim. The masses do care, but they do not care to vote for establishment parties that refuse to listen to the demands of millions. There is surely a lesson here for our SWP comrades, as the leading organisation within the Socialist Alliance in England and Wales. If the SA ever hopes to become a serious organisation in fighting for working class liberation, the leadership must strive to push the alliance beyond its existing level of organisation towards a party. The SA needs to become the embodiment of something that can organise effectively within the class, not artificially held back as a 'united front of a special kind'. As an example, when the warmongers ordered the invasion of Iraq, the SSP, as a party and with an established anti-war programme, was in a position to deal effectively with the changing political situation. In contrast the SA reacted by cancelling its conference and dispersing its forces into the anti-war movement under a variety of separate banners. When the SA conference at long last reconvenes on May 10, will the "beacon" seen by Mark Steele and many others have the strength to penetrate the consciousness of our comrades in the SWP? How convinced do our comrades in England and Wales have to be that the not insignificant achievements of the SSP can easily be repeated? The key surely is unity within the SA and a 'passionate' drive towards a party. If the SSP is left to its own devices in Scotland, with a disjointed and ineffective SA failing dismally in England and Wales, then the prospect of a strengthened, united working class movement in Britain will itself be weakened. The SSP leadership - and much of the rank and file - already dismisses linking up with the SA as an irrelevance. Sarah McDonald * SSP jumps from one to six * True allegiance * More than its parts