'All chiefs, no Indians'

Mark Fischer spoke to Ken Loach

In your speech to conference, you spoke about the SA taking itself more seriously. What do you mean by that?

The alliance has always taken itself seriously, but now we need to have the confidence that we do represent the majority - the policies we are putting forward are genuinely popular. There is massive revulsion against the war, against the way that public services are being privatised or sold off. I think we can form links with a lot of people who share our perspective.

We have to have the confidence to take centre stage. There is massive support for us - our views are not those of a left sectarian or some fringe group. Huge swathes of people think the same way as us. The challenge is to move from where we are to actually directly representing all the people who are with us.

There was certainly frustration in today's conference about taking the alliance forward. The alliance as the alliance faded away during the war. Big issues come along and the SA fragments once again into its constituent parts - isn't this a big problem?

Yes, it is. The same problem actually confronts the Stop the War Coalition, of it breaking up into its parts. There must be a constant battle against sectarianism.

The millions of people we mobilised are not interested in the squabbling of one group against another. The alliance was created to end that. It's a process, however. What encouraged me today was resolution 13 that outlined that process.

For me, raising the banner of a party now is premature. We have to create a broader movement and make contact with more people, build branches around the STWC and work in the trade unions. Then there will come a time when we will have to be a party. There is no argument that that is the goal; the question is how to make the process work to get there.

Surely part of that process would be a paper of the SA - a large minority of delegates supported the call for one today.

Again, I think that needs to be further down the line. There is no shortage of papers and there is no shortage of places for people to put their views into print. So I cannot see that as the first priority. I think the first priority is for us to fight to be taken seriously on a national stage.

Instead of a paper, we need to put those resources into a fully functioning press and publicity office, with press releases and so on. If you look through much of the press, you will see people at all sorts of levels in politics and society committing themselves to our positions.

We should be contacting these people to say: 'Look, we're having a rally - you may be a surgeon or an office cleaner, but come along and speak'. Through building the coalition, a party will come into existence.

But we have to be broader and break out of the ghetto first. We have to bring other people in from other sections of society. That does not mean that our socialist perspective is negotiable. That is the challenge - to bring a broader coalition of people together without compromising our core socialist beliefs. Later a party will emerge when there is a real movement for that party to coalesce out of. A party without a movement is all chiefs and no Indians.