SA Australia: Multi-tendency rights protected

This article is republished from the May 28 edition of Green Left Weekly, paper of the Democratic Socialist Party

The Socialist Alliance is a multi-tendency socialist party which welcomes and protects the right to campaign for a diversity of political positions within the framework of its broad socialist objectives.

The second national conference of the Socialist Alliance, held May 10-11 in Melbourne, recognised “the organisational and programmatic integrity of its affiliate organisations” and welcomed “their continued existence as tendencies within the alliance”.

A constitutional amendment gave the alliance’s national executive the duty to “canvass the broadest possible consensus within the alliance and to initiate and lead political discussion throughout the alliance to clarify and resolve differences on all important matters, whilst continuing to take decisions on behalf of the alliance on immediate decisions consistent with the platform and decisions of the national conference”.

Another new section of the constitution stipulates that “caucuses, groups or affiliates within the alliance have the right to produce and circulate literature publicly”.

A recognition of the diversity of political opinion within the Socialist Alliance was also reflected in the policy on stalls adopted by the conference:

There was some debate on this resolution. Members of the International Socialist Organisation moved three unsuccessful amendments. The first, moved by Brian Webb, was to delete points two and three, which allowed for the literature of affiliates to be carried on Socialist Alliance stalls. The second, moved by Alan Woodcraft, was to add “during election campaigns only alliance material [is] to appear on stalls”. And the third, moved by Keiran Latty, was that “these points and protocols lapse as soon as a regular alliance publication [is] launched”.

The ISO was concerned to keep a clear demarcation between Socialist Alliance stalls, which in their opinion should reflect values abandoned by the Labor Party, and the clearly revolutionary socialist stalls run by the ISO and other affiliate groups.

Several delegates argued that the alliance did not need to, or want to, hide the different views of its affiliates, as one of the major attractions of the alliance was the willingness of the different affiliated socialist groups to work together. They also argued that they would like the various affiliates to combine their stalls where possible and present a united, but multi-tendency front to the broader movements. Raul Bassi, a delegate from Bankstown branch in Sydney’s west, said that he hoped for a more united approach than was seen at the large anti-war protests in February and March, where hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters confronted numerous competing socialist campaign stalls.

A commitment to work together was supported by unanimous vote of the delegates in the following resolution:

It is early days yet in this experiment with a multi-tendency socialist organisation, but the conference laid down some significant guidelines for greater unityl

Peter Boyle