Socialist Alliance: Going Dutch or double Dutch?

The SA is in breach of conference decision on women's representation

The national office of the Socialist Alliance has instructed branches that they should carry out the decision of annual conference - which agreed, among other things, that “the national council has two delegates from each local Socialist Alliance: one woman, one man”.

The whole implementation of this ill-thought through resolution is totally wrong-headed and possibly unconstitutional. If this aspect of the resolution is to be carried out, why not other parts? Crucially, the resolution calls on a 50-50 make-up on the executive committee. Many of the same comrades - most notably, the SWP - who had just voted for this immediately went on to elect an EC with 23 men and 13 women.

Local SAs are meant to “ensure” half the local officers are women. Is this being done? What if local branches have not? How many votes will be represented at council? If one man turns up from a local alliance, do they get two votes?

It harms our movement if we cynically vote things through on the nod, without actually meaning to implement them. The resolution is wrong. Life is showing that. You cannot win equality for women through bureaucratic quotas. Even the resolution notes that trade unions “aim for/ensure” equal representation. Well, which? Our policy should be to aim for equal representation through the whole SA seriously fighting around issues which particularly effect women. Campaign and recruit should be our motto. Not tokenism which is open to bureaucratic manipulation. All women SWP members will do what John Rees orders - depend on that.

Tokenism actually weakens the fight for substantive equality. And if the executive does not take even take tokenism seriously enough to implement it for itself, why should the rest of the organisation?


Women’s representation

Women constitute one third of the membership of the SA and are severely under-represented in the Socialist Alliance at all levels. We would want equal involvement and representation to reflect women being half the population and because they are still oppressed in so many ways. It is now part of trade union practice to aim for/ensure women’s equal representation. We should ensure this is at the core of the Socialist Alliance.

We therefore agree that:

  • The executive is composed of 50-50 women and men.

  • That the national council has two delegates from each local Socialist Alliance: one woman, one man

  • That local SAs should ensure half the officers/committee are women.

  • That where PR elections make this possible half the candidates should be women.

Where elections are not PR every effort should be made to have half the candidates women.”