Democracy Platform and Respect

The first committee meeting of the newly formed Democracy Platform of the Socialist Alliance took place in Birmingham on December 6.

Eight committee members (with as many observers also present) took decisions to push forward the agenda for democracy in the SA alongside defence of our common programme People before profit and our campaigning for a new workers’ party.

As was to be expected, most debate concerned our attitude to the Respect coalition. The committee rejected moves from Pete Radcliff of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty to commit the platform to the rejection any Unity Coalition that included George Galloway. This proposal fell with only one vote in support.

In general, the platform has adopted a healthy attitude to Respect. We will actively engage with its development and fight to bolster the position the Socialist Alliance executive committee took to ensure the platform on which the coalition stands is working class and socialist. A motion was passed committing the platform to campaign for Respect to adopt a working class stance; for democratic debate and pluralism in its formation and selection of candidates; and for the independence of the Socialist Alliance in the coalition.

Committee members saw that it was the responsibility of the platform to fight to hold the SA together and combat moves to liquidationism. There are dangers the coalition will come to nought, in which case the SA will need to stand firm.

The committee will present proposals to the next SA executive committee for us to take to the Convention of the left on January 25. This will be a digest version of People before profit.

If rejected by the executive, we will take it to the national council. If rejected by the national council, we will present the politics of People before profit to the Convention of the left in the name of the SA Democracy Platform itself. The digest we will propose will highlight those democratic and republican aspects of the manifesto that tend to be ‘disappeared’ by the Socialist Workers Party and their allies in the International Socialist Group.

In other business, the committee adopted a platform statement drafted by Steve Freeman of the Revolutionary Democratic Group based on all the resolutions passed at our founding conference on November 8. We elected officers: Pete McLaren (convenor), Pete Radcliff (membership secretary) and Dot Gibson (bulletin editor), while John Pearson was coopted as treasurer to the committee as a non-voting member.

It was agreed that membership of the platform would only be open to SA members at this stage. This was not acceptable for Dave Church, who resigned from the committee.

Membership fees were set at £10 (waged) and £4 (concessions). Political organisations may affiliate to the platform for a minimum £25 fee. Affiliation does not imply automatic representation.

The committee is urging SA activists to form local Democracy Platforms and affiliate to the national body. Such local platforms may pay a fee at their discretion.

We will shortly have a website (www.SAdemocracy.org.uk) and establish an e-list for platform members. There will be another open committee meeting in Birmingham on January 10.