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If you think all the big political parties are the same - you're right! The bosses have got three parties - isn't it about time we had one of our own?
Campaign for a New Workers' Party conference
Socialist Alliance report
Welcome and Introductions
Dave Nellist welcomed comrades to the meeting. He read out greetings from Dai Davies MP, the Socialist Justice Party (Sweden), CAP (Belgium) and a councillor from Wigan Community Action Party. He then spoke about Blair’s legacy – the occupation of Iraq and the widening gap between rich and poor, with the wealthiest 1,000 people increasing their income by £59 billion in the last 12 months, the same as the total annual spending on education. He added that Labour could not be reclaimed and that Brown would be no different from Blair – hence the need for a new workers’ party. He concluded by explaining that Ricky Tomlinson had not been able to attend for family reasons, but had sent a supportive video interview which the conference watched – he spoke about the campaign to pardon the 24 UCATT pickets, including himself, from being jailed for conspiracy in the 1970’s. He also argued we needed one united working class socialist party. Chris Baugh, PCSU Assistant Secretary, spoke about the lack of representation of the working class, problems of public sector under funding and the need to unite public sector workers.
Campaign for a New Workers' Party declaration and charter
Hannah Sell (CNWP Ass Sec and SP) moved. She argued that the Charter was not a political programme, but a list of central demands which included the need to replace capitalism with a democratic socialist society. Steve Freeman moved the SA amendment on democracy, arguing that the need for democracy in all walks of life was absent from the Charter. Peter Manson moved the CPGB delete all amendment arguing the Charter was reformist and Labourite. Jeremy Dewar moved the Workers Power delete all amendment, arguing the CNWP Charter represented the democratic road to socialism, which ignored mass struggles and revolution. He added that Workers Power might need to leave the CNWP if the Charter was not adequately amended. Mike McNair moved the CMP resolution advocating a Marxist party. In the discussion, there were calls for the CNWP to relate to the health protests; that TU leaders should be forced to break with Labour; that there were too many left parties and we needed one unified party offering a socialist alternative; that there was no democracy in Britain, evidenced by the lack of a serious challenge to Blair; that the CMP/CPGB/WP do not live in the real world with their calls for the CNWP to be outwardly revolutionary; need to work alongside workers in struggle; the Charter is patronising to the working class with limited demands; the CNWP should be openly Marxist; we need a mass party which includes Marxists; we need a party of the working class, organised by the working class.
The SA amendment was overwhelmingly passed: the amendments from the CPGB, CMP and Workers Power were overwhelmingly rejected
The way forward for the CNWP
Roger Bannister, CNWP Sec and SP, moved the Paper submitted by the officers. It highlighted the progress made so far, including gaining over 2,500 signatures and the meetings organised in localities and at TU conferences. It spoke about Brown being no different to Blair, and outlined why Labour was not reclaimable. It listed the tasks ahead, including the aim of obtaining 5,000 supporters signed up by December, organising TU conference fringe meetings, campaigning against privatisation, cuts, and the BNP, organising a CNWP speaking tour in the autumn, sending monthly e-mail to all supporters and holding a third national conference in 2008. Jeremy Dewar moved the resolution from Workers Power calling for the CNWP to be overtly revolutionary, appealing to Respect to join the CNWP, and to hold a world congress to found a new International. Terry Pearce moved the resolution from Berkshire CNWP calling for the CNWP to increase its intervention at TU conferences and improve communication between the Steering Committee and supporters with periodic newsletters, partly to publicise local campaigning. Pete McLaren moved the SA resolution calling for moves towards implementing an individual membership structure and representation on the Steering Committee for all affiliates irrespective of size. John Bridge (CPGB) spoke in favour of the SA resolution, arguing the left needs to unite, as did Dave Church (DLP and SA) who argued we need a structure, individual independent socialists need to feel more part of the CNWP, and we need all left groups on board, however small. In reply, Roger Bannister argued we need to retain the rule that only national affiliates with over 100 members could have representation as a protection against abuse by false groups, and it would be premature to introduce an individual membership structure. Supporters would be informed of local activities.The resolution from Berkshire CNWP was passed unanimously. The resolution from Workers Power was overwhelmingly rejected, and that from the Socialist Alliance was rejected by a large majority.
A number of additional speakers were taken during The Way Forward debate. Pete Smith, elected 10 days previously as a DLP councillor in Walsall, spoke of the need to work from the bottom upwards. Vanessa Gee from PUSH spoke about the health protests – the next meeting of PUSH was June 9 at Coventry Motor Museum. Burslem post office worker Jane spoke about the strike action in Burslem against cuts and victimization.Dafur asylum seeker Sadiq spoke about his plight and asked people to visit the web site set up in his defence – www.savesadiq.t83.net. Linda Taaffe outlined the main details of the RMT Shop Stewards Network conference on July 7
Two CNWP officers gave reports. Fiona Pashazadeh gave her final Treasurer’s report. Expenditure since the start of the CNWP had been £6,717, income had been £5,795, leaving a deficit of £922. The first raffle had raised £250 and as we now had a license, this could be utilized. She appealed for supporters to take out monthly standing orders. Pete McLaren spoke to his written Press Officer’s report. He listed the 16 media releases in the 14 months he had been in office, and spoke of his delight that none of them had been politically censored. He outlined how the drip drip approach of media releases every month was just beginning to pay dividends, and outlined the importance of liaison between local CNWP groups and the Press Office
Before the election of officers and closing debate took place, the conference divided into a number of commissions, as follows:
Standing in elections – sharing experiences from the May elections with Dave Church Walsall DLP, Lindsey Currie Coventry Socialist Party, Ian Slattery Huddersfield Save our NHS; Affiliated trade unions Glen Kelly Unison, Rob Williams Visteon convenor T&G; Unaffiliated trade unions Katrine Williams PCS, Martin Davies NUT; Combating the BNP Andy Bentley Stoke on Trent; Campaigning amongst young people Tracy Edwards PCS youth officer; The environment Mike Davies AGS
At the start of the final full session, an emergency resolution from Hands off the people of Iran campaign was moved and remitted to the Steering Committee
Tony Mulhearn SP and former Liverpool councillor, closed the conference with a rousing speech about the need to build bridges between ourselves as activists and the working class. He further conveyed Ricky Tomlinson’s best wishes for the success of the CNWP
Election of CNWP officers
The following were elected – all unopposed, apart from Press Officer
Chair – Dave Nellist (SP)
Vice Chairs – Gerry Byrne (SA); Jeremy Dewar (WP); Clara Pyard (Indep)
Secretary – Roger Bannister (SP)
Assistant Secretary – Hannah Sell (SP)
Treasurer – Greg Maughan (SP)
Trade Union Officers – Glen Kelly (SP); Terry Pierce (Indep)
Officer for Wales – Andrew Price (SP)
Youth Officer – Tracy Edwards (SP)
Community Officer – Mel Mills (Huddersfield Save our NHS)
Press Officer – Pete McLaren (SA) defeated Phil Sharpe (CMP) almost unanimously
Pete McLaren, National Sec, Socialist Alliance 14/05/07