Representatives from Workers’ Liberty, the Socialist Party, the Alliance for Green Socialism, and the Socialist Alliance Democratic Platform met on 28 November in London and discussed working together to establish a working-class socialist presence in the probable 2005 general election.
An outline political basis for what we decided to call the Socialist Green Unity Coalition was agreed. It consists of a preamble and a series of policy points (agreed in outline, but subject to ratification and editing).
It looks as if the coalition will have candidates in between 17 and 30 constituencies — between 11 and 19 Socialist Party, between three and maybe six AGS, two or more SADP, one or possibly more AWL. It is also probable that candidates put up by local independent socialist groups will choose to come into the coalition.
The different parties in the coalition will stand under their own names and with their own policies, but there will be a joint press launch, joint press releases, a joint website, joint negotiations with allies or competitors, and mutual support.
A letter will be sent out to socialists across the country inviting them to work with the new coalition, and we will also write to the Scottish Socialist Party inviting them to establish links with us.
The coalition represents, of course, less than if almost the whole activist left could agree to come together to create a socialist presence in the elections, as we did in 2001. Since then the SWP have decided instead to go for a coalition with George Galloway MP and Islamists (“Respect”). But we will make sure the socialist banner is flown. Since Respect plans to stand in no more than about 30 seats, our presence will be big enough to be visible.
The biggest political argument at the 28 November meeting was about Iraq. AWL proposed wording which called explicitly for support to Iraqi workers against the Islamist militias, but the Alliance for Green Socialism was not willing to accept that as a joint policy position. (The AGS’s own position is for UN troops in Iraq). Eventually we agreed on a formula: “No to occupation. Support Iraqi workers in their struggles to build and defend independent trade unions and working class political representation”, which each participating group can and will develop in its own way.
There was considerable debate about the AGS’s unwillingness to accept the formula “workers’ MPs on a workers’ wage” advocated by the SP and the AWL. Eventually we got a wording included in the preamble. Once again, participating groups will be free to expound their own ideas.
The AWL said that if the Socialist Party decides to stand again in Hayes and Harlington, against left Labour MP John McDonnell, then the AWL will not support that particular SP candidate. This would be a similar situation to 2001, when the SP was part of the Socialist Alliance but the Socialist Alliance did not support the SP candidacy in Hayes and Harlington. The SP has not yet decided whether to run again in the constituency.
• Further information here