The Socialist Alliance meets for probably its last conference on 8 February, from 2pm at the University of London Union, Malet Street.
The main officials of the Socialist Alliance — members of the Socialist Workers Party — have called this conference in order to shut down the Alliance and pay over its remaining funds, £6,000, to Respect, the non-socialist electoral coalition formed by the SWP with George Galloway MP.
Unfortunately, the SWP has got another group — the Socialist Unity Network, a group of “loyal oppositionists” within Respect — to do the dirty work for it, and put down the formal motion to dissolve the SA.
The Socialist Alliance was initiated back in 1992 by Dave Nellist MP after his expulsion from the Labour Party, extended to a small national network over the next few years, and greatly expanded and transformed in 2000-1 when an incipient new left electoral alliance in London (including SWP, AWL, and others) took it up as a vehicle, eventually running 98 SA candidates in the 2001 general election. It was then the biggest move for left unity in Britain for many decades.
The SWP started running it down in May 2003, when they formed their alliance with Galloway, who was being expelled from the Labour Party. In January 2004 the SWP and Galloway launched Respect. In March 2004 the SWP and its friends got the majority at an SA conference to vote against standing any SA candidates in the June 2004 council elections (even where Respect was not standing).
The March 2004 motion said that the SA would continue. In fact, the SWP and its friends started winding it up immediately. The SA office was shut down, the SA office worker left, no mailings or emails were sent out, the website was shut down, the committees stopped meeting.
Naturally, local SA groups declined too: not many people want to be members of a group that so strongly indicates it doesn't want them as members. A minority of SA members has refused to accept the liquidation passively, and will propose on 8 February that the SA be reactivated, with the SWP withdrawing to do Respect instead if they wish.
The recent launch of the Socialist Green Unity Coalition — bringing together AWL, the Socialist Party, the Alliance for Green Socialism, and the SA minority (Socialist Alliance Democratic Platform) in an alliance for the 2005 general election — provides a framework in which SA groups and activists could indeed be revived.