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Submitted by AWL on Thu, 12/11/2009 - 13:45

We have received a courteous reply to this letter from Mike Davies of the AGS: "The next meeting of the current steering committee is towards the end of November. The Alliance for Green Socialism very much hopes that this will make concrete progress, including addressing the question of wider participation in the coalition".

The Socialist Party carried a long statement in its paper on 3 November. Presumably it reckoned that, with the coalition talks going public at the 7 November conference, it had to make some explanation of its position to its members and supporters.

In 1800 words, the statement includes no message or hint about what "core policies" the SP is proposing for the coalition.

With No2EU, the SP "line" was: "Yes, the policies are poor. There was no time to develop anything better before the June election deadline. But this is a start. Better policies can be won over time".

The statement gives no indication that the SP has been pressing hard for better policies in the five months of talks since June.

Time was when the SP, like all other Trotskyists in the broadest sense of the word, would never even have considered backing the CPB or its (more lively and more substantially worker-based) predecessors in elections. But the statement makes it look as if the SP will accept CPB stuff for the coalition's "core policies", and will be happy if it can salve its conscience by an agreement that it can add saving "peripheral" clauses to local leaflets where it has local strength.

In particular, the statement includes no indication that the SP will press hard to reduce the "No2EU" nationalism which (obviously) dominated the No2EU effort, or that the SP sees any need to argue with the CPB about Europe.

As regards what is in the statement, there are two main points of interest.

The main issue that the SP flags up as unresolved is the name to be chosen for the coalition. The SP says it has suggested "Trade Unionists and Green Socialists Alliance", but been knocked back on the grounds that "trade unionists" is too "narrow" and "socialist" is "too far ahead of workers' consciousness".

As a fallback, evidently not yet agreed, the SP proposes: "No cuts! Defend jobs and services".

The name is, of course, a tactical issue. But it is a serious one, since this is a "propaganda" slate - one whose realistic hopes must be limited to getting respectable minority votes for a clear message. It is a new slate, with a new name, with only a few months to make itself known.

It is ironic that the SP, whose habit is to define itself as left-wing by the sheer fact of voicing the words "socialism is the only answer" for conflicts such as those in Israel/ Palestine and Ireland, now decides that calling for "socialism" is quite dispensable if the prize to be won by dropping it is an alliance with the CPB.

More seriously, though, if the view prevails in the coalition that socialism is an idea "too far ahead" for the title of the slate, that must make it harder to get much socialist content into the substantive policies under the title.

The other issue given most attention in the statement is the disagreement between the SP and the CPB over whether to vote for Labour in seats where they are not standing. It seems, however, that this issue has been resolved by an agreement to disagree.

The second point of interest is that the statement hints strongly that - even with the SP being undemanding about "core policies" - agreement may not be finalised.

The statement is titled, "Action needed to bring election coalition into shape", and concludes by discussing what the SP will do "if a coalition cannot be assembled".

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