Preparations are getting underway for the annual conference of the Alliance for Workers' Liberty, the organisation which publishes Solidarity. The conference will be held on the weekend of 29-30 April, in London.
Its job is to discuss and decide the broad lines of AWL policy for the next year. It also elects a national committee which will meet every six weeks or so to decide policy month-to-month. That committee, in its turn, elects a smaller, London-based, committee which can meet weekly and supervise the day-to-day work of the organisation.
The actual running of the conference is in the hands of yet another committee, a standing orders committee elected from last year's conference, which includes few or no members from the national committee. That is a constitutional rule designed against the risk of a national committee so organising the conference that it can “bounce” the membership into passive acceptance.
The national committee, however, accepts a duty to offer political leadership and to fight to win the membership to definite ideas. This year the national committee plans to submit motions to conference on Iraq; on AWL work in the trade unions; on alternative-globalisation and anti-sweatshop campaigning; on student work; on a balance sheet of the “new anti-capitalism”; and on AWL political education.
All AWL members have the right to submit alternatives and amendments, to receive assistance from the AWL to travel to regional pre-conference meetings to argue their corner, and to come to the conference to debate and vote. Minorities on the national committee are not tied by “committee discipline”, but can argue their views freely in the pre-conference and conference debate.
It is neither necessary nor desirable, of course, that every conference should be a furious pitched battle. Conferences where there is general agreement on basics, and discussion can focus on codifying and consolidating that agreement and better equipping us to take the agreed ideas out into the movements around us, are also valuable.
Sympathisers and friends of the AWL are welcome to attend the conference. Contact the AWL office if you want to come.