Dave Parks reports on a conference of independent members of the SA, held on 30 November
- plus No expulsions from the Bedfordshire SA By the Bedfordshire Platform
I came away from the conference feeling enthused and optimistic for the future. The independents, while remaining a very diverse bunch, are starting to get more organised and more assertive.
The conference was well attended and the atmosphere very comradely and constructive. With the SWP being the biggest force in the SA naturally much discussion was devoted to the nature of the relationship between us and them. But the point was not to whinge about present problems but to identify problems and address how to move forward.
There was overwhelming support for the executive to be elected by STV and for the SA to accept affiliations with rights of representation of affiliates on to the bodies of the SA. A motion from James White to set up an SA members platform to "Campaign for a Fighting and Democratic Socialist Party" was passed by a majority. There is overwhelming support for the SA to become a party with its own paper. I think we all understand that has to be with the SWP as opposed to being against the SWP - we need to persuade them. I considered abstaining on this because the Indies have been explicitly inclusive of all independents across a diverse range of views and associating ourselves with a pro-party platform could be going against that spirit.
However there is some urgency in pushing the pro-party agenda forward, particularly given dissatisfaction over the Liz Davies affair.
The failure of the SA to act as a pole of attraction is largely due to the fact that we are not seen by the class - either in the labour movement or to working class voters - as being a serious force. If we fail to make the SA a pole of attraction we may continue to end up as bystanders as the BNP picks up support of disillusioned workers.
We need to sort out the mess relating to the resignation of Liz Davies. Hearing a detailed report from Nick Wrack about the events was very useful as was the full and frank debate that took place. Part of moving on is admitting that wrong has been done, and that we should not have a situation where it can seem that Liz is to be blame for being a "whistle-blower". It was very pleasing to see a call for "a full apology to Liz Davies and a request that she resume her position as chair of the SA".
There were reports from all the local areas represented at the conference which showed a diverse level of activity and diverse relations with the groups.
Finally there was also a report from Steve Godward (FBU) on the firefighters strike. Most SAs reported activity in support of the firefighters.
No expulsions from the Bedfordshire SA
By the Bedfordshire Platform
In Bedfordshire, the SWP is trying to expel two comrades as a result of a year-long political struggle about the future direction of the SA. The comrades haven't yet been accused of anything specific. It is a more general charge of not being nice enough to the SWP, suitably disguised in lurid language.
A motion was passed by the BSA at its September 2001 meeting, concerning the transfer of funds from the previous officers to the new officers.The motion was not carried out. At the next BSA meeting we complained about this leading to a fairly heated exchange of views. The SWP full-time organiser then decided they had had enough of being challenged and decided to seek the expulsion of two of our comrades.
Suffice to say the firefighters dispute has shown up the real state of the BSA. Members have been out collecting for firefighters in Luton, however we are split into two stalls at either end of the shopping precinct. One is an SWP stall with all the SWP members with SWP literature, selling Socialist Worker. We are at the other end with a BSA stall.
We want to build the SA into an organisation with its own paper, which aims to become a new workers' party when the time is right. The dispute between New Labour and the FBU makes the case for a new party crystal clear. The SWP on the other hand see the BSA as their front organisation for fighting elections to be turned on and off when it suits them. They see the FBU dispute as about building the SWP.
We have rejected any idea of following the SWP around or waiting at their beck and call. We have formed the BSA Democratic and Republican Platform to campaign for a new party. The SWP are not happy with that and are looking for any excuse to get rid of us.
We are not going to go away. But we need the support of other indies. If we are expelled it will add to the impression that the SA is just a support organisation of the SWP. If the SWP is thwarted in their plans it will show that the SA is still open to independent thought and action.
Contact us at the BSAplatform@hotmail.com
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