Martin Smith, the SWP national secretary, introduced a session on “Building the party in the age of mass movements”.
Martin spoke of the two key issues facing the SWP in 2007 – the continuing crisis in Iraq and the end of Tony Blair’s time in office.
Each SWP branch has to have a strategy and a structure of weekly branch meetings and monthly public meetings where people can come together to discuss and debate the issues within the movement.
Martin said, “The rallies and the public meetings we have organised have been a flagship for the party. Where they have been done properly they have clarified to people our ideas about a whole number of issues.”
Each branch also needs to organise public sales of Socialist Worker, which have been very successful over the last year.
One area to improve on though is workplace sales of Socialist Worker, both in members’ own offices and factories and outside other workplaces.
Branches should organise consistent sales at workplaces in their areas, particularly civil service workplaces, bus garages and other places where struggles have broken out.
Members should also sell Socialist Worker inside the movement.
Beth, an NHS worker from Merseyside, said, “There is a massive attack on the NHS. In my workplace 50 percent of the staff are being lost and not replaced.
“I have been selling Socialist Worker at work and using it to help set up workplace meetings. They are used to push the Unison union branch. Now we need to make sure the Saturday 3 March demonstration over the NHS is massive.”
Donny Gluckstein, a delegate from Edinburgh, said, “We have recently relaunched the SWP in Scotland after the collapse of the Scottish Socialist Party.
“We have now got public sales of Socialist Worker up. There is fantastic enthusiasm for them. The paper has tied everything together. The sales have fed into our forums.
“We have had very good meetings, on a number of issues, which have been made up of two third non-members. This reinvigorates members.”
Sadia Jabeen from Leicester said, “When I first went into the area the branch was quite small. But we took the recruitment and contacting people seriously.
“Attendance at branch meetings went from four to 20 and the mood was raised in the branch. We tailored our meetings around new people and a number of them joined.”
Gareth Jenkins, from Hackney East branch in east London, emphasised the importance of branch meetings in retaining new members and organising the party.
Gareth said, “Building the SWP and the movements are integrally linked. We have recruited nine people. Weekly branch meetings included discusion on some of the trickier issues in the movement.
“But there has been no division between the big ideas and what we do. We also discuss what action we need to take in the second half of our meetings.”