Socialist Worker

Open letter responses: Let’s prepare for battle

Socialist Workers Party national secretary Martin Smith gives an update on the responses to the SWP’s open letter calling for unity among the left

Issue No. 2162

A lot has happened in the seven weeks since the European election results.

Unemployment has now reached 2.4 million in Britain and looks set to rise to three million by Christmas. But at the same time the occupation and protests at the Vestas wind turbine factory in the Isle of Wight show what is possible if workers fight back.

The war in Afghanistan has gone right up the political agenda as the rising death toll of British soldiers has led more and more people to question the whole notion that this is a “good” war.

Labour’s defeat at the hands of the Tories in the Norwich North by-election last week is yet another indicator that Gordon Brown’s government is in meltdown.

This weak but nasty government is hated by millions, and New Labour is haemorrhaging members every day.

It was the disastrous European election results that spurred the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) to launch an open letter to the rest of the left. The open letter highlighted the danger of the rise of the Nazi British National Party and called for the maximum unity to stop them.

The response to the open letter was fantastic.

A few weeks back Socialist Worker published the names of 500 people who signed it. That number of signatories has nowgone past the 1,500 mark.

The people who have signed come from a wide variety of political backgrounds including councillors, trade union officials, activists and individuals from a number of political organisations.

After we launched the open letter the SWP held informal meetings with other groups and individuals on the left, including the Socialist Party, Respect, PCS union general secretary Mark Serwotka, individuals in the Green Party and independent socialist councillors.

We discussed possible ways for the left to begin to move towards greater electoral cooperation and possible unity. The three areas we discussed were:

  • A united organisation
  • An electoral non-aggression pact. Across the country there are a small number of councillors who are either in the SWP, Respect or the Socialist Party with significant support in their local area.

    A small but significant step forward would be for all the parties concerned to organise a non-aggression pact in those and other areas of the country.

  • An umbrella organisation. Another possibility would be for the left to group together under an umbrella’s name, for instance “The United Left”, at the same time maintaining their own political organisation/name.

The question is where do we go from here? The SWP wants to put on record that it is absolutely serious about the need for left electoral unity.

We are going to write to all the key organisations and individuals to suggest that we hold an informal meeting to discuss these suggestions and any others comrades wanted to raise.

There is less than a year to go before a general election. We believe that it is vital to create a united left organisation that can offer an alternative to Labour.

In the meantime we will continue to support and encourage socialists to stand in local elections and by-elections in the run up to the general election.

We will publish a final list of people who have signed the open letter in Socialist Worker in the week running up to the demonstration outside the Labour Party conference in Brighton on 27 September.

If you would like to add your name to the open letter please email your name and position to openletter@swp.org.uk or send your details to Open Letter, PO Box 42184, London SW8 2WD


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Tue 28 Jul 2009, 18:56 BST
Issue No. 2162
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