The upsurge of student struggle and resistance to the government means that the SWP has real possibilities to grow.
A bigger SWP can better help shape the struggle to defeat the Tories.
Charlie Kimber, the SWP’s new national secretary, spoke of the need to fit the party’s work around the needs of the new student members and how longstanding socialists can learn from them.
The SWP’s involvement in the anti-cuts movement and other campaigns means that it “can build new roots in the working class,” Charlie said.
The party’s membership grew last year, but there needs to be a stress on retention as well as recruitment. The branches are vital in this, with weekly meetings educating people about socialist ideas and planning intervention in local struggles.
Many delegates described how strong party branches had helped them to organise, increased political clarity and helped retain members.
Martin Smith spoke of the plans for a recruitment drive, with a target of at least 2,000 recruits in 2011, to help the SWP “seize the time”.
Delegates voted unanimously for this.
Other leading members spoke of the need to improve party finances by members raising their subs, and the importance of Socialist Worker and the Marxism 2011 festival in increasing the party’s influence.
Martin from Manchester said that comrades “should encourage new members to write articles and reports for our publications. People will feel the publications are theirs.”
Jenny, from Hackney, east London, said, “I’m still here because when I go to branch meetings, people listen to what I have to say.”
She added that students could learn a lot from more experienced comrades, but they could also learn from newer ones.
Delegates stressed the need to sell Socialist Worker. Sue, a teacher, said that selling Socialist Worker helped her to get workmates involved in the student protests.
Others emphasised the importance of party caucuses to better intervene in political activity.