OVER 80 officers and delegates from Socialist Alliances around England met in Birmingham last Saturday to plan the way forward after the general election. National officer Rob Hoveman said, "We took a big step forward during the election. We stood in far more seats than we originally anticipated. The Socialist Alliance grew rapidly, pulling in activists and people disillusioned with the Labour Party."
John Gill, who stood as a Socialist Alliance candidate in Pontefract & Castleford, said, "We set up as a group just eight weeks before the election. "We got loads of people from the Labour Party talking to us during the election. It is time to build our membership, to get involved in activity and give people a clear vision of what we are."
There have also been some big and enthusiastic Socialist Alliance meetings after the election. Candy Udwin, who stood in Holborn & St Pancras, told the meeting, "We've met more socialists than we believed existed in our area. "In Hampstead both ex Labour Party and people still in the Labour Party have been the most enthusiastic. We have to combine elections, and meetings, with campaigning on the ground against privatisation and over environmental and anti-capitalist issues."
The meeting agreed to two main campaigning priorities in the coming months:
- To build the demonstration outside Labour's conference in Brighton on 30 September.
- To mobilise for the Anti Nazi League carnival in Burnley on 1 September and the Oldham United Against Racism event on 20 October.
Delegates agreed a statement condemning the police violence and the murder of a protester in Genoa. The meeting unanimously agreed to stand in the May council elections next year and the European Parliament elections in 2003.
The executive of the Socialist Alliance has already written to the Socialist Labour Party, urging it to join the alliance.
It has also approached the Green Party urging cooperation in elections. The issue of how to respond to the debate in the unions over the use of the political fund will be fully discussed at the next liaison meeting on Saturday 5 October.
A national conference on Saturday 1 December will discuss the future structures of the Socialist Alliance. For more details phone 020 7791 3138 or visit www.socialistalliance.net
- GLOUCESTERSHIRE Socialist Alliance and the Cheltenham branch of the Green Party protested outside the Gap shop in Cheltenham recently over Gap's use of sweatshop labour.