THE NATIONAL council of the Socialist Alliance met in London last Saturday, with delegates from local groups across England. Socialist Alliance trade union officer Mark Hoskisson stressed the importance of the crisis facing Labour and how the Socialist Alliance had a key role to play in the debate over the trade union political funds.
'The firefighters' strike has posed a huge political dimension-the relationship of the FBU and other trade unions with the Labour Party itself,' he said. 'This has opened up an important political crisis throughout the whole labour movement. The Socialist Alliance has a head start in working and campaigning around the political fund.'
In the debate some put forward that the Socialist Alliance should argue for trade unionists to call a special meeting of the Labour Party to call Blair to account. But most of the meeting disagreed with this approach.
As Liam from Tower Hamlets put it, 'We don't want to push people back in the direction of Labour. We want to open up the discussion, be at the head of the debate and win people to the Socialist Alliance.' The meeting agreed three campaigning priorities around the firefighters and the political fund:
- For local Socialist Alliance groups to hold public meetings on 'Where is New Labour going?', inviting leading local trade unionists and others.
- To visit key local workplaces with Matt Wrack's Socialist Alliance pamphlet Whose Money is it Anyway? Some 2,000 more copies of the pamphlet have now been printed.
- To continue to build solidarity, and help set up firefighters' support groups.
As Socialist Allinace executive member Nick Wrack put it, 'There is immense fracturing of the Labour Party's base. We need to build the Socialist Alliance so it is seen as a viable alternative.'
There was also agreement for the Socialist Alliance to continue to be fully involved in the anti-war movement and build the London anti-war demonstration on 15 February. The meeting also discussed the forthcoming local elections, which will take place in England (except in London) in May 2003.
In Bristol the Socialist Alliance has already selected candidates. After some debate the meeting also voted for the Socialist Alliance to affiliate to the Anti Nazi League.
The meeting discussed the resignation of Socialist Alliance chair Liz Davies in October. Everyone expressed regret at Liz's resignation, and the meeting overwhelmingly passed a report by the executive following its investigation into the events surrounding the resignation.
IN THE seventh set of elections in 30 months the Hackney Socialist Alliance received 7.1 percent in Leabridge Ward and 7.9 percent in Kings Park. Leabridge was a hard- fought contest between Greens, New Labour and Tories, all of whom expected to win the seat. It is traditional in these kinds of elections for new parties to lose most of their vote but our core vote still came out and voted for the Socialist Alliance.
In Kings Park we also faced the challenge of a ward where there is a history of very low turnouts and where they weigh Labour votes. Again our supporters turned out to back us.
Will McMahon, chair Hackney Socialist Alliance