THE NATIONAL council of the Socialist Alliance, with delegates from groups across England, met last Saturday in London. The meeting took place a week after the local council elections, where the Socialist Alliance achieved some very good results. Liz Davies, national chair of the alliance, said, 'The results show that we are here and here to stay, and serious about campaigning on a grassroots level. We still have a long way to go, but the results put the Socialist Alliance on the map as a player in British politics.'
Many pointed out that the key to a good election campaign was combining local issues with the big national and international questions. Jim Jepps from Colchester said, 'The most important thing we did during the election was to meet people face to face around the estates and local shops. 'We also petitioned to defend council housing, and in a ward of 6,000 people over 1,000 signed the petition.'
Rachel from Sheffield said, 'People responded to what we said against the war and in solidarity with the Palestinians.' Steve Worden, who was a candidate in Burnley, said, 'Some people said that we shouldn't stand as it would split the vote and help the Nazis. We did not split the vote. We got votes from people who said they wouldn't vote for Labour any more because there is such disillusion. We gave people something positive to vote for. Now we need to build a strong Socialist Alliance in Burnley.'
Everyone agreed that the alliance needs to build on the results by local groups contacting those who helped in the campaign or voted for the alliance. It was suggested that local groups could produce a bulletin or newspaper letting them know the results, and to build support for both local and national campaigns.
The council passed a motion in opposition to Zionism and in support of the Palestinian struggle after a lively debate. The motion was proposed by John Rees, a member of the alliance national executive and the SWP. It argued to 'support the struggle of the Palestinian people for the right of return and for self determination'. As well as continuing to campaign against privatisation, war and in support of the Palestinians, the national council agreed other priorities and events:
- The European Social Forum in Florence, Italy.
It was agreed to build for this event (see page 15), and the alliance will hold a one-day conference orientated towards young people and anti-capitalist activists later this year.
- A one-day conference on Europe.
The alliance agreed to hold an event in the autumn to formulate its policy on the euro, including a rally to build links with trade unionists and campaigners across Europe.
- A one-day trade union activists' event.
It was agreed to hold a conference for trade union activists to discuss strategies following the successful rank and file conference on the political fund held in March.