Socialist Worker

SWP holds special convention this week

Issue No. 1795

The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is encouraging every member who can to attend an unprecedented meeting in London this Sunday. It has booked the Palace Theatre, one of London's largest venues. 'We've called a meeting for every member, rather than simply for delegates, so as many people as possible can debate and discuss the transformed political situation,' says Socialist Workers Party national organiser Chris Bambery.

Major events over the last few weeks show just how rapid those developments are. The night before the recent anti-capitalist march in Barcelona in Spain organisers were hoping that 70,000 might come to their protest. In fact 500,000 took to the streets.

A week later the Italian trade unions and left parties were expecting one million to join their demonstration against the Berlusconi government. Three million filled the streets of Rome. Across the world the rage which people feel about the way the system wrecks their lives is bubbling to the surface.

In country after country, on a scale we have not seen for decades, there is a new willingness to march, protest and strike. People are not just fighting over pay, jobs or pensions. They are taking on militarism, debt, imperialism, oppression and support for the Palestinians. A large minority is generalising from struggles over one aspect of the system to challenge it entirely.

Millions have taken part in protests against the war in Afghanistan and plans to pound Iraq. The traditional parties of the left once claimed to give a voice to the feeling for change in society. But many of those involved in recent protests see such parties as part of the problem, not the solution. This is nowhere more so than in Britain.

Tony Blair is the most pro-Bush leader in Europe, perhaps in the world. Only Berlusconi could possibly challenge him for the title of most pro-capitalist leader in Europe. There is deep disenchantment with the New Labour government over Blair's support for Bush's war, privatisation, handouts to the rich and more.

Britain has not yet seen a protest on the scale of Barcelona or Rome – although we should remember that in November 100,000 people marched in London against the war. There have been significant strikes in the rail industry, among teachers in London, in the NHS and other areas. Nearly all of them have ended with victory for our side.

We have certainly not yet returned to the strike level of, say, the 1970s. But more battles are in the wings. The Financial Times wrote last week that 'Britain is facing a spring of industrial tension, with increasing union militancy threatening to disrupt key public services'.

Most union leaders are trying to limit the fightback. But they cannot guarantee to stem the tide. Even if major strikes do not happen immediately, the mood of anger at New Labour and the desire for resistance will grow.

Three teachers' unions held their conferences last week. At none of them did a single delegate praise the government. Instead all the discussions were about how to fight back. There are tremendous opportunities to build a bigger, more vibrant left. Socialists have been building, leading and taking part in many different areas of struggle – the Stop the War Coalition, the solidarity movement with the Palestinians, the Socialist Alliance, Globalise Resistance, the Anti Nazi League and others.

Socialists are working with much larger numbers of people than for many years, and in a new way. It is also clear there is a new audience which can be won to reading Socialist Worker, and to discussions about building socialist organisation. Bigger opportunities and challenges lie ahead. Sunday's meeting is for as many SWP members as possible to take a full part in the discussion and debates.

National convention for all registered Socialist Workers Party members

Sunday 14 April, 10.30am-4.30pm, Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus, London (Leicester Square/Tottenham Court Road tube)
Phone 020 7538 5821 to book

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Article information

Sat 13 Apr 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1795
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