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Posted on 8 February 2016 at 13:23 GMT

South West Socialist Party members inspired by conference

Robin Clapp, South West regional organiser

Long-standing Socialist Party member Mark Baker declared it to be "excellent", while Nick from the soon-to-be-formed Torbay branch left "feeling very fired up and fighting the good fight with so many solid people". Aaron from Plymouth summed up the mood best of all: "It may have pissed down all day, but it never dampened our spirits. Really inspired by the Socialist Party. Despite all the chaos in the world, I feel at home here and the future may well belong to us."

These were just a selection of texts and messages sent to me after our brilliantly successful Socialist Party South West conference on 6 February, where 70 party members from 20 different villages, towns and cities across the region met in Bristol to discuss global and British events under the title of World in Crisis. Seventeen others were forced to send apologies, many of them young members trapped in retail zero-hour jobs who dared not risk missing a shift for fear of being thrown on the stones.

General secretary Peter Taaffe provided the incisive introduction which drew appreciation measured not only by the stormy applause that followed but also by a magnificent collection which produced 1, 972 for the party's Fighting Fund. This was later made up to a nicely rounded two grand.

Workshops followed, on: selling the Socialist; work in trade unions; building more support among women; and developing our key youth and student interventions; and the day was rounded off with a session on 'Building the Party' which I introduced.

A new branch in Cornwall which the day before had defied Atlantic storms to stage our first sale of the Socialist in Falmouth since 1974 (selling nine copies and gaining five new potential members); big successes in Torbay around anti-cuts work; the beginning of new work in Wiltshire and Bournemouth; and the likelihood of a second branch in Gloucestershire during this year; were all causes for further celebration.

A party's success is not measured only by fine words spoken in a congress, but by the successful overcoming of political and organisational challenges thrown up in the class struggle. Nevertheless we heard many fine words and it is clear that the South West Socialist Party branches have proven their mettle in a period that has not always been the most favourable.

Moving ever westwards, who's going to bet against us building next on the Isles of Scilly!

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 8 February 2016 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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