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Socialism 2009 forum - can we build a party for working class people?
At Socialism 2009, the third session in the 'Britain after the general election' course will be a wide ranging debate on how the crisis in working class political representation can be solved.
Dave Nellist, Coventry Socialist Party councillor
This forum brings together representatives of key anti-establishment and socialist trends: along with Alex Gordon of the RMT executive and myself from the Socialist Party, there will be speakers from the Green Party, Respect, the Labour Representation Committee and the Socialist Workers Party.
That there is a political vacuum in Britain, with no effective mass voice for working class people, has been further illustrated by the 'Dutch auction' between the big three parties as to who can be 'harder' than the others in demanding cuts in working class living standards to pay back the borrowing taken out to shore up the bankers, their bonuses and their system.
A common and overlapping agenda from Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats has always existed on certain issues - but never as widely or as deeply as now.
No national and sizeable political party exists that campaigns for the defence of public services against PFI, privatisation or outsourcing. None of the major parties campaign to end British involvement in the war in Afghanistan. No major party has a programme to deal with the export of jobs and factories and the relentless rise in unemployment, especially amongst the young. All three major parties seek solutions to those issues which start from working people and their families paying the price for the crisis in the bosses' system.
Attempts to address that issue, to create a new political vehicle for working people, have been made but with limited success - the inability of the Socialist Labour Party, the Socialist Alliance, and Respect to generate a new, national structure involving thousands or tens of thousands of activists holds lessons for us all.
New workers' party
The Socialist Party called for the launching of the Campaign for a New Workers Party at Socialism 2006. The CNWP now has over 4,000 registered supporters, many of whom regularly give financial support to the project and are involved in local and regional activities.
50 of those sponsors are members of national trade union executives. It is that involvement, and conscious direction of the work of the CNWP towards the trade union movement, which has marked it off from other campaigns. This method has borne fruit in developing, at various degrees, support for independent political representation in, for example, the RMT, PCS, CWU and Unison. Recently, the London region of the CWU held a consultative ballot in which 98% voted to withdraw funding from the Labour Party.
The forum promises to clarify the potential common ground of some of the participants, or delineate the differences, so that further campaigns can be more successful.
Britain after the general election
Session one - Is Cameron another Thatcher? How can we defeat a Tory government?
Session two - The battle to defend public services
Session three - How can the crisis in working class political representation be solved?
Saturday 7 - Sunday 8 November
University of London Union, Malet Street, London WC1
A weekend of political discussion and debate hosted by the Socialist Party.
Whole weekend £25 waged or £12 unwaged/low waged
One day only £15 waged or £7 unwaged/low waged
Rally for Socialism only £5
Cheques payable to Socialism. Crèche and accommodation places available - please arrange in advance.
020 8988 8777
PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD
In The Socialist 28 October 2009:
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party reviews