SA Office bulletin
Tuesday 30 July
We would like to apologise to comrades that the website was down from the weekend through to last Thursday and denied us access to the SA info list at the same time. The technical problem we encountered has now been rectified and we expect no further service interruption (famous last words).
All out to stop the war on Iraq
Plans are now well set for a major bombing campaign against Iraq together with the deployment of ground troops. The madmen are in control in the White House. And there is the imperative of the mid-term elections where the Republicans could be vulnerable in the aftermath of the exposure of massive corporate fraud, deception and theft. Over the weekend a further incentive for US intervention came to light-the growing instability in Saudi Arabia, which still has the largest oil reserves in the world.
Whilst Bush gears up for war ably abetted by his loyal poodle Blair, the problems for them mount. King Abdullah of Jordan has been visiting Britain warning against military action. It's clear the corrupt Arab rulers in the Middle East fear they are sitting on a powder keg waiting to go up. And whilst there are economic incentives for Bush to go in, war could also tip the world economy into serious recession, particularly if the oil price were to rise significantly.
Yesterday The Guardian had a letter from the Stop the War Coalition opposing the war on Iraq and advertising the demo on Saturday 28th September. Today it's got another letter opposing the war signed by a host of the principal trade union general secretaries led by Bill Morris. The Labour Party is clearly deeply split and it's rumoured there could be a Cabinet resignation if Blair insists on supporting Bush.
At the Respect Festival last Saturday week in London Stop the War gave out some 12,000 leaflets. There have been very big rallies and film showings around the country, with more to come. We believe the 28th September demo will be absolutely massive - we may see 150,000 plus on the day. We intend to have the biggest possible presence on the march with hundreds of placards and thousands of leaflets.
We urge all Socialist Alliance comrades to throw themselves into the campaign to stop Bush and Blair's war on Iraq. We need to be building the local film shows, rallies and other initiatives. We need to be on the coaches coming to London. And we would like every local Socialist Alliance with a banner to bring it to the march. If you haven't yet got one, think about getting one now. For more information on Stop the War activities, go to the Stop the War website at www.stopwar.org.uk. We will be circulating a new leaflet against the war shortly.
Nearer the time we will be asking for help from London comrades in particular for help in running stalls, distributing placards and leaflets and helping to recruit to the Socialist Alliance.
Tens of thousands head for Florence
At the same time we are building against the war we need to be raising the question of getting activists to go to Florence for the European Social Forum. In excess of 30,000 activists from an enormous range of backgrounds, but all convinced in one form or another that 'Another World is Possible', are now expected to participate in an enormous number of meetings. It is essential we get a good number of Socialist Alliance members to Florence.
We now enjoy considerable respect from other significant socialist organisations in Europe including above all the Partido Rifondazione Comunista and the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire. Moreover we have a distinctive socialist position we share and which with appropriate sensitivity we need to bring into the discussions, including the importance of the cross fertilisation between the anti-capitalist and organised working class movements, the connections that need to be made between the different areas of concern that people may have - Third World debt, war, privatisation, etc., and the priority areas for mobilisation.
To build for Florence we also need to make links locally with trade unionists, with campaigners, with students and with NGOs. We have produced our own leaflets for Florence which are available on request from the office and which will be posted as a pdf on the website shortly. The dates are 6th November to 10th November. There are also leaflets available from the English ESF Mobilisation, website www.mobilise.org.uk. They will be organising transport most probably in the form of trains. The next meeting is at Amnesty International in London on 19th August for an update on networking, transportation and accommodation. However the cheapest way of getting to Florence is almost certainly by booking now on Ryanair. I understand they are still offering flights for £35 to Bologna which is fairly close to Florence.
We will be following up the European Social Forum with our own conference on 'New Imperialism, New Internationalism' in London at the end of November. We are currently in the early stages of discussing the format and guest speakers, but this is going to be a very important conference for us to look at key issues for the movement-racism, war, globalisation etc- and develop a socialist perspective. We will have preliminary material for the conference at the National Council on Saturday 7th September. The conference is aimed particularly at younger people (although 'older' people, I'm very pleased to say, will also be very welcome). And it is aimed at those particularly influenced by anti-globalisation/anti-capitalism. We therefore need to be promoting the conference from the beginning of the new academic term in the colleges and the universities.
There is the real prospect of further significant strike action in the next few months. Far from Brown's budget having drawn the teeth of the very widespread disillusionment with New Labour, it rather seems to have fuelled the anger. The money is too little too late. But more importantly as far as public sector workers are concerned, the money comes with privatisation and productivity strings attached and little or none of it is earmarked to address the key issue of chronically low pay. It would appear that local government workers are being called out again on August 14th although it also seems my previous report that RMT were to strike again on the tubes on the 14th/15th was premature. Teachers are in dispute and angry. Firefighters will almost certainly have to strike if they are to get their 30K pay claim and London weighting parity with the coppers agreed to. And there are many other related kinds of dispute bubbling under. With Livingstone having thrown in the towel over tube privatisation in London, we need to be raising the profile of the Socialist Alliance on the streets and particularly with those workers currently in dispute, in local government offices, in the fire stations etc. There is enormous disillusionment with Blair and New Labour, which will be compounded if they go into Iraq. Many workers are very open to the key argument for the democratisation of the political funds and to join or at least support the Socialist Alliance. We need to be on the picket lines on the 14th and at any rallies that follow on.
Foot to stand for Hackney mayor
Comrades will I hope know by now that Paul Foot, who got one of the best results for the Socialist Alliance in the local elections when he stood in the Hackney ward in which he lives, will be standing for the Socialist Alliance for mayor of Hackney. His campaign will feature very strongly opposition to the war on Iraq, defence of asylum seekers and opposition to racism and defence of civil liberties along with total opposition to privatisation and low pay, the retention and building of council housing etc. Hackney Socialist Alliance aims to make this a very colourful and lively campaign which will begin to draw back to the ballot box and into activity those who have written off the major parties as well as those who have stayed with Labour in the absence of a serious alternative.
We hope comrades will contribute to the costs of the campaign so we can maximise its effectiveness and, if possible, come to Hackney to help with leafleting, canvassing etc. Contact the national office, if you wish to make a donation and/or help with the campaign.
This is to remind comrades that the closing date for motions is 31st August to the national office at email@example.com. Motions will then be composited if necessary and comrades will then have an opportunity to move amendments up until 28th September. Any individual SA member may move a motion or make an amendment. Motions and amendments will also be taken on behalf of local Socialist Alliances. So far we have had three motions in, the latest coming in the last couple of days. We will circulate all motions shortly.
The conference itself is in London at the South Camden Community School, Charrington Street, near Euston station from 11am (registration from 10am) on Saturday 12th October. Provisional charge for the conference will be £10 waged, £6 unwaged. A booking form and provisional programme will probably be out next week.
There will be a National Council in Birmingham on Saturday 7th September. Every local Socialist Alliance has the right to one voting delegate although they may also send additional observers. A pooled fare system will operate but only for voting delegates. The meeting will run from 12 noon to 5pm. An agenda with standing orders will be circulated by the end of this week.
Dates for the diary
National strike of council workers
SA National Council, one delegate per affiliated local SA, 11am, Council Chamber, Birmingham City Council
National Stop the War demo, London
SA national conference on Europe, open to all members. South Camden Community School, Charrington Street, London NW1, nearest tube Euston. Registration opens 10am, conference begins 11am sharp. Price is £10 waged, £6 unwaged.
European Social Forum, Florence
30 November or 7 December
New Imperialism, New Internationalism conference, London, venue tba
Rob Hoveman, National Secretary
TU meeting/Conference on Europe/ESF - 2 July 2002
Mini-bulletin - 27 June 2002
Perspectives for the next two years - 17 June 2002
Taking the long view - 12 June 2002
Capitalising on our election success - 6 June 2002
Contact the SA office by phone on 020 7609 2999 or by email