Wednesday, February 14, 2007

John McDonnell Meeting in Norwich

Please see below report from Daniel Morley SYN member.

Massive John McDonnell Meeting in Norwich

An unprecedented turnout of 100+ students and trade unionists welcomed John McDonnell to Norwich and UEA on an otherwise dreary Friday evening on 9th February, rewarding and surprising in equal measure the weeks of hard work from students to promote the event and campaign.

The large turnout from what is an extremely ‘depoliticised’ campus bearing a dearth of socialist ideas and consciousness clearly demonstrated that not only are the youth not apathetic and resolutely opposed to all things Labour Party, but that the only way to effectively move students politically is in reference to the labour movement, and that the only way to renew the labour party is through the left wing.

The meeting had long been planned since the conception of John’s campaign for leadership in the summer. A term of consistent work by members of the newly formed UEA Socialist Society and Socialist Youth Network has slowly raised the banner and ideas of socialism and John’s campaign.

The hard work has evidently paid off, particularly in the two weeks of flyering preceding the meeting, and has hopefully led to a raising of profile and reputation of not only socialism but the Socialist Youth Network.

A series of meetings on John McDonnell, the Labour Movement and a resolution in the student union council formed the run up to John’s appearance itself.John was only able to speak to students for an hour as he had to rush off to another meeting at the local Labour Party, which was also highly successful. John outlined the background to his campaign, the history of New Labour and how this was consistently alienating Labour’s support base, highlighting the fear that the party is sleepwalking into another Tory government.

He also spoke of policies such as nationalisation under workers control. The key topic addressed by members of the audience in both meetings was over how to actually mobilise support for a socialist campaign.
John responded by saying that the social base was there, and that our task was to bring in those groups that Blairism has consistently alienated, i.e. the trade unionists, public sector workers and working class as a whole, especially the un-unionised immigrant workers.

Only through organising an effective grass roots working class campaign can we force the media to pay any attention to his campaign.The massive turnout, especially from the youth, and the campaign to get people to join the party to vote for John highlights the fact that the only way to reinvigorate the party is through socialism and the rank and file movement.
While the Labour Party Blairites and Tories and Liberals hold their meetings behind closed doors, terrified of openly taking their campaigns and ideas and testing them against the mood of the public in open meetings, the socialists emphatically and confidently build for large open, public meetings as a means of discussion and to bring ordinary people into our campaigns.

Imagine Brown touring the country, hosting huge meetings on the platform of a progressive, confident and positive campaign to bring the masses into the party to vote for his campaign. It would never happen!

We must continue to build on the grass roots success of such meetings and bring as many ordinary and working class people into the party on the basis of John’s campaign.
We will be manning a stall in Norwich town centre on Saturday 17th February to meet even more people.
The reinvigoration of the Labour Party is only achievable on the basis of socialist ideas! Participation in politics and society is only achievable through socialism!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Involvment in the Labour Party

Motion one that we passed at SYN Conference calls on SYN to " encourage all socialists and trade unionsists to join the labour party"

To that end Vino has kindly drafted a guide to Labour Party structures to help you all on your way to becoming budding Labour party activists.
Enjoy :)

Guide to Labour Party structures

When you join the Labour Party, which can easily be done via the website, you will get a letter from Head Office giving you a membership card with your membership number on it.

The card should also say what CLP (constituency Labour Party) you are in. Each parliamentary constituency has its own CLP. In addition, the letter that you get with your membership card should say who the CLP secretary is. This is an ordinary member who has been elected or volunteered to do the job of taking notes at CLP meetings, advertising them etc.

Most constituencies are divided into branches. A branch consists of one or more local council wards. The Branch Labour Party (BLP) is the most local unit of Labour Party organisation.

If you ring the CLP secretary or other contact number given on the introductory letter, they will be able to tell you what branch you are in and when and where its meetings are.

Each BLP has a chair, a secretary, a treasurer and normally a youth officer, women’s officer, membership secretary and several other posts. They are called ‘branch officers’. These positions are normally not particularly contested and, if you want to get involved, it is likely there will be an officer vacancy that you can take up.

Most CLPs have a General Committee (GC) and an Executive Committee (EC). The GC is the most powerful body in the constituency party and it normally plays the main role in electing a chair and secretary for the CLP and choosing the Labour candidate for MP for the constituency. Branches select the candidates for local council positions.

Each GC is made up of delegates from the branches in the constituency. Normally, branches tend to send one man and one woman, although larger branches can send more. Branches also tend to send 1 delegate to the EC. The EC is made of 1 delegate from each branch and the CLP Chair, Secretary, Treasurer etc – who were elected by the GC.

So, if you wish to get involved at the constituency level, you can go as a delegate from your BLP to GC meetings. In Labour seats, these may be attended from time to time by the local MP, which will give you a chance to hear his/her parliamentary report and perhaps question them.
Additionally, the Labour Party does have other committees and structures, notably a Local Government Committee to deal with local council matters, but these are secondary to the role of the CLP and the Branch as the basic levels of Labour Party organisation from the point of view of the ordinary member