I thought the New Parties event was a timely initiative by the SR London branch. The contributions from the platform – including Kate’s – and the floor in the first plenary were very good. There were several leading activists there from COR, and Charlie Kimber of the SWP made a constructive contribution about the need for the left to work together politically as well as in campaigns (although he couldn’t say whether or not the SWP would support SR;s application to join TUSC). I attended the workshop session on Greece and it was brought home to me how important the work of the Greece Solidarity Campaign and London Syriza can be, not only in terms of developing solidarity with Greek social movements and unions, but in terms of developing links with Syriza and raising awareness in Britain about the need for a broad left political formation to confront the crisis.
Stathis Kouvelakis highlighted the centrality of ecology to the Greek crisis, saying that Greece was now an example of David Harvey’s notion of accumulation by dispossession – the recent proposal for a destructive gold mine being a case in point. We need to translate some of the documents on ecology that have been produced by Syriza.
The last plenary perhaps inevitably lacked some of the energy of the first two sessions, but more of a focus could have been kept, by for example by flagging up a couple of simple proposals such as 1) the need to build the Greece Solidarity Campaign in unions and campaigns/work with London Syriza, 2) commit to keeping the new parties discussion going in some form with the non-SR participants. Perhaps, then, the first plenary could have been shorter, more of a teaser, flagging up issues to be explored further in the workshops, with the workshops being trusted to bring their conclusions/views into the second plenary in a more structured way.
I would add that I didn’t think the contribution of the NPA speaker in the final plenary helped the discussion. There was little or no reference to the Front de Gauche (Left Front) and to working with others on the French left. The NPA, which is seemingly smaller now than the old LCR, has seen increasing numbers of its comrades join the Front de Gauche, whether as organisations, or individually.
So congrats to London SR for putting this on – and let’s keep the ball rolling.
My interpretation of Charlie’s comment was that he would be supporting SR’s request to join TUSC.
In her summary Kate said that she found TUSC deeply unattractive as an electoral project, not least as it does not appear to have absorbed any of the lessons of twentieth century social movements such as feminism or environmentalism.
On reflection, she didn’t have much to say about Respect’s future.
I think Charlie was quite clear about his support for SR’s application. He said “I know which way I will vote”; if this meant he would oppose the application, then it was an extremely petty and gratuitous taunt. Ii would have been out of kilter with the rest of his very comradely contribution.
The workshop on Britain suffered from the unfortunate absence of Andrew Burgin. In recompense, we were entertained by Paul Mackney’s digressive (and musical), but ultimately illuminating, comments.
A very good event. I missed the last session, but it seems I went to the best workshop – on Greece. Both this and the first plenary were really interesting. Also with good and constructive contributions from the floor.
So disappointed to miss yesterday but am inspired to hear Kate’s contribution here and was just discussing it with my dad (who voted Thatcher in 79 as aspirational working class and is now in agreement that capitalism is fundamentally broke and rotten to the core) and he perked up his ears at creating a party that can inhabit the political space on the radical left that we aspire to. Syriza gives me hope and if we can unite the left around the British state along the lines Kate outlined then we stand a chance of building a movement that really can create a social and political revolution that ignites the global working class, underclass and liberation movements into a genuinally permanent revolution. So pleased to hear such positive reports of yesterday’s SR event.
The discussion in the final plenary was more of a general nature rather than focussing on specific countries except for, as Alan stated, the centrality of the crisis in Greece as being a key issue for the left across Europe. Discussion on the Front de Gauche and the NPA took place in the workshop on France!!! There was an intro from Philippe from the FdeG and Sandra of the NPA. The discussion focussed firstly on what some thought were the abstract demands on democracy (constituent assembly for a 6th republic, revolution through the ballot box, secular/laic state…) by the FdeG. The discussion then moved on with some comrades expressing support for the NPA’s criticisms of the FdeG participation in local and regional councils with the Socialist Party and implementing austerity, or voting for the Hollande budget in parliament last july. However these comrades also expressed concern that the NPA was not recognising sufficiently the anti-neoliberal dynamic of the Melanchon presidential campaign and that it had therefore set itself apart from that movement, with the consequences being a split which has occured and being marginalised.