Party News: Stimulating Party Conference
Easter saw our 70th Annual Conference take place; and how different the Socialist Party’s conferences are from those of other organizations. There are no secret sessions, block votes, rigged decisions, or ovation-seeking speeches by leaders to servile followers. Our conferences consist of men and women deciding democratically on the Party’s work and policy. They are open to the public, and all members’ views count equally.
On Friday and Saturday there were lengthy discussions of the Socialist Standard. Resolutions were passed asking for more material about trade unions and reiterating members’ desire for lively cover designs. Proposals to increase the price were defeated, despite concern about the large annual deficit: our greatest need is to find ways of increasing the circulation. Pamphlet publications were discussed too— the Party wants priority given to re-issuing The Case for Socialism and The Socialist Party; its Principles and Policy.
On Party organization, proposals for a change of name and to establish an “association” structure for individuals in countries without Socialist parties were lost. Another resolution, to have the possibility of regionalizing Central Branch examined, was carried. The Conference also heard reports from Branches on their activities and problems, in a variety extending from Edinburgh to South Wales — all reflecting the tireless enthusiasm of members everywhere.
Sunday featured a full discussion of electoral activity and plans for candidatures and propaganda work in future elections. Time was spent on a detailed report on the Women’s Liberation movement prepared by a committee which has been at work nearly a year, and the outcome was Conference passing overwhelmingly a resolution that membership of Women’s Lib is incompatible with membership of the Socialist Party. This was followed by debate on trade unions . . . and then we ran out of time.
There were many other questions between these major ones: whether members’ dues should go up, the need for more speakers and writers, leaflets, press correspondence. And some additional good things. On Friday the Conference was addressed by a Socialist from Rome who had come specially to be with us, and fraternal messages from our Companion Parties abroad were read. The same evening, a large audience gathered in Conway Hall for the lecture on “The Powers of Government”; a stream of questions, and immense interest generated. Saturday night, a cheery social at the Head Office.
As always, it was a good-humoured and fruitful Conference, full of ideas. Now the delegates have returned to their Branches to work on its decisions in the continuing struggle for Socialism.