Party News: Practical Socialism
It is not every weekend that socialists can get together for the purpose of learning and talking about the practical tasks of the movement and it was agreed by those present at the Islington branch education weekend on Working For Socialism that great use was made of the opportunity. Indeed, the most common complaint about the two-day event was that there had not been enough time to go further into the various topics covered.
The talk on The Tasks of the Socialist Propagandist considered the importance of education, organisation and agitation: the need for socialist knowledge, a party based on clear principles arising from that knowledge and determined activity to spread socialist ideas in a way relevant to the experiences, language and needs of our fellow workers. The other talk on How To Organise A Branch provided some excellent practical tips which can aid those interested in building the socialist movement Both talks, and the discussions following them, were recorded and can be obtained from the Tapes Committee at Head Office
The main value of the weekend was the six workshops dealing with specific aspects of socialist activity. These provided a much-needed opportunity to gather in a group and learn from each other. Each group was co-ordinated by one member, selected on the basis of particular experience in relation to the workshop subject The final session of the weekend was devoted to a discussion of points raised over the two days, some of which should lead to practical action by branches, committees and individual members The final session was also used to report back from the workshops. The one on selling literature had considered what is being done and what could be done to extend this vital work; sellers were able to share experiences and there was some useful discussion about the advantages of pub selling. The workshop on writing for socialism involved everyone attending and gave members a chance to consider not only how to write well, but the different kinds of writing possible. Ron Cook of Birmingham branch made it clear that he would be willing to provide further assistance to writers, on an individual basis, should they wish to contact him via his branch A workshop on leaflet and poster design was coordinated by a comrade who has contributed some excellent material for use by the Party, in the Socialist Standard and elsewhere, and a great deal of very practical information was passed on. The workshop on handling the media not only watched some excerpts from TV and radio programmes in which socialists have taken part but also included some useful tips by the co-ordinator on ways of making positive contacts with the media. Lively discussion was generated by the workshop on socialists in trade unions, out of which has come a practical plan to ensure that we use the propaganda opportunities available to us. The workshop on tips for speakers was a lively one, looking at ways of approaching the questions which socialists are often asked and basic techniques for speakers; a document — Notes for Speakers —was distributed.
There is no doubt that talking about what can be done generates enthusiasm for getting out and doing it. It was very pleasing to see members and supporters leaving with a sense of having achieved something practical. Several travelled long distances to attend the conference and all present benefited from the thoughtful catering arrangements. Perhaps the best way to sum up the feeling of those present would be to quote a comrade from Eccles Group, who stood up and declared in his own enthusiastic manner: “There’s only one motto which the Party should have at the present time and that is ‘Growth’. Everything we do should be done with a view to growth” And let our armchair critics be notified that we mean what we say