I did mean to write yesterday after returning from the conference but I couldn’t get my net connection to work, it is a genuine excuse, but a pity because I felt like putting things down.

“It is not the beginning of the end, it is the end of the beginning” [George Galloway] Respect- R for Respect, E for Equality, S for Socialism, P for Peace, E for Environment, C for Community and T for Trade Unionism.
It was a good conference, certainly no damp squib, and I hope that in time we will look back on it as the start of a big movement. There were about 1200 in total present. The largest contingent probably the SWP but the CPGB and representatives of the MAB were present. The CPGB I think were disappointed not to be able to steer the direction to a more orthodox socialist line. I understand their concerns and agree with many of them, but I do feel that we were teetering on the brink of a descent into the same sectarian in-fighting that hampered the SA. Anyway the original declaration was carried and ammendments made. George Galloway spoke twice and was good but there had been some attacks on him earlier and I think that soured his usual verve a little. Again, the sectarianism raised its head. To be honest I don’t care at the moment if George’s politics are not as much to the Left as mine, the key point is that we are trying to forge a broad movement to build on the strength of as much of the Stop the War coalition as possible and for this we need the support of many communities including the old Labour Left as well as the Muslim community who whilst as fervently anti-war as us are not so prone to heavy involvement in left-wing politics. It was also good to have Mark Serwotka the gen. sec. of the PCS union, though his involvement was also questioned by some. There were representatives from the Green party who I’m not sure will come on board as a result of there being not a heavy emphasis on the Environment. That is not to say that this wasn’t discussed nor that it will be brought up again but as with the minutiae of the political points this was not the time to really go into heavy detail on policy. It was a founding meeting, an agenda to open discussions and galvanise support. To this end I think it acheived the objectives and the party was duly founded. The CPB had voted before not to attend and the Socialist party said they would continue to work with us but not affiliate. Tommy Sheridan from the SSP though spoke from the platform and lent his support.

The agenda now is that we will stand candidates in the June 10th Euro elections and GLA elections. We therefore have to work fast, we have to raise £1 million and try to gain 1 million votes. This seems a hefty target but it has to be really with the time available. This is another reason why unity was vital, I don’t think we have a hope of raising our profile or the money then we have to have high profile figures like George and Mark, not to mention Dr. Siddiqqu and Salma Yaqoob. If we were to fractionalise now then we are lost. Salma Yaqoob spoke well at the meeting, I haven’t seen or heard her before, softly spoken but powerful she will be a real asset. John Rees spoke too, I like him enormously, just the right brand of humour and hard-hitting politics. He is one of the prospective candidates for the Euro. elections for the West Midlands seat. He is the sort of person who comes out with key phrases, one I remember was “The pensioners are a burden on society? The pensioners are not a burden on society, they built the society.” The other was when talking about Gordon Brown’s statement regarding the war and when asked how much money would be made available “…whatever it takes” replied Brown, John said “so when we are asked about how much money is available for education the answer is whatever it takes.” Of course these statements lose some of their impact when written down, in the hall though it hit exactly the right note. Another one of his was “They say Education will be free at the point of entry but paid for later, Tesco’s could make the same claim, it’s free when you take it off the shelves, you just have to pay for it when you get to the tills!”

We had Ken Loach the filmaker speaking, Paul Foot was present, Lindsay Germain from SWP and Stop the War. The National Executive was voted in to guide us to the elections and it was agreed that we will then look at a democratically elected executive.

Well that’s the potted version of events so far, as I remember stuff I’ll put it in.

Tomorrow we shall see about the vote on tuition fees in Parliament, I have a sneaky suspicion that the government will win the vote, whether it’s close or not won’t really matter to the next set of students who have to pay even more money.

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