Eighteen months after the left-wing Alliance Party in Aotearoa/New Zealand suffered a damaging split and the loss of all its remaining MPs in a snap general election, there are signs that the party is (somewhat belatedly) trying to reconnect with its working class support.
At the recent Alliance National Conference held in Wellington over the weekend, November 29-30, Laila Harre formally stepped down as party leader to be replaced by Matt McCarten, secretary of the community union UNITE, which organises among beneficiaries and low-paid casual workers.
In her speech to the conference, newly-elected party President, Jill Ovens, said that the Alliance was committed to becoming, “a broad inclusive party of the Left with policies based on socialist principles – democracy, equality and social ownership”. The Alliance makes a commitment to “socialism” (in reality, only a form of left nationalism or republicanism, combined with a belief in the idea of a “mixed economy”) and some leading Alliance members have discussed allowing members from the various socialist groups to join the party as a distinct “platform” (along the same lines as the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in Scotland).
The appearance of a SSP MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament), Colin Fox, as keynote speaker at the conference, highlighted the extent to which the SSP is seen as a model for the Alliance to try and emulate.
Socialist Alternative (CWI in Aotearoa/NZ), welcomes genuine attempts to create a new broad socialist party; this would make it possible for Marxist ideas to gain a hearing among new layers of the working class and oppressed.