Building our forces in a new period
The International Socialists (CWI Scotland) held a successful and very positive conference on 21 March in Glasgow.
The conference began with a discussion on the international capitalist crisis and its impact on Scotland, which was introduced by Philip Stott. There was a wide-ranging debate on the character of the crisis, and the likely impact on the outlook of the working class.
The capitalists, while throwing the ‘kitchen sink’ in a desperate effort to prevent a 1930s style depression, are preparing to ‘unleash hell’ on the working class, in an effort to make us pay for this crisis.
But the strikes in France, the huge movements in Ireland, Italy and Greece recently all underline the fact that we are in a new disturbed and volatile political situation that can see new opportunities for socialist ideas to grow.
After the reply to the discussion by Jim McFarlane, the conference voted to adopt a document on future developments in Scotland and also passed a motion welcoming the RMT ( Rail Maritime and Transport workers;’ union)-led ‘No2EU – yes to democracy’ initiative for the June EU elections.
We also agreed to put forward candidates for consideration for the Scottish No2EU list as part of Solidarity, who were also meeting to discuss their involvement in the No2EU campaign.
The afternoon session began with an excellent discussion on youth work. Leah Ganley moved a resolution on youth work that highlighted the importance of the Youth Fight For Jobs campaign, which the International Socialists have launched in Scotland, in conjunction with our comrades in England and Wales.
Leah explained the great response the campaign has had already in Scotland through street activity, protests and public meetings in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. A number of young people are going to travel to London for the 2 April march to the G20. Carlene Ritchie replied to what everyone agreed was an inspiring discussion.
Ian Leech then proposed targets for the public activity, recruitment, trade union work and paper sales. If achieved these would see a trebling of the rate of recruitment to the International Socialists up to July – 70% of which will be based on the recruitment of new young members.
Tom Penman, replying to the discussion, highlighted the importance of political education and integration of new members.
Brian Smith, recently elected as branch secretary of Glasgow City Unison, kicked off the discussion on trade union work, highlighting the importance of the Unison national executive and PCS elections in April.
International Socialists member, Jim McFarlane, is standing for one of the Scottish Unison seats as part of a widespread left challenge to the right-wing Unison leadership.
Ray Gunnion then reported to the conference that the Solidarity national steering committee had just voted overwhelmingly to back the No2EU election campaign.
They will be putting forward candidates for consideration for the Scottish list, including Tommy Sheridan.
Sinead Daly explained that a new website is being designed which should be ready to go live in two weeks and will be found at: internationalsocialists.org
A new national committee was elected, which includes one third young comrades and one third female members.
This reflects the changing make-up of the CWI section in Scotland. Just over 25% of those attending the conference were young members and a quarter had joined in the last ten months.
This is an important step forward for the International Socialists.
It was widely agreed that this was a very successful conference that will help ensure that the CWI in Scotland is fully facing up to the new opportunities that are now in front of us to build the forces of Marxism and socialism in the months ahead.