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Saturday, 12 May 2012
The following motion was passed at the Respect Party National Council on May12th 2012. It will form the basis of debate at the forthcoming National Conference. Any Respect Party branches or groups of six members may submit amendments by sending them to the National Secretary by June 11th at this email address. Members can sign up for the conference here
Strategy Motion for Respect Party Conference 2012
2. What happened in Bradford is the advance guard in Britain of a wave of political change that is now sweeping across Europe. In Britain, the Labour Party has so far failed to identify with this growing mood of opposition to austerity – but has, nonetheless, benefited from it, making major gains in the local elections. In the rest of Europe, however, 10 of the 17 governments associated with implementing public spending cuts have now been thrown out of power. In France and Greece we have seen big swings to left-wing parties that explicitly reject the failed dogma of austerity. In some cases, these parties have campaigned against war too – with the newly elected French President Hollande promising to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year. This is a new opportunity for the Respect Party to build support for alternatives to austerity and imperialism, and to become part of this European-wide movement.
3. Respect was formed in the face of a deepening crisis of political representation – a crisis that continues to this day. Millions who marched for peace found only a faint echo in the Westminster parties as our country was led to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who saw our multicultural society as worthy of celebration in all its diversity watched as the mainstream parties pandered to a rising tide of racism and Islamophobia. And the millions who depend upon, and value, public services saw how our welfare state was being run down and prepared for privatisation. Radical and dissenting voices were squeezed out of the mainstream, and Respect offered an alternative – and a challenge - to the mainstream parties at the ballot box.
4. The political disaffection that gave rise to our formation in 2004 has inevitably ebbed and flowed. As national politics became polarised between Labour and Tories at the 2010 General Elections it was natural that the electoral space we once occupied would be squeezed. The Labour Party has so far proved to be a toothless opposition, too afraid to lead a determined campaign against everything this ConDem government stands for. But as we look to the future we have to take full account of the fact that in most parts of the country Labour will be the overwhelming choice of those wanting to vote against the ConDem government.
5. Our victories in Bradford demonstrate that an alternative is possible and achievable. They also show that, with determined and imaginative campaigning by people with a track record in their community, we can achieve far more than we imagined possible. Labour in opposition will continue to dominate the electoral field. But wherever opportunities present themselves, the Respect Party stands ready to take the fight to the parties of war and austerity as we did so successfully in Bradford.
6. With a Member of Parliament, and new and talented councillors, the Respect Party now has a national platform as a political alternative on the left. Our challenge in the coming period is how we maximise this opportunity to speak out against austerity and war. This will include the following:
* Rebuild our national organisation & structure, aiming to develop the political and campaigning resources to support Respect Party branches and activists.
* Consolidate our success in Bradford through raising funds to employ support staff in the city to assist our councillors and MP in their work.
* Give a high priority to the battle of ideas – putting ourselves at the forefront of the anti-austerity debate, and continuing to lead the arguments against war and imperialism.
* Build close relationships with political parties across Europe who share our opposition to austerity and war.
* Continue to play a central role in the struggles against war and racism, which are all too often promoted to justify the campaign of austerity.