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Friday, December 09, 2005

Report From Alliance Conference

The Alliance annual conference was held in Christchurch last weekend. The conference was small, about 30 delegates compared with closer to 60 last year. Nevertheless, those present were determined to continue with the Alliance project.
The rival project that goes under the nomenclature of "The Workers' Charter" was given a hearing with a presentation by John Minto. We later voted to endorse the Charter as a "minimum programme" (largely) consistent with our own manifesto, but we expressed concern about the lack of democratic process in its establishment and its on-going organisational structure.
Some Alliance members are quite strong supporters of the Workers' Charter, but they see it as a parallel project rather than a rival one. However, the main promoters of the Charter, the Socialist Workers Organisation (SWO), have stated openly that they expect it to lead to the formation of a "mass workers party". Good luck to them.
However, the Alliance showed with its feisty election campaign that it is still a significant force to the left of Labour. Its very existence is an achievement that should not be lightly dismissed. It is better to build on what has already been achieved, and to honour the legacy of past achievements, then to start from scratch again.
Those who want a "mass workers party" to the left of Labour should seriously consider joining the Alliance. We have no objection to people holding joint membership of other compatible organisations while building the Alliance up to again challenge for a place on the electoral scene. Only parties with a serious political agenda will be taken seriously by workers in Aotearoa/ New Zealand.
In her address to the conference, Alliance President, Jill Ovens, confronted the delegates with the reality of the Alliance's present situation. She stressed the need for an urgent party-building and recruitment effort if the Alliance is to survive as a viable electoral force.
Jill was re-elected as President. We had earlier voted to change the constitution, on Jill's initiative, so that the President could not also be a Co-leader. Jill indicated in her speech, and in pre-conference correspondence, that she would be stepping down as a Co-leader. In the event Paul Piesse was nominated again as a Co-leader and a Christchurch delegate, Tom Dowie, nominated me for the other Co-leader position. There were no other nominations, so that was it. The triumvirate is Jill, Paul and me.
We have new people taking over the membership and finance responsibilities. A heartening sign was the fact that some new young people have joined up or become active in the recent period.
We set targets for recruitment and we also agreed to hold a gathering of our youth wing, Staunch, during the year. Linda Boyd (Christchurch) and Sarita Divis (Auckland) are keen to help organise this. The Alliance has atrophied for many years now. An urgent injection of new blood is needed.

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