On 24 and 25 April Workers’ Liberty held its first conference since the start of the pandemic. Normally we have a conference once a year. We last met, physically, in January 2020, and hope to do so again 27-28 November 2021.
During the pandemic many labour movement organisations have cancelled their conferences. Others have held online events but made them much less democratic than they could be. Last year Labour held an online “conference” which was just a series of speakers.
The conference days were shorter — six hours, with more breaks — and much of the normal informal discussion and networking “around” the event was obviously not possible. But, despite the limitations of an online format, we held a democratic decision-making and organising conference.
As always, it was preceded by a series of “pre-conference” discussion meetings at which issues were could be discussed in depth.
On 24-25 April, we elected a new National Committee, Industrial (trade union) Committee and other bodies; and debated, amended and voted on a series of motions. We heard reports on and discussed our work in a variety of trade unions and campaigns, and our plans for mobilisation around the COP26 climate summit in November. We sharpened our ideas and oriented ourselves for the months ahead.
Motions discussed and passed included “Class struggle in the age of Covid”, “US politics”, “Report on the work of the AWL” and “The Labour Party”, plus amendments to our code of conduct, grievance procedure and constitution.
There were discussions and decisions on our activity in workplaces and unions, on the streets and in the Labour Party as the pandemic recedes, with an emphasis on getting out on the streets to promote socialist ideas and literature. We also discussed “longer range issues” like the recent US elections and how the socialist movement in the US should orient, which we have been debating for some time.
The conference voted that our National Committee was right to call for support for the US Green Party candidates, socialist activists Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, not for Biden and Harris. It voted that socialists should work in the movement around the left-wing of the Democrats to build up left-wing and working-class forces and promote a “dirty break” from the Democratic Party. While recognising the threat Trump and Trumpism represent and the spur they have given to far-right and fascist organising, it rejected the idea Trump himself is a fascist or quasi-fascist.
Despite the many challenges facing the left — and despite Zoom — the conference was an encouraging and inspiring as well as useful event.
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