Thursday, 4 January 2007

Election Planning

From now on I aim to blog about every branch meeting to give a general idea of what our meetings are like. But talking about tonight's is difficult because we discussed Stoke Socialist Party's elections plans. Other (non-socialist) organisations tend not to advertise their intentions before time and I'm not about to either. So I'm afraid readers will have to make do with a few general musings on my part and a very superficial account of what we talked about.

For me Stoke SP has two interrelated tasks ahead of it. The first is we need to reach out, recruit more people, build a wider periphery and get more people buying our literature and reading it regularly. This is not some sectarian pose - we will be most effective doing this as a byproduct of continuing campaigning on the NHS and working to rebuild the strength of the local labour movement. The second is to develop ourselves as socialist activists, deepening our understanding of Marxism while becoming more effective organisers of practical activity. Negotiating this tightrope of external tasks and internal objectives must inform everything we do.

Election work fulfils this in a number of ways. Some like to call elections the lowest form of class struggle and for others it is the be-all and end-all. For us it is an opportunity to talk to as many working people as possible. There may well be falling rates of participation in local contests but a widespread reflection on politics is more likely in the run up to them than at any other time this year, notwithstanding some unforseen upsurge or live issue. We utilise elections to raise our profile, finance and distribute party literature. We come into contact with some sympathetic to socialist ideas, which provides an opportunity to recruit new people. And from an internal perspective it sharpens our members politically. We are firmly of the school that leaflets are not by themselves sufficient. You need to knock on doors. You need to persuade people why socialist ideas are the answer to the problems they have, and to successfully do so requires a good deal of flexible thinking combined with a thorough political understanding of the local, national and global issues you're likely to come up against.

A quick exploration of these issues prefaced the discussion on our plans. We talked about the merits of paper candidates, if and where we should stand, the logistic problems we would encounter, lessons from past campaigns, candidates and much else besides. One matter we all agreed on was the need for flexibility. Given the nature of the NHS attacks and the rumbles of discontent in the public services our plans could change. So all I'm going to say at this stage is that we're going to be very busy over the coming months!

We'll be out doing our normal party stuff this weekend, and LC and I will (hopefully) be meeting our first contact of 2007 for a drink and sales pitch.

Next week cde H will be giving a lead off on a Marxist approach to formal education in capitalist society, so hopefully there will be plenty more for me to blog about then.

PS FYI Stoke SP does have a website, which you're welcome to view. Before you fill my comment boxes about its not being updated, believe me the task is in hand ...


Liam Mac Uaid said...

I look forward to reading it. From your description it sounds more like a party building campaign than creating an alternative to New Labour. Is this wrong?

Phil said...

I don't mean to sound thick Liam, but what are you talking about?

PS Thanks for the link on your blog. "A small village somewhere in England" indeed! Grrr!

Scott said...

Stokes page lokes intresting, What CMS do you use?

Phil said...

Couldn't say Scott.You'll have to speak to the Gregster (resident of this vessel's other comment boxes) about it.