Fwd (GLW): DSP calls for socialist electoral alliance

Alan Bradley alanb at SPAMelf.brisnet.org.au
Sun Jan 28 07:23:43 MST 2001

The following articles appear in the current issue of Green Left Weekly

DSP calls for socialist electoral alliance

The Democratic Socialist Party has written to other left parties and
prominent left activists to initiate discussions around fielding common
“Socialist Alliance” candidates in the coming federal elections.

The DSP is seeking discussions with other parties at the national and local
level but will also be approaching left activists in the trade union and
other social movements who are not in parties.

The DSP has been studying the process of left electoral alliances in other
countries, in particular the British and Scottish left's experiences with
socialist electoral alliances. The most interesting feature of those
experiences is that most of the active groups, in a notoriously fractious
left, supported those electoral alliances.

In Australia, the left is not nearly as divided. However, until recently,
many of the other active left parties here, in particular the International
Socialist Organisation, have been opposed to running in parliamentary
elections. Now it appears that the ISO is making a major change in its
approach to elections and may be prepared to participate in a socialist
electoral alliance. This would be a welcome development.

In a document prepared for its January 27-28 national conference the ISO
national committee now recognises that the gap between the ALP leadership
and its traditional supporters is widening as that party shifts further and
further right. And, instead of taking on the Liberals, Labor is backing the
Howard Liberal-National Coalition government's subsidies to private schools
and private health. Labor also accepts the GST, the racist treatment of
refugees, military expansion and the attacks on welfare, public health and

Even Labor's headline “reform” for the coming federal election, the
“Knowledge Nation”, incorporates the seeds of further erosion of the public
education system by further replacing face to face teaching at universities
with “online” education.

Like the DSP, the ISO leadership now also recognises that the rise of
anti-corporate movement, expressed so dramatically at S11, is creating the
widest audience for left-of-Labor politics for more than two decades. In
addition, after S11 the organised left has grown not just in numbers but
also in confidence and in its political influence.

The DSP, ISO and most of the other socialist groups in this country are not
parliamentarist, that is we do not believe that fundamental social change
will be brought about simply by electing socialist candidates to
parliament. The state and federal parliaments are thoroughly and
institutionally corrupted and controlled by the corporate rich. These
institutions, we agree, provide a “democratic” facade for the real rulers —
the super-rich families that own the corporations and banks. Our main
emphasis is in building a progressive extra-parliamentary mass movement
that can create new democratic institutions that are independent of the
capitalist ruling class.

After S11, there has been a lot of debate in the left about how best to
advance the progressive extra-parliamentary movement and around the M1
project of anti-corporate tyranny strike and mass blockades on May 1, much
of the active left is coming to a consensus and beginning to work together.
The attendance of nearly 90 people at the M1 Sydney organising meeting on
January 25 augurs well for that project.

A united socialist federal election campaign would complement a successful
May 1 mobilisation.

Of course, socialist electoral alliances would not necessarily have to
hinge on the participation of the ISO. But it is clear that, today, any
socialist electoral alliance that does not involve either of the two
largest and most active socialist parties in Australia — the DSP and ISO —
will not have much credibility among the growing radical layer of the
population. This has been the experience in union elections such as in the
Community and Public Sector Union where the DSP and the ISO have joined
with other militant unionists in a campaign against the conservative Caird

There should be no serious difficulties in coming to some agreed platform
opposing the bipartisan agenda of racism (mandatory sentencing, attacks on
native title, detention and deportation of refugees), welfare cuts, attacks
on workers' rights and privatisation of public assets. There also should be
no serious obstacles to working out acceptable methods for deciding on
platform, candidates and practical campaign details.

During the last Victorian election, the left parties agreed not to run
against each other and received some significant votes. Another modest
alliance between the DSP and the Socialist Party (formerly Militant) is in
place for the Western Australian election campaign now underway.

DSP candidates and activists will be campaigning actively for socialist
alliances over the next few weeks. Our state election campaigns in Western
Australia and Queensland will also take up this call. All progress in the
discussions around the alliances will be reported on in Green Left Weekly.

Contact the DSP at <dsp at dsp.org.au> or visit <http://www.dsp.org.au>.


Appeal for Socialist Alliance candidates

[The following is a slightly abridged version of a letter addressed to “all
left parties and individuals” posted on the internet on January 25. It was
signed by John Percy, national secretary of the Democratic Socialist Party,
and Peter Boyle, the DSP's national election campaign organiser.]

Dear comrades, a federal election is fast approaching and all the major
parliamentary parties — including the Australian Labor Party — are even
more firmly committed to the reactionary political agenda of social
austerity, privatisation, tax “reform” for the rich and attacks on the
rights of indigenous Australians, refugees, women and other oppressed
groups. We wish to propose urgent discussions between all serious socialist
parties and individual socialists about fielding Socialist Alliance
candidates around the country, in upper and lower houses of Parliament.

The success of the S11 blockade of the World Economic Forum in Melbourne
last year has given a new confidence to the radical left in this country.

In Britain, following the success of the London Socialist Alliance, most of
the active left (including the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers
Party) is united in Socialist Alliances for the next national elections. To
the north, the Scottish Socialist Party has achieved a higher degree of
left unity.

In Australia, socialist candidates from a number of parties have attracted
votes between 5-12% in several seats in recent years. Loose alliances and
non-aggression pacts have been formed in Melbourne and Perth.

We would envisage holding discussions over the next couple of weeks at the
national and local levels and proceed to organising a series of public
meetings around the country to launch and build a significant campaign.

Please get in touch with us as soon as possible if you are interested in
discussing further.


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