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Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Mar 16 06:44:31 MST 2001

There's been a few items on the Marxism list recently about the creation of
a Socialist Alliance electoral slate in Australia between the Democratic
Socialist Party, the International Socialist Organisation and several
smaller groups. This response from the Socialist Party in Australia may be
of interest:

A Socialist Alliance (SA), mainly based around the Democratic Socialist
Party (DSP) and the International Socialist Alliance (ISO), has been
created for the upcoming Federal Elections.  The Socialist Party's Denise
Dudley looks at the new group.

The Socialist Party is not against alliances or mass parties.
We call for a new workers' party based on the trade unions and community
organisations. We simply feel that this SA isn't the way to go about it.
Our first knowledge of this Alliance was on February 9th when we received
an email inviting us to attend a meeting to discuss this formation. We had
eight days to discuss the draft proposal and platform locally, nationally,
internationally and within the rank and file of the Socialist Party.
Obviously, we were not able to attend this meeting on this basis.
The DSP and the ISO had written the invitation and draft proposals and
platforms sent to us by the SA.  There was no explanation from the ISO as
to why they had backflipped on standing in elections, after years of
lecturing the rest of the left on the dangers of electoralism.

The Socialist Party had many criticisms and questions regarding the
20-point draft proposal. One point makes mention of the alliance seeking to
'stand common candidates who are prepared and best able to advocate the
aims of the alliance'. But what if we believe that one of our members
should stand in a particular seat rather then, say, a DSP member? Local
alliance groups will elect who is to stand in their area. What if the
majority of members in the local alliance are DSP members and believe, as
much as we do, that their candidate is better? Even if we are selected will
we run the campaign or do we hand it over to the alliance?

SA is in reality a quasi-political party with a centralised structure
(national committee, membership fee, name, constitution etc). It is jumping
way ahead of what is possible right now, and in its current form could
scare away groups of workers moving onto the political area.
Many of these concerns were raised with the alliance when a special meeting
was arranged in Melbourne recently. Jim O'Connor and myself met with Ian
Runtoul (ISO), Graeme (DSP) and Alison Thorne (Freedom Socialist Party). We
raised the fact that SP has a good name in elections (Stephen Jolly getting
over 12% in the last Victorian State election and the recent credible
result for Neil Grey in the WA election).

This result in the seat of Richmond was based on our participation over a
seven-year period in important community struggles in the area. These
struggles include the one year long campaign to save Richmond Secondary
College in 1993, the campaign against freeway extensions (CAFE) in
Collingwood in 1994, the campaign at the Australian Dying Company picket
line in Clifton Hill in 1998/99, and the campaign for heroin reform
(Community Campaign for Heroin Reform) launched in Smith St, Collingwood in

We felt that by joining the Alliance (which, as yet, has no history of
struggle) we risk that good name and reputation.
The question for us is whether the SA will develop into anything other than
an alliance of existing left parties and a few radical individuals. If
that's all it is, it's not worth us giving up our independent banner. If it
attracts real forces, then we will intervene and help build it.
The representative of SA at the Melbourne meeting believed that it was
possible to speak with union delegates and persuade them to support the
formation. We tried earnestly to explain that no union would back a party
without any past work.

Another issue raised was our belief that if a new mass worker's party was
to form, it really did have to come from real forces such as left unions,
community organisations, groups of workers etc.

The alliance representatives assured us that even if we did not join they
would not stand against us in seats (a non-aggression pact). I believe this
remains to be seen especially if we stand in the seat of Melbourne.
The pros and cons of SP joining the Alliance will be discussed at the
Socialist Party National Conference in March.

Western Australian state election

Socialist Party gets highest vote on the Left

The determination in Labor areas to get rid of the Liberals was the main
factor why Socialist Party candidate Neil Gray only received 259 votes
(1.24%). However if we compare like with like the Socialist Party had a
huge success. The Progressive Labor Party got 48 votes (0.41%) in Bunbury.
The Democratic Socialist Party received 98 votes (0.53%) in Perth and 115
(0.57%) in Fremantle.

The Socialist Party to the streets with a military strategy to blitz the
seat of Maylands with the socialist message. We distributed 10,000 leaflets
(11 different leaflets over 8 weeks) and ran a stall or street activity
almost every day. We had large feature articles for Neil in the Western
Australian and every edition of the local newspapers for the election
period. This is despite a virtual media ban on the small parties. Our media
campaign was more successful than the Greens!

On only one occasion did we see any other candidate campaign in Maylands.

Yet they were out in force on polling day! What contempt for the people of
Maylands! What a heartless vote-grabbing approach to an area wracked with
social problems of housing, health, education and a huge drug problem. None
of the other candidates were there every day to see the mentally and
physically challenged struggle with minimum support from the health
agencies. Nor to listen to every second person who had been directly or
indirectly affected by the heroin crisis. This was one of our main campaign
issues. We received huge support on this campaign getting 1,000 signatures,
raised almost $400 on Heroin Campaign stalls and were sincerely thanked
hundreds of times by people for honestly trying to do something about the

>From this election campaign we have grown and built links with the youth
and trade unions. The Socialist Party has laid the basis for a much larger
and dynamic Socialist Party in WA. We will dig deep roots into the working
class communities, the trade unions and the youth of WA.

Louis Proyect
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