Friday, November 21, 2008

Convention of the Left invite

Dear Comrades
The organisers of the Convention of The Left would like to invite you to the free one day conference - "Capitalism Isnt Working - What Is The Alternative?" - to be held at the Friends Meeting House, Manchester, from 10-5 on Saturday 24th January 2009.

More details (plus downloadable leaflet, advance registration and discussion contributions) can be found on our website and we encourage you to circulate widely and to join in the debates taking place.

As was agreed at the Convention's week of debate in September, we know that the wealth exists in the world to pay for our essential needs, conspicuous consumption only leads to escalating warfare and environmental destruction, and we cannot let the recession be used as an excuse to scapegoat refugees and migrants - the poor must not be punished for the crisis of capitalism and we must directly challenge any legitimisation by Labour of the racism and fascism that threatens to emerge as a result. The recent comments of the appalling Immigration Minister Woolas are only too clear.

So we must provide the alternative - in the interests of the planet, peace and people, not profiteers - and we look forward to seeing everyone who supports the Statement of Intent that was agreed in September, at the Recall Convention meeting on 24th January in Manchester.

The provisional agenda is for a general political discussion (particularly about the development of a socialist economic alternative) followed by three parallel workshops (loosely along the lines of planet, peace, people) and a final plenary for agreeing demands, actions, campaigns, and ways of working that we can all carry out together across the left.

All sessions will follow the style developed by the Convention in September - participation rather than top-down platforms, consensus rather than polarisation - and we encourage background contributions or suggestions for action that will fit with the themes outlined. We would also welcome progress reports from local Convention groups or forums that may have started to develop. (We do request that all contributions are short and, in line with the Statement of Intent agreed in September, we request that contributions are not about the creation of a new left party now.) Please can you email these or submit to the website discussion - no later than January 10th, so that we can collate and circulate for the day itself.

The Organising Group has now drafted a Statement of Action which we hope may be useful for setting the context (please see below) - and there are a number of other proposals that have been developed recently on the left, particularly about the economy, and also from organisations supporting future Convention activity - please do let us have these so that we can publicise them on the website and at the Recall Convention itself on January 24th.

Thank you for your support and good luck with developing left unity in practice in your own campaigns and activities.

John Nicholson (on behalf of the Convention of The Left Organising Group)

Convention of The Left – moving forward – Statement of Action
The September launch of the Convention of The Left exceeded expectations and was a significant event on the left. We must now work out how to build on this positive beginning.
We re-affirm our intention “to join together with all those seeking a better society, as an anti-capitalist left fighting for an alternative socialist society” (September 21st 2008 Statement of Intent).

Local Campaigning
To do this effectively we must “go local” – building local Conventions, experimenting with organisational and political models, learning from each other and from experience, building on “what works”, with an emphasis on bottom up campaigning, participation and decision making.
Local Convention of The Left groups or forums should develop a combination of campaigning and political discussion – not duplicating other campaigns or seeking to replace them but drawing the left together in co-operation and struggle. We should go out of our way to overcome the division that exists between the organised left and the direct actionist and libertarian groups.

Campaigns should be developed and supported locally. Already some local groups have taken a lead in actions coming out of the financial crisis, on house repossessions, on fuel poverty and energy costs. Other areas of activity might include anti-academy campaigns, defence of local GP surgeries against poly-clinics, campaigns against privatisations, in support of migrants and opposing deportations, fighting the fascist threat.

Local Convention of The Lefts should be encouraged to:
1. produce reports for a local convention section of the website
2. discuss demands and programs of action around their struggles
3. submit these demands and charters to the Convention website and future events for further discussion.

National Campaigning
We re-affirm that this is not the construction of another political party. Rather, the strength of the Convention lies in attempting to bring local groupings together and to provide a wider forum for discussion and united action – so that we can strengthen the anti capitalist left by uniting ourselves around action and policies where we can.The Recall Event on January 24th 2009 should elect a steering committee to build on the work of the group that organised Manchester 2008’s Convention. This steering committee should be charged with organising or co-ordinating future activity – such as a further day or weekend Convention in summer 2009 – and with exploring the possibilities of a similar event at TUC and/or Labour Party Conference in Brighton 2009 as was organised in Manchester 2008.



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