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Southern Region LP Adopts Socialist Alternative

(April 1976)

From Militant, No. 300, 16 April 1976.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

As the Chairman himself said, the opening session of this year’s Southern Region Labour Party Conference was one of the quietest in memory. But that soon changed when the delegate from new Forest CLP moved a resolution calling for the annual re-adoption of MPs. It was carried overwhelmingly, despite the Executive’s opposition.

Another resolution rejecting the idea of state aid to political parties was moved by Rod Fitch, Brighton Kemptown. He pointed out that state aid would mean the leadership would become more independent from the rank and file than they are now.

He closed with a fighting contribution with this declaration, “Don’t go to the state cap in hand, come to the movement and we will provide the means and I will tell you how to get the finance. Carry out the Manifesto, stop attacking our living standards and carry through a socialist programme.”

In the general debate delegate after delegate came to the rostrum to demand MPs be responsible to the rank and file and pointing out that the problem of party finance was a political question. “Let them live on workers’ wages and give the remainder to the party,” demanded one delegate.

The housing debate graphically illustrated the lunacy of 350,000 building and supply workers being on the dole while hundreds of thousands were desperately in need of a home. The EETPU put forward a resolution calling on the Government to increase the house building programme.


But as Terry Pearce and Ian Warwick, the delegates from Wokingham point out, to provide the funds without crippling repayments to the moneylenders we must nationalise the financial institutions. Conference agreed and passed an amendment calling on the government to take into public ownership the financial institutions and the building and building supply industries.

Conference also passed a resolution supporting the LPYS Spanish Young Socialists Defence Campaign and a collection was held (details next week).

The debate on the economy was the liveliest of the Conference and to say the government’s policies were given a hammering would be an understatement. Resolutions were passed that rejected the idea that a redistribution of wealth in favour of working people could be achieved through wage restraint whether voluntary or compulsory.

A successful manoeuvre to prevent voting on an emergency resolution rejecting the Budget and the proposed 3% limit on wage increases was met by loud booing from the delegates. The trade union officials, not wanting to be tied by this policy and knowing they couldn’t persuade their delegations to vote against the resolution, didn’t want it to be discussed.

A contradictory resolution calling for selective import controls and stricter controls over investment abroad on the one hand and public ownership of the monopolies, banks and financial institutions on the other, was passed. But if public ownership and control of industries and banks is really the aim, the first two points become superfluous as we would be in control of trade and investment anyway.


The resolution from Portsmouth North and Brighton Kemptown, carried overwhelmingly, was much clearer, calling for an enabling act to carry out the immediate nationalisation of the 200 monopolies, banks and finance houses and a socialist plan of production.

The Conference has rejected the government’s policies and drawn up the socialist alternative. This should now be fought for in all sections of the trade union and labour movement.

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Last updated: 8 August 2016