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Southern Region Conference:

Unite Labour on Socialist Policies

(March 1978)

From Militant, No. 399, 31 March 1978, p. 5.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Delegates at this year’s Southern Regional Conference will undoubtedly have on their minds the likelihood that this will be election year.

The pressure will be on them to turn Conference into a display of unity behind the policies of the government. Yet it is that very policy that is bringing the danger of defeat in a general election, as the report presented to the conference puts it.


“The past year has been distinguished by a whole series of set-backs for working people: declining public services, wage restraint, and mass unemployment. Working people in making these sacrifices have saved capitalism from total collapse.

“However this display of loyalty must not be taken as a sign of support for the present economic order. The working class expect and deserve a new society.

“The Labour Cabinet must not be lulled into a false sense of security by a few encouraging opinion polls and council by-election results.”

The Report goes on correctly, to state:

“Winning the next General Election can only be made possible if the Government joins with the wider labour movement and begins to campaign vigorously on the shop floor, in the streets, on the doorstep, in the press and on the media for socialist policies which meet the needs of working people.”

The basis for such a campaign can be found in the policies demanded by the resolutions before conference.

On Housing Resolution 44 from Wokingham CLP calls for a halt to the sale of council houses, the nationalisation of the building and building supply industries as well as the banks and financial institutions to make possible a crash house building programme.

On wage restraint and low pay, AUEW [TASS] 25 Divisional Council rejects the theory that wage rises are a major contributory factor towards inflation and condemns sanctions being applied by the government in its attempt to impose wage restraint on workers.

EC Criticised

Portsmouth South resolution 48 calls for an end to wage restraint and a minimum wage of £65 a week tied to the cost of living.

A number of resolutions on the agenda oppose the cuts in public expenditure. ASTMS no. 7 Divisional Council and the Isle of Wight CLP criticise the Executive Committee for not actively pursuing a campaign against the cuts as they were required to do by the last year’s conference.

On unemployment, numerous resolutions and amendments call for a shorter working week and a comprehensive public works programme. The TGWU No. 1 Region calls for the setting up of a public loans board to provide finance for local authorities. But as the amendment from the Isle of Wight points out, only when Labour’s policy of nationalising the banks and insurance companies is achieved can we guarantee cheap credit or interest free loans.

Take the Banks

Reading North CLP notes the campaign against nationalisation being conducted by the banks, and calls for a counter campaign. These demands are brought together in Resolution 17 from Brighton Kemptown CLP. This states that the only way to provide jobs, protect living standards, the Social Services and the welfare of our people is to use all our material and human resources in a plan of production.

To this end it calls for the nationalisation under workers control and management of the 200 major monopolies, banks and insurance companies.

If the report of the Regional Council is really meant to be a rallying call, then it is to be hoped that they will recommend support for the alternative programme as outlined above and brought to Conference by the rank and file as an alternative to the disastrous policies of the Government.

By launching a campaign as outlined in their own report, in support of such a socialist programme, they could win the support of the other regions, and achieve real unity and ensure victory at the General Election.

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Last updated: 21 August 2016