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Southern Regional Labour Party Conference:

Campaigning Policies Demanded

(April 1978)

From Militant, No. 402, 21 April 1978, p. 2.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In his address to the Southern Region Labour Party Conference, outlining the crisis of capitalism, and explaining the need for socialist policies, Tony Benn said to loud cheers that “when the young militants in my constituency speak on the ideas of socialism, it is the old age pensioners that cheer the loudest!”. He added “if we are returning to the old ideas of the movement, that is because all the old problems are still with us.”

This provided the answer to those one or two delegates who chose to attack the Militant rather than participate in the debate on the important questions that were before Conference.

Perhaps the liveliest debate was on the question of racialism and fascism. Conference decided to sponsor the Anti-Nazi League, although every delegate that spoke in favour pointed out that this must not be at the expense of the labour movement putting forward its own socialist programme, and that the ANL was not an alternative to the labour movement organising its own campaign – the only force that can defeat racialists and fascists.

This view was reinforced when conference went on to pass unanimously an emergency resolution that called on the labour movement in the Region to initiate vigorous anti-racialist campaigns.

Against Cuts

Conference reaffirmed its opposition to cuts in public expenditure and passed an emergency resolution supporting the occupation of the nursery premises in Oxford. Criticising the executive for its failure to pursue a campaign against the cuts as it was instructed to do by last year’s conference. A composite was passed demanding that they start a campaign now.

Conference also demanded a crash house-building programme in a resolution moved by Wokingham CLP that called for the nationalisation of the building and allied supply industries as well as the banks and insurance companies.

The need for a campaign in support of Labour’s policy on the nationalisation of the banks and insurance companies was spelt out in a resolution from Reading South. This was carried despite the opposition of the Regional Executive Committee.

The Militant meeting this year was well attended: after a long session 43 turned up to take part in a debate around the programme of the paper.

As one delegate attending one of our meetings for the first time put it:

Minimum Wage

“You seem to be the only ones putting up a fight at the moment. Your ideas are right. I work in the hotel industry and on my wages I can’t make ends meet so demand for a £65 minimum wage is essential. I was disillusioned by some of the things said at the conference today, but attending this meeting and meeting people like yourselves I shall go back refreshed and ready to continue the struggle.”

£21 was collected for the Fighting Fund plus £15 from a raffle organised by Bracknell supporters.

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Last updated: 21 August 2016