responses to conference
The Socialist Unity Network

Initial response to SA conference

Tim Oxton forwarded this response

I will add just a couple of minor points.  The tedious speech from the chair by Nick Wrack (who had already spoken briefly at the outset) lasted not 15 minutes, but certainly 20 minutes and maybe 25. I managed to fall asleep twice during it.  Since the conference had started 50 minutes late, this ponderous filibuster was clearly a device to make quite sure that debate was kept to the bare minimum, and to show who was in charge (i.e. "I can speak for as long as I like, you are limited to 3 or 4 minutes each, if it pleases us to call you").

The extremely hostile rant by Chris Bambery, full of spurious arithmetic, was evidently designed to intimidate anyone inclined to vote against the task group's motion.  Bambery may have been provoked by some silly remarks earlier by John Nicholson, but this did not justify his outburst. The circulation of a leaflet from the SADP "Why we are walking out of the conference" went down pretty badly with several non-aligned people that I spoke to.  Inevitably, the fact that the leaflet had been produced in advance, and a meeting room had been booked in advance at the nearby community centre, and the SADP and supporters didn't move the motions that they had submitted, meant that the SADP appeared as a bunch of people who are determined to be in opposition come what may.  Having myself signed the SADP petition "Defend, Maintain and Build the Socialist Alliance" - and I would sign it again - I personally felt betrayed by this walkout.

Easily the best speech of the entire day was the first one after lunch, by Andy Higginbottom of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, who had provided the catering.  He outlined some of the dangers that trade unionists and their families are exposed to in Colombia.  This put all the posturing by the rest of us into perspective.


Tim Oxton

SUN welcomes further responses to SA conference

March 2004