The annual National Conference of Socialist Appeal was held last weekend, an event which passed as one of the most successful meetings of recent years.
This was in no small part due to the excellent representation of youth comrades, who made up a large part of the attendance.
On the Saturday, following a discussion on British Perspectives and a report on the struggle of Marxists internationally, the youth held their own commission to discuss their experiences of the past year, as a means of preparing better for the year to come.
Over the past 12 months the number of youth comrades has doubled. This increased growth has not been because of a change in the objective situation – a dramatic upturn in the class struggle – but because of the individual and collective efforts of our young comrades.
Because of the influx of youth, Socialist Appeal now has new comrades organised in Norwich, Leeds, Oxford, Cardiff and different parts of London.
The development of the youth in Norwich was discussed as an example to be followed, whereby one comrade – Dan Morley – after joining Socialist Appeal in London went to study at the University of East Anglia. His efforts, in what had been deemed a ‘depoliticised' university, resulted in the recruitment of a layer of youth who have been able to have an influence beyond their growing numbers. This culminated in their involvement in the Hands Off Venezuela campaign which attracted 150 students to hear Alan Woods speak on the revolutionary situation in Venezuela and Latin America. In contrast, this compared to a public debate among candidates for the student elections held the same week – a spectacle that inspired all of twelve students to attend. Fred Weston's comments on those two meetings summed up the situation when it comes to the youth:
"If the Hands Off Venezuala meeting hadn't occurred then a superficial approach would determine that the youth are apathetic, not interested in politics. The truth is that they're not interested in bureaucratic factionalism typical today in university politics…"
Ben Curry and Luke Wilson gave an account of the growth they experienced in Leeds over the last year. They described the lay of the land and their determination to make further inroads at Leeds university in the next period. They mentioned that this might be best achieved by co-opting some art students into Socialist Appeal, who they reckoned might have a bit more time on their hands than the average science student!
From Oxford Brookes, Manuela Rosachaka talked about the situation there and her efforts to set up a socialist society. As I write this report, it has just been announced that the society will affiliate to the student union on the appropriate date of May 1st.
Other issues discussed were the plans for the Freshers' Fairs in the next academic year and the need to begin the planning now, so as to get through all the inevitable bureaucratic procedures as soon as possible.
All comrades were encouraged to attend the World School in Barcelona this summer, which will see a special appearance from Esteban Volkov, Trotsky's grandson, who will talk about the ‘Old Man', as well as introducing a newly-produced film about Trotsky's life. As well as that a number of youth volunteered to make visits to the Socialist Appeal office in London this summer to help with the work.
There never is enough time to discuss everything. However comrades left the meeting inspired with resolve to build the forces of Marxism in the coming year through activities, education and discussion.