Video: Annette Sykes speaking at Workers Power 2011

Annette Sykes, a prominent lawyer and figure in the new Mana Party, spoke at the Workers Party conference in Hamilton earlier this month.

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Read the June issue of The Spark here

June issue of The Spark

This month’s issue of The Spark was delayed because of the involvement of the production team in organising the Workers Power 2011 conference (see report on pages 10-11). There are two additional conference reports from WP members who attended the Resistance conference in Sydney and the Socialist Party Australia conference in Melbourne. This month we have an article on the recent Canada elections from Socialist Voice (Canada) co-editor Roger Annis. A few of us met Roger in 2008 when he came to check out Unite Union in Auckland and we are pleased we have been able to establish some ongoing communication with him. In this issue we include an article that he produced for Green Left Weekly but also with The Spark in mind (we solicited shortly after GLW). So it’s a good issue in terms of expressing living internationalism! In our own backyard we’ve got new copyright laws thrown down, secretive trade negotiations going on, an electoral system referendum coming up, and the emergence of a new party with a working class constituency. Please read on and please support The Spark.

Workers Power 2011: Conference Report

Marika Pratley, Wellington branch of Workers Party

Workers Power 2011, the national conference of Workers Party was held over Queen’s Birthday weekend (June 3-6) at Hamilton’s Trade Union Centre. Over 45 people registered for what was the first socialist conference to be held in Hamilton for some decades. The conference featured a wide range of presentations delivered by speakers belonging to the Workers Party, by members of other left organizations, and by others who have participated in substantial struggles against the state and the injustices of capitalism.

Clockwise from top left: Guest speakers Annette Sykes, Bernie Hornfeck, David Neilson, Mike Treen.

Friday
The opening night featured a debate between Jared Phillips (WP) and Sue Moroney (Labour Party MP). Phillips’ case defined Labour as no longer even claiming the centre-left, quoting EPMU and leading LP figure Andrew Little’s reference to Labour and National “managing the centre”. He listed examples of active attacks that Labour has carried out against the working class and progressive forces including Operation 8 and restricting the right to strike. He outlined reasons as to why ‘lesser evilism’ was not a justifiable reason to support Labour. Moroney embraced the term ‘lesser evilism’ and said she would rather have ‘small pragmatic changes’ than a ‘glorious defeat’ by National. In reality, the speakers were clearly talking at cross-purposes.

This was followed by a presentation and lengthy discussion led by Marxist academic David Neilson who has been published in Capital and Class and Journal of Radical Economics. In summary, he outlined the need for a deeper appreciation of the shift of emphasis from the reserve army of labour to the relative population that is surplus to the requirements of capitalism. He related this to the burgeoning slum-dwelling class in under-developed countries as well as to the second tier of peripheral workers which is ever-increasing in proportion to core workers in advanced capitalist countries. In summary, he argued that this led to the current ‘workers of the world compete’ scenario rather than a ‘workers of the world unite’ scenario, and that the left had to take this into account in attempts to redefine a strategy.

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