It was good to see a whole host of familiar faces and a number of new ones, at this years annual RA National Meeting. Some were absent because of justifiable reasons, including one of our organisers who was busy cementing links with fellow anti-fascists in Germany. However, a few members appeared to be missing for reasons that were less straightforward. One, a member of some years standing now, confessed to me later that he had felt the main policy document up for debate, 'Fast Forward or...', what can only be described as 'intimidating'. This is a great shame and also a bit silly, as he missed what was a crucial debate within the organisation
The session started with a quick look at the state of the British left and compared their efforts with the ambition of the BNP, who have on their immediate agenda the raising of £50,000 to fight next years Euro elections and the setting up of their own film unit. The BNP had also insisted that households in the wards where they stood during the recent local elections should be leafletted at least twice and all canvassed, with activists going out four evenings per week and weekends during the preceding month.
As I pointed out in this column before (June/July), we have identified inadequacies that still exist within our own structures that have held us back. Once again these were confronted in the FF document in an uncompromising fashion... 'The self deprecatory, raggedy arsed, semi-detached presentation and approach to existing policy and structures needs to be brought to an abrupt end. Failure to attend activities, prepare for meetings, a proffering of feeble excuses, chronic unreliability, an avoidance of subs and other routine derelictions can have no place in Red Action'.
The document went on to identify though that: 'Unlike previous phases in our existence when the practical political application was often reduced to one or two issues, it is now increasingly symmetrical and all the stronger for it'. In other words each area of work will complement and dove-tail with the other, while at the same time fitting into the overall strategy.
The main thrust of the document outlined what the author of the piece felt was required to ensure that the various areas of work we are engaged in moved forward simultaneously. As well as a symmetrical approach to our work it is important that we also have a systematic approach. This means every member in RA will have one specific individual focus of responsibility, a field of speciality not instead, but in addition to the obligation to the wider project. While this might have seemed daunting to my aforementioned colleague, all we are talking about is ensuring that: 'everyone takes responsibility and plays their part to the very best of their ability', or putting it plainly, its about setting some minimum standards of commitment. What will be required for the coming period, is for RA to become an organisation of organisers.
Of course that doesn't mean that anyone 'not making the grade' will be cast into the wilderness; far from it. As the great Irish revolutionary Bobby Sands said 'Everyone has their own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small'. However, let's not kid ourselves, for us to move forward, it will be up to each member to make what amounts to a personal decision to take a step up.
Reproduced from RA vol 3, Issue 2, Aug/Sept '98