I think this is possibly the first blog report going out about Socialism 2008.
Anyways, what a thoroughly enjoybale weekend it was, the only thing that got on my nerves was missing a connection on the way back up to Bangor this evening (it takes about five hours at the best of times). I even slept well in the hostel (which has never happened before!). A small delegation managed to make it down from North Wales, which considering the huge expense in train fares is commendable.
Anyways, after perusing through the book stalls and spending even more money (including on the three new publications on sale - to be reviewed shortly), I went to the first session on Bolivia which was a discussion (rather than a debate) on Bolivia which was excellent and a full report of that session will appear in the next few days.
After that it was on to the main Socialism 2008 rally (with Bangor Socialist Student bilingual banner prudly displayed - is that the first bilingual (english-welsh) banner at Socialism?). There were so many speakers I can't be bothered counting, but they were all pretty good - they highlights for me was the comrade from Greece discussing the movements there and Syriza, the youngest speaker on the platform and newly elected Deputy Youth Mayor of Lewisham Natalie Powell-Davies who spoke really well on her campaign and the German school student comrade from Kassel who discussed the school student strikes there. Not that the other speakers were bad either, although I thought Peter Taaffe wasn't as good as any other time I've heard him speak - perhaps though that was because his contribution was quite short (for him!). Oh, and we collect about £33,000 - a pretty impressive total inlcuding a donation from Bangor that takes us well over our FF target.
After bantering in the Euston flyer, I retired to bed and got up to find the hostel had some quite funky toasters - which made the extra distance to the hostel compared to last years so worth it.
Then I ran back to ULU for a quick discussion with the regional full-timers about North Wales (which is potentially on the verge of a big membership growth) as due to the big distance between us here and the south we don't get to discuss face to face all that often and then it was on to a discussion on What future for youth? which I mostly went to to discuss the Bangor referendum as I've discussed many of the points raised in the leadoff incessently over the last few months and have probably blogged a bit about them already (it comes from being part-worker, part student - i get both kind of aspects of our youth work) before going to the discussion on The Fourth International and After - which suprisingly had no Sparts or anyone at it!!! (I was well disappointed - not!) Again, I'll post a report of this discussion - as I imagine will Phil from A Very Public Sociologist whom I met for the first time there.
Finally there was the closing Campaign for a New Workers Party Rally. Mark Serwotka was ill, but all the speakers were good. Dave Nellist came down heavily on the sheer corruptness of New Labour and their delaings with big buisenss, Kevin Ovenden borught greetings from RESPECT and outlined their views on building a new left party - quite welcomely mentioning that he saw RESPECT as part of the jigsaw in doing this, but not as a finished solution. Mark Steel was hillarious (and I have a review of his book to come). Hannah Sell concluded the rally and that was that.
On some general points there didn't seem to be many sects about at all. The IBT, ICL and Sparts all argued with each other on the China meeting, but I only saw the Sparts having a stall.
The turnout to me seemed bigger than last year - I had a pretty good view of the hall at the Saturday night rally - it also seemed even more youthful than ever and by quite a bit at that.
All in all, a really good weekend and those who weren't able to go missed out.