Despite all the limitations of lockdown restrictions, local branches in the Southern and South East Region recruited well last year. It has been a boost to many of our branches to have a vibrant and fresh influx of new members, eager to discuss socialist politics and to get active spreading our ideas.

Keen to encourage and develop the roles of every new member, we held a regional new members meeting in January. 15 took part alongside members of our regional committee and party organisers at the national centre. It was an excellent day of discussion, questions and ideas.

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialist Party national organiser, introduced a brief outline of the role of our party, some key parts of our history, and our democratic structures. Sarah explained the importance for every member of the party to develop themselves politically and to play an active part in building the party, attending branch meetings, speaking, writing for the Socialist, and recruiting new members.

The morning’s discussion drew on questions from everyone covering; the challenge of building left unity, how to succinctly popularise socialist ideas, our attitude to the middle class, party inclusiveness, discrimination under capitalism, the effects of education cuts, and raising finance for all aspects of our work.

In the afternoon we held three commissions on the Socialist newspaper, recruitment, and fundraising – trying to ensure everyone left the day with a task and a plan to build.

The meeting was a vivid illustration of the appetite for socialist ideas of this new wave of members. It is vital we encourage this and turn this enthusiasm into new members playing a role in their local branches.

It was a reminder of the work ahead for the party, the first of a new wave of members who will join us and build the party in the year ahead. Our Brighton branch recently held its AGM and elected five branch organisers, all new members who have joined since the start of 2020. The end of lockdown can’t come soon enough!