Socialist Equality Party presidential candidate Jerry White addressed successful meetings this week in London and Manchester, England, and Glasgow, Scotland. White was speaking as part of an international tour that also includes upcoming meetings in Germany, Canada and the United States.
The meetings in Britain were sponsored by the Socialist Equality Party and its student organisation, the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE). Chris Marsden, the national secretary of the Socialist Equality Party in Britain, joined White on the platform at the meetings.
In his presentation, White elaborated a Marxist analysis of international economic and political developments and addressed the fundamental questions that are not being discussed in the media or by either presidential candidate of the two big business parties in the US, Barack Obama and John McCain. He answered a number of critical questions, including: What is the cause of the world economic and financial crisis? Who will be forced to pay for it? What are the implications for working people and what are the alternatives?
The October 12 meeting in London at Conway Hall was attended by students from the London School of Economics, Imperial College London, the Royal Holloway University of London, as well as members and supporters of the Socialist Equality Party.
White spoke on October 13 at St. Peters House at the University of Manchester. The meeting was attended by around 125 people, including students of many nationalities, members of the ISSE society at the University of Manchester, and members of the Socialist Equality Party. The meeting was chaired by James Clark, ISSE secretary at the University of Manchester.
Students from a number of European counties attended, including Germany, France, Poland, and Estonia as well as various African countries, China and the Indian subcontinent. Students from the United States were also in attendance, as well as people from local towns and cities, including Altrincham and Liverpool.
The meeting was covered by the Student Direct newspaper, which has a readership of over 50,000 at the Universities of Manchester, Salford and Bolton.
Lively discussion followed both meetings, with questions being answered by both Jerry White and Chris Marsden. Many students pointed to the failure of the profit system as the source of the current international financial crisis. Much of the discussion focused on the social disaster now confronting humanity and how a socialist programme could be implemented as an alternative.
Among the questions raised in Manchester were: "What would the SEP do to resolve crisis? What is your alternative?" and "How would distribution and exchange be organised under socialism without the banks?"
Another questioner from the floor asked: "How would the Socialist Equality Party propose to deal with the powerful media that supports the banks and big business?"
In London, one member of the audience said that the situation in the US was similar to 1929 and that the consequences of the Great Crash had been the election of Roosevelt and the New Deal. He asked: "How does what happened under Roosevelt compare with what Obama would be doing?"
White was asked at the London meeting how the Socialist Equality Party's programme compared to that of Ralph Nader--an independent candidate in the 2008 presidential election.
One questioner in Manchester asked for further explanation on the causes of the decline in the rate of profit, which White had referred to in his speech. Another member of the audience asked if a socialist government would support a proportional representation voting system.
"How would countries that were not developed and had few resources contribute to a global socialist society?" asked one member of the audience, while another asked about the Socialist Equality Party's attitude to the Hugo Chávez regime in Venezuela and other governments in Latin America.
Following the meetings many of those attending thanked White for speaking and continued discussion with members of the Socialist Equality Party and the International Students for Social Equality. At the Manchester meeting many students signed up to the ISSE's society and expressed interest in further meetings and events.
The final meeting of the British leg of White's tour was held on Tuesday evening at the University of Glasgow, and was also well attended. The SEP candidate will address meetings in Berlin and Frankfurt later this week. (See "SEP election meetings: The origins and implications of the financial crisis: A Marxist analysis")