Thursday, 31 December 2015
2015; The SSP.
Its been an odd year for the SSP, which I have been involved with for 13 years.
I've been on the EC a few times, was a committed branch organiser for many of those years, and over the years fought, politically, against the 'British Socialism' of some of those who recently took on the pretence of a commitment of Scottish Independence in RIC etc, and I led our online campaign during the Yes campaign.
This year, however, like others, the warping of truth, the attacks and the bad feeling left by those condemning discussion and debate, disappointed and to be honest, totally alarmed me to the point I did not feel safe in this party. The shock of members threatening and insulting those they disagreed with and seeing and hearing language not misused since the Sheridan Daily Record headlines after the travesty of his civil case made me question my commitment to the party. "Scab, racist, sexist, Pale Male and Stale," all insults flung like reeking decades old Stalinist shit at comrades who have given their lives to equality, fairness and workplace fight backs made my pale skin crawl.
And the decision of Colin Fox to congratulate Sheridan's legal team after the abuse he meted out on women and SSP members in and out of court, ranks as the self proclaimed "longest surviving of the scottish political leaders" first of many, odd decisions on our behalf in the past few years. Rise being the latest.
After a great start to the year, new branches; large newly boosted branches, the SSP then subsumed itself in a huge internal (and ongoing) fight over handing this new vigour to people who have, since 2009, been wanting to see its demise. And since becoming involved, diminish it has. This has been massive mismanagement by a feeble EC "led" by the nose by an old guard who see themselves as, laughably, "gurus of a new movement." They are, in fact, trying to reinact the extraordinary (and badly and self congratulatory analysed) success of the SSP circa 1999-2003; and tacking on a veneer, using chewing gum and spit, of "a new politics," though like the SSP "democracy" of 1999-2007, has a not very well hidden central leadership.
The strange analysis of the success of the party in 2003, plus a spree to Greece by Fox and the new "Team Rise" during the Greek election early in 2016 seemed to add to egos and their self deceiving analysis of RIC, the Yes movement and their speech making contributions during that time. Their analysis seems to have left out those who worked hard in their communities and who built the platforms they proselytized from. And their analysis of national and international events and the independence movement as part of that seems to have been poisoned by their self importance. It leaves out their self deceit that they, almost singled handed delivered a newly invigorated "principled" Scottish left. It is the politics of left sects and "natural succession" of "on message" cadres. And it, rather than being new, goes back to the ice pick in the cranium of the principled Leon.
As the new "movement" limps forward with its preordained decisions (decisions taken during a period pre independence referendum and finalised this time last year), the energies of the new "allies" continue to be spent on old obsessions of Sheridan and dissolving the SSP. A huge swathe of those who kept the SSP together long enough to get to the rebuild point of the Yes campaign, have disengaged completely from the "latest shiny solution." Instead, they have turned their efforts in trying to keep people onboard long enough to rebuild a socialist party capable of bringing the fight to our communities again, and into our councils in 2017. The new shiny Rise has stunted this campaign, which should have been raging all this year, and the damage done to the SSP name and local campaigning machine MUST be patched up and rebuilt post May, but those disappointed at this years dreadful decisions by the self named "SSP leadership" should be assured, socialism starts with us, not them.
And the newly fanaticised Risers continue to shout and insult across social media.
As Rise limps on, and new SSP members realise how they have been used and abused, this is a time for those in the SSP who want to look beyond the top table machinations of the "gurus." As predicted, the new energies built have been dissipated by this shiny thing and the thousands of new socialists and lefties have not clamoured for membership. The flawed analysis of the self appointed gurus is still tacked to the peeling mdf they stuck in the sand. Our fight, built in the foundations of our communities must go on, in the SSP name. Leave these people to their Merchant City pubs and coffee shops and like Councillor Jim Bollan, get on with making a difference.
The disappointment I feel at the wasted energy of this time last year, I feel, MUST be converted into a 2016 of local socialist hyperactivity.
Contrary to the dissolving the present SSP "leadership" seem to want to lead us to, I'm comforted by those who are fighting back in our branches and communities. The SSP will not dissolve into the debates and discussions which bring us further fracturing and meaningless talking shops. Entire branches of the party have pulled out of the Rise project. And community campaigners have remained in the party, fighting as they have done for years, under the mature, well known brand and community of the SSP. Young people, and old, women and men are leading fights against cuts at local level- fighting welfare cuts, discriminatory pay deals and community asset closures. The SSP are distributing food and clothing to those in need locally and across Europe as the neoliberals divert the common funds our taxes fill to private pockets. And members continue to fight against the UK war machine, unapplauded, living in the cold, draughty NECESSARY Peace Camp at Faslane. Not for them the luxury of taking the festive season out to "reflect" on the glory of self praise and the next speech.
Roll on 2016 and the rolling away of the old and the redirected vigour of the new.