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Monday, 29 February 2016

Knowing my place in the Scottish Left

This is unedited and off the top of my head. I will add any appendices needed regarding what I write at a convenient time (I have kept records of all interactions I have mentioned in my "critical" posts about the SSP/Rise and certain people in and around those organisations).

My relationship with left politics has certainly changed in the past year. There has been a certain amount of self development in that; circumstances that have changed; a reaffirmation of who I am and also a realisation that the current "left" in Scotland is driven by things beyond its "leaderships ken." In that last point, I don't claim to be the "only person on the left who does understand current circumstances in Scotland," but as someone who was outside, completely, the sectarian left of the 80's and 90's here, I feel my perspective and understanding is very different from those I have criticised in the past few months. There are those who quickly jumped to a conclusion of where we were post independence referendum this time last year, and added their interpretation of what was happening in Greece etc and came up with a vehicle that, rather than United the left /will unite the left, has split that small section of political activists who remain outside the SNP and one that is sullied in many ways in the perceptions of thousands of those who joined existing Yes political parties.

I don't take back any of the criticisms I have had of key people within my own political party (nor those in the current alliance, Rise, I have criticised), but I feel I have some understanding of how and why they use the awful methods they do in trying to "win" their points etc. My weakness, as far as they are concerned, I feel, is that I am open about how I feel and what I think. And my weakness has also been to get drawn in to their odd "left legacy" style of personal engagement with their "comrades" and their activism.

I still think they were totally wrong about trying to fold the SSP- and I feel those trying to do that are creating more division and another sectarian division that need not exist.

I think those who use feminism as something to attack and not educate are wrong and do the cause harm.

I feel those who praise those who use terms such as "scab," "misogynist," "racist," etc and also attack using mental health as a pejorative have caused harm within and to,  the Party I was part of for 13 years.

And I think the calculated undermining of democracy within the SSP in full view of a social media literate membership was something from the 1970's as carried out by Wolfie Smith.

I feel those who drove the current disastrous formation of Rise used methods they were used to using in a pre-technological age, when information was easily stemmed and only given out to those who "needed it." We are really no longer in that age. And those hiding behind "young people" and the real drivers of the minuscule Scottish left, have by using methods that worked _for a while_ in the '90's and early 2000's, have built something that again will fail. A more measured, open and honest process, perhaps over a period of a few years, would have brought all on board. Instead, the same hurry the SSA (Scottish Socialist Alliance) had in setting up the SSP for a very different election in 1999 and under extremely different political circumstances, walked over a swathe of people politicised and brought together by the SSP in the early- mid 00's.

Personally, I went through trauma last year. I had a difficult time regarding work, stress, depression etc. And after the independence referendum- and successful online campaign I had brought together for the SSP (I was an EC member and Social Media/Web organiser) - a campaign I am proud of with a team I had brought together mostly made up of new members of the party (and when needed, paid for myself); helping build the party from an AGM of 50 delegates in 2012, to the larger party we had brought together post indyref- and the work I did as branch organiser on the ground in East Dunbartonshire as a Yes leader/RIC organiser etc- I was totally exhausted.

The subsequent personal abuse I received from new members of the party- and old- because of my belief that anything other than continuing to build the SSP after its successful brand rebuild during the indyref would be disaster, totally exhausted and shocked me. Being personally attacked as a "scab" for posting a meme that had the statement "Taking the fight to the SNP," receiving an email from Cat Boyd, via the National Secretary and Frances Curran that said I was creepy etc for posting the meme (which was a direct quote from a SSP spokesperson at the Rise launch and had a photo of both Nicola Sturgeon and Boyd, who is top of the Rise list in Glasgow; titles herself and a small group of her ISG friends "Team Rise;" who has repeated such sentiments over the months and who is at the forefront of the Team Rise campaign and with whom I have had extremely limited interaction with - all of which has been recorded and filed) really was the final straw of attacks. I left the SSP, for a few weeks- I didn't want my £50+ per month going to these people. Curran then using this "private" email as a stick, saying on social media, "there is more to Neil leaving than meets the eye" and since grouping me with someone who did leave the ssp after a crime was committed- really smacked of the old condemn and destroy politics of the sects.

These methods continue to be used -stupidly- as all interactions via phone, text, social media etc are recordable and do not disappear. (I did take advice about attacks on me- and I was advised my case against some of these people was sound, but after much thought, at present, I've decided not to).

I rejoined (at £10 a month) in the hope that the party I thought I was in, makes a come back. We'll see. There are people within and without the ssp I will never work with again, and my level of commitment to the party will never again be at the levels it was for almost 13 years.

My socialism and fight for social justice will be through my work and on issues I feel I can help with. And until the spectre of the worst aspects of 1980's left politics disappears from the left and a left more fitting for a technologically democratic world arises, I'll not be part of a political machine.

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