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Saturday, 28 May 2016

People not Prophets...

The SSP has huge decisions to make...

(re-edited 30 May)

Last year, the SSP launched a rival party to itself and jettisoned some of its most loyal and hard working members, leaving a party that had made huge gains in both image and size, in total disarray.

This years AGM (11th June), the first I won't have contributed in some way for 13 years, will be one that is a fraction of the size of the past two- some who will attend will be there to give the party one last shot. They will be there to see if those who (despite warnings from some and the total horror of others) led it down a path it may never recover from, are at all penitent- or if they will-  as early signs show- blame "online" (a communication tool they don't understand) and those "who left," and those who dared doubt "the leadership."

Few of those in this picture are now members...

As I have said in the past- I stood down from EC for one main reason- it was not because of the drift to Rise (which I made no bones about on SSP forums- I had huge doubts about), but because of how unsafe I felt inside the EC "leadership."

After the vote last May to explore an alliance, I accepted the decision of the very democratically flawed motion and conference. The present leadership are still peddling the myth that an ill equipped AGM and a dreadfully flawed debate was in some way "the democratic will of the party." You would think they would begin telling the truth when a huge swathe of members either walked from the party, or just sat on their hands for the first election in many.

For having views that doubted the path to subsuming into a group led by a smaller, actually insignificant group- the ISG, I was targeted (as were other cautious members), threatened, trolled online and in SSP forums and attacked as a "fascist," a "scab," "mentally unwell" and threatened physically.

Now- my leaving was not because of the threats etc-,I've been toe to toe with fascists and paramilitary supporters etc- my leaving was because those on EC who had the power to do something about the threats and "hitlists," even though they promised me as EC members (National Secretary and Regional Organiser)- they sat on their hands.

And in fact, the National secretary encouraged those who threatened me and targeted others, by praising them publically and giving them jobs. 

This was what the SSP brought to Rise- a group of people who threatened, slandered and name called across social media (and booed and cheered when people spoke in EC's, AGM's etc) were energised by the thumbs up of the National Secretary, Bill Bonnar.

Labour for Independence founder, Allan Grogan, left the SSP after less than a year in the party... 

I had to stand down. I had no protections. My comrades were not working in solidarity with me- and I certainly could not work with people who demeaned, name called and threatened those they saw as "the enemy within."

The National Secretary as far as I could see, was protecting his daughter who was implicated in all of the shenanigans (and who just in the past week has apologised to me).   The Regional Organiser, did not seem to take any of the complaints that seriously- he, despite being someone I would call a friend, was more interested in who was saying what to who. I kept my promise on not going on the attack and dumping all of the shit I was sent on to a blog post- and still haven't. They damaged the movement, those who threatened, spat and dragged the SSP to the floor on Social Media STILL need dealt with (and in fact are still fighting and spitting across twitter and facebook)- and I am still protecting what is left of a party by keeping these threats and insults off the net.

For now.

I stood down from the SSP when it was clear that attacks were going to continue after an extraordinary email was sent from Cat Boyd to the same National Secretary who told me that he expected 2000 people to turn up at the first Rise conference.

Would Colin Fox have thought it weird?

The same sort of of figure inflation an ex MSP had been running around the country telling branches and meetings - though her way of putting it was, "the new party/alliance would have between 2-3000 members from Ayrshire alone!"

Extraordinary analysis from two senior members of the party that showed just how out of touch some had become from the movement and the new movement for independence. That analysis was not the only odd take on what was happening/could happen in Scotland, as Colin Fox was likening Scotland, and all that had been happening in it since 2011 (and before), with Greece and Spain. "Scotland's Syriza/Podemos," and "Taking the fight to the SNP" have to be the two most extraordinary political misdiagnosis by any senior politician post-independence referendum this side of the Scottish border. I said so on Facebook by sharing a meme I spotted 9see lefty guru edited version above) -and the lead candidate from Rise emailed the party National Secretary that I had been acting like a creep etc- an email given "credibility" by an ex-MSP who I would until that point have still called a comrade.

Ayrshire Rise Circle...

Others left the party and the alliance because of the egoist bypassing and democratic handstands that went on.

Communities and branches were ignored except when they were needed as hands aloft for the strangely Glaswegian billboard and Morningside, personality centric analysis. And slowly as democracy was stood on, scraped up and shredded on the SSP EC, EC members stood down, unsupported -and going unanalysed by those carrying Colin's bags, all hanging on to older men's voices around the table- some afraid to speak up in case they too were labelled "mentally ill," "sexist," and worse.

So much for solidarity.

Those left in the SSP have had the bare bones of the "hidden national leadership" exposed - a leadership that was always kept out of sight by the lie that branches lead the party - giving the finger to democracy. Will the membership who are left act at AGM?

Empire Building...

The SSP faces a huge decision at its AGM. Should it continue down the road of dissolution within Rise in the coming years, or should it leave- creating in effect a new, stronger "ISG" to fight in elections?

Well, that's the odd decision that will be put to the SSP. It's reduced membership is roughly equal to that of the less active, and rapidly declining membership of Rise- yet Rise will still be spoken of as an entity worth being involved with.

The solution from the hidden leadership is that Rise is kicked into the long grass - they don't want to be seen as sectarian.  But like the SWP and Sheridan's Solidarity, Rise will only be a vehicle if it is politically expedient.  Which will be never.  rise will become the smaller of the "groups" - a vehicle for radical feminists and students.  Like the SSP in 2007, some of those involved will hang on with fists aloft - for a while.  The cleverer of them will find other outlets for change.

Is the SSP strong enough to pull through what in effect was the biggest disaster it has suffered since 2007?

Or is its time up?

Delegates and members will have to decide that, working through a series of motions that could kill or cure the party. They will also be effectively giving Colin and others that dragged the party into the mire the reigns to do it again, (or by absolutely choosing Rise, clearing them out - not an option the SSP Leadership will allow to win) and again wrecking the left as they flip one ineffective and dreadful analysis for another.

Lies built on lies.

As Sheridan fell, and continues his fall- we've seen who really stood by him until his SWP/CWI supported split happened. The crumbling tower of lies is still hitting SSP members on the head- and the tower of lies caught up in the aftershocks, built around what happened within the SSP last year is only beginning to tremble.

The SSP has a huge problem to think through. But if it chooses to go it alone- the fight back will be difficult- and it then faces a real decision- in fact in my opinion one that is imperative- time to dump those who have led the party into disaster twice in ten years.

And for that, strong, politically astute people need to take on masters of the Machiavellian- and a party in fear of the Internet- as some of the old guard shut down debate, discussion - the life blood of a socialist party. They are there - kicked aside during the past year.  Let's hope their democratic confidence has grown.

What do I hope? I hope the party rebuilds. I hope the members stray away from the personalities and the microphone grabbers and get back to community work. I hope the SSP ignore the wee sects and build a real left unity home. A democratic machine that builds in communities through support against local austerity and dreadful council decisions. But as I say, the flotsam and jetsam needs to be skimmed and REAL talent needs to come through - talent born in local fights with austerity and anti working class representatives and corporations. Not the odd, "ism" labelling, student tooing and froing of a middle class, "acceptable" national face.  And not the odd lefty guru, climbing through the ranks of their union by cap doffing and eating petit fours with the top brass.

As for Rise, it's bare bones have been exposed. The fact it had committees democratically formed that were ridden roughshod over by a small elite- producing a joke of a manifesto and a "Sheridan for Glasgow" type campaign which disappointed and disillusioned members who had been dragged in by what, in the end were false promises.

Involved in Rise there are passionate people- fighters for their class and real community activists in the making - who hopefully will continue to do real work beyond the shouting at McNuggets, railway workers and coffee drinkers.

At present, there is nothing about the SSP or Rise that merit a vote (great intentions are not costed plans!) As campaigns go, the election campaign was a disaster. Where socialists for councils and Holyrood are concerned, other parties have the lion share.

In the last election I looked to other parties for a more effectual way to get socialists, republicans and pro independence people fighting on my behalf. I'm glad to say, those I voted for were elected.

For me, the way forward as an activist is not through the self proclaimed prophets of the working class, drawing up manifestos in Holland (seriously!) and building paper Trojan horses outside a cafe they all usually buy their coffee in.

The SSP certainly is not the "left unity party" I joined nor the detoxed party I helped to rebuild during the Indyref. Nope- in the next few years I will be joining in with local campaigns, campaigning against fracking, trident, TTIP and the closure of local amenities and services- and I will be doing so alongside SNP, Green SSP, Rise, SWP, CWI, RCP, and non-aligned socialists, anarchists, lefties, liberals etc etc.

I hope the SSP and Rise activists drop the prophets and join the people.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Rise's Agincourt Salute

I've been using this blog to voice my concerns over how members of the left movement have been treated this year. I didn't use it as such until the crap hit the fan last year- and in the coming months it will return to being my space on the net where I experiment with fiction etc.

Do we have to agree? 

You may not agree with my blogs, and if you don't like them, why the fuck are you wasting your time reading them? You may not agree with the reasons I put them out- but it is silly to think we are in an age that any "movement" or organisation can control narrative. Even the US Government can no longer do that in totality. They can only watch and manage.  And a blog is not a newspaper column.  Those who read my blog are not in the tens of thousands.

Having said that- if things are above board, transparently democratic, I am a loyal member, as I was of the left alliance that was the SSP. Democracy has of course not been the case re the left over the past few years- culminating in the silly stuff post indyref.


The SSP is no longer a left unity party, nor would I argue was it democratic for quite a few years- though to be honest, with no real alternatives for the feminist left, it's deformed democracy in which Colin Fox filled EC rooms with people chosen almost at random by him (young, easily manipulated and naive people, usually) was the only place my branch of local activists could really go.

I've been contacted by quite a few people who were new to the left last year (at least to party politics)  and could not see the problems that some of us were highlighting at the time, but who now realise that what was allowed to happen, and indeed promoted by "leaders," was destructive, as we had predicted, and a huge step backwards.  An example of the self aggrandisement and terrible assumption of primacy this week were Cat Boyd talking about "the defeat of socialism" in Scotland.  She has riled a lot of people with that one statement. Socialism is far from defeated when there are actually more socialists in Holyrood now than there has ever been, even Bearsden has a republican socialist Green!). This is just one example-  the dreadful condemnatory language of the Rise social media conversation over the past few months has killed much support within SSP.

Intolerant self righteousness...

The SSP and Rise will die with the continued active participation of some of the "old guard." Some of those supposedly espousing "radical education" are in actual fact, wanting to fill halls and have the enraptured activists listen to their analysis- an approach to "education" they have attempted repeatedly over the years. Radical education is actually about allowing people room to think, talk, argue, debate, make mistakes and also educate others as to their point of view and perspective. The supposed educators smashing around social media condemning socialists and feminists as sexist, misogynist, racist, heteronormative etc are only educating people on how intolerant, self righteous and purist they are. They, and  others really have no clue about the new world of communication. They find it weird; insulting almost, that before they know something, or publish their analysis, 20 others have already done so and been read across the country. Their reaction is to condemn bloggers and those giving different points of view across social media.

"Stop!" They cry. "Our analysis is the most valuable- we'll tell you how to think!"

Obsolete Faces...

But, the many voiced Interweb horse has bolted. Quite rightly, the "faces" of the movement are becoming obsolete. It is the mixture of voices across the net that are now important. The civil discussion, sometimes not that civil, is happening in bedrooms, toilets, in front of the telly, at break times and lunch times and few are talking in the controlled public meetings of the faces and microphone grabbers.

The "problem" with the Internet, is it is a resource open to everyone to share their opinion from politics through to cafe reviews and communicate when ever and with whoever they want to. That won't stop. Plugging fingers into ears and refusing to read some views, yet condemning them, does not stop others from reading them. And that is a good thing.

Nowadays, the views of people on the left are not filtered through the undemocratically (or democratically) placed paid "leaders" of the movement. Nowadays the members and supporters dissect, argue, discuss and come to agreement, conclusions and move forwards well before leaders have sieved events through their filters. And to be honest, the dialogue and argument and discussion now on the net, although at times negative, or just fucking dreadful, teaches ME more than a piece of propaganda spread across pages of a lefty newspaper written by people who have other reasons to write, ie, self promotion; filtering out previous mistakes; memory hole left politics and numbers games with other left sects. The responses and arguments of Team Rise has certainly educated many about it as an organisation over the past few months.

Who is in control?

Where organisations such as Rise or the SSP or the SNP or the Tories are concerned, they have to have control of those sharing opinion on their behalf. Beinn is sharing HIS opinion. Mhairi is sharing hers. Neil is sharing his. They are enriching the movement (whether you agree with them or not).  But, those with twibbons advertising a particular party, or call themselves leaders or "Team Rise," are speaking on behalf of the organisation they are advertising- whether they like it or not.

The identification with a party, as parties are totally different than movements, can be damaging when people argue a point of view or dismiss other's. Arguments without connection to organisations are splashes in oceans. Arguments on behalf of organisations effect that organisations image- whether the person arguing has the moral high ground or not. Tone, language and power matter. Perceived power, or having a voice in the press or media profile effects how your reply or dismissal of a plan is perceived. The damage isn't being done by Beinn, Mhairi, Neil or others criticising- it is being done by those seen to represent the organisations themselves who shout and rant at those in a less privileged position with different views than them.

GA Ponsonby

Take the recent sarcastic and petulant and Agincourt salute illustrated Twitter remarks of those who don't like what blogger GA Ponsonby said about Rise. It just looks bad for the organisation they represent. GA Ponsonby will continue and now have more fuel  to criticise their amateur hour -and they more than Beinn, Mhairi, Jeanette or Neil are supposedly representatives of the left. Loki, Boyd and others are public faces and public representatives of the left and in fact the organisation they promoted (and were promoted by)- they put themselves into that position. They were promoted as leaders by a gang of impersonators and fans for months, and now they are acting like they are Johnny Lydon 1977 (who was a rebellious, working class teenager at the time- not a thirty something degree educated, middle class would be politician). GA Ponsonby is not damaged by their vickies; Rise is. The problem does not lie with Beinn, Jeanette, Rikki, Mhairi, Tommy, Michelle or Neil expressing a view on what they've  witnessed. It lies with what the public and the left are witnessing being pumped out by self proclaimed representatives of the left. And it is not very "uniting." Nor is it edifying for the activists they represent.

No Analysis?

 I am someone who has worked his Arse off, loyally, for the SSP and for "left unity" for years- I'm not unique in that. When this process began, I had questions on why we needed this "thing" at this juncture; on the democratic failings during its coming together and on the attacks on socialists and feminists during its formation -which continued right the way through its election "campaign."

The SSP leadership are now trundling out weird analysis, blaming people who left the SSP on Rise's failure and blaming critics of Rise for its failure. There is no analysis of why people left. No analysis of the criticism. No analysis of Rise's "violence" across social media.

The Sheridan crap was one thing - as some hid their part in the creation of the thing they have now happily allowed to become the devil incarnate to the feminist left.

However, this year was a total disgrace on another level- some in the leadership showing their true nature by arguing that what they did was democratic.

These wise men and women don't like to be called out.


Yes, their contribution to the movement pre -"free" access to the most amazing communication tool in existence was superb.  They built movements and forced left groups into alliances. Their Machiavellian and secretive and word twisting ways now really just make them look ignorant. Anachronisms. Out of time. During their "negotiations," the speed people were getting information about deals and approaches and meetings and agreements (sometimes as the secret meetings took place) really was outside their ken.

And the "new cadre" to continue in their ways is beyond silly.

Staged debate...

For the SSP leadership to tell people who have been involved in politics for years,  that decisions made at an AGM meeting where the National Secretary chose who spoke, how long for and in what order on a motion that said the party would explore talkswas democratic; and for a small meeting to decide the party was then in an alliance was also democratic, is like the kind of fibs six year olds tell me in my class in school. It gives me the same feeling of disbelief- I see a child stealing another child's sweets and with bag in hand, she says," I didn't do it."

Yes you did- you screwed with democracy in full view- but the fools really were those of us who at the time, went along with the ruse- we let them plunge their hands in our sweetie packet and scoff the lot and we said nothing for the sake of peace- or out of disbelief that their dishonesty could be so obvious.


The new observers last year -ie the new members who were persuaded by "reluctant" yes voters, now see how they were also treated as stupid (though some are still, for some odd reason, flailing around social media defending the decimation of the principled left they were fooled into taking part in).

It will be interesting to see how honest the SSP/Rise leadership are forced to become.

There are people who could ensure that happens... A new more modern and savvy leadership- But not those who have been in Labour EC's and involved in the Sheridan disaster etc. And, nor it seems, the ex SWP ISG people who expected to manipulate their way into position as the new cadre.

Honesty - a new diktat...

The new world of the Internet- one that no is longer about directing people to fancy front page websites, but one on which reviews, views, arguments, and 140 character slogans can make or break reputations of corporations, tv personalities, books and bed and breakfasts, cafes and theatre shows, is catching the old guard by surprise. It is a new world where honesty with at the very least, comrades, MUST happen. Or the left will become disparate and rudderless. Blogs and social media comments and discussion are important. But, allowing comment, criticism and disagreement as a movement is imperative. Parties need to ensure the conversation coming from their representatives stay positive and their followers and supporters are well defined as such.

And they need to ensure that they do things democratically and above board. Information passes from person to person in nanoseconds. A closed meeting in a cafe in Edinburgh is no longer secret whispering and an unknown meeting before a meeting.

Rise and the SSP did not treat the electorate as equals. The would be voters were talked at, shouted at and lecturing calls sneered and spat at. And it was Rise /SSP that suffered, not the voters or the movement, thank the big red feminist socialist republican stars.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Those who manipulated young activists should be ashamed.

A lot about the past year has been shocking regarding what has gone on within the confines of the "principled left." (My blogpiece on the post Rise political landscape is HERE).

Two things that opened my eyes to some of those in control of the reins were how some manipulate in order to create mobs around them- with the effect that they are cushioned from the fight and the consequences, and how those with troubles can be used to tar those on the other side of an argument as also troubled in the same way.

Let me explain.

One of the repetitive lines that came from Rise members- usually those who only recently became involved in politics- was "I don't remember five years ago, never mind ten. How is "x" relevant to me? I am the future!"

Now, this line was encouraged over and over by people whose personal political history goes back ten, twenty and even with some, more than thirty years. And all of those who encouraged the young to say that, understood the political histories that led up to the point where the desperate met the "last ditch ambitious" and Rise was created. An organisation behind which hid people who have had political ambitions stretching back to the late seventies, but whose fighting "front" were angry young people, loaded with compliments and back slaps and sage nods and new labels such as "local activist," "feminist activist," "campaigner," and pointed at the "stale" old people who had brought the SSP from the brink (the brink some of those behind Rise had driven it to) and who in actual fact, had rebuilt branches, across Scotland, working heavily in communities and in political organisations, building relevance and political voices at grass roots level once more.

This same tactic was used towards the end of the 2000's- vulnerable, angry young men and women at that time attacked comrades across social media and in SSP forums- all on the behalf of older, much more Machiavellian people, taking the brunt of all of the counter attacks while those egging them on sat in the shadows. The difficulty I had then was I agreed with what those using the SSY were getting at, but I could not justify their methods. I voted in 2010 for a more open SSP (as I had done in 2005, and 2007), but of course, democracy had by that time, been shut down both by those who had told members not to comment about Sheridan because they knew better how to deal with him, and by those who decided the party needed them at the core and few else.

The ongoing (for many years) dispute in Glasgow over lack of democracy regarding who is the regional organiser and the current assertion  by young people that Colin Fox and Bill Bonnar are a steady pair of hands, will keep the SSP small. There are far more talented people in the ranks than these two. Some of whom have cut their teeth in the biggest and best political experience Scotland has ever seen- something that gave them far more political experience than Fox, Bonnar etc got in the first ten years of their political lives. A political experience that Colin, and others, mismanaged the outcome of- an outcome that would have been very different had those who knew the days of the disunited cults controlling the left are over. The ridiculous words from Shafi, Boyd etc about trying to "unite the left" when they know full well the days of uniting small factions have long past- but the disingenuous fact is they used this on some within the SSP who still feel that is a priority.

It isn't. The priority, as Shafi etc know full well, is to unite those fighting locally against cuts to services and those fighting nuclear weapons and other issues again re-highlighted during the independence referendum. Yet these very clever people used their talents to turn socialist against socialist and used feminist and race argument to attack feminists and people whose lives have been about equality- just because they disagreed with the "vote Boyd in Glasgow," "Vote Fox in Edinburgh" fantasy they had foisted upon us via rousing renditions of The Internationale in pubs, after rousing rallies analysed as quite the opposite of what their numbers and outcomes actually were.

Attacking people for their friendships and contact and at times agreement over certain issues, with people they had decided we're "abusers," "creepy," "scabs," etc was a dreadful mistake- but one again encouraged by people who should have known better. The viciousness of those manipulated by these people is still crashing across social media over a week after Rise's demise. Some really didn't seem to want to pick up the pieces after what was sure to become (and did) the disaster of Rise. In fact, far from uniting the left, they still, in the aftermath, seem to want to keep it shattered. Who does this benefit? Those saying "Rise will still go on?" Rise will go the way of the ISG. It will whither due to lack of real democracy. And it will whither further as young people realise in the coming months just how much they were manipulated by forces who have been at this sort of thing for much more than "five years."

But sadly, the SSP, if it does not have the "balls" to replace those who fucked up with its more up to date and cleverer, more principled cadre, will bump along for another few years, recruiting ones and twos at stalls and paying a salary to those who love the fame of being "Scotland's longest serving political party leader," which in a principled socialist party should be a badge of crushed democratic shame.

The factions need to stop manipulating young, and at times vulnerable young people and they need to think carefully about what works.

There was much in the newly revived SSP that worked. It wasn't the bits Colin Fox was in control of (except perhaps at branch level- though he still confuses "education" with manipulation) and there was much in Rise that worked (it wasn't the dreadful social media "conversation").

Those serious about creating a democratic socialist change in Scotland need to leave the manipulators of crowds and dream twisters well out of what comes next.

Friday, 13 May 2016

The SSP -will it survive?

I really, truly respect a huge swathe of folk who were involved in the SSP. I learned a lot from many. I respect that some were dragged along by this thing called Rise last year- and I didn't want to say "told you so," when it all crashed. But this year Ive witnessed the death of an amazing party- a crash managed by incompetence, mismanagement, ego and wishful thinking. The talent in the party was pushed aside for Colin and Cat Boyd and those who could have taken the party to Council victories next year were pushed aside and slandered and demeaned.

I truly feel sorry for many in the party who had hopes of a real socialist voice in their local areas. I am glad that through Ross Greer, my local area voted socialist republican- Ross during the independence campaign said over and over to me that he admired the SSP's local campaigning that politicised many who were outside the usual middle class political sphere. It actually became a little embarrassing hearing him say that over and over from Yes platforms and in the media and to me and others in private meetings.

The SSP squandered its strengths for the incompetent bid at Holyrood brought by the ISG/ex SWP people and Rise.

Colin Fox was fond of quoting the poem "If" to me. I think what he really meant was "let's do the opposite and jump on board the Shafi ship sailing full steam into the ice-floe."

Is there a way back for the SSP? Yes. But not for a very long time. It there a way back for Rise? It has eager and zeal embued young people who have been convinced that they are the future of the left. It will bump along annoying socialists and real community activists much in the way the swp has in the past. But ultimately it will be reborn as something else new and shinier in the coming years- another vehicle for people who are on to their sixth political name in six years.

The trickle of disaffected socialists leaving the party for better managed options is becoming, unfortunately, a flood. Who pays? Who takes the rap? At a small bet, today's EC will decide that those who tried, bloody hard, to convince people to paddle backwards, towards warmer waters will be the blame. Those trying to manage the dreadful use of social media by Glasgow South branch last year and subsequently Rise advocates will take the blame. Those who continuously gave evidence to "the SSP leadership" of hit lists and of bullying will be blamed for something off the top of the male spokesperson and the National Secretaries head.

And what is their next cunning plan? Who knows, but they are ready to take the party forward to even more ingenious ideas.

Three key people who managed to negate almost completely, all of the gains made by the Scottish Socialist Party during its storming two and a half year Scottish independence campaign that had SSP folk speaking in village and town halls across Scotland weekly, SSP people on the streets and in the media daily, a social media profile second only to Yes Scotland during the indyref, and a huge influx of new members,  are about to be given key strategic roles within the party- a move akin to Labour reinstating Tony Blair as Leader, Gordon Brown as Chancellor and Nick Clegg as Party Chair.

Colin Fox, who last year proclaimed that a new alliance with the tiny ISG group in Glasgow; some disaffected SSP members and some ex-Socialist Youth blog writers was the new "Podemos/Syriza," and proclaimed that the group would "take the fight to the SNP," is to be the Co Spokesperson again. Colin is the SSP's least successful leader after its previous perjuring, swinging, Convenor Tommy Sheridan split to form Solidarity- a party now mired in allegations of abuse, drugs and financial irregularities. Colin has brought the party from a successful, decisive, Democratic Party, to being dead in the water and as democratic as a North Korean Dear Leader's dinner party with the Windsors.

Bill Bonnar, the National Spokesperson who has presided over the disintegration of a party that had "picked itself up" and had moved forward and grown under the guidance and steady hand of his predecessor is to be National Spokesperson again. Perhaps someone will explain to him that agreeing to something usually means it will definitely be done and then agreeing that Rise/SLP is a good idea won't be so confusing next time (he claims he was never for the totally disastrous, divisive idea, but voted for it at the conference he chose who spoke about the motion he had helped draw up, when they spoke and for how long. He also interrupted those who opposed the odd EC motion that never stated immersing the party into the "unparty" that is now a party).

Katie Bonnar is to be Co-Spokeswoman. Katie helped her branch draw up a hitlist of those who had doubts about the odd tactic that had the SSP work to build its own opposing socialist party and spend a year away from campaigning to do so. After wasting activists time and energies on fighting "comrades," and heavily promoting the SLP/Rise, it turns out she now opposes Rise, the vehicle for ex-SWP members, she helped create and has a "cunning plan" that will try to rebuild the SSP to levels it was at in 2012-when it reached a low of having 50 members only attend its AGM.

It is also the case that modernisers of the party have all but left- disgusted at their treatment last year and of the path these people undemocratically pushed them down.

The party is expected to call members to either leave or stay in Rise- Hobson's choice- neither move will save the party while these three dominate its decision making bodies. Colin is a renowned fence sitter who waits until the very last moments to see which way the wind is blowing before choosing the winning side.

With Rise leader Jonathan Shafi declaring the small dying group will carry on, the SSP have decided to show it can take a better, quicker road to suicide by electing these three to hurry it along.

Neither group is expected to perform well at council elections next year as the SSP lost its strongest local campaigners and Rise doesn't have any.

Meanwhile, the Greens, who the SSP were outpolling in by-elections last year, have now got four socialists into the Parliament by Ross Greer's taking on the strategy the SSP employed successfully in 1999. Ross is now developing policy and strategy that takes the Greens into working class areas that were abandoned by the academics, graduates and "strategists" of Rise/SSP.  Who said small parties have to stay small? Certainly the Greens don't think so. Colin Fox literally doesn't know what to think, and the Bonnars are going to draw up a cunning plan and hitlist. God love them.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

In the Post-Rise political landscape, where now for the Scottish Left?

2007 Redux? (updated 17.5.16 12.48pm)

Is it 2007 again? The left in disarray and Shagger Sheridan in the headlines...

One of the most sadly tragicomical things I witnessed during the long independence referendum was the then Solidarity bound SWP leading a small chanting crowd around George Square. I don't recall if it was one of their Sheridan promoting bedroom tax usurping demos or their Sheridan promoting "indyref" "Hope over Fear" things- but the sad thing was they led a small crowd of new activists, young and old, very confused, round and round the square- unable to go anywhere else because of Glasgow City Council restrictions- the pretence in dragging the crowd round and round was that "no one will tell us what to do." The MC was a college lecturer and the usual suspects dotted themselves around the crowd to recruit for their wee group as we, another wee socialist grouping sat in a room in a pub overlooking the square lecturing another wee group of grassroots organisers as to our preferred path to a winning outcome.


And in my opinion a lot needs to change in Scottish left politics before these scenes stop and real change can take place in Glasgow and Scotland on the scale and lasting impact the Militant Councillors managed in Liverpool in the eighties.

Let's get something off my chest about Rise/SSP, after a year of divisiveness and negativity. I need to. Election analysis and Rises part in the election will be made by pro-Rise folk and anti. (I've commented on this one -one of the better ones)

Believe it or not, I was never anti- I just didn't see the need for Rise and wanted to know beyond getting a new face promoted in Glasgow, what the point was for the wider SSP to get involved.

But I need to also contribute to solutions.

Do I blame everyone in Rise/SSP for the fiasco that took place in the past year that seemingly pitted socialist against socialist and feminist against feminist?

 No. I don't.

But I blame some individuals. Some may say we should not be personal. I agree- but the attacks by individuals and the same people being involved in Machiavellian manoeuvring as have been for over twenty years and who used the same tactics to keep their position within parties/movements etc, must be called out.

They have done it again.

(Bear with me- I get to positive solutions later!)

Through words that sound reasonable and actions that are far from it, they have managed to cause damage to something that was building into perhaps, an entity they were not in total control of- but it was building into a new SSP -respected across the Yes movement.

I blame the "pale male/female and stale" people on both sides of the SSP/ISG divide (some were not formally part of the ISG, but had close ties) who are still playing out differences of opinion that go back to the eighties and dressing themselves up and surrounding themselves with young new activists who they exploit for legitimacy (and votes).

But it is the same power dynamic that created Sheridan; alienated grassroots activists from the Poll Tax demos through to the independence referendum and continued afterwards. They speak of victories, and party enemies. They never ever self-analyse- and the same mistakes play out over and over, alienating and destroying new talent while they whisper in ears and massage egos in order to keep their own position in something perhaps they are trapped in (and look around you Rise- the same people who were in control ten years ago, are still facilitating, controlling and speaking for you).

The current self-congratulatory tweets and Facebook are of course, designed to keep the chins up of the young people and new activists the leadershipsbrought on this car crash journey. It has been interesting- and tragic - to watch some kick out against criticism on social media- calling people "creepy" and worse, for following them and disagreeing on SOCIAL MEDIA.

But the more positive posts are also designed to quickly send a message out about the ISG/new Rise leadership and the SSP leaderships wish for where the smashed up vehicles should come to rest. New tyres and a coat of emulsion; more fixes for the poor they speak to from podiums, more middle class paid saviours; they'll be off again- careering towards NEXT May, both groups have indicated.

 Some of these people are so desperate for power and a place in left history, their analysis is totally skewed (and let's be honest, some who have done the same things for so long they really don't want to give up). Some who have been so damaged by the continuous left sectarian fights and the Sheridan disaster they took part in that they cannot truly see the reality of the current situation.

But not all.

Has any of the machinations of these people helped the working class over the past year?

Not a lot.

Some of them are more concerned about the dynamic within their small political groupings to give more than a glancing, dancing, fiddlers fuck at the working class communities they are letting down time and time again.

The left hierarchy are at present acting like capitalists- trying to out manoeuvre the others for gains- gathering loyal bag carriers around them- and new people keen to change the world (the latter are always jettisoned as they pose a threat to the power dynamic of the islands of cadre).

But aye, not all.

I do feel some who created firstly the SLP from the ISG and those who wanted to save the pluralist constitution of the ssp in the late 00's, but failed, did so with honourable intentions. I believe, though, their honourable intentions were all but lost with the rush to show "we can do it better," and the panic that set in when they realised the SSP, with its degenerate democracy, had publicly detoxed during the indyref. Their negative messages sent out pre- May 2015 about the SSP showed little want to understand the post independence referendum political landscape. They were still engaged in the fights within the SSP that had completely died during the referendum campaign. Some believed their work in RIC should really have paid the dividends- for their want for a new party away from their 2010 assessment of a toxic SSP. They constantly referred to the importance of RIC without recognising the huge work SSP activists, The Greens and The SNP did for it and actually, on a scale of things, the RIC work and recognition was minuscule to the positive response and recognition the SSP got from its punching above its (and the Greens) work in "Yes" across Scotland.

RIC = Party...

The analysis of RIC as something that could become a party totally missed the reason as to why RIC had managed to bring a small, but significant "lefty" bunch of people together.

It wasn't for socialism, it wasn't even for anything hugely radical. Look at where the once non-aligned members of that "campaign" within a campaign actually bled to after the referendum. Few begged for a new party and few have stayed in RIC. Their "radical" is now within the safety of the "radical" SNP and the Greens.

The parties who benefitted from the non-aligned "radicals" we're the SNP and the Greens (the SSP benefitted also, but a lot less than it should have due to little importance at the time, being given to an online membership pay site by the then controller of the website -the National Spokesman, and other key EC members).

In the coming weeks there will be recriminations and current SSP vs Rise leadership ego stand offs.

Few I have spoken to in the party I was in for 13 years have respect for the people who warped democracy and cast away the constitution (one that others who were key SLP/Rise people had tried to save back in 2010).

But Team Rise has also lost its credibility through the campaign it first launched to win over the SSP and key people within the SSP in doing so alienated modernisers within the party and attacked them for asking questions about the rush to the shiny shiny. Of course, getting rid of the modernisers concreted the old stale leaderships place in the SSP -and Rise- , and massaged egos and soon had them proclaiming Greece 2.

Social Media...

Team Rise quite rightly had identified the new media- social media, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook etc- as a place it could exploit to get its message across. As pointed out by many, their videos were great- but they totally misunderstood the *social* in social media. And they seemed to allow members to scream, demean, patronise and name call across Facebook groups and Twitter. The attacking and trolling again, of people with questions about the grouping, their purpose and their politics managed to alienate socialists across the UK, not just Scotland. I did point this out in private meetings with a Rise "facilitator," who then did try to do something about it- but it only began to change with days to go before the election. Way too late- and then when Greg Moodie pointed the viciousness of Rise people on Social Media, he, in the full glare of the press, and political twitteratti, was also attacked -1000 attacking tweets in a few hours after he published a preview of his pre- election strip, featuring Rise's Cat Boyd. These attacks also extended towards SNP candidates with Yes Bar owner, socialist and activist Suzanne McLaughlan also bearing the brunt of attacks from Rise activists- again in the full glare of the SNP and press AND Twitter electorate -who on the one hand were expected to give the peach ballot paper vote in Glasgow to Rise's Boyd, yet we're seeing their favoured constituency candidates attacked and their questions batted off with sarcasm, expletives and various "ist" words, like racist, sexist and misogynist.

Of course, the Rise Twitter crew and Facebookers had form- some of those involved in these shocking displays had been doing the same things within the SSP the previous year, leading me -and others- to stand down from EC and resign from the party. They had protection and cover to do so from the top of the SSP (and the SLP/Rise team) and they perhaps felt their trolling was justified because no one took them to task- from either the SSP leadership nor from Team Rise. And so it continued as a "successful" campaigning tool...


The problems that beset the left in Scotland go back years- and split after principled split lead to local campaigns being fought over by damaging sectarian groups who have no real claim in knowing how to move forward though can claim vast experience in internecine battles.

There is now no room for the SWP, CWI and splits from Militant Tendency to fight over who leads campaigns. It is and has been for years, hugely distracting and indeed continuously poisonous and polarising. We are losing the fight against austerity- and if the SNP are a party of bosses and business, then the current state of the Labour Party ensures we have no protections at all from an SNP who could end up fighting off Tory rhetoric by sounding more Tory.

Yes... Euskadi.

A number of years ago, I spent a lot of time with Basque nationalists and republicans here in Scotland, and then over in the Gexto region of Euskadi. Although the referendum ignited Scottish nationalism, republicanism and the calls for independence from the UK, we still have a way to go in how the Basques have political conversations across political groupings. There are some of the community aspects of Basque street discussion beginning to happen- and their political party pubs and local "txokos" (hired shop spaces where people cook, eat and drink around a large round table and sing and discuss) are beginning to have small copycat business and community models here (Yes Bar; Women's groups; Rise "circles"). But we are a long way from the comfort that different political beliefs can walk from bar to bar and have meaningful conversation without molestation. In that, I don't mean our Glasgow Yes Bar is unfriendly to unionists, but our Ulster British and Irish Celtic bars could be in East and West Belfast. We need more of the conversation and debating forums the independence campaign allowed us. And I believe the people RIC, Women for Independence and Rise mobilised should form those roles. Town halls, meals, stalls calling for discussion should now be our focus. And party politics should be left to those who only want to shout at elections for their few hundred votes.


How does the left become relevant again? The branches/circles in these organisations need to take control from the dreadful strategists who threw enthusiastic, hard working activists into the jaws of defeat and humiliation and alienated many more (and will continue to do so with their sage, whispered advice). Strategy is not a few newspaper articles, winning an argument via a warping of democracy- strategy is bringing your membership -and new members- with you. It is listening and talking, and it is looking at the real lie of the land- not a virtual reality tour of it as built by your rose tinted, self aggrandising ocular forehead strap on.

Post Election...

My original reaction to last Thursdays result was anger towards the self appointed gurus and pity towards those who were new to politics who were led through exhausting activity to defeat. The fact is, these people who control the mobs will continue to manipulate in order to manipulate the ever decreasing circles and branches. For me, I feel if they can't let go, activists need to. They need to get active in their communities and bypass, for now, internecine willie wagging from the old guard and the new cadre who are now on their turf, playing their ever decreasing circle game.


I feel better towards what can happen by all of those people in the past few days who are demanding decentralised, democratic organisation that is led by branches and has a fully accountable executive. The ssp was going towards that after the Sheridan split but was hijacked by - perhaps well meaning people - but as usual well meaning becomes stale and a block to power and the game players become blocks to progress.

In my opinion, there needs to be a period of decentralised local building, with conferences periodically to discuss national issues and links. The personalities like Shafi, Boyd, Curran and Fox can be retired to RIC or elsewhere. They have proved themselves, at present, not to be the great strategists, or bridge builders they built themselves up to be.

The left will only prevail by making differences to lives- and we can't do that by pursuing election after election, fruitlessly, embarrassingly.

We need to build local, diverse -cross party even- groupings that talk to each other and fight local campaigns and back local activists in local elections.

And never again do I want to witness a bloody awful, screaming, nasty, patronising and demonising campaign on social media as the Rise activists launched on us, firstly in the SSP, and then across the political spectrum in the past year (and beyond as SLP) by undirected, angry young people- who in actual fact seemed, at times, unsure what it was that was making them angry.

Was it men?

Was it lefty men?

Was it modernisers?

Was it the old guard they were in the organisation with?

Was it independence?

The SNP?

The Labour Party?

The Tories?


Did they have solutions for any of the communities they said they were standing up for?

But having said all of that, the two cadre- those in charge of the SSP and the hidden leadership of Rise, need to be taken on- persuaded to leave the scene for now, or dumped. They are what will keep the left wee.

Setting the Agenda...

And one more thing though, as pointed out by a comrade who left the SSP - those who fucked up over the past year can, of course, be part of the agenda- not setting it or facilitating it. I've seen those who supported and "enabled" the thing that became the spitting, venomous, finger pointing vehicle that brought us to 0.5% disaster telling people we now need calm heads! That's what they should have been telling their new, online zealots and those who demonised and demeaned socialists who questioned the process and tactics of it. And 0.5% may have been a few percent more.


Yes, things need to move on- but if those who controlled the processes that led to (or supported)early May's embarrassment and the emptying of the newly buoyant SSP, then the left stays small.

There needs to be honesty- not figure massaging.

Honesty- not fitting history around what you want it to have meant.

Honesty- who fucked up (and why).

And then we need to allow people to focus on their local areas away from interference or brand names. The socialist movement needs to recover from Sheridan (I honestly thought it had until those who used their "power" in the SSP to go in this direction did so) and it needs to recover from, but learn from, Rise.


There have also been suggestions within the SSP that it should join the pro union TUSC- a grouping long discredited in Scottish left circles because of just how many Sheridan supporters and enablers are in it, and its failure to take on basic feminist and democratic principles. TUSC has a long way to go before many will touch it- but it did out poll the other factions, so Rise and SSP rather than setting the agenda, perhaps need to be a little more attentive of where and how TUSC organise.

People Before/Not Profit...

There are huge lessons to be learned from West Belfast and Derry in the elections. People Before Profit and its new MLA's are very much embedded in working class communities and imbued with working class principles and politics. A place the SSP was in 2003- and seems to have, for odd reasons, to have abandoned for a student and graduate led "alliance" who spent more time on Buchanan Street than Possil, Govan, Drumchapel, Easterhouse or Yoker. Working class branches of the SSP seemed to drop away. As did working class gems like Liam McLaughlan, Sandra Webster and Councillor Jim Bolan, sacrificed for a new personality cult- or at least, they fell silent once the direction was decided by the undemocratic moves within the party to clear the Rise path.

The People Before Profit organisation and grassroots campaign has much more relevance to the Scottish working class than the Podemos and Syriza groupings.  But some in the SSP/Rise seemed to be totally seduced by Ouzo last year.  Their Greek plate smashing holiday seemed to go to their heads and they seemed to see a path through the labyrinthine and difficult terrain of actual on the ground political work and thought they could street stall and twitter their way to Holyrood. 

The Rise/SSP leaderships will struggle to admit they were wrong, and little will change on the left.


The new left- whether that is the SSP/Rise/Rise 2, can only be built from the ground up- and this generation of activists need to sacrifice any quick fix towards socialism to start building on the ground for their children and their grand children to take it to the next level.

Quick fixes don't work.

Winning local and large campaigns (like the huge victory of Liverpool in the eighties that still has a huge positive impact on health and housing etc) are the only way forward. And constant non-sectarian education about socialist/grassroots victories for up coming activists and young people is essential. There is no road map- but for human beings, the proof of something's worth is in the actual practise.

Our organisations should be democratic, non-centralised and allowed to evolve organically locally, nationally and historically or else we have them breaking and competing with each other and wrecking all they come in contact with. The fable of the tree and the blade of grass in the storm is apt.

The SSP needs to also talk to people who left last year and ask why they did. And also, without the shitty "at least I worked my Arse off" crap, ask why others didn't work for Rise. If this is purely an internal thing that keeps outside criticism away from its sensitive ears, the SSP- and indeed, the principled left as a party- is dead.


Truth and reconciliation stretching from today, back to 1999 must happen, in some form. We cannot as a left continue in this broken, ego driven fractious way, or as Yanis Varoufakis has said recently, we are making the mistakes of the 1930's yet again and are letting fascists walk in.


Some are saying, "let's be dispassionate in our analysis." No- there needs to be room for truth with passion. We need to have a shouting, wailing and gnashing of teeth truth session- the differences bubbling under the principled left for many many years need to be heard and addressed, learned from and gotten rid of.

There was a process that led the Scottish Socialist Party/ Scottish Left to this point and it needs to now be revealed in its totality- things that led to a huge bleed of members between 2010-12 and the enabling of last years conference in which a National Secretary chose who spoke and when, leading to a huge bleed of new, enthusiastic members.

There are massive historical issues to get over here.

Truth and reconciliation is one.

Democracy another.

Ego the biggest.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Da Rize victory. We killed da mehnz...

My campaign post iz HERE. For activist inspiration go read.

To all da mehnz who oppressed Rize activists across boring oldiez Facebook and Twitter, fuck youse and we shall overcome. Wee Craigy cried on Thursday night. I chugged the Malibu and pineapple can I'd saved to celebrate Our victory in Glasgow. It wazzintto to be. I telt wee Craigy I'd do an analysez for the Interweb.

So, why did Rize not win? Well, me and Angry Angela sat and shared our Malibu cans wif each other and tried to work this out.

Our campaign online waz second to no fuckers. We shouted in all the capitalist tax dodgerz cafes. We shouted on da mean streets (Buchanan, Argyle, Milngavie). We made paper horses and stood at the front of crowdz wif our working class bannerz. We just took over social media man! Thoze SNP nationalist capitalist tax dodgerz didn't know what hit dem ya fucks! (If you are offended by da mother tongue of da streetz, you iz part of da problem, oldie!).

Angry Angie wrote fucking brilliant shit for the capitalist press, slamming fucking bastard mehnz and of course tax dodger mehnz. We took down the old bastards wat rooled the socialist movement for centuriez. We is da roolers now! So fuck you you pale male and stale fucks!


I took a break from writing this after we fell asleep on da bus on the way home from the count. Itz Friday night now and mum has given in to my request of having working class street food instead of our usual delivery from Ashoka Bearsden. I'm having good honest Greggz rolls wif Coronation Chicken. I've taken myself into the new garden summerhouse for peace. And it has better wifi than da main house onywayz. Back to da analysez.

I think we lost because traitorz couldn't handle the truth of their privilege. We told them of their middle class shit was oppressing us young peoplez and women across the world. Wee Craigy weeps fir oppressed women and young peoplez.

Angry Angie has just snap chatted a pic of her makeup flowing down her face wif the caption, "Crying for da poor sisters across da world."

We also lost because peoplez who promised our Team Rize hunners of thousands of poundz didn't give it. That's because they are capitalist greedy fat fucks (Lesto calls everybody that who Getz in his face. Online, like). We needs more money- spesh to give us Mocha'z and rolls in da Yes Barr after a long morning of shouting at shopperz.

We needz to get better at grabbing fundz. I suggested bag packing at Waitrose.

So what next for da crew? Well, Craigy says we gonna take the fascist Councils. We gonna storm dem big time and start a revolution in Scotland that will stretch from Angry Angie'z Twitta through to Largs and As far as Plockton (we've a caravan there, so's I'm gonna wear a badge the whole summer! Just think how many peoplez THAT will reach!).

Rize woke da working class in all if us. I am third generation working class- some of da photos I've seen of seventies Bearsden Cross show the deprivation my fore fathers lived through. Fucking Queens Jubillee celebrations and Lady fuckin Diana weddings and stuff).

We iz Rizing. We won't be ignored.

This was a victory for everyone.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Keep your nasty, trolling version of socialism. I'm not interested.

The warring, one upmanship/ womanship in Rise/SSP really do not represent the left I joined and worked to help build back in 2002/3. My idea of socialism is not their jolly japes, shouty pointy fingering and trolling ways. I know some here are pissed off with some of the snp's decisions of late-me too- but can you imagine any of these damning and demeaning  people near to power?

Me neither.
It's one thing going at the BNP, UKIP and the Tories- but to constantly be goading, spitting, hissing and trolling people from whom the left need to persuade regional votes from shows me the difficulty these folk have in having more than two consecutive logical thoughts...

The sadness I have in what has happened on the left in the past few months is the same, profound, depressing sadness I had in the ssp from 2005 through to the court cases and split. The left seem to want to stay small and unloved. A rebellious wee purist self righteous slogan machine.

Count me out of this.

It's all yours.

My activism will be well away from this dangerous, self harming, bullying and politically immature grouping. I really despair at good activists wasting oxygen on it.

My vote next week, unfortunately will not be going to the very brilliant comrade, Colin Turbett. I can't give a vote to a group that thinks it is being positive for the oppressed working class by spending it's time and energy creating spats for publicity, fighting by "ism," (a tactic now being used by Tories against Corbynite Labour), and damning comrades rather than doing real community work that isn't shouting or leafletting and much much more positively life changing for those around them.

I know this is an election and this is a way for this "thing" to get itself known- but I have not seen a group make itself more reviled (and laughed at) so quickly, when it should be making friends and moving beyond the wee "your not the boss of me" screams way.

People who know better are bumping along with this, afraid to offer guidance and speak up because of the barrage of name calling, bile and spite thrown at them if they so much as point out a fraction of the negativity pouring across social media from Rise.

And it is so sad.


It's really odd that new memories are often made nowadays by the bringing together of people from the past to talk over old memories.

It has been wonderful over the past 24 hours, meeting family again- some of whom I haven't met in over 30 years.

Years that since the boating pool and the sand castles by the Irish Sea have flown by in a flurry and blur of faces, decisions and moves.

Everyone has a perspective on past events and some remember aspects others had forgotten. I relish and love filling in the gaps in my memory.

Time is a very strange thing. In thoughts, you can touch the past. It exists. Those innocent and almost carefree days in the past that became suddenly hormonal, reaching out into the world, grasping, clinging, sprinting, limping and coasting silently and brevity borne in the blink of an eye to the present.

Flickering images, time stained, burnt out by the bright light of decades...

Stretching out fingers to that past self and asking -how should the next thirty years be spent? The last thirty were full of haste, mistakes, hope, love, music, art, drama, screams, security, lost and found, friendships and lost connections... How do I make the next as satisfying as the most important, happy and golden times?

How do I relish every moment and make sure it has value to all around me?

How do I acknowledge mistakes and allow others freedom to make mistakes, and keep hold of what is light and beauty in everything I am part of?

Blackpool boating pool, 2p one armed bandits, Orford Park, yearning, yearning, yearning, Tullylish, pubs across Europe, North Africa and Cuba, animal flesh boiled, fried, rolled and minced, sugar, learning, learning, learning, smoke and jailed to make someone else's millions... Love lost, gained and held with all of ones might...

That's the beautiful, flash of an eye past.

The future is what I've learned. And that should be friendship, health, family, shrugged shoulders and learning, learning, etching, listening and snow flake light footprints.