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.