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Saturday, 4 May 2019

Caught in a loop?

I still like the idea of a "Scottish Socialist Party," but the Scottish party with that name and that ambition fizzled out as its heart left it circa 2009/10, after a long period of cohesion and loyalty during the Tommy Sheridan affair, when the real cross section of the left drifted from it, as all ambition to be the most democratic left electoral organisation was abandoned in order for the rump leadership to "survive." 

The pre-2009 SSP was cohesive, loyal, and let down. 

It reached a point in 2014 after a superb campaign inside and outside of the Radical Independence Campaign, when the "emergency abandonment of constitution" COULD have been reversed... A time when the organisation was again strong enough in confidence and numbers to hold proper internal elections and the caretaker leadership to step aside. Instead, that leadership made up mostly of decent veteran Militant Tendency members who had been part of the original group who had helped build the Scottish Socialist Alliance, oddly decided to railroad loyal activists into Rise, a sectarian vehicle created by a small group of people who couldn't bring themselves to join the revitalised SSP because of their history of and positions during the Sheridan show, and a small group of SSP people who had not been active in the party during the Independence campaign for various reasons, though mostly because of their disillusionment in the existing, tenacious, undemocratic leadership.

And that core, “unofficial” SSP leadership moved to crush, isolate and expel any dissent, discussion and debate the original party thrived on, of the moves towards what became Rise.

By 2015/16 the party had crashed yet again, losing all of the ground it had gained in the lead up to 2014.

However, as I say, the original ideal of a democratic, unified left party is still desirable, though how that is built is the question.

The SNP may well fall to the right after independence is won, and a vibrant, democratic left alternative may well be where many within the SNP will want to go. Using SWP style methods to build a new RIC, which can not really go anywhere after Independence, is really short term. The "many people, asked us to do this and x, yand z are coming, are you?" method is empty, short term and usually built around a persona or a couple of people. This inevitably leads to a short term rise in enthusiastic members, and then crash when they find in actual fact, they have little power, say, etc and things stay the same.

Ric, Rise and the SSP have lost many activists who, if they had have been given real power, within democratic structures, could have built an amazing alternative to Scottish Labour.
Vibrant branches, who were democratic and part of a democratic whole, were key features of the SSP

The building of the greens in England are something to watch. Their leadership changes often, yet they have recognisable spokespeople. Their internal democracy is second to none. And they have flagship, imaginative policies that will change all lives. And members, branches and networks have real power.

The SSP flagship policies are good. Admirable, but they really do not have a flagship headline policy that goes to the heart of their original 200k+ electorate.

I really do hope to be part of a vibrant party dedicated to real change in working class lives-a party that will make policies that aim for real equity throughout Scotland - tangible things that are not just slogan based--sometime in the future. A party confident enough to welcome members questioning, testing and dissenting from internal contradictions and undemocratic constitutional hiccups.

And a party that develops policy in the crucible of branches, regional meetings and internal networks and platforms.

Pre-2009, the SSP had a vision and a democratic structure that ensured all members felt valued. 


The SSP, if it is to grow and succeed in making real changes, need to get back to the recognition that the movement is successful when individuals are allowed to express, argue and debate and recognise their own potential agency within the community of struggle.

The SSP leadership should know through its own experience, that heroic individuals never drive positive, long term events... It is the movement with its lumps, bumps, irreverence, mistakes, networks and internal elasticity that bring success.

Buying in to the heroic socialist, whether that be through the disregard for the early twentieth century movement and the raising individuals above the crowd, through the Sheridan affair, to the Rise nonsense, the insidiously capitalist approach of "certain individuals know best," really needs to be ditched for a real, positive, democratic, COLLECTIVE approach.