Around 50 people attended a meeting held in Glasgow on 10 December to launch the Socialist Party’s latest Scottish electoral initiative: the Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition (SACC).
Of the first 15 speakers from the floor seven were members of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), five were from the Socialist Party Scotland (SPS), and one each were members of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), the International Socialist Group (ISG) and the rump “Solidarity — Scotland’s Socialist Movement”.
Clearly, the meeting was anything but a broad-based initiative to stand anti-cuts candidates in next May’s Scottish local government elections.
Unfortunately there was absolutely no accounting for previous electoral initiatives following the split in the SSP in 2006. Since then the SPS has variously stood candidates as “Solidarity”, “No to EU, Yes to Democracy”, and even “George Galloway — Respect Party”.
In last May’s Holyrood elections the SPS argued that the way to build anti-cuts campaigning was to ally with, and vote for, George Galloway. It has yet to publish a single word criticising such idiocy.
Nor was there any discussion of the current poor state of anti-cuts campaigning in Scotland, even though the self-proclaimed purpose of the meeting was to provide “a political voice” for such campaigning.
Developments in the Labour Party were neatly sidestepped at the meeting. The fact that Labour MSPs refused to cross picket lines at Holyrood on 30 November and supported local demonstrations and picket lines received a single passing mention.
But there was no discussion about what this implied about the current state of trade union-Labour Party relations, or about how such relations might evolve (and be shaped by the active intervention of socialists).
Even the relationship of standing anti-cuts candidates to broader anti-cuts campaigning was left aside. Were such candidates standing in the hope of winning seats? Were they standing simply to put pressure on other candidates, as one speaker argued? Or were they standing just to make general propaganda?
And some of the claims made at the meeting were more than dubious, above all the claim from one SPS speaker that anti-cuts candidates would be backed by 30,000 PCS members in Scotland.
Although there was a general consensus at the meeting that setting up SACC as an umbrella body for anti-cuts candidates was a good idea, there were clearly underlying political differences.
For the ISG, standing anti-cuts candidates is really a cop-out — candidates should stand on a more rounded socialist programme. The SSP, on the other hand, has already begun selecting its own candidates and is looking for a non-aggression pact with the SACC.
And the gist of some of the SWP’s contributions was: “This is a great initiative. But it’s really a total waste of time. Don’t give me elections! I want action!”
Even allowing for the existence of multi-member wards and proportional representation in Scottish local government elections, unless there is a sudden upsurge of anti-cuts campaigning in early 2012 the SACC has all the hallmarks of yet another SPS electoral initiative which is going nowhere.