Defend the SSP!

Submitted by Anon on 13 August, 2006 - 5:31

In an interview with the Daily Record on 7 August, leading Scottish Socialist Party member, Tommy Sheridan, fresh from the surprise victory in his defamation case against the News of the World, attacked his opponents in the SSP as “political scabs” and vowed retribution against them. Before the interview, a split in the SSP looked possible; now it looks very likely indeed.
The AWL’s political criticisms of the SSP — its nationalism, its support for Castro’s Cuba, its failure to do serious work in the unions and its general softness and lack of independent working-class focus — are well known. The recent crisis has exposed the extent to which the party’s functioning was based not on a culture of democratic education, debate and discipline, but on charismatic leaders not ultimately under the control of anyone but themselves.
Nonetheless, despite the limitations which have now proved so disastrous, the SSP has represented — and we hope will continue to represent — a serious and worthwhile attempt to go beyond the fragmentation and sectarianism which has dogged the activist left south of the border. On the basis of real campaigns around issues like the Poll Tax, nuclear weapons and free school meals, it has built up a strong enough working-class base to pull together virtually the entire far left in Scotland and many hundreds of previously unaffiliated socialists.
Six members of the Scottish Parliament; more than six percent of the vote in the 2003 elections; some 3-4000 members, the equivalent of at least 30,000 across the UK; affiliation from the RMT; a strongly growing youth section — and recognition, goodwill and support from at the very least tens of thousands of working class people across Scotland. The word is overused on the left, but for all this to be destroyed for no real political purpose would be a tragedy.
The SSP, that is, what was positive about the SSP, must be defended so that it can be rebuilt on a firmer basis.

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