Until very recently the existence of the Scottish Socialist Party had been a beacon of hope for not only the Scottish working classes, but also for left wing socialist militants throughout the rest of the UK. It had led the way in mapping a realistic path out of the sectarian ghetto that has passed for Party Political left wing politics since Militant were driven from the LP by the servants of Capital; and the CPGB imploded. When after much hard work the Scottish comrades founded the Scottish Socialist Party, and took its program to the Scottish electorate, they proved what many had been claiming for decades, that working class people will respond at the Ballot box to progressive politics if they believe the Party who are offering it up are genuine in their commitment to the class and a real player in the political process, and not just a bunch of mockney revolutionaries or single issue propagandists.
Thus the SSP were able to build a support base that eventually materialized into a dynamic political force which managed to attain six SSP members of the Scottish Parliament.[MSP] The presence of these MSP’s allowed the SSP to use the Parliamentary Assembly as a platform to spread socialist politics throughout Scotland; and in the process help many of the victims of Neo-liberal economics via MSP’s surgeries etc, which in itself helped to spread the word of socialism. For the first time in decades the presence of dynamic SSP socialists like Tommy Sheridan and others forced the media to take note of socialist politics.
Then disaster struck and the SSP imploded; with the full results of the of May 3rd 2007 Scottish Parliamentary elections now in, the fall out from the events which took place back in 2006 and before have finally struck home with shocking reality, of the six SSP MSP’s that were elected in 2003, not a single one remains, all have been sent packing by those workers who only 4 years ago were prepared to give socialism a chance.
I am not going to go over old ground and re-analyze the reasons that led up to the split within the SSP, out of which two separate socialist organizations emerged. For as far as working class people are concerned it will serve no purpose and in any case if there is a piece of land that has been continuously ploughed over yet to this day remains fallow it is this. It is enough to write that the SSP and Scottish Solidarity came into being, both targeting the same section of the electorate and without a political difference worth any salt between them. Understandably the Scottish working class wanted neither of them, not least because since the implosion the memberships of both Parties have spent much of their time throwing personal insults and brickbats at one and another, often using the harshest of language, which is almost always based on personality clashes not political differences which might resonate with the Scottish working class.
If the radical left in Scotland is to regain the ground it has lost, it must attempt to regain the confidence of the class and this will not be easy, but then coming together as the SSP was never a cake walk. First comrades whether members of Scottish Solidarity or SSP should cease attacking their former comrades, after all they do not have any political differences worth arguing over and personality clashes are unworthy, especially for the left who often claim the higher ground; and the working class know it and react accordingly. The leaders of both organizations should show some leadership and remind their members of the negative impact all the sniping has had on the electorate.
It is very likely that to much putrid sewage water has flowed under the bridge for this generation of left wing leaders to come together in a single organization once again. But that does not mean that Scottish socialists should continue to attack their former comrades as if they, and not the representatives of Capital are the main enemies. It is time to reflect on what has been lost and to recognize that the SSP originally came into being by the joint efforts of many comrades and left organizations and the only viable option open to the left is to return to the comradeship and sensible compromises that enabled this to occur.
The alternative to this is there for all to see; a return to the political ghetto, or being eaten up whole by George Galloway’s Respect Party, which is already eyeing up Solidarity much as Private Equity asset strippers did to Boots the chemists. Whilst if nothing changes a majority of the SSP membership may well decide to bolt for Alex Salmond’s SNP.