Also, Happy White Negro Pride Day (St. Paddy's) (The Anglo-Americans used to call the Irish "White Negros" and African-Americans "Smoked Irish).
> source Green Left Weekly (Sydney) #348, February 10 1999
> Scotland's new socialist party
> ALAN McCOMBES is editor of Scottish
> Socialist Voice and an executive committee
> member of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). He
> spoke to Green Left Weekly about Scottish
> politics and the formation of the SSP.
> "Scotland is an overwhelmingly working-class
> country, with a strong socialist tradition that runs
> deep. Yet more blatantly than ever before, the
> mainstream political parties promote a pro-big
> business economic and political agenda", McCombes
> explained. However, the approach of the first election
> for Scotland's own parliament in May, and the strong
> sentiment for Scottish national independence has
> resulted in a heightened interest in politics, he added.
> "The SSP was formed to ensure that the basic ideas
> of socialism are dragged back onto the Scottish
> political agenda. As a newly born party, the ideas,
> perspectives and program of the SSP remain at a
> formative stage. It is a broad, open and democratic
> party which includes socialists from various
> The new party has been able to agree upon a clear
> anti-capitalist, pro-socialist program and a detailed
> set of policies on key issues, such as the national
> question, the environment, housing, land, democracy
> and inequality, McCombes said.
> The SSP grew out of the Scottish Socialist Alliance
> (SSA), formed in early 1996 as a loose coalition of
> left groups and campaigning organisations. A large
> proportion of the SSA activists were also members
> of Scottish Militant Labour. Others came from the
> Labour left, the left of the Scottish Nationalist Party
> (SNP) and the traditional Communist parties.
> "It became clear that it was possible to not just work
> together on specific campaigns and elections, but to
> develop a more cohesive party based on a high
> degree of political agreement on the immediate tasks
> facing socialists in Scotland", McCombes explained.
> "For six months a wide-ranging debate raged within
> the SSA and its components. Ultimately, the
> overwhelming majority agreed that the launch of a
> new party would be the best way forward.
> "One bone of contention concerned the character of
> the party. `How can revolutionary Marxists co-exist
> in a party with socialists who are not revolutionaries?'
> was the position of the Socialist Workers Party
> [British parent party of the Australian International
> Socialist Organisation] and the leadership of the
> Socialist Party [formerly Militant Labour] in England
> and Wales, both of which opposed the project.
> "However, the feeling in Scotland was that there are
> tens of thousands of people in Scotland -- hundreds
> of thousands even -- who are sympathetic to
> socialism but wouldn't at this stage regard themselves
> as revolutionary socialists. In a period when the class
> struggle has been at a low ebb, and when the ideas of
> socialism have been on the retreat, we believed it was
> more important to get as many people on board as
> possible who want to change the system.
> "In the future we can debate the exact tactics,
> strategy and methods needed to bring about
> socialism. Over time, different ideas will be tested in
> debate and in action as concrete choices have to be
> made. In the meantime, there are vast areas of
> agreement on the need to challenge capitalism and the
> need for a working-class socialist party which is fully
> independent of big business and its political
> Explosive growth
> McCombes reported that there has been an
> explosive growth in SSP membership and influence
> since its launch last October. "We have been
> inundated with applications to join and new branches
> are being formed almost every week. New members
> include existing Labour and SNP activists.
> "Several Labour councillors in Glasgow have joined,
> along with a former Labour MP, a sitting Labour
> Euro MP, a prominent SNP parliamentary candidate,
> and a large number of key regional and Scottish trade
> union leaders. However, the overwhelming majority
> of new members are people who were not previously
> politically active but have been inspired by the launch
> of new united socialist party."
> McCombes noted that "surprisingly, we have
> received spectacular and generally favourable
> coverage so far in the media. Ultimately, the press
> and TV companies are owned and controlled by big
> business interests, and in the future they will attempt
> to crush the forces of socialism, especially in times of
> serious political upheaval.
> "However, we recognise that many journalists are
> workers and trade unionists and not necessarily
> hostile to socialism. We generally adopt a friendly
> approach to the media -- without making any political
> concessions -- to try and get our message to a much
> wider audience than we could hope to do at this
> stage through our own publications."
> The SSP's public profile has been assisted by the
> signing up to the party of a number of celebrities,
> such as actors and directors, writers and footballers.
> The press were also forced to take the new party
> seriously when an opinion poll conducted by
> Scotland's top polling company revealed that 5% of
> people would be "very likely" to vote for the SSP
> and an additional 16% were "quite likely" to vote for
> it in the coming Scottish parliament elections.
> McCombes told Green Left Weekly that the SSP
> may make an electoral breakthrough in May and the
> party may have one or more MPs elected to the
> Scottish parliament.
> The party is also involved in a variety of local and
> national campaigns, many led by members of the
> SSP. "The fact that we have a group of councillors
> on Glasgow City Council gives us enormous
> leverage. It has enabled us to play a much more
> influential role in communities and workplaces.
> "Our electoral successes have assisted our
> campaigning activity and vice versa. If we were not
> involved in housing campaigns, environmental
> campaigns, justice campaigns and anti-cuts
> campaigns we would not have the profile and the
> respect necessary to achieve electoral success."
> Although the SSP supports an "independent, socialist
> Scotland", McCombes explained that the party
> recognises that "genuine socialism and equality cannot
> be achieved within the borders of one country --
> particularly a small country like Scotland.
> "We do believe, however, that an independent,
> socialist Scotland which is seen to be standing up to
> the multinationals and global capitalism could act as
> an international inspiration to young people, workers
> and oppressed people generally -- in the same way
> that Cuba, Vietnam and Nicaragua have been
> symbols of resistance and defiance.
> "The achievement of an independent socialist
> Scotland could speed up the movement towards
> socialism in other parts of Europe, and further afield.
> Conversely, the victory of genuine socialism in any
> other part of the world would have a massive impact
> on Scotland. Especially now, in the age of the
> internet, satellite TV, and the global economy, no
> country can exist in a state of quarantine. For these
> reasons the SSP seeks close links with socialists
> across the globe."
> The first conference of the SSP is scheduled for
> February 21. McCombes expects the party to finalise
> its program on the economy and the environment, as
> well as a manifesto for the local, Scottish and
> European elections due this year.
> "We also want to get agreement on a radical policy
> on drug use and abuse -- a massive issue among
> young people in Scotland. Many members of the
> SSP would like the party to be the first to have the
> courage to put forward a policy on drugs which
> would challenge the orthodoxy accepted by all the
> mainstream parties and the media", McCombes
> The conference is likely to finalise plans for May's
> Scottish parliament elections and June's European
> elections. "We want to give every single voter the
> opportunity to vote for the SSP", he said.
> "We are looking to build the SSP into a powerful
> combat party which is fighting the system on all fronts:
> in the work place, in the communities, and at the
> ballot box", McCombes concluded.
> Visit the SSP web site at
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