Fwd: Scotland's new socialist party/GLW

billy elgin billy_e11 at hotmail.com
Wed Mar 17 12:43:09 PST 1999

For all you Scotland lovers out there who arent into the Sons of the South (or whatever they call themselves)...

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
> traditions."
> 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
> representatives."
> 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."
> Internationalism
> 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
> added.
> 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
> <http:\\www.scotsocialistparty.org>.

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