Forwarded from Michael Keany (Scottish nationalism)

Alan Bradley alanb at
Tue Jan 23 17:12:35 MST 2001

To Anthony:  Michael Keany has explained this issue better than I could

> From: Michael Keany
> Meanwhile the Labour Party, despite winning overwhelming majorities in
> Scotland, found itself powerless to withstand Thatcherite policies (in
> the days when it was against them). There grew increasing recognition of
> a "democratic deficit" as deeply unpopular policies were imposed. In this
> respect Scottish nationalism not only incorporated but was led by
> progressive elements.

This is the key, I think.  The British state as it was was incapable of
adequately meeting the needs/desires of the working class in Scotland, so
they started looking towards changing the state!  Not a bad idea, although
approached in a manner different from the one we would have suggested.

> The Convention, after some fairly tortuous negotiation, established the
> framework on which the present Scottish Parliament is built. In so doing
> it cemented the otherwise fractious coalition of interests in favour of
> some measure of devolution.

And here is the other side of the matter:  the issue has, to a certain
degree at least, been defused and incorporated.

But crises can occur, and the problem of the inability of British
"democratic" mechanisms to act as a safeguard against Blairite/Thatcherite
austerity and other capitalist shit will continue.

> As for the Scottish Socialist Party, it is largely (though not
> exclusively) an offshoot of Militant.

That is, its origins lie in the kind of nutty grouplet that we all know and
love.  But it isn't such a nutty grouplet itself, IMHO.  This is

Where is it going?  Well, that's the question, isn't it.  Some comrades
have suggested that it is likely to lurch off to the right.  This may be
the case, though some of the arguments for why this is likely to occur
strike me as sectarian nonsense.  Of course, when discussing left political
organisations, prophets of doom are usually right...

If I had to make a screaming guess, I would suspect that eventually the SSP
is going to hit a bit of a wall - a point past where it will be difficult
for it to develop.  That is where rightward trends are likely to occur,
though they might be resisted.  The situation probably isn't one where the
party can keep growing and developing on an ongoing basis, so it is likely
to stagnate for a while.  But this is a guess, without evidence.

So, is the SSP a model for the left of the future?  Obviously not - all the
"parties of the future" will have their own histories and paths of
development.  It does, however, show that under some conditions it is
possible for a relatively sane example of the standard model grouplet to
create something more interesting than itself, and that is good to know,
especially if, like me, you are a member of such a grouplet!

The most generally important aspect to me is that it is not the product of
an "independent" non-party milieu, nor a spontaneous development, nor the
result of some brilliant new idea.  Party building is still a conscious and
active process.

Alan Bradley
alanb at

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