Forwarded from Ernie Tate

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed May 30 08:32:43 MDT 2001

Socialist Review (London)

Monthly publication of Socialist Workers Party (Britain)

May 2001

Another act of union

A united left will strengthen working class politics in Scotland, argues
Chris Bambery, while Neil Davidson and Donny Gluckstein examine what is
different about Scottish exceptionalism May Day saw the launch of a united
socialist organisation, with the announcement that the Socialist Workers
Party in Scotland had joined with the Scottish Socialist Party. The news
got major coverage in the Scottish media. The following Saturday and Sunday
saw impressive turnouts by SSP members on the Edinburgh and Glasgow May Day


The SSP already has one member of the Scottish parliament, Tommy Sheridan,
who was elected across Glasgow by proportional representation. An opinion
poll at the beginning of the Westminster general election showed that the
number of Scottish voters likely to vote for the party has increased to 15
percent from 9 percent in 1999, when the Scottish parliamentary elections
took place, and while 4 percent said that they were 'very likely' to vote
SSP, another 11 percent said they were 'quite likely' to vote socialist.
The potential for the SSP's growth was shown by the fact that seven in ten
of those polled (71 percent) agreed that the council tax was unfair and
should be replaced by a tax related to ability to pay, while 64 percent
agreed that railways, gas and electricity services should be
renationalised. The SSP is the only party to campaign for exactly that.
Another poll showed a majority of Scots backed direct action against
Britain's nuclear missiles based at Faslane on the Clyde. The SSP currently
has some 2,000 members in a country with a population of 5 million. The
possibility is for immediate growth which could substantially increase that
figure. In two years time the indications are that the SSP could claim a
number of seats across the country in the Scottish parliamentary elections.
The united party has other aims as well. It is already to the fore in
supporting the campaign against Trident missiles, building for the protests
in Genoa round the G8 summit in July, defending asylum seekers who have
come under attack, and building local campaigns such as the occupation of
the threatened Govanhill swimming baths in Glasgow and in support of
workers taking industrial action. The forging of a united party is a
historic development. The possibility of such a regroupment has been
created by the developing anti-capitalist movement since Seattle and the
structural crisis of reformism, which is leading to the haemorrhaging of
New Labour's support leftwards. As part of this shift the main grouping (or
platform) inside the SSP, the International Socialist Movement round Tommy
Sheridan (which originated in Scottish Militant Labour), has formally
broken with the Committee for a Workers' International (the international
grouping led by the Socialist Party-formerly Militant-in England and Wales)
and its sectarian stance. The decision to join followed an invitation to do
so sent to the SWP last June. Since then discussions between the two
parties have continued. The final decision followed lengthy discussions and
debate within the SWP.

District organisers

The SWP will be joining the SSP as an organised Socialist Worker Platform,
and will retain a full time platform organiser in Scotland. Two other
comrades currently working as district organisers will work as SSP full
timers in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. Dave Sherry, a longtime SWP member in
Glasgow, is joining the editorial board of Scottish Socialist Voice with
immediate effect. SW Platform members will sell Scottish Socialist Voice as
the public face of the united party. This was agreed on the basis that the
paper goes weekly, with strong editorial input by SW Platform members. We
can sell Socialist Worker and our other publications within the party and
personally at work, to people we know, and so on. In Glasgow and Edinburgh
this is essentially what has been happening for the month leading up to the
unity decision. By getting paper distribution up and running very well
through a centralised distribution point, sales of Socialist Worker have
increased! As a platform we have a right to hold platform meetings which
can be publicised in the SSP and Scottish Socialist Voice. The final SWP
members' meeting voted for the political basis of the Socialist Worker
Platform to be the 'Where We Stand' column on Page 12 of Socialist Worker,
with the addition of a paragraph, which was also agreed, on the national
question in Scotland which reads, 'We support the right of self
determination for the Scottish people and the extension of the powers of
the Scottish parliament. Scotland remains, however, part of the UK
imperialist state. Together with English and Welsh workers we face a common
enemy. Scottish workers remain part of British-wide trade unions. We stand
for a united fightback by Scottish, English and Welsh workers.' The SSP
claims a membership of 2,000. Throughout the discussions SWP
representatives have stressed that in joining our aim is not to carry out
an 'entry' operation, but to build the SSP into a real pole of attraction
for those disillusioned with the neoliberal consensus, which embraces both
New Labour and the Scottish National Party, and for those in the developing
anti-capitalist movement. It was decided that SW Platform members would set
themselves a target of recruiting 1,000 people to the SSP during the
Westminster election campaign as well as increasing sales of Scottish
Socialist Voice. No doubt there will be debates and even differences inside
the united party but, as Tommy Sheridan told Socialist Worker, on 80
percent of things there is agreement. In recent months SWP members played a
key role in building the very successful 500-strong Globalise Resistance
counter-conference in Glasgow, and in mobilising for the blockade of the
Faslane nuclear base outside Glasgow, where we played a prominent role and
had some 60 comrades arrested. Recently we have had five comrades elected
to the executive of the main teaching union, the EIS, and held public
meetings on the Zapatistas of 140 people in Glasgow and 120 in Edinburgh.
We believe firmly that by joining the SSP on the above basis that we can
win wider numbers to the fight for socialism, and to the politics of the
tradition of international socialism. Already many people who had not
previously belonged either to the SSP or the SWP have decided to join the
united party, having been impressed by the ability of the left to come
together. As one longtime SWP member in Edinburgh explained at the meeting
of SWP members in Scotland, 'I was on two SSP stalls on Saturday. I saw my
task as to increase the sales of Scottish Socialist Voice, which we did.
The stall in Gorgie was cracking, with queues at the table to sign the
petition about the closure of Motorola. I got the names of 15 people
interested in the SSP. I can help recruit those people, and I can recruit
people to the SSP up and down my street.'

Louis Proyect
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