Nigel Irritable nigel_irritable at
Thu Feb 28 08:00:19 MST 2002

Domhnall wrote:
> I am glad we have found something on which we don't
> (totally) disagree, Brian.

Well it makes a change from the name calling anyway.

> You seem to know a great deal about the SSP, so a
> few questions follow at the end:

I wouldn't want to pass myself off as some kind of
expert. I was a member for a few months when I was in
Glasgow last year (in fact I probably still
technically am) and I still follow what's going on to
the best of my ability. I'm sure that there are
probably people on this list better qualified to talk
about them.

> Every party goes through growth spurts and takes a
> few knocks - if it takes a few more seats to add to
> Sheridan's, then they will become a greater voice
> in the parliament. Surely this will encourage
> further growth? Sheridan's single seat was the most
> important one, he was the flag-bearer and increased
> the overall profile of the party. His commitment
> acted as a focus to the party's growth - the more
> MSPs the greater that profile.

We can hope so. I'd be wary about putting forward any
kind of mechanical connection between elected
positions and growth, but even one or two extra MSP's
would be something of a breakthrough. Getting the
first person elected is important, but it can have th
consequence of the organisation being seen as the
"Tommy Sheridan Party". Extra elected representatives
would change that. That particular problem is one
faced by the SP in Southern Ireland too, although not
really by SF given the high profile of various

> They will be able to raise more issues on the floor
> and highlight the conservative nature of
> the Scottish Labour Party and SNP - they will also
> polarise within those parties and thereby force them
> to adopt more openly left-wing positions or
> increase internal dissent.

I would mostly agree, with a couple of provisos:

(a) The SSP have thus far been a little too
conciliatory towards the SNP.

(b)I don't think that there is enough Left left in New
Labour (or the SNP) for there to be serious internal

On a more serious note, the emphasis on the
possibility of gaining a rake of new seats runs a
serious risk of demoralisation if it doesn't happen.
Certainly the possibilities are being overstated
already (one seat in each region).

> A few questions:

> Is the SP still involved in the SSP or have they
> left/been forced out like in the SA?

We are still in both the SSP and the Welsh SA, as
neither have been turned into undemocratic fronts
(although the SWP is now talking about introducing an
ESA style constitution into the WSA).

> Why do you feel there is a need for a specific rate
> of growth in membership? What is the stage that you
> say the SSP is at?

These two questions are linked. The SSP has somewhere
between 1,500 and 2,000 members (they were just
beginning a process of tryng to find out for sure last
year). That membership is split between activists and
an almost Labour Party style passive membership.

A point which is often raised by the ISM, the dominant
faction of the SSP around Sheridan and McCoombes, is
that the majority of members are not in any faction
(platform). Technically this is certainly true. When
you get to the active membership though, that changes,
particularly in the cities.

There are new people and young people, but there
aren't nearly enough of them. And the ridiculous youth
organisation doesn't help - it's one AND ONLY campaign
is on the legalisation of cannabis.

I can see a real danger of the SSP stalling at their
present level, while it wouldn't take all that much
more to launch them into an altogether different

> The Cuban Youth movement are also held up as a good
> example so what are the factors which make a good
> youth movement?

Scottish Socialist Youth is a network within the party
consisting of a few dozen people and a cannabis
fixation. Don't get me wrong. I support the
legalisation of cannabis. However, it is an absolutely
worthless as the focus of a youth group's work.

Is mise le meas,
Brian Cahill

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