Scottish Socialist Party, G8 protests, union work…
A crisis engulfed the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) following the resignation of Tommy Sheridan, the main public figure for the SSP, in November 2004. During the 2005 general election to the Westminster parliament, the SSP’s national share fell by 40% from 3.1% in 2001 to 1.9%. This represented a loss of 30,000 votes.
Recent opinion polls and by-elections for the Scottish parliament and local government elections have seen the SSP’s vote halve, when compared to 2003. If this trend was to continue, the SSP would be left, at best, with one MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) by 2007.
The CWI in the SSP have taken part in discussions and debates on these issues and in the current debate in the SSP on a strategy for recovery. (See CWI statements on Tommy Sheridan’s resignation; the aftermath of the 2005 election; and ‘Building the SSP – a strategy for recovery’.). The CWI contribution has led to a strengthened position for us in the SSP. There is an increased layer of activists looking to us for a lead and direction.
In a recent article, the National Organiser of Scottish Socialist Youth said: “At the level of the National Committee and national conference the only challenge to the leadership, the only robust Marxist criticism of the party, comes from the CWI platform.”
We made our most effective participation yet at the 2005 SSP conference, which also saw a CWI comrade directly elected to the SSP EC for the first time.
However, the crisis in the SSP represents a setback and can lead to a layer of workers and young people drawing negative conclusions about the possibility of building a viable socialist alternative to the political establishment.
This is at a time when the opportunities to strengthen the SSP and the forces of socialism are growing.
The work in the SSP has consumed a large amount of our time. Nevertheless, we have continued to recruit people to the CWI, particularly in the West of Scotland, including public sector PCS union activists.
The CWI made a marvellous intervention at the G8 mobilisations (the G8 summit was held at Gleneagles, in Scotland), in July (see reports on socialistworld.net). There was an interest in socialism among those youth we met during the mass protests and who we have been discussing with since. People have joined us from the G8 protests, on the basis of hearing our ideas in a clear and accessible way.
We now have seven CWI comrades in the PCS union, including two on the national executive of the union, and in the leadership of a PCS branch in Glasgow, which has 360 members. There are also CWI members in the public sector union UNISON, including comrades who lead 4,000 workers in Glasgow City Council, and four UNISON stewards in Dundee.
We look forward to building the CWI in Scotland in 2006: in the SSP and generally amongst youth and workers.