scotland: Build a new party for socialism in Scotland

Working class people need a political voice

Press release from the International Socialists, Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) Scotland

Build a new party for socialism in Scotland

The Committee for a Workers International platform of the SSP has agreed to support the building of a new party of socialism in Scotland.

We believe the SSP is now effectively finished as a party that could seek to organise and represent the working class of Scotland. The name of the SSP has been dragged through the mud by the actions of the leadership majority. The CWI believes that the energies and efforts of socialists is now better utilised in building a new force for working class struggle and socialism.

While supporting the idea and building support for a new party the CWI will argue for:

  • Any new party to be expressly socialist in character, including in its name.
  • At least a basic action programme that deals with the central issues of poverty, low pay, war, workers rights, opposition to neo-liberal policies and other issues facing the working class movement in Scotland and internationally. Central to this is the need for a socialist solution to these problems.
  • Democratic structures for the party including an accountable leadership with the right of recall and the right of tendencies and platforms to organise and sell and distribute its material, including publicly.
  • All elected representatives of any new party to live on a skilled workers wage.

We will build for a maximum turnout for the September 3rd meeting called by Tommy Sheridan and Rosemary Byrne to discuss launching a new party for socialism.

The CWI platform of the SSP welcomed the victory of Tommy Sheridan over the News of the World. It was a victory for the left and for socialists in Scotland and internationally over one of the biggest media empires on the planet. Its owner Rupert Murdoch is close to both Tony Blair and George Bush. This victory therefore carried important political implications.

None more so than the impact it has had on the Scottish Socialist Party itself. Despite our political differences with Tommy Sheridan, which led to Tommy and other leading members of the SSP leaving the CWI in 2001, we believed it is should have been possible to utilise this sensational defeat of News International to help rebuild the SSP.

Potentially Tommy Sheridan’s victory should have been a victory for the entire SSP. Unfortunately, a majority of the current Executive Committee have, by their actions, made it clear that they will never accept Tommy Sheridan’s victory. And at all costs, no matter what the damage to the SSP, they seem set on a “scorched earth” policy.  

That is the only conclusion to be drawn from their actions which have included a sustained personal campaign against Tommy Sheridan since his court victory. They have abused their control of the EC, the website of the party and the party newspaper to pursue their campaign against Tommy Sheridan. All this has done is to increase their political isolation especially amongst workers and trade unionists both inside and outside the party.  We expect the overwhelming majority of active trade unionists to now leave the SSP.

There is an urgent need to rebuild the socialist movement in Scotland on a principled basis. There are hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland screaming out for an alternative to the tired establishment parties. All of whom are pursuing variants of the same destructive neo-liberal capitalist agenda.

Despite the political differences we have with him we support Tommy Sheridan playing a central role in that alongside the hundreds of ordinary SSP members and the thousands of trade unionists, young people and anti-war activists who want to build a fighting principled socialist movement. The chaos and carnage in the Lebanon and the burning need to build a movement to end poverty and inequality here in Scotland demands a socialist response. The CWI is committed to helping build that alternative for the working class of Scotland.

Background information

The International Socialists in Scotland worked as a platform of the SSP known as the CWI. Many of our members were founding members of the SSP in 1998.  One of our members, Sinead Daly is an elected member of the SSP Executive Committee. Our members play an active role in the SSP and the trade unions in Scotland. We are involved in a number of unions including the PCS, UNISON, CWU, RMT etc. Janice Godrich the national president of the PCS civil service union is a member of the CWI platform. Our members have stood as SSP candidates in elections on many occasions including in Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

We continue to defend the ideas of the Militant in Scotland. Along with Tommy Sheridan, Alan McCombes and a number of other leading figures in the SSP many of us were members of the Militant tendency and Scottish Militant Labour. In 2001 a number of the leaders of the SSP left the CWI over the need to continue to fight for the Marxist ideas and programme that Militant had championed over the years. The SSP leadership have since moved away from ideas they would have defended in the past.

We produce a regular newspaper in Scotland called the International Socialist. We are affiliated to the international socialist and Marxist organisation the Committee for a Workers International. The CWI has parties and groups in 40 countries. They include the Socialist Party of England and Wales and the Socialist Party in Ireland. The CWI has elected representative in parliament and/or council level in Ireland, England, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands and Pakistan.

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August 2006