‘Solidarity – Scotland’s Socialist Movement’, was launched at a packed rally on Sunday 3 September, in Glasgow. Every seat was taken and every piece of wall supported a comrade. More crammed into the side entrances to listen and catch a glimpse of the speakers. There must have been well in excess of 500 people attending, perhaps nearer 600, including members of the media, both press and television. The meeting voted overwhelmingly to launch a new socialist party in Scotland.
What is left of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) took the decision to hold a national rally the day before, in the same venue, but barely 200 people turned up. The SSP has lost almost all its active members in Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness, the Highlands and the South of Scotland. Three of the SSP’s regional organisers joined the new party, while the SSP has also lost almost its entire trade union base.
In contrast, the launch of the new socialist movement in Scotland attracted a large number of trade unionists, SSP members, anti-war activists and people new to socialism. The RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport union), in Scotland, who are currently affiliated to the SSP, sent a delegation as observers; they did not attend the SSP rally.
Sunday’s rally, which was chaired by MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) Rosemary Byrne, began with Janice Godrich, the national president of the PCS union and a member of the International Socialists (CWI), speaking. Janice said, "PCS members are facing low pay, redundancies and attacks on conditions. Scotland needs a new socialist alternative to combat this government’s attacks on the rights of both workers and claimants." Janice said that leading PCS members across Scotland, including four NEC (National Executive Committee) members, pledged support to the new party. "This must be seen as a fresh start for socialism in Scotland." There were dozens of PCS members at the rally.
Jim Walls, the TGWU (Transport and General Workers’ Union) organiser for hundreds of opencast miners in Scotland, announced: "Here are the first hundred applications forms from the open-cast miners and their families in Ayrshire."
Tricia McLeish, a low paid UNISON member from Glasgow, said: "I am here to fight against poverty and low pay and to do this I must join Solidarity."
Billy Coates an FBU branch secretary also spoke.
Sinead Daly speaking on the platform on behalf of the International Socialists (CWI) commented: "The CWI welcomes this chance to rebuild the socialist movement in Scotland, on a principled basis. We need to be taking up the day to day fight against low pay, war, privatisation, environmental destruction and for decent housing.
But we also need to ensure that we link up these struggles to the need for socialism. It’s down to every individual in this room to go back into their communities, their workplaces, schools and colleges, and encourage others to get involved and join with us in our struggle to build a socialist Scotland and build a world free from poverty, war and inequality: a socialist world."
To massive applause, Tommy Sheridan said that this new movement would fight for our socialist values and vision, to end poverty and inequality. Referring to his recent court victory over the News of the World (NoW) newspaper, and to reports that Rupert Murdoch told News International Executives that no matter how long it took they had to get Tommy Sheridan, who was a "two-bit commie b******", Tommy said they will never "break our spirits"
A series of regional rallies to launch the new party are now planned for September and October, with a conference in November. The International Socialists welcomes this successful launch of Solidarity – SSM, and will work to rebuild the socialist movement in the months ahead.
More than 100 copies of the International Socialist newspaper were sold and 250 copies of a special International Socialist bulletin distributed.