Delegation to Scotland

Documents from the Socialist Party’s Members Bulletin July 1998

1. The European meeting of the CWI that was held with the EC of SML in London on May 18 agreed that a delegation visit Scotland. This delegation was organised between June 26 and 29. The members of the delegation were: Murray Smith (Gauche Révolution-naire - France), Dermot Conolly (Socialist Party - Ireland), Gaeten Kayitare (SAV - Socialist Alternative - Germany), Laurence Coates (Justice Party Socialists - Sweden), with Per Olsson and Tony Saunois representing the International Secretariat of the CWI.

2. During this visit the entire delegation met twice with the SML EC, attended an extended meeting of the Scottish Committee of SML and also discussed with members of SML and the SSA. The entire delegation met with two leading members of the SSA who are not members of SML - Bill Bonnar, who is a leading member of the Communist Party of Scotland, and Allan Green, the national secretary of the SSA. In addition to this meeting members of the delegation also met SSA members in Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh.

3. In Glasgow LC and MS met with four members of the SSA, in Edinburgh TS and GK met with one member of the SSA and in Dundee PO and DC met with two SSA members.

4. At the meeting of the Scottish Committee of SML, following a debate, the SML EC proposals in ‘Proposals for progress on the new Scottish turn 1998’ were voted upon. The debate was introduced by LC (Sweden) and Philip Stott (Scotland) and replied to by TS (IS) and Alan McCombes (Scotland). An amendment moved by comrade Ronnie Stevenson was defeated by five votes to 31. The SML EC proposal was carried by 35 votes in favour, three against, with four abstentions. (There was no separate vote taken of members of the NC and the visitors.)

5. After participating in these meetings and discussions the CWI delegation reached the conclusions that are explained below. This report does not attempt to develop the political basis that led the delegation to reach its conclusions. It is being circulated for consideration and discussion by the IS, IEC, CWI sections and World Congress.

6. The majority of the delegation supported the proposal known as Option 1 suggested by the EC of the British section. The majority of comrades thought that because of the forces involved in the SSA (both numerical and political) this option is justified and would not be a sectarian turn. This view was endorsed by DC (Ireland), GK (Germany), LC (Sweden), PO (IS) and TS (IS). MS (France) did not agree with this conclusion.

7. If SML proceeds to launch the SSP as a broad party the delegation agreed that the following steps are necessary for a functioning section of the CWI in Scotland and should be discussed with the comrades.

(i) That CWI branches must be established and meet on a fortnightly basis as a minimum. The frequency of SSP branch meetings should be discussed further.

(ii) There must be a delegate congress to discuss international and national perspectives and programme. This congress should elect a NC from which an EC is elected. All members of the CWI and our public representatives should be accountable to the elected leading structures of the section and the International.

(iii) An internal bulletin for CWI members should be produced regularly and used along with the CWI member’ bulletin.

(iv) The CWI section should organise its own public meetings and activity apart from those called in the name of the SSP.

(v) A CWI publication should be produced for use both inside and outside the SSP. This should be at least a monthly publication. If the Scottish Socialist Voice (SSV) is to become the journal of the SSP, then to facilitate a CWI publication it may be necessary to produce the SSV monthly rather than fortnightly, as the comrades are proposing. (MS is of the opinion that the CWI journal should be monthly but that the SSV, as a journal of the SSP, should be fortnightly and weekly when possible.)

(vi) The CWI should have the right to have closed branch meetings for members and to circulate documents to members, although we would not function as a secret faction inside the SSP. (MS expressed reservations about the CWI having branch meetings for members only.)

(vii) There should be strict control of subscriptions in any unified party. Members of the CWI should maintain their existing subs to the CWI section and also ensure payment of international subs to the CWI are made on a regular basis. (MS is of the opinion that the question of subscriptions payments needs to be discussed further with a view to taking into account the needs of the SSP, CWI section and international affiliation.)

(viii) In order to ensure the organisational and political functioning of the CWI section it will be necessary to ensure that in Glasgow two full-timers work exclusively for the CWI. In Dundee and Edinburgh, whilst the full-timers (one in each city) could undertake work for the SSP, they should spend at least 50% of their time on work directly related to building and developing the CWI section. (MS is of the opinion that the question of the work of the full-timers needs to be discussed further with a view to taking into account the needs of the SSP and CWI section.)

(ix) The CWI section should ensure that it has its own targets for recruitment, sale of material and fundraising.

(x) The comrades have proposed that the centre and equipment of SML be given over to the SSP. If it is done then ownership of all properties and equipment should remain within the CWI section. It could be done on the basis of leasing all properties and equipment to the new party with trustees appointed who are committed and tested members of the CWI. (MS is of the opinion that this issue requires further discussion.)

8. Following the debate that has taken place with the comrades in Scotland, a full discussion should take place with SML members on the question of the CWI, its programme, perspectives, history, work and structures and methods of functioning.

9. The IS, in consultation with IEC members, the British section and SML, should discuss the question of the timetable for launching any new programme with a view to reaching an agreement about this.

10. The British Congress, IEC and forthcoming World Congress should discuss all related issues arising from this discussionl

Tony Saunois, Gaeten Kayitare, Per Olsson, Dermott Conolly, Laurence Coates, Murray Smith

Resolution to Scottish Committee/Aggregate

This committee agrees to continue the discussions on the SSP/CWI.

Should Option 1from the British EC be discounted, then the ‘Proposals for progress on the new Scottish turn 1998’ from the SML EC should be discussed with the following amendments:

Paragraph 1 - Change “August” to “autumn”.

Paragraph 5 - change to read: “Propose changes to SML constitution to change the name of SML to ‘International Socialists, the Scottish section of the CWI - IS (SCWI)’, or better name to be decided.”

Make immediate changes to the branch structure to reflect the needs of the IS (SCWI) in 1999/2000. The branches should meet at least fortnightly.

Maintain full-timers of the IS (SCWI) - at least two in Glasgow, one in Dundee and one in Edinburgh. Their main function will be building IS (SCWI) and developing the political understanding of the comrades whilst recognising that a significant part of their public work will be within the SSP.

Produce a fortnightly paper called The Socialist of at least eight pages and regular bulletins/newsletters.

Allow our current paper, the SSV, to become the paper of the SSP. Make suitable joint funding arrangements between IS (SCWI) and the SSP for our offices and allow cheap access to our equipment to allow the SSP to produce written material.

(five votes for; 31 against)

Proposals for progress on the new Scottish turn 1998

We have already conducted an intensive political discussion on the New Scottish Turn over recent months: on the SML EC; SML conference; SML branches and regional/district committees; in debates in England and Wales; at the British NC and in meetings with representatives of the IS and European sections.

From the outset and throughout this debate, the SML EC have argued we are proposing these measures for dual purposes. To build and strengthen the organised forces of revolutionary, international Marxism in Scotland, the Scottish section of the CWI; and to organise and build the forces and appeal of socialism in Scotland.

But timing is crucial in politics. We therefore propose the following steps:

1. To hold the decision-making SML conference in August, prior to the SSA conference on the issue.

2. Subject to agreement at SML conference, to go ahead with the proposals to launch the new Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), in collaboration with the Scottish Socialist Alliance and other forces prepared to support its launch.

3. To actively pursue the most developed, rounded-out socialist programme that can be agreed by the forces launching the SSP; and to pursue an SSP structure based on ‘democratic unity’, with the right of openly organised tendencies, as explained more fully in previous documents.

4. To make a systematic appeal for SSA members; trade unionists; other socialists; to launch the SSP in the autumn 1998, with launch rallies and meetings, a recruitment drive, etc, to make maximum impact before Christmas, in preparation for the pre-election campaigns of early 1999.

5. As previously stated, we will organise our revolutionary tendency inside the SSP, as the Scottish section of the CWI. This to initially comprise the existing SML membership, added to by new recruits.

The Scottish section of the CWI (previously referred to as the ‘SCWI’, but with a better name to be decided) will be organised as a Marxist tendency with the methods of ‘democratic unity’, and will also serve to ensure accountability of the leadership.

The main forms of organisation of our Scottish tendency would be:

  1. monthly branch meetings at city/area level, open to SSP members, with political discussion; international reports from the CWI; collection of subs for the CWI and its Scottish section; recruitment to the ‘SCWI’; and regular reviews of our work in the SSP.
  2. additional meetings as and when new and/or controversial political issues arise within the SSP.
  3. an annual conference, which would elect the national leadership of our tendency.
  4. an elected coordinating committee or executive committee of eight to 12 members. In addition, a larger, elected Scottish Committee which would meet quarterly.
  5. one of the current SML executive committee to be elected as the (full-time) convenor/organiser of the Scottish CWI section.
  6. production of a (Scottish CWI) bulletin for distribution in the SSP, and a CWI members’ newsletter.
  7. use of other publications of the CWI, including international bulletins, Socialism Today and pamphlets.

It is not possible to foresee the precise evolution of the SSP, particularly the timescales. Over a long period of working together, with the advantages of an SSP party structure which facilitates political debate and development (as well as it being a socialist combat party), it may be possible to achieve principled affiliation of the SSP to the CWI through agreement on programme, perspectives, analysis and methods.

Meantime our tendency within the SSP would be the affiliated Scottish section of the CWI with representation on international bodies and conferences, and collaborating with other CWI sections. It would openly advocate CWI affiliation within the SP.

We therefore ask that the IEC/IS and British EC/NC set time aside in late 1999 - one year after the launch of this New Scottish Turn - to fully evaluate and review the experience and results of our work in the SSP, plus prospects, strategy and tasks for the future.

Meantime we call on the IEC/IC and British EC/NC to give the Scottish organisation the opportunity to go ahead with the proposals as outlined, to have the freedom to make the best possible impact with a strategy of building the SSP, building the influence and membership of the CWI within it, developing the CWI section and the SSP membership politically and organisationally.

We appeal to the IEC/IS and British EC/NC to give the Scottish organisation the latitude over this next year to evaluate the situation in Scotland at each stage and to take steps to maximise our success in building the forces of socialism and of the CWI.

(35 votes for; three against)