The fantasy world of Dave Craig

Scottish Socialist Alliance

Dave Craig’s article ‘Open letter not published’ (Weekly Worker August 20) is but another example of the tendency to substitute hard reality with wishful thinking when it comes to questions of political organisation and principle.

Apparently we are to believe that the two-strong Campaign for a Federal Republic is one of the “three main affiliated component organisations of the Scottish Socialist Alliance”. This makes it appear as though the CFR - which, being a closed organisation devoid of a revolutionary programme and the perspectives to carry it out, can only but be at best a democratic-reformist campaign - is the third force in the SSA. Clearly a fantasy. Comrade Craig did not attend the recent SSA conference to see for himself where the CFR is heading. Neither however does he appear to have studied the reports published in the Weekly Worker. Significantly he ignores the events of March this year when Mary Ward and Nick Clarke - who now grandly call themselves the CFR - left the CPGB and in truth ceased to occupy any position of influence within the SSA.

Comrade Craig is critical of the fact that the Socialist Party sees the SSA as “only SML and the rest”; that all non-SML forces are “presented not as definite tendencies with particular policies, but a grey, amorphous blob”. But, notwithstanding this ‘natural’ attitude of the SP, how can it be doubted that SML has been and continues to be the main driving force behind the SSA? Moreover any study of reality would leave you in no doubt that SML is also in the driving seat when it comes to political questions.

SML has since its foundation plied a course directly to a nationalist socialism broadly along the lines advocated by Joseph Pilsudski in Poland - against Luxemburg and Lenin and their international socialism he stood for a break-up of the tsarist empire. All other currents - including those comrade Craig omitted - have actively connived at this strategy or been swept along in its wake. Not only Allan Green, the Scottish Socialist Movement rump, the tartan Communist Party of Scotland, the Red Republicans and a clot of ex-SNPers; but also the CFR - who pre-empted and anticipated SML’s split with Peter Taaffe and the Socialist Party by resigning their CPGB membership, citing the period of reaction and the pull of bourgeois life - ie, political burn-out.

What of comrade Craig’s ‘second force’ in the SSA? The Red Republicans are in truth ‘red’ nationalists. They have no problem with a separate Scottish organisation - in fact they positively advocate the organisational break-up of the British working class. Their only criticism of the proposed SSP stems from economism and a pseudo-leftist opposition to taking seats in parliament. They positively advocate a separate Scotland. They might want it to be called a “Scottish workers’ republic”, as opposed to SML’s “independent socialist Scotland”, but in reality they are both covers for national separatism. Both the Red Republicans and SML argue that the break-up of Britain along national lines will unleash the forces for socialism. They are nationalists first and socialists second. The contradiction is obvious.

Meanwhile the CFR sends letters off to the Socialist Party in England and Wales in the vain hope that it will side with the Campaign’s opposition to the formation of the SSP (predictably the SP refuses to print them in The Socialist).Funny that Dave Craig does not consider this trajectory not only as a bit of joke, but something demanding criticism. Comrade Craig should take sides: against right liquidationism; for Partyism. After all he has seen these two comrades resign from an all-Britain revolutionary organisation in the midst of an energetic struggle against separatism in Scotland. They condemned our categorisation of SML as ‘national socialist’ - for these ‘Leninists’ it was too harsh and counter­productive. They deserted their former comrades, complaining of “an intolerable internal regime” - we use terrible words like “foolish” and “opportunism”, and operate according to the principles of democratic centralism. Were they right or wrong?

SML, the SSA majority and the SP watched them lay down arms. Indeed at a meeting on the SSP earlier this year, Allan Green, secretary of the SSA, assured those present that there would be no more threat to the SSP project from the CPGB as the Dundee comrades had resigned. In effect the coast was now clear for the project of nationalism to proceed. Now the CFR pathetically appeal to comrade Taaffe to come to their aid. This is very revealing. Comrade Taaffe not only gave the go-ahead for SML in the first place, but he has an explicitly reformist programme himself.

Despite lacking an organised arm in Scotland, the Weekly Worker remains the only principled and effective opposition to the nationalism of SML. We have a history of involving it in open struggle - something which is actually quite alien to its culture.

Comrades Mary Ward and Nick Clarke walked away from their duties and responsibilities as CPGB members in order to constitute themselves as a ginger group in the SSA/SSP. How can they now convince anybody? They have degraded and belittled the fight for a federal republic by separating it from the revolutionary programme and the fight to reforge the CPGB - to which everything should be subordinated.

Dave Craig has the best of intentions, I am sure. He wants to draw these comrades back from the wilderness. But that will not be done by flattering and elevating two embittered lost souls. It is practice that shows the truth, not labels.

Anne Murphy