Scottish Socialist Party conference

Control over SWP

Over the last few months, since talks began regarding the possibility of members of the Socialist Workers Party joining the Scottish Socialist Party, our executive has been doing its utmost to curb any influence the SWP may have after entering.

Several conditions have been placed on them: crucially over Scottish independence and Socialist Worker - it may no longer be sold in public, which sadly the SWP has decided to accept. That change, agreed by the leaderships of both organisations, will have a detrimental effect upon the culture of openness and debate which the SSP leadership claims to promote.

Most of the issues raised as a result of the talks with the SWP will come to a head at the SSP conference on February 10-11, including debates around the national question, democratic rights within the SSP and the proposal whereby individual members will lose their right to vote at conference. Decision-making would be placed in the hands of elected branch delegates.

The SSP executive is currently raising another even more contentious issue. This will be dealt with at conference in the complex form of an amendment to be submitted as a response to the second round of motions to conference received last month.

Drafted by Alan McCombes, this device will remove the right of future conferences to overturn any of the "main aims and principles" of the SSP, such as the demand for an "independent socialist Scotland". Such changes would have to be endorsed by the whole membership in a full postal ballot.

Aside from the obvious hypocrisy coming from an executive proposing to withdraw the right of individuals to vote at conference, this would put crucial decisions in the hands of a membership whose sole contribution to the organisation is their subscription of £2 a month. Most have never attended branch meetings, let alone conference. It seems, however, that the executive would prefer that scenario to the possibility of organised groups within the SSP having any control over the party's direction.

Carol Newsome