Tweaking required

Around the web: Scottish Socialist Party

It has been a couple of years since I last visited the Scottish Socialist Party online, but I am pleased to report that, unlike my encounter with Workers Power last week, my time here was far less frustrating (see Weekly Worker January 23). Logging on, it was good to see the garish welcome of old replaced by a far smoother and professional-looking home page. Unsurprisingly a photo of Tommy Sheridan greets your eyes, alongside a short but effective statement that sets out what the SSP stands for. Scrolling down the page, the next item sets the date and assembly point for the February 15 Stop the War demonstration in Glasgow. Links to SSP statements and articles on the war, and to various anti-war campaigns (including the main demonstration in London) are also usefully included. Further segments are given over to SSP news, the 2003 party conference and recent stories. Strangely, though a section is set aside for Scottish Socialist Voice and the SSP book shop, this has no headline and can easily be missed. Going to the SSV page, we are presented with the contents of the text version of the latest issue, articles being organised under page headings. Unfortunately, pdf format is not available. The side bar provides us with a few more options - links back to the SSP home, funds appeal, SSV's mission statement, a collection of articles from Alan McCombes's trip to Pakistan and of course the archive. On the whole, the webmaster has provided a reasonable archive running from issues 5 to 120, missing out just 12 editions, mainly from 2001. Unlike the current issue, these archived versions come on one very long page, so if you are after something specific you have to trawl through an entire page until you come to it, rendering the search engine partially redundant. Why can't the archived material be arranged like the current issue? Returning to the home page, a number of useful links are included in the side bar. Alongside those for SSP manifestoes and election results are the 'local branches' section, containing contact details for every SSP branch, and the 14 websites maintained by them. The very useful news section is updated almost daily with SSP press releases and news stories from the bourgeois press, carrying more items from the last week than the Socialist Alliance has put out in the last year. The international link is certainly a commendable feature. A couple of web articles look at the World Social Forum and how the anti-capitalist movement can feed into the formation of new workers' parties across Europe. The only real letdown here is the Socialist Women's Network page - it does not go beyond a photo and a short statement, but in fairness it does promise to carry news, campaigns and meetings in the future. It is also refreshing to see documentation for the upcoming SSP conference online and open for general viewing. It is just a shame that they are only available in pdf format. A small photo and campaign poster gallery is also included. The actual links section is helpfully organised around themes such as 'Political', 'Campaigning', and 'Trade unions'. This latter link is pretty disappointing, featuring just two Unison branches and PCS Left Unity. The political links are marginally better, allowing access to comrade Sheridan's website and two SSP platforms - International Socialist Movement and Scottish Republican Socialist Movement (no Socialist Worker platform or Committee for a Workers' International yet). Interestingly, under 'Socialists in Wales and England' the principal supporting organisations of the SA are linked, with the notable exception of the CPGB (and Workers Power). Likewise, turning to the media links, most of the left press is there - but no Weekly Worker. I am sure this is just an oversight and not a crude attempt at exclusion on the part of the webmaster "� Overall the SSP website serves the party well. All it requires is some minor tweaking here and there to ensure the pluralist political project the SSP is committed to is fully reflected online. Phil Hamilton