SSP breakthrough shows the way

Mark Fischer reports on positive developments from Scotland

Scottish Socialist Party national chair Allan Green spoke at the end of the day's business to a small fringe meeting hosted by the Resistance newspaper - a tendency now heavily overrepresented on the Socialist Alliance executive.

Comrade Green has an understated manner as a speaker, but the excitement and sense of achievement generated by the important breakthrough of the SSP shone through his presentation. This included a brief history of the SSP, a survey of the response of the political establishment in Scotland to its success - at times this has bordered on the hysterical - and the effects on the party itself, as its starts to get a real sense of what is possible.

He made two points that highlight the contradictory nature of the SSP as a guide for working class politicians in the rest of the country looking to break out of our current impasse. First, the positive. He remarked that the move from the pre-form - Scottish Socialist Alliance - to the SSP was vital. He noted that many potential working class supporters tended to regard an alliance as too nebulous, not a permanent or serious formation. The move to a party announces a serious intention: a party is worthy of long-term support and 'patriotism'. Allan also emphasised that the democratic form of the party - with the right to platforms, or factions, and unofficial party press - had in fact helped cohere the organisation rather than fragment it, although there would always be strains.

Intentional or not, this was an effective answer to John Rees's foolish comments earlier in the day, when he dismissed the notion of taking ourselves just as seriously in England and Wales as "pointless resolution-mongering". In fact, to use comrade Rees's words against him here, the day after the SSA had declared itself a party, it had "not changed the social forces involved, the actual people grouped together in [the] organisation for one instance": it still had "exactly the same people in the room". Something very important had changed, however, and it is a pity that sect-myopia has prevented the likes of comrade Rees from seeing this and making an equally bold move.

Second, the negative from Allan Green's comments. He effectively dismissed the significance of any potential realignment of socialists and communists in the rest of Britain for the work of socialists in Scotland. Tina Becker of the CPGB had asked the comrade for his thoughts on the still semi-subterranean moves in England to draw broader forces than those currently grouped together in the SA into some sort of party or unity project. How would the SSP look on such a development, she asked. Would this not have serious implications for its work in Scotland?

Comrade Green suggested that - no matter how viable in the rest of the country - such a project would not be viable in Scotland. "It would be a non-starter," he bluntly stated. The heavy implication was that, while the SSP might look to campaigning alliances with such an organisation, it would no more think of merger into a single party with socialists in England, Wales and Northern Ireland than it would with a parallel development in Guatemala.