Expel him from the SW platform

Gregor Gall is interesting not because of what he contributes to Marxism. There is not the slightest trace or hint of Marxism in anything we have heard from him. Nevertheless, what he writes and says is of interest - for two unintended reasons. Firstly, he highlights the thoroughly opportunist political method employed by the Scottish Socialist Party's leadership. Secondly, he shows the complete bankruptcy of the Socialist Workers Party and its Socialist Worker platform in Scotland. No matter how trite and superficial, that is why we want people to carefully study his ideas. They are an education in wrong and dangerous politics. It is common nowadays in leftish circles to hear the SSP held up as a shining example, a model which should be emulated. A mistake, albeit one born of desperation. Yes, the SSP brought about the organisational unity of a spectrum of left opinion and has enjoyed some modest success. But on what basis? The SSP has separated itself off from the rest of the left in Britain. Whereas the ruling class is organised under a single state, the SSP disorganises the forces of socialism along national lines. For what? The SSP is committed to a national socialism and, as a realistic bridge to that impossible goal, to an independent capitalist state in Scotland. There is no argument here between the Colin Fox and Alan McCombes camps. In other words, both candidates for the post of SSP convenor, or chief spokesperson, are unsupportable, because, like Tommy Sheridan before them, both advocate a farcical return to Joseph Stalin's socialism in one country: farcical not least because, while the Soviet Union boasted continental proportions and a population numbering over 200 million people, Scotland is tiny and has a population of little more than five million. Comrade Gall tries to give this wretched retrogression a sophisticated, indeed revolutionary, gloss, by painting it in the bright red colours of Leon Trotsky's famous 1938 Transitional programme. Trotsky, however, was wrong in 1938 and his programme has no value nowadays except as a historical document. Nevertheless Trotsky deserves better than his latter-day followers, who imagine they give themselves profundity and revolutionary credentials simply by sticking the word 'transitional' in front of every pay claim, petty demand and opportunist manoeuvre. Trotsky was an internationalist to his marrow who fought for the revolutionary unity of the global working class to the end of his life. As such he irreconcilably opposed the endless creation of yet more nation-states, the further Balkanisation of the world. Claims from Stalinites and others that such an outcome might in some way contribute to socialism were mocked and derided. Trotsky called for the voluntary unity of the working class in the largest possible states: eg, the United States of Europe. Revolutionary witticisms of Colin Fox, Rosie Kane and Carolyn Leckie MSPs Introduced and edited by Gregor Gall. Published by Word Power Books (2004). pp80, £5 The political economy of Scotland Gregor Gall's new book is to be published in June 2005. University of Wales Press, pp211, £19.99 Naturally neither the SSP leadership nor comrade Gall peddle Scottish independence on the grounds of hating the English. Not yet anyway. Though the book Imagine, authored jointly by Alan McCombes and Tommy Sheridan, came dangerously near that chauvinist precipice. Instead they turn for justification to social trends and opinion polls ... and then follow what they find convenient and to their taste. Eg, C2s and the under-25s increasingly view themselves as Scottish and favour independence. In conditions where the historically established working class in Britain has suffered over two decades of defeat and terrible demoralisation no one should be surprised when masses of people clutch at sectional straws: feminism, political islam, ethnic and identity politics, nationalism. All the more vital then for revolutionary socialists and communists to intransigently advocate working class unity. Not because it sounds like a nice idea, but because only through working class unity is socialism possible. Of course, comrade Gall is not only a member of the SSP. He is a member of its Socialist Worker platform. Put another way, he is a member of the SWP's faction in Scotland. The SWP claims to be against nationalism - that despite irresponsible talk favouring the break-up of Britain. Indeed Neil Davidson has written two excellent books exposing the bogus nature of much that passes for history amongst left nationalists in Scotland. However, the SWP has no understanding of high politics. Opposition to nationalism is therefore purely platonic. In practice it concentrates on the latest strike and the next big demonstration. This economism explains why it sees no problem in harbouring comrade Gall in its ranks. In fact he is given space in the latest edition of International Socialism to outline his opinions on trade union struggles and has a free hand to act as a leftwing attorney for the SSP's national socialism. No wonder he is so liked by the SSP's ultra-nationalists, Kevin Williamson and the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement. Gall shows how far their poison has spread. The toleration exhibited towards comrade Gall owes nothing to a sudden change of internal regime. Bureaucratic centralism, not democratic centralism operates. To even subscribe to the Weekly Worker is apparently deemed incompatible with SWP membership. Certainly those who disagree with the Respect turn are under strict instructions to gag themselves in public. That despite the abandonment of one principle after another: republicanism, proletarian socialism, secularism, a workers' representative on an average skilled worker's wage, free abortion on demand. The SWP and the SSP share the same method. It is the method of tailism. But, whereas the SWP tails the Muslim Association of Britain, the SSP tails the Scottish National Party. Either way, the struggle for socialism is weakened. Are the claims to uphold the principles of internationalism and stand firm against nationalism equally negotiable? Are they too mere 'shibboleths'? To prove otherwise comrade Gall should be immediately expelled. Factional discipline requires a definite level of agreement - especially, in Scotland, on the central question of workers' unity. Jack Conrad