Put up or shut up

To the executive committee of the Scottish Socialist Party - copies to: SSP national council; SSP members of the Scottish parliament - Tommy Sheridan (Glasgow); Rosie Kane (Glasgow); Colin Fox (Lothians); Frances Curran (West of Scotland); Carolyn Leckie (Central Scotland); Rosemary Byrne (South of Scotland)

Comrades We are writing to express our concern over accusations made against our organisation by Eddie Truman, the SSP's press officer. This official of your party has written that leading members of the Communist Party of Great Britain have actively colluded with the bourgeois media in an attempt to discredit the SSP. He has posted a 'charge sheet' against the CPGB on a public discussion list accusing us, amongst other crimes, of conducting a campaign lasting "nine months attempting to "¦ associate sections of the Scottish Socialist Party with violence and terrorism"; of "demanding the expulsion of the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement from the SSP" and of having penned an article in 2001 "attempting to draw a line from members of the SSP, including myself and my partner, to the Soho bomber, David Copeland" (see attached copies of the Truman document). Only those in the workers' movement interested in throwing dirt at the CPGB will take these and similar charges seriously - or at least pretend to. Indeed, Truman has done most of the work of refutation for us by being foolish enough to provide the Weekly Worker references to the articles he claims prove his case. Thus, as anyone can read in our 2001 article, what we actually said about the SRSM platform was that (a) we think its politics are putrid; (b) as far as we were aware, it had nothing to do with the email to our organisation threatening to burn out people identified as CPGB members in Scotland; and (c) that we had "written to the SSP executive, calling on them and all platforms in the party to repudiate the letter and the anti-working class methods of thuggery it displays. We are confident that the leadership, the SRSM and all SSP platforms will do so" (Weekly Worker July 19 2001). As for the notion that we attempted to "draw a line" between SSPers - Truman included - and the nazi nail bomber, David Copeland, this lie is so flimsy, one assumes that Truman himself must regard it as nonsense. In fact, referring to the threatening email we had received, we cautioned the movement in general that, while these sort of provocations might originate with deranged, dislocated individuals, "the experience of David Copeland, the Soho nazi nail-bomber is a salutary one. Any isolated nutter with access to the internet, a kitchen cupboard full of chemicals and a local hardware store could cause fatalities if they are really determined to do so" (Weekly Worker January 11 2001). We have no intention in this letter of dealing systematically with all of Truman's slurs and clumsy fabrications. However, an issue raised by your officer's campaign against us - over which we feel the leadership of the SSP must make its position clear. Truman's document clearly implies that the CPGB has acted over this period as a state front for attacks on the SSP. He attempts to cover himself with the evasion that "allegations of involvement with black propaganda by the state are very difficult to prove by their very nature" - which is precisely why serious working class politicians, as opposed to provocateurs with a political axe to grind, are extremely reticent about publicly raising such charges, and only do so where there are solid and substantial grounds. However, the unfortunate truth is that Truman's incondite 'charge sheet' is simply the latest in a series of similar accusations and innuendoes that have been directed against our organisation by prominent members of the SSP. The document's wretched content and obviously malign intent is symptomatic of the approach taken in the past by some of the more shrilly nationalist comrades in the SSP such as Kevin Williamson and Jim Carroll. It is a lame attempt to create a foul political amalgam. The CPGB defends the unity of the working class in Britain against schemes to break it up along national lines. Therefore, it is asserted, we defend the existing British state. Ipso facto, we are unwitting or (more likely) conscious agents of that state. We reiterate, Truman's accusations are so flimsy and transparently false that it is hard to take them seriously. However, we are concerned not because of its 'legal' or political rigour - on both counts, it is frankly moronic - but because is seems to be symptomatic of a dangerous political method increasingly being employed by the more intransigently nationalist trends within the SSP. Unable to honestly defend a political project that is, shamefully, aimed at the break-up of the working class of Britain, they have to turn to fabrication, inventing 'state agents' and demanding bans and excommunications. Thus, in 2003, Kevin Williamson wrote that the effect of recent Weekly Worker exposés of some anti-democratic plotting by the Welsh nationalist grouplet, Cymru Goch, was to "facilitate the work of the British state". Indeed, he seriously speculated that we had gathered the information for our articles "through collaboration with agents of the British state". We were told we had to "come clean" about our supposedly nefarious sources, or else Williamson recommended that it be "assumed (and publicised as widely as possible) that the CPGB and its newspaper "¦ work hand in hand with the British state to discredit socialists and activists for Welsh and Scottish independence". In which case "the entire movement should boycott their paper "¦ and treat them as collaborators with the British state". We were "Brit spies", apparently. Your member Jim Carroll went further. In an email titled 'CPGB: state agents?', he despicably named a member of our organisation, strongly implying this comrade was a serving state asset. The most likely explanation for material finding its way into the pages of the Weekly Worker was "contact with a state agency such as GCHQ" (Weekly Worker September 18 2003). So Truman's crude abuse fits the general pattern we have come to expect: despite the hypocritical moans about our use of "unsubstantiated allegations", no evidence is ever offered of our supposed traitorous links; the dramatic conclusions drawn even from the material presented are utterly irrational, with attempts to exclude simple explanations for how material has come our way and - lastly - readers are clumsily nudged towards drawing just one conclusion: that the CPGB collaborates with the secret service arms of the bourgeois state to disrupt and damage other sections of the left. Clearly, the method does not rely on proof - there is none. It relies on dogged repetition of the lie until it becomes the accepted 'common sense' on the left in this country. Enough is enough: this intolerable situation should not be allowed to continue. We are within our rights as an organisation with the workers' movement in this country to demand that the SSP executive committee either: l unconditionally repudiate the allegations by Eddie Truman and similar charges against our organisation emanating from some quarters in the SSP, or, failing that, l express political sympathy with these provocations against our organisation, openly state this view in front of the whole movement and agree to the call of Peter Manson in the last issue of our paper for the "setting up of a tribunal, made up of respected independent working class politicians, that is able to examine all his charges, take statements, hear witnesses and arrive at considered conclusions" (Weekly Worker June 9). Comrades, it is our shared responsibility to keep our common habitat - the workers' movement - clean. We believe the SSP currently has members who are irresponsibly spraying around foul pollutants. Left unchallenged, they will poison the general environment that we all live and work in and this is why we are making this call to you. It is hardly a secret that the CPGB - for all the positive things we see about the experience of the SSP - has harsh criticisms of what we characterise as your left nationalism. You will also be aware that we are not shy about articulating these criticisms in blunt terms that others may find hurtful - that is part of the rough and tumble of political life, in our view. However, unsubstantiated accusations that an organisation consciously collaborates with the secret services, or that it is primarily composed of "spies and touts", as Jim Carroll has intimated, are way beyond what should be acceptable in our culture (Weekly Worker September 18 2003). These people should be firmly told - put up or shut up. Lastly, it appears to us that there is a morbid political logic unfolding here, quite separate from the personal pathologies of the individual culprits in this provocation. We have discerned a creeping growth of a hostile SSP attitude to the organised socialist movement in the rest of the country, or the "Brit left", as we are insultingly labelled. Our organisation can brush off Truman's puny provocations with ease; the real problem is the nationalism which has tainted our movement in Scotland: ie, the general backdrop against which Truman is allowed to operate with, it seems, total impunity. Back in 1995, Scottish Militant Labour, which was to become the largest component section of the SSP, was still a 'loyal' section of Peter Taaffe's Committee for a Workers' International. Its leaders noted at the time what they dubbed an "indisputable "¦ long-term trend in Scotland towards independence, which particularly affects some of the most radical and combative sections of the working class and youth" (Militant Labour Members Bulletin No9, April 1995, p7). Thus, the adoption of SML's, then the SSP's explicitly nationalist orientation was a response to the growth of a sectionalist, backward-looking prejudice amongst a section of our class in Scotland - that the English, including the working class of England, were part of the problem rather than the solution and that workers north of the border would be better off without them. The logic of a sectional, nationalist approach must be anti-English, anti a majority nationality that is perceived as a block on the aspirations of the minority. We certainly do not paint others in the SSP with the same brush as your comrades Truman, Williamson or Carroll. However, we are convinced that such attacks on the CPGB - an intransigent defender of the national rights of the people of Scotland, but at the same time an enemy of petty nationalism in any form - have to be set in this general political context. We look forward to your reply. With communist greetings Mark Fischer, national organiser for the Provisional Central Committee, CPGB Related article: * Truman smears We reprint the SSP press officer's accusations against the CPGB