Alan's agnosticism

Comrades will be interested to read of an encounter I had outside the G8 Alternatives conference on Sunday July 3 in Edinburgh. I approached comrade Alan McCombes, the Scottish Socialist Party's policy coordinator and leading thinker, to ask whether the executive of his organisation intended to reply to our open letter. To remind readers, this demanded that the EC either repudiate or support the accusations coming from the likes of the SSP's press officer, Eddie Truman, that the CPGB is an organisation that consciously collaborates with the secret services, or that it is primarily composed of "spies and touts", as his ultra-nationalist comrade, Jim Carroll, has put it (Weekly Worker June 16). In an ill-tempered (on his part) exchange, comrade McCombes informed me that the SSP leadership would not be replying, as we were too small and insignificant to bother with; that if a bourgeois paper had written the "drivel" we had on the SSP, then they would take them for "every penny they had" (although why the comrade was so huffy about articles in a paper that no one apparently reads is a tad puzzling); that Eddie's comments expressed purely personal opinions and therefore had nothing to do with the SSP; and that he did not know one way or the other whether we were a state asset as an organisation and he "really didn't care". CPGB stall: only enemies of socialism could call us state agents Comrade Carolyn Leckie, SSP MSP for central Scotland, then chimed in, telling me that it was our fault that people assumed we worked for MI5, given what we write in this newspaper. Rather than the EC distancing itself from comrade Truman's nonsense, she advised me that the onus was in fact on us to "review your editorial policy". By the time she had finished with me, comrade McCombes was clearly up for another round, but calmer heads in his group prevailed and he was gently nudged in the general direction of 'away'. I have to say I was shocked. I thought comrade McCombes in particular was a better politician. The impression of this being a slightly surreal encounter with him was reinforced some days later when I was approached in a friendly manner by a smiling man who warmly shook my hand, chatted about the general character of the G8 protests and introduced himself as "¦ er "¦ Eddie Truman. We should pursue this matter with some energy, I think. It seems that perhaps comrade Truman operates in an atmosphere where it is becoming increasingly acceptable to brand political opponents of the nationalism of the SSP as agents of the state - or at least, in the case of comrade McCombes, to express agnosticism on the question l Mark Fischer