It's definately going to happen - the SSP is to split, and before conference.
Tommy Sheridan announced last week that he could not work inside of the Scottish Socialist Party and he was to set a new grouping called "Solidarity" apparently saying that there is room in Scotland for two socialists parties. This comes only a few days after announcing that he would be vieing for the leadership of the SSP - I guess he decided he wasn't going to win.
He told his new friends the tabloid press (here) that "It's time to build a new organisation out of comrades, not collaborators. I am confident we can build a new, bigger and better socialist vehicle."
"The new party will be about solidarity, against poverty and inequality, working to help asylum seekers and promoting independent, nuclear-free social independence... The new party will share some of the political ideology of the old SSP and the internal regime will be one of tolerance, friendship and genuine solidarity"
The spirit of Veritas lives on!
Well, this weekend the SWP and the CWI (ex-Militant), had seperate internal meetings to decide how to respond and both have chosen, in the long tradition of Trotskyism, to split from the SSP and follow their new leader.
The CWI of the new party;
"1. Any new party to be expressly socialist in character, including in its name.
2. At least a basic action programme that deals with the central issues of poverty, low pay, war, workers rights, opposition to neo-liberal policies and other issues facing the working class movementin Scotland and internationally. Central to this is the need for a socialist solution to these problems.
3. Democratic structures for the party including an accountable leadership with the right of recall and the right of tendencies and platforms to organise and sell and distribute its material, including publicly.
4. All elected representatives of any new party to live on a skilled workers wage."
Which is interesting because part of the SWP's (completely wrong) public problem with the old SSP leadership was their supposed failure to put the war at the centre of their activities. Neither the CWI nor Sheridan have even mentioned the war in their descriptions of the kind of party required in Scotland.
This anti-SSP propaganda went so far that even Rose Gentle had to leap to their defence against her friends in Respect. These smears have a long history as you can see because I wrote this way back in January 2004 responding to the SWP's internal 'Party Notes'.
Meanwhile the SWP's public statements lead with "While the imperialist war intensifies and spreads into Lebanon, and the level of public anger and opposition grows, the SSP has proved unable to respond to that anger or provide any direction for it."
But whilst the CWI claim the new organisation must be expressly socialist the SWP, unexpectedly, talks in terms of "the left", "socialists and activists", and that the new initiative "embrac[e] all strands of the movement including Muslim organisations" It's hard to see how these different positions, united only in their disatisfaction at being minor players in the SSP, can form a coherent political alternative - which is fine by me bloody splitters.
The SSP executive has issued a response to this and rightly points to the advance that the SSP represented "The creation and building of a unified Scottish Socialist Party represents an inspiring break with the petty division and conflict that has for generations weakened the left internationally.""Tommy is now walking out of the party because he cannot win a majority. His actions are those of an egotistical politician who is contemptuous of democracy. To paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, the party membership has forfeited the confidence of the greatleader so the great leader will now elect a new membership."
I'll be reprinting all these statements in full here later today for the leftist trainspotters amongst you.
At the end of the day the new organisation will be formed out of an ego and two relatively small groups that were always luke warm about the SSP's project of uniting the left. The remainder in the SSP may not have the big name leader but hey - if that's not a plus point I'm a revisionist dog.