This past Saturday I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received by my new comrades at the Scottish Socialist Party conference in Edinburgh. I made the comment to someone throughout the day that it was so nice to see members of a political party enjoying each others company, respectfully debating issues and uniting in the common good of the people they have set out to represent.
I am delighted to have joined the SSP at a time of great importance within the party. I believe we stand at a crossroads in which we have seen a rejuvenation in not only the party but also what it stands for.
Since the referendum more than 2500 people in Scotland have applied to join the SSP. New branches are opening all around this country. A packed conference this weekend was testament to the fact that new ideas and possibilities were boundless and welcomed within the party and it’s leadership.
When you compare the position the party is in to that before the referendum, it is truly remarkable. Many considered the party to be a spent force, unable to recover, yet throughout the campaign, led wonderfully by the thoughtful, passionate and principled leadership of Colin Fox and Sandra Webster. The party has reinvented itself. The very fact that it has done all this despite little to no media attention to being shamefully snubbed by the Smith Commission as the only political party to be involved in the referendum not invited to take part in the debate, is an even greater herculean effort.
Yet the resurrection of the party is perhaps less impressive as to how, along with Labour for Independence and Radical Independence and individuals such as Dennis Canavan and Jim Sillars they have been able to resuscitate the term of socialism.
I have spoken before of the effect of the Cold War in bastardising the definition of socialism. I have also often described the great attempts made by the Labour Party to dilute the name or only to rekindle it in times of great need, yet the reality never seems to match the promise. (see The Vow, New Labour, autonomy in Scotland)
The reality is that socialism is coming to the fore again in Scottish politics in spite of the death throes of the Labour Party. This is in part due to the fact that they would not listen to LFI and those who wanted change; the 40%. This is why they are now in disarray. They may have won the battle of September 18th but the war is far from over. Yet socialism is now an acceptable term again. This rejuvenated, energised politically active nation has come to terms with the definition that socialism is not Trotsky or Lenin or Stalin; rather the betterment of the many than the few. We are now having grown up discussions on how best to change our country and socialism is becoming more and more popular...
In truth, it always was, we the Labour voters, the traditional Labour voters, the Real Labour voters were told our values, our morals, our beliefs that have been prevalent in our society for generations. We were told that these values were distinctly Labour. Now though, now people realise these values and beliefs, this Real Labour IS SOCIALISM. Our beliefs haven't changed in the referendum all that has changed is that we no longer accept the word according to the Labour Party.
The Labour Party however has changed. The odds on favourite to become Scottish Branch Secretary is Jim Murphy. Let us look at Jim Murphy’s record.
Since 2001 Mr Murphy has claimed over £1 million in expenses
Mr Murphy voted to cap benefits in March 2014
Mr Murphy failed to show up for the vote against the Bedroom Tax
Mr Murphy voted for tuition fees
Mr Murphy went on 100 day tour of Scotland campaigning for a no vote, which meant leaving his Eastwood constituency without an MP for almost 1/3 of a year. Yet claimed over £200,000 in Westminster expenses.
Mr Murphy is a major figure in Labour Friends of Israel (The uncool LFI), who refuses the recognition of the state of Palestine.
The man who strongly supported the illegal invasion of Iraq and strongly unaligned himself with Ed Miliband’s apology of said invasion.
Most worryingly Jim Murphy has never rebelled against the party line in Westminster.
This, comrades is Labours future, not just in Westminster, but in Scotland too.
The hardest thing I have ever had to do was to leave the Labour Party, it was my home politically, my families home through to my great grandfather. But I’m glad I did because it is a shell of the party that was created. Even if by huge chance they pick someone other than Murphy there is little chance of recovery. Remember this is the party who needed a year to decide that the Bedroom Tax was a bad idea. Nye Bevan, Jimmy Maxton, James Keir Hardie; to use the great Dennis Cannavan’s words... must be burlin in their graves.
Friends and comrades who are still in the Labour Party I have only one thing to say... You owe nothing to a political party, you may have been Labour all your life but they are not Labour anymore. You believe in traditional Labour, old Labour, Real Labour then you are a socialist and the only party that is a socialist party in Scotland is the Scottish Socialist Party.
You can hold on for what never will be again or you can be a part of the party for the people.
Join us and create the party we were waiting for all these years.