Saturday, 5 December 2015

Why I Won't Be Standing For Rise Alliance.

This Saturday, RISE, Scotland’s Left Alliance launched their first democracy conference. Within the last 7 months, as a member of the Scottish Socialist Party and their Executive Committee, my agenda has been predominantly consumed by this electoral alliance. While as an individual I have been against this, I fully respect and intend to honour the democratic decision made by our party to be a part of this alliance and try to ensure a socialist voice in Holyrood following the Parliamentary elections in May 2016.

Personally, however I cannot put my name towards this alliance as it is not something which I believe is in the best interests of the Scottish Socialist Party or the people of Scotland as a whole. When I joined the SSP after the referendum I fully believed that we could move from the periphery of the Scottish political landscape and appeal to the 60% of Scots who have socialist values but do not recognise it in name, than the 6% of the wider left we were attempting to court. This belief has not changed, although the task has become somewhat greater with the creation of RISE.

I still passionately believe that the SSP has a huge role to play in Scottish politics, that with a coherent message we could become the pivotal bloc which ensures Scottish politics remains on the terms of fairness, equality and social justice.

This is why it pains me to say that our alliance with RISE will further push us to the extremes of the political debate, that we will continue to appeal to the 6% than the 60% as long as we are a part of this alliance. I would also suggest that our values of democracy, of which coming from the Labour Party greatly appealed to me, have taken a hit in the creation and forced nature in which our voting process on this took place.

I have been asked by many friends and colleagues as to whether I will put my name forward for the RISE candidacy within the North East. Rest assured, had this been a nomination to represent the Scottish Socialist Party I would have gladly thrown my hat into the ring. However I cannot consciously stand for a political group in which I do not believe in nor feel represents my views and the great majority of the constituents which I would seek to serve.

It is in light of this that I will not be seeking the candidacy for selection for the RISE alliance in the North East of Scotland.  

Sunday, 22 November 2015

All Just A Little Case of History Repeating

 Since I switched on the news last Friday night and saw the tragic events unfold in Paris, I have been trying to find a way to articulate my thoughts on the horror that made the extremism of ISIS all to real for us in the West, and the subsequent reactions all too worrisome for those who still remember the road to Baghdad.

It is important before anything else is said, to reassert that the terror attacks which took place in Paris are abhorrent and beyond the rational thinking of any decent person who has any regard of human life. I, like many; have felt a sense of shock and sadness that a city so revered for beauty and romance could play host to such indiscriminate violence. That is not to say that the coverage of this event should not be analysed. Only the day before, in Beirut 43 people lost their lives with over 200 wounded in an attack claimed by ISIS as an attempt to remove Shia Muslims and to attack Hezbollah who have been a direct threat to Daesh on the Syrian border. In spite of this no flags were adopted on social media for Lebanon, a country which has faced far more destruction and decimation in recent years than anyone could possibly fathom. There were no national anthems played at football grounds or lighting up of monuments in their nations colours. Commentators on social media and even in some mainstream outlets were right to point out that in the last 4 years over 200,000 people have been killed in the ongoing war in Syria, not to mention the thousands injured and displaced. The equivalent to the atrocity in Paris happening every day for four years. It is right that this has been raised, it is right that we should remember that these attacks are happening daily and mostly unreported. They are also not all the fault of ISIS. Just over a week ago,Israeli soldiers dressed in fake beards and with one pretending to be a pregnant woman raided a hospital on the West Bank to kill Abdallah Azzam al-Shalalda who was lying injured in bed and his cousin who had come to visit him.These kind of atrocities happen daily and are almost never reported by our media. It is right that this is raised, but it should never diminish the plight suffered by those who the media deems to shine its spotlight on. It is also worth highlighting the attacks in Beirut and the death toll in Syria to destroy this myth that ISIS is here to destroy Western Civilisation. There is no doubt that it wishes to do this, but it also wishes to destroy the very freedoms and lives it claims to fight for. The ISIS stronghold in Raqqa, which was the target of French retaliation, never chose the caliphate, rather had it enforced upon them once the government forces were defeated. Most live in permanent fear of falling foul of the Hisbah. This is why the rhetoric of the media, in stirring up racial and religious hatred is so vile. It is not the refugees who are attacking our civilisation, they are seeking refuge from the very people whom the Daily Mail claim they represent. Nor should Muslims feel any need to apologise for the actions of ISIS anymore than Christians should apologise for the Klu Klux Klan. We need to recognise that the media will not tell us the full truth, beyond that we also have to accept our own responsibility as invaders of a region which we destroyed, pillaged and left to rot, that the radicalism of Islamic extremists are not a foreign idea heading for our shores, rather one of our own doing as a country too old not to know the dangers in invading far away soil. The main question is where do we go from here? Herein lies the reason it has taken so long to write this article. How do we attempt to unravel, to begin to deal with a situation like ISIS? No military in the history of the world has ever before had to deal with the threat posed by Islamic extremists. There is no nation, no strategic attack point, no breath and water to attack against a violent vehicle of hate which only grows further the more it is attacked. That recruits further the more is is ridiculed. That is why the attacks on mosques and Muslim citizens of our lands only entice more of the youth to be radicalised against the harmony, democracy and fairness we purport to fight for. The Islamophobia which is now becoming more blatant in these last few weeks, is cannon fodder for those corporations and big businesses who see the Middle East as a cash playpen. It is the headline Farage craves and one that gives Donald Trump a bump in the polls. But why? Why in an intense period of suffering, which shows the violence and inhumanity of weaponised man with aftermaths of events that show the very humanity and goodness of human kind at its core, when selflessness and heroism come to the fore, why is the final word always given to those who seek unconsidered and unadulterated revenge? Who consider these events as a strategic move in either an election or a geopolitical game? The reason is because those on the left more often than not fail to counter a simple lie with cold hard facts. Instead of this we hide behind statements of anti war and anti racism, not considering for one moment that the old man down the road calling for an end to immigration might actually have a genuine fear based on a clear message spread through right wing parties and the media. I have been disappointed in many left wing organisations lazy attitude towards events by simply bringing out the old tired lines of anti racism and anti war. Yes of course this is what we believe but what next? How do we convince? What is our plan? As a member of the SSP I am delighted to read comments from our National Spokesperson condemning the French attacks on the city of Raqqa. In his comments Colin Fox was right to say that... “While condemning the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent people in Paris last weekend, the SSP does not see the indiscriminate slaughter of Syrian civilians as the appropriate response. It is not what the people of France or anywhere else are after. But that is what the urban airstrikes in Syria are principally achieving.” But then what? There has to be an alternative given. We cannot keep failing in this regard. To his credit Jeremy Corbyn has at least tried to explain the significance of certain measures but even he has now fallen foul of offending the MSM by condemning the potential attacks by multiple Western countries. Our great task is to come together to determine what we can possibly do to end the tyranny of ISIS not only in Western attacks but in their continuous presence. How can this be achieved without loss of life to millions of Syrians and Iraqi civilians whose only crime was their place of birth? ISIS will never be defeated by bombing attacks or even boots on ground. They have cells which are often impenetrable. Boots on ground or bombing of Middle Eastern countries only heightens the belief that the West are the enemy. The only way to disrupt and damage their operations is to end the funding of the group. This would mean a further diplomatic thawing with Iran to oversea the region and a complete distancing from Saudi Arabia which has been complicit in training, financing and radicalising a generation of angry young Muslims while surreptitiously working with major Western powers. We need to encourage an Arabic alliance to fight the extremists. If it is required we should offer training and finance to purchase required weaponry for combat. What should never have to be the case is a Western face flying in the sky above or a Western boot on the ground. To do so would be a fatal mistake. George Santayana said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We all remember the war in Iraq, we all do not want to have a repeat. But we also have to recognise that a position of anti -tolerance and anti-war is not only inadequate but also a fairytale. We as a movement need to create a viable alternative to the media and right wing narrative of hatred and war. But that will only happen with actual persuasive arguments of building a lasting peace. Sometimes this might even involve getting our hands dirty.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The End of the SSP? Or An Opportunity to Reshape the Narrative?

Yesterday, RISE- Scotland’s Left Alliance held its launch event in which between 400- 500 lefties from all parts of Scotland came along to find out more about this new electoral alliance which will contest the list seats in the Scottish Parliamentary Elections next May.

So far the only political party that has joined this alliance is the Scottish Socialist Party. This has came about after months of internal discussion and debate before the membership of the party democratically decided to be a part of this group. Over the next 9 months the SSP  members will add their incredible array of talents and commitment to others within the left in a genuine attempt to create a broader, inclusive left movement which seeks to broaden appeal for voters here in Scotland

While being a part of this alliance, as agreed by our National Council, RISE is just one of the many facets of the SSP’s activity. There will be a continuation of the party standing in local by-elections such as Natalie Reid in Leith Walk, a renewal of our policies, our youth and women's networks and our continued activism in communities and towns across Scotland.

It should come as no surprise to some that in the political system we have in Scotland that questions are already being asked to whether RISE is an actual party. After all it does have a membership and will have branches or circles as I believe they are to be called. If RISE are to be a party, questions then quite rightly will asked about the longevity of the SSP. Some will argue that this will depend on the success of RISE in the elections next year, while a poor showing would perhaps split those who feel the experiment has failed and those who feel it needs more time to develop.
SSP Co Spokesperson Colin Fox at Rise Launch.

In many ways the elections and success of RISE will shape the future of the SSP. It wouldn’t be the first time that political parties are subsumed into something new . The key question to ask is whether this will be the end for Scotland’s most successful socialist party? I don’t think it will, and nor should it.

While we are more than happy to be a part of and to campaign for the RISE alliance, it is imperative that the identity of the Scottish Socialist Party remains intact. It is in this spirit that we must disseminate the difference between left and socialist ideology. RISE, it seems will offer an alliance that will also include the Scottish Greens. An offer which I cannot see them accepting. Nonetheless it signifies that left wing politics is a broad canvass, which while supporting anti-austerity movement, seem will work with parties who share similar beliefs but to do so within a capitalist system. This is of course no issue if the agreements are an electoral alliance, The SSP itself has discussed such agreements in the European elections with the Greens. The problem however would be if RISE were to become a political party and incorporate both the Greens and the SSP.

All of this is theoretical and very much in the future. Our focus should be the work we do in our communities and also on our work in progressing this alliance. But conversations must begin within the SSP as to what if any future we see for the party. What the last 8 months of discussions with the Scottish Left Project has done is deflected the need for a real conversation of what vision the SSP has for itself and for Scotland.

Upon joining the party it was my intention to argue that we needed to move away from the far left position and move to attract disaffected Real Labour voters, to destroy the myth that Labour values was anything but socialist values. I am aware others in the party will have conflicting visions for the party and these should be debate in a robust comradely fashion as we seek to set out what kind of party we want. I understand there may even be members who want the party to merge as a RISE but for me an RISE’s success and stability will only work as an alliance, as a party it would be too disparate, unable to provide substance to the politics. This is not a knock on the project, rather a reality of the vast array of ideology on the left.

Instead let it be the SSP, who will not only provide the experience and a great deal of talent and ability to this alliance but that will also take on those hard discussions and create a vision of that the Scottish Socialist Party is and can become. Exciting times ahead. I look forward to the elections and the aftermath.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Left Project Can Work - If It Gets It's Head Out The Clouds

Since the referendum last year there has been talk of taking forward the incredible awakening of a social movement against the current status quo. The environment of radical change precipitated by groups such as Radical Independence, Labour for Independence and the resurgence of the Scottish Socialist Party was only heightened by the defeat in last Septembers vote.

With the instant rush to the SNP post September 18th last year, the left have been playing catch up. Unprepared for an aftermath of the vote could be seen as a critique but for me it highlights the dedication and commitment to the yes campaign that meant we did not have time to consider the after event. Following the vote a fluid discussion began to take place, of where to go for those who felt the SNP were not a new divine home.

For myself as a Labour member who through the campaign had embraced the word outlawed under New Labour, I felt finally able to leave behind the faux democratic socialism to join the Scottish Socialist Party. Since joining I have felt incredibly at home, witnessing for the first time a political party having actual political discussion and local activism which is a far cry from the stay at home- they will vote for us anyway- activism of the Labour Party.

Soon after joining the party the proposition of a new left alliance was created in the Scottish Left Project. In the following months I had several conversations with those involved sharing my hopes and concerns with the founders of the project throughout the winter and spring. After careful consideration, I spoke out against SSP participation in the project at our annual conference in May. For me there were too many unanswered questions, and a genuine concern for the growth of the party I had joined and remain loyal to.

Since that conference there has been may discussions and debates, some private, some less so regarding the benefits of a left alliance in this current form. As a member of the Executive Committee of the SSP I was part of a frank and full discussion of the leadership in which we set forth a motion to our members of the type and level of involvement we would have in the soon to be renamed Left Project. What has followed this past week has been our members overwhelming approval that we will become an affiliate member of the (soon renamed) SLP.

I want to first say that I voted for the motion myself despite my reticence as I believe in the democratic values of the party, that the will of the majority of the SSP members were that we are a part of this project. Secondly it is important to recognise that the level of debate and discussion of this issue highlights the strength we have as a party to debate issues in a civil and democratic manner. We have now been given a mandate by our members to affiliate to a left project which we must ensure will become an electoral force in 2016. This can only occur if the experience and vast array of talent and ability of the SSP is put to the forefront.

The question now arises as to how to make this project a success. Already in the works is a major launch event at the Marriot Hotel in Glasgow. International speakers have already been announced with more to follow. I have no doubt that the event will be a success in terms of turnout and these speakers will give fine speeches cementing good faith and wishes from our international comrades. But unless the agenda moves quickly from workshops and policy primaries into communities and work places then I fear we may do little to impact the public consensus in time for 2016.

The activism of Radical Independence and other groups during the referendum showed just how effective our message of fairness and equality can be. The SSP have shown the way in campaigning against council cuts, placing key areas such as transport and energy back into public hands, of community ownership, a living wage of £10 an hour. We need to embrace this and get out into communities to ensure that the Left Project in whatever guise it will be renamed will be in their thoughts when they go to the polling stations;- that we are an alternative to austerity, a hope for families trying to put food on the table, to workers struggling to make ends meet.

Yes media is important, as is word of mouth but the current media strategy isn’t intended to appeal to the people who need this project, instead it appeals to Merchant City Marxists who have the spare £10 an hour to attend workshops such as this.

This is why I will not be attending the launch event. Instead I will spend the day campaigning in my local area, talking with real people, trying to find real solutions to the struggles we are all facing.

I will do what I can to support and work towards making this left project successful, The SSP will put our considerable experience and talents to good use in our affiliation with them for this election. But the only way it can work is if those making the moves get their heads out the clouds and on the streets where we should be.

Friday, 31 July 2015

The Cult of Change

President Obama recently visited his fathers home country of Kenya, a welcome home for Obama, who Kenyans consider a long lost son. The homecoming however was somewhat spoiled by Obama’s gentle reminder of their need to alter positions on human rights and same sex marriage. This has been the general theme of African Tour. Obama’s speech writes itself as he begins the end of his presidency, a farewell world tour jaunt from the soon to be former ‘Leader of the Free World.’ Basking in adulation, praise for the strides made by a continent whilst instilling a reminder that they have some way to go. The problem is that the same speech could very well be the eulogy of his presidency.

With 18 months left of a presidency that offered so much, an opposition House and Senate the chances of any ground breaking new initiatives by a 2nd term president are unlikely. Obama will always be remembered as the first African American President of the United States, a symbol of the progress the U.S. has made in racial equality. Yet there is so much work left to do.

In Obama’s America income inequality has continued to rise more than doubling from 1980 levels. The top 1% now account for almost 20% of the national income. With gun related homicides set to overtake auto mobile deaths, with a seemingly never ending stream of national tragedies based on racism, homophobia and untreated mental illness, all of whom pass current criteria for gun ownership.

Obama, came to power under a groundswell, that change was not only possible but realistically achievable. ‘Yes we can’ was the mantra that engaged a generation of disaffected. When he leaves office in January 2017 it will be these same people who will be less optimistic, and less likely to believe in change.

For any president the first term is where the real session of potential change takes place. With a majority in government, Obama could have pushed through his legislative agenda. Instead he sought consensus particularly on Obamacare, resulting in half measures which did not tackle the gross inequalities or corporate greed of medical insurance. It is in this issue that highlights the difference between those who the media would portray to be left wing politicians and the right.

After 9/11 George Bush, with Republican majority parliaments easily pushed through legislation amid mass public and democratic protest. The Patriot Act was not to be discussed and consensus delivered, you either agreed or were unpatriotic. Obama on the other hand seemed his ultimate goal was to ensure a second term, reneging on his promise to dismantle the Guantanamo Bay torture camp , or to withdraw troops from failed foreign wars. Recently, following another tragic mass shooting, Obama announced that eventually America would have to deal with the issue of gun control. Is this not why you are in power? What is the purpose of his presidency if he is already passing the load onto the next one?

As much as you can be opposed to and despise their policies the Conservative Government today has instilled their ideological beliefs tearing apart the fabric of our society. Does the right have a stronger ideological strength than the left in implementing their course of action?

One in the same? Bush and Obama.
To agree with this we must fall for the notion that Obama wanted to offer real change. The truth is that Obama, like others before him who promise so much, was just as much a part of the establishment as George Bush was. Similarly the New Labour Government promised real change but inevitably offered little in the way of substantial transformation. We will not for some time at least see the SNP vision of change they promised in the referendum but what is for sure is that a pro NATO, pro Monarchy, pro big business and neo liberalist party would have a hard time making the metamorphosis often promised.

Dictators like Mao and Stalin used a cult of personality to widen their appeal, today it seems that establishment parties are using the cult of change to convince voters that they will be different. But without real action these will only just be words and voters will quickly tire of another false dawn, allowing the current crop of corrupt political drones to maintain the stranglehold on power both domestically and throughout the world.

It is up to the voters to begin to realise false prophets and it is up to political parties who would genuinely offer that change to show the way and become a realistic alternative. Until that happens the change we seek will never amount to much more than minor shift, than the permanent revolutionary change we are beginning to see so much support for.  

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Sharks Are Swimming As The Red Becomes Diluted...

The sharks are swimming around the pool, unaware that theirs is the only blood which is draining away. If Tony Blair has it his way the crimson blood will be diluted permanently by the deep blue sea.

Not since the release of the YouGov poll which put the yes vote ahead one week before the referendum, has the ground below Labour HQ devour itself as much. News that outsider Jeremy Corbyn is ahead in polls by some distance has sent shock waves through the Labour establishment, still not unsure as to why the membership do not see things their way.

This Labour leadership contest has gotten ugly, already coups are being discussed by the Parliamentary Labour Party, Chukka Umunna is doing the media rounds urging Labour MP’s to refuse any shadow cabinet positions offered by Mr Corbyn. Then the big guns came out. Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair threw his tuppence worth into the ring, although judging by his previous receipts it will have cost more than that. Blair, ever the one for the pithy soundbite, sent a stark warning to all misbehaving members who are planning to vote for Corbyn.

“People who say their heart is with Corbyn, get a transplant.”

Tony Blair at home with Progress tearing apart the heart of Labour

Of course there is no need Tony, the job of removing the heart of the Labour Party was done a long time ago by yourself and the rest of the New Labour hacks which decimated any standing this once proud party had, particularly in Scotland.

The venue of Blair’s appearance shouldn’t surprise either. To use Tony’s own medical analogy, Progress has been to Labour the cancer which has destroyed everything that was good within the party. This reception ironically for a former Labour leader is the only place he can actually attend without being drowned out by fellow members or placed under citizens arrest for war crimes. Yet the most startling statement from Blair was his first. When jovially asked where he would place Corbyn, 1st or 2nd. Blair responded,

“No that’s actually the Tory preference... Erm I’m a Labour leader.” before remembering he no longer was.

This is the new directive for anti-Corbyn Blairites, to imply that this is an all wonderful Tory coup that they want an ultra lefty who is unelectable, rather than.....Well that’s just where their theory breaks down. Rather than what? A leader(any of the others) who refused to oppose a welfare budget which possibly tear deeper than Thatcher into the social fabric of our society.,that set in motion the next five years of destruction and decimation of the welfare state and NHS; The two pillars which the modern Labour Party was built upon. I would imagine that Cameron and Osbourne would be very happy with either 3 of the red Tories, who leave the opposition to 56 MP’s from up north.

Jeremy Corbyn: The last hope for Labour? 

The truth is that the Tories would be quivering at the prospect of a united opposition of a real Labour Party, opposed to nuclear weapons, support renationalising the railways, adopting a real living wage, higher taxes on the wealthiest in our society, supported by the membership and the majority of the public. Working together with the SNP, Greens and other nationalist groups to hold this vile and wretched government to account.

The reality, however is somewhat different, Even if Corbyn maintains his high lead, he will not reach the magic 50% required on the first ballot, it is unlikely that any supporters of Burnham, Cooper and Kendall will transfer their votes to him, meaning a likely winner of one of the three who have no understanding of what the Labour Party members who are left are holding out for.

In Scotland this is no different, unable to understand their own incompetences, they will continue to pursue the tactic of SNP bad, whilst forgetting the very reasons why so many in this county, including myself once voted for them.

The challenges that face us over the next five years of Tory rule, will not be remedied by a Tony Blair ideologically driven New Labour. Nor will any progressive opposition to the SNP come from Labour in Scotland. The only hope we have to maintain our progressive politics is for the people to hold to account those who think they know better than those who elected them. For the SNP to have a credible opposition in Scotland, which must come from the left, be it a red, green or amalgamation.

As long as Tony Blair, his acolytes or the Progress movement still have a strangle hold on the Labour Party, it doesn’t need a transplant. It needs the last rites.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Time to Face the Facts

Faster and faster it is time to upload the new leader of the Labour Left. It used to be once in at least an election cycle that we had to renew the vow for what Labour stood for. Often times we waited a period of several years holding out for leaders who said the right things but scarcely delivered both in or out of power.

Now we are more fortunate, we in the left have a Labour candidate who will be the left’s saviour once every 6 months. Labour for Independence offered a wider redemption, but following the referendum and Johann Lamont’s resignation it was Neil Findlay who waved the red flag. Like the sacrificial lamb, Neil took his defeat to arch Blairite Jim Murphy with good grace, accepting a position within his cabinet. Jim himself suddenly re-found his socialist roots when he realised he had to appeal to the whole of Scotland rather than the well to do of East Renfrewshire. Yet that radical thinking was never able to conjugate with what Jim truly believed and no amount of drinking at football would make Jim seem electable.

Now we have a new leading light of the left in Jeremy Corbyn. At last it seems Labour has found it’s home... Rather it has come home. Corbyn stands (apparently) for everything the Labour left has been calling out for; reversing anti- union legislation, paying a living wage, backing striking workers (underground) and granting Greek debt relief. Finally a voice for the masses..

Corbyn represents the Labour left, but that support is dwindling

Except within the Labour Party today.. It isn’t.......

Chris Leslie as current Shadow Chancellor reversed the parties position on the 50p tax rate. None of the other, more likely leaders would acknowledge one... just one of Corbyn’s measures. Yet this seems to be the sum and the hope of the Labour Party, or at least the left who still support it. Make the token left gesture then find excuses until the current leader is sacked then the carousel with another @Leftie goes on again.

Today, I passed Ninewells Hospital, and as we went by the protesting porters we tooted and raised our fists in solidarity. My ten year old son, panicked thinking those porters would get in trouble the fact we supported them.

In 2015, 30 years after the miners strikes I had to tell my son that this was the last right of the worker, to withhold their labour if they were not being paid properly for it. 30 years ago the ten year old kids who were explained the same thing are now older than me. Nothing has changed. Another Tory Government we didn’t vote for. Another lifeless opposition. The only difference being that in 1985 they knew what they stood for.

And so the Corbyn fans, the Findlay followers, I ask you , what does it achieve? As the world watches Greece and their left wing government, what voice do you have with the main political parties? What does a protest leadership election battle do for what we really believe in?

Theoretical politics has a place, it is in the good times.. This is not one of those moments. In every town, city, street and home there is a movement waiting in the wings. There is a child unfed, a parent out of work, a student who can no longer afford to go to school, a pensioner whose glory days have become a never ending struggle. There is no Labour leader who understands this. Their home, their plight, and their struggle lies within the Scottish Socialist Party.
Join the Scottish Socialist Party here

This is the party who will ensure the rights of those who need it will be given it, who will ensure fairness, equality and social justice not just as a leadership pamphlet but rather a way of being.

For those who are working tirelessly for Jeremy Corbyn, I say you must now know. That as the Yvette Coopers and Andy Burnhams rule supreme, further and further away your hopes of a ‘Real’ Labour becomes. It is time, time to rise up and begin to make a new way, supporting a party which is unequivocally anti austerity, pro republic, pro independence, pro a distributive local tax model, which has a plan for a 21st century energy policy. Who is pro peace and anti war. A party that stands up for those who deserve the help rather than those who pay for favours.

Friday, 26 June 2015

SSP Dundee Branch Calls on Dundee City Council to Support BDS

As internationalists it is our duty to ensure that the rights and freedoms we cherish for our own society is prevalent around the world. The ongoing conflict in the Middle East highlights the need for our support, continued activism and education on the matter. The solution to the continual struggle in Palestine will only be completely resolved when an open and transparent dialogue takes place between the two states. However that will only occur when both nations are recognised by each other and the international community.

This recognition is unlikely to occur anytime soon with the re-election of the Lukid Party giving the incumbent Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu his fourth term. Throughout his tenure Netanyahu has presided over a regime of oppression and open hostility to the people of Palestine, ensuring that any hopes of a peaceful solution in the short term have all but evaporated.

Since August of last year there has been at least 2100 Palestinian citizens killed of which over 1500 have been civilians. It is not solely through armed force that the Palestinians are being persecuted. Theft of Palestinian land for Israeli only roads and houses supported by Israeli courts . The lands natural resources and energy are also being held hostage, with blackouts and sanitary water in short supply in some parts of Gaza and the West Bank.

Thanks to an ever globalised media we have seen human tragedy and unspeakable acts of terror. Yet the sounds of Israelis cheering as missiles reigned down on the Gaza strip will live long in the memory of those with any semblance of a conscience. This reflection of the Israeli public feeling towards Palestine is indicative of a right wing reactionary government backed by one of the most technologically advanced forces in the world. The Israeli Defence Force.

Perhaps it is due to the persecution of the practitioners of the Jewish faith in history that makes this more shocking than it would in other conflicts. As a religion or indeed as they define themselves, a race; the genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany and Occupied Lands will forever be a scar in our human psyche. Yet the actions of the Israeli Government, condoned and backed by the United States and other Western countries towards Palestinians are tantamount to the persecution and destruction the forefathers of the Israeli state once endured.
Palestinian families facing constant fear and oppression

Thankfully we are now beginning to see a sense of action within the international community.  Sweden has became the first EU country to recognise the state of Palestine. Many political parties, communities and campaigns are now calling for, and implementing a ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).’ motion in an attempt to combat the oppression of the Palestinian people in a language the Neo-Liberal Israeli Government will understand. The desire not to associate with the actions of the Israeli Government is growing and will continue to do so unless there is an extreme U-turn in Israeli Policy.

Netanyahu’s response to this campaign has been predictable aligning any criticism of his government as an Anti-Semitic attack. The reality of the situation is that the Israeli Government imposes sanctions on the Palestinian Authority by refusing to hand over tax revenue that belongs to them and supports any US led legislation that encourages divestment from any nation which recognises the rights of Palestinian people. Yet when BDS is applied to them, Netanyahu cries foul, claims Anti-Semitism and ‘hopelessly biased.’ This is not the case at all. Instead it should be clear to everyone that BDS is a profoundly moral response to the behaviour of Israel in oppressing the state of Palestine and it’s citizens.    

Already in Scotland the councils of Clackmannanshire and West Dunbartonshire have adopted motions to boycott the purchase of Israeli goods and divestment from affiliated companies. The latter was thanks to the hard work of SSP councillor Jim Bollan. Dundee has always prided itself on its links with the Palestinian people, twinned already with the city of Nablus. It seems an obvious decision that the council should take in adopting BDS of Israeli goods and links. The Scottish Socialist Party Dundee Branch have put forward a motion supporting this to the council. We will work with councillors and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign to ensure that Dundee City Council reflect the public support and pass the SSP’s motion to boycott Israeli goods.

The people of Palestine face daily life each day uncertain if it will be their last, Living in constant fear, that their homes may be taken away. The Scottish Socialist Party stands shoulder to shoulder with them in solidarity. We urge Dundee City Council to do the same and support the motion presented.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Standing United Against Tory Rule.

On July 8th, George Osbourne will outline how the Conservatives will slash the public purse strings by a further £12 billion in social security cuts. This will lead to further hardship of those who badly need support and protection from a system which was created as a safety net for those who needed it. On the 8th of July Osbourne will take sharp shears to that net ripping it to pieces.

How did we get to this position? I watched like many did with a macabre sense of enjoyment as Labour were routed in Scotland. Yet as the trend continued throughout the UK it led to many awakening to the realisation of 5 more years of the Tories. How much better off we would be with a Labour government remains in doubt, certainly the lack of a real Labour message meant the abandonment of many from the party not just here in Scotland. Now we must all wake up to the reality of what lies in front of us.

Chomsky once wrote that “The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people.”

In essence these last 5 years the Conservatives have set out to do just that... Rule by fear. They, with major corporations and mainstream media in lock step have perpetuated the lie that there is no other way than austerity. That the only way to cure an economic crisis is for economic cruelty for the masses. That public services must be cut so that private investment (and private profit) can flourish.

The next five years will be critical for the future of our public services. Crucially the outcome of the next 5 years will greatly depend how we as a society begin to come together. Individually, against the state there is little we can do, united we can take on the tallest, largest, most daunting of challenges. United we can defeat the Tories and stop them in their tracks. Stop the politics of fear and austerity ruling and destroying the very fabric of our society.

The Scottish Socialist Party have already begun the campaign. Last month we took part in a nationwide day of protest defying the Tories. The event spanned the length of the country from Arbroath to Ayrshire. We will continue to be the party which is the vanguard against the oppression the working class in Scotland face. We need to become an avenue of protest on the street. We will play a leading force in the fight against austerity continuing in George Square on the 20th June. We must be the party which works within the local communities to ensure help and support is there for those who need it. More than that, we must become the voice of those who once relied on the Labour Party to speak for them. This voice will shout loud and clear from every working class area in Scotland and will ensure that we, the masses are never left behind.

On a national level, we need to not only be the voice but an avenue for the many within this country who are not represented by the pro neo-liberal agenda of the Westminster Parties, including the SNP. This next year will be a big year for us as a party. Whether we will be campaigning as the SSP or as part of a wider left alliance, the need for a strong socialist party has never been more essential to make Scotland a fairer, more equal and just society.

This means that as well as opposing Tory cuts, we need to get our message that a vote for the SSP is a vote for real change. In order to do this we cannot just focus on what we are against. We need to get our values, our policy which will change our society for the better. We cannot become bogged down in fighting for the scraps on the political fringes, nor should we abandon our principles. We can appeal to real Labour voters, who have always been socialists, to vote for a political party that supports job creation in industry and energy, that backs free public transport, that creates a fairer service tax to replace the outdated council tax. We are a party that is for people not profit, which is why we support a £10 an hour living wage. We are a party that has a plan for the next twenty years to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, creating jobs, trade and ending fuel poverty. These are the values we stand for, we should never hide away from that.

Another 5 years of Tory rule is not something that is new for most of us. We know from history what will happen if we do not stand firm against it. We study history in order to intervene in the course of history. Now is our opportunity to intervene, to end the diabolical regime of austerity. The mainstream media will continue to promote that this is the only way. That’s okay, we will ensure our voice is heard. This revolution will not be televised... But then it doesn’t need to be.

Friday, 29 May 2015

A Time to Move Forward

This past Saturday our nation’s capital played host to the Scottish Socialist Party Conference. There was one issue in particular which was eagerly anticipated, that being the discussions regarding the SSP’s potential involvement in the Scottish Left Project. I have made no bones about my position in this regard. I believed, and still do that an electoral alliance in 2016 will not be effective and that time negotiating and building a left project will deplete the time spent on rebuilding the SSP. At conference, members took the decision to support the Executive motion to enter into negotiations with the SLP and while I am disappointed in the result, I fully support the democratic will of the membership and look to move forward and continue to do all I can to progress our party and the principles we hold so dear.

We as a party have grown steadily since the referendum and we look to continue to do so. Having built up 30 branches and have activists in local communities across the country, it is clear that the SSP is very capable of becoming a major force in Scottish politics. I am particularly excited in playing my role with a great many others in writing a new chapter for the party and wider social movement. Despite the conference vote regarding the Left project this does not change.

What is worth remembering is that all that has been agreed is to negotiate, nothing more has been decided at this stage. I place full trust in the Executive Committee, of which I am very proud to have been elected to, to ensure that the values and integrity for which this party stands will not disappear, nor will the very existence of the party be lost. The Scottish Socialist Party will continue to play an important role within working class communities and we will continue to increase our local and national activism which was evident in the very recent demonstrations which defied Tory dictatorship here in Scotland.

Looking forward to the year ahead until the Scottish Elections, I am very excited to work with such a talented and committed Executive Committee. There is so much talent, drive and ideas within this leadership team that we can only continue to progress as a party. More so than that, within the last 8 months I have been fortunate to get to know comrades throughout Scotland, whose ideas and commitment to the cause are exemplary. One of the ways I most look forward to contributing is to provide an avenue for members to put their views and ideas to the Executive,it is these activists who have the truest sense of what is happening in communities across the country and we must find a way to ensure their voice is heard more frequently.

Make no mistake, we as a party are aware of the long, hard work we have ahead of us. We must regain our positions within communities, ensuring we are a place of respite and protection, a party which fights for the rights of those we wish to represent. We must ensure that we not only oppose those who wish to destroy the fabrics of our society, but that we also project an alternative vision for people to support.

We know that to become a political force in Scottish politics is no easy feat. Yet with a Conservative Government determined to destroy all safety nets and protections and instil further austerity and cuts and with a Labour Party no longer reflective of the people they were created to represent and an unopposed SNP Government in Scotland means that our task is more important than ever.

The Chinese Philosopher Laozi said that A journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step. Now more than ever that step must be taken. Join the SSP and make that journey with us.

                                         Join the Scottish Socialist Party by Clicking HERE

Friday, 22 May 2015

The Scottish Left Project - All It's Cracked Up To Be?

The ascension of a Tory majority government, the collapse of Labour and Lib Dems and the hegemony that the Scottish National Party now holds means it is more important than ever to have a strong left with a strong political party to lead the movement forward.

When I joined the Scottish Socialist Party after the referendum I said to conference that I was not joining the SSP to sit on the fringes of the political debate. The SSP’s place is at the heart of Scottish politics. As long as the SSP remain part of the fringes of politics, it will battle other political parties on the fringe who feel that ground is theirs. This is not a battle we should fight nor be interested in, rather a moderate distraction which removes us from our primary goal of becoming the voice for the mass people of Scotland.

The Scottish Left Project arose from the referendum with the aim to create a left coalition, to unite the left parties, organisations and individuals into a collective. It is an exciting thought and has turned heads including within the SSP. I have great respect for many leading this group, such as Jonathon Shafi, Cat Boyd and my LFI co-convenor Debbie Waters, but there are many issues. Despite being removed from the sectarianism of the left, history tells us that there will always be splits and divisions, even the original SLP was plagued by division. The other parties on the left have either shown no interest in joining the Left Project and some probably unwelcome. If this is the case, which it appears to be, then the Left Project will be a small group of individuals and the SSP. Undoubtedly without the SSP the Left Project will not work, but what merit does it bring to the SSP? Further to it, If these individuals want to work with the SSP in the Left Project, why do they not join the SSP?

There has also been doubts about the final destination of the Left Project, will it remain an umbrella group or become a party? If the latter is true, then by joining this coalition the SSP would be effectively signing its own death warrant. The Scottish Left Project while i’m convinced is well intentioned, appears more reactionary, seeking a quick fix that isn’t there. I also have misgivings about the process that the SLP has went about trying to get the SSP to align with it.Rather than appeal to the party, it seems to have tried to pick off members in the hopes of bouncing the party into joining.

These concerns are very real, and worth remembering for SSP members as they attend conference this Saturday. Yet the motion regarding the Scottish Left Project has been simplified as to whether we negotiate as an electoral alliance for 2016 or not. Despite this altering of tone, I will be voting against the motion. I do not do so without given clear and thoughtful consideration to this, nor does this mean that I believe we should not seek alliances as a party. I just do not feel this is the right time or the right alliance for the SSP.

In the event of this motion passing, protracted negotiations between the founders of the Left Project and the SSP executive will no doubt continue over the summer to be approved by National Council in September, This means that for the next 4-5 months at least our leadership will be held up in negotiations at a time of vital importance to the party to solidify our electoral strategy for 2016 and a medium to long term plan to make the Scottish Socialist Party an electable force. Meanwhile the membership which has become fractured over this issue, will continue to discuss the merits of this project than working cohesively to campaign in issues which really matter and effect those who need our support the most during this cruel Tory Government. Only by voting against this motion will the matter be cleared up for the next year, allowing us to write the next chapter of the party.

 Don’t be mistaken by my words here. I am convinced that change is necessary. We in the Party, must acknowledge that a rejection of an alliance with the Left Project is not an acknowledgement that change does not need to occur. But it is change that comes through political party improvements. There is much work to do in terms of policy, marketing, strategy and above all increasing the level of professionalism within our party. There is no easy fix to this. It will take hard work and effort.

Some may argue that the SSP may forever be tainted by the past, I don’t buy that. If I did I would never have joined. The hard work, commitment and dedication during the referendum brought the SSP back into the public eye again, it wiped the slate clean. Now we have to write a new chapter. That is something to be excited about, rebuilding the party as an electable force, working in local communities fighting school and hospital closures, welfare sanctions and cuts to carers allowances. Campaigning for increased social housing, a £10 living wage transforming the energy sector, creating jobs and rebuilding our industries. This is what will make us an electoral force, being there in each community, fighting for causes we believe in. Not joining forces with a group who outside our political bubble, no one has ever heard of.

To my comrades in the party who are in support of the SLP, I respect your opinion, I understand why after seeing the rise of Podemos and Syriza you feel this is the best way forward. But the Left Project isn’t Syriza, It doesn’t have cross support throughout left and green parties. The Greens will not join the Left Project, they value their party and it’s ideals too much. We should feel this way too.

With the decline of the Labour Party in Scotland, the Left have a wonderful opportunity to place ourselves at the forefront of Scottish politics, The SNP need a viable opposition and in order to continue progressive politics that opposition must come from the left. But it also must come from an organised professional political party, not an assortment of bedfellows who will have very different agendas. Work with us to continue to build the SSP and create something incredibly special.

Friday, 8 May 2015

No One Likes the Truth

‘I certainly shall not be happy because I meet with very much hostility. Because I tell you the truth. Who do-- who likes the truth? Nobody likes the truth. The first experience that you will make when you begin to do anything in the world is that people hate the truth.’

-Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy.

Labour for Independence was created on the premise that a yes vote was the last opportunity to save the soul and end the permanent decline of the Labour Party in Scotland. As I sat last night watching the results from all over Scotland come in I couldn’t help but remind myself of the many warnings we as a group gave to the Labour Party who continued to ostracise us in our pursuit to help them.

Yet there is no great pleasure in the vindication of our work. While the defeat of arch Blairites; Murphy, Curran and Alexander was undoubtedly hubris We all awoke up to the realisation of 5 more years of Tory rule, this time with no dithering uncle Lib Dem to slow down their insatiable desire to tear up the very fabric and nature of our society. Already, before feet are back under the table, plans are being formed to cut work schemes for disabled people. No one, from the left, Labour or SNP can take any joy in the future we have in store for us with a majority Conservative Government.

Despite leaving the party, despite being very critical of both the UK and Scottish Labour Party, I wanted Ed Milliband today to be working to form a workable government. The lesser of two evils, Labour would potentially have adopted more socially just policies had they came into minority power, especially if they were under pressure from a strong progressive SNP/Green/P.C alliance. This election campaign offered great hope to those who have campaigned for a better way. Finally alternatives to austerity were being discussed, removing trident, ending this anti immigration rhetoric. Suddenly these all seemed a possibility, if only the cards would fall in the right places and egos were kept in check. With a majority Tory Government all of this talk is now long gone. Trident will be renewed, immigration will still be front and centre of British politics and austerity will be accepted as the only way.

 It is hardly surprising that;

The pound surged instantly as the exit poll suggested a Tory election "win" and investors toasted the prospect of continuity in Britain's current austerity policies.

The era of those that ‘have’ continue, the persecution of those who ‘desperately need’ will live on for at least 5 more years.

In Scotland the decline of the Labour Party has been often debated and discussed. It is not, as many political commentators have suggested something which has been created since September 18th. The removal of Clause iv, the war in Iraq, Tony Blair, PFIs, supporting Trident renewal,the referendum, the attitude displayed towards the 39% of Labour voters who voted yes. We were ‘Nats’ in disguise, traitors to the party, we would be ‘bayoneted’ and left to rot. Then the final nail in the coffin. The appointment of Jim Murphy as leader, the visual and psychological acknowledgement that the Party wanted a Blairite careerist removed of principles, than the pro trade union, working class candidate Neil Findlay. Labour in Scotland in the last 20 years have signed their own death warrant many times. Now in Holyrood and Westminster in this land, they are wiped out.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

More Than Just A Day.

This weekends as we take part in parades and marches, rallying together for International Workers Day should serve as a timely reminder of the incredible strength that the workers of the world have when we unite together. Yet far from being a well known and oft used paraphrase it should mark the recognition and realisation that we have the strong hand. Something we often forget as we are continually oppressed and undermined by big business, corporations and governments which only serve their own financial interests.

This strength only arrives through organisation and cooperation, an understanding that we can best serve the interests of all in society when all in society have a fair say and are fairly represented. The organisational capacity comes in part through political party and trade union participation. In this Lenin’s belief in the benefit of organised political movements leading the revolution still ring true. I would argue however that today, particularly in Scotland, the organisation and movement must be directed towards a ballot box revolution. I know some comrades will disagree, however the mass movement of the yes campaign has proved that it is possible to revolutionise society through the principled aim of democratic elections.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

When You Start Campaigning With The Tories, You’ve Forgotten What Side You Are On.

When you start campaigning with the Tories, you’ve forgotten what side you are on. 

Throughout this week the mainstream media have focussed on a story which was succinctly described by BBC reporter James Cook as “ It was a third hand account that has been denied by everyone who was there.” A stranger, and far more dangerous Telegraph story was unsurprisingly unreported by major media or retweeted by Labour activists, but picked up traction by online news blogs. 

‘In Perth, a group of young activists led by Andrew Skinner, A Labour supporter from Glasgow, has been leafleting the Labour stronghold of North Muirton, trying to persuade people to vote Tory. 

“They did really well and the Conservatives bough them lunch afterwards,” Says Victor Clements, the Director of Forward Together, a local tactical voting campaign. “It’s quite surreal when it comes down to it.” ‘

So this is really what it has boiled down to. Forget Jim Murphy singing from the top of his Irn Bru crate. “Vote SNP get the Tories.” Forget David Cameron shouting from his ivory tower, “Vote SNP let Labour in the backdoor.” The truth is that Labour, Tory and Lib Dems will stoop to any level to ensure that the 3 party hegemony, and more importantly the ‘austerity is the only way’ message is not disrupted.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

What Do You Really Stand For?

Welcome to the year 2030, It’s another election year, Scotland has became independent thanks to a 2015 minority Conservative Government enforcing a decimation of public services, backed up by Ulster Unionists, UKIP and New Labourites, happy to be anywhere but under Ed Miliband’s leadership. 2017 saw the EU referendum, which killed off UKIP but saw the United Kingdom remove itself from the EU after England voted to go and the rest of the home nations voted to stay. Despite electing 38 SNP MPs in 2015 a realisation occurred in the people of Scotland that no matter how we vote, we will always be treated to Tories in a variety of party colours. 

A second referendum is called for 2020 in which 71% of the people of Scotland vote yes to independence. A new nation is formed and a first independent election in 2022 leads to a majority government for the SNP. Eight years on the country is struggling, financially held to the wall by multinational oil companies. Renewable energies are developed only in terms of off/on shore wind farms which 15% of all profits are sent to Crown Estate and subsidies to farmers for land use take up much of the remaining profit. Nuclear weapons will be removed by the year 2035 in agreement with our partners in NATO that the nationally owned Prestwick Airport becomes a US Naval Base which is used to refuel on it’s way to border the threat of Russian military might. Membership of the SNP drops at an alarming rate, so much so that official figures are never mentioned. Despite public unrest, the state financed SBC are predicting that the SNP will retain their majority and 76 year old Alex Salmond will begin his second period as First Minister with a promise to cut corporation tax to stimulate economic growth. With the 8 year maximum service for Nicola Sturgeon having been complete, she will now take her position in the newly formed Presidency role which is a solely political head of state, allowing His Majesty Charles the Third to retain his titles and land North of the Border. Despite great unrest there is little doubt that through Dundee, Glasgow and the North you could stick a pig up there with an yellow SNP rosette and they would be elected..... 

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Let Them Drink Beer.

Social media has been in a furore about Jim Murphy’s latest campaign trick to re-legalise alcohol at football games. It has gotten the nationalists flooding in their condemnation, how this will lead to the end of civilisation, that all our efforts to reduce alcohol abuse will be for nothing if we allow drinking at the football.

In light of this hysteria, it is important to note several things. Firstly alcohol is allowed at football games, but only of you can afford to be in the hospitality suite. This is a working class issue as it will not be the big spenders who do not have the option between a pint or a pie at half time. In my opinion there is no practical reasons why alcohol is not served in other areas than the hospitality in football. The truth is that those who want to be inebriated during a game will do so whether there is drink served there. They will merely fill their boots before the game. Similar to the 5 O’clock swill in Australia, there is a probable argument that alcohol at games would actually reduce binge drinking before games in order to keep these particular fans ‘buzz’ going.

Tea-total Jim claiming another Bru on the exes.

Let’s also be clear that the likelihood of having more than one beer before the game and perhaps at half time is slim to none. Standing in line for a pie and bovril at Hampden is testament to that. This isn’t anything new or original either. Go to Anfield or Old Trafford to watch English games and you can have a pint in the foyer before the game right next to the bookies to place your bet.I’ve heard the argument ‘if you cant go without a drink for 90 minutes then there is something wrong with you.’ That is about as logical as saying pubs should close on a Tuesday because you should all be able to go a night without drinking. Who determines which 90 minutes/day we cannot go without drink?

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

All Aboard the Pink Bus

Less than a week after I forced myself to take a much needed break from politics that the Labour Party have produced another gaffe so incredible that I have felt compelled to write about it. 

This morning my wife told me of the cunning new plan, those bigwigs in Labour HQ have created to connect with women. It’s not an increase of women in the shadow cabinet to 50%. It’s not a promotion of a senior female politician to Shadow Chancellor.. No their great idea is a bus... A big pink bus. Yet beyond the notion that a tour bus is the answer or the media jokes about the colour is something far more worrying. 

Unveiling the campaign, Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman said the pink bus tour was not patronising, as the party recognises that women have different patterns in their working lives which need to be addressed by public policy.

She also defended the choice of colour, saying it was important to make sure the bus was conspicuous.

The tour of 70 constituencies will focus on five areas that Labour has determined are key to women: childcare, social care, domestic violence, equal pay and political representation.
That’s it, that’s the sum of all worries and woes for all women all across the UK. 

The truth is that of course these issues are important and it’s right that the Labour Party are addressing them in this election campaign. The problem is that it is segregation in the purest form. 

You can almost hear Ed Balls and Miliband say to Harman; 
“Don’t you worry your pretty head about the economy off you go on a pink bus and talk to women about domestic abuse.” 

What’s next?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Looking to the Future

At the end of last year I wrote an article on the need for new and fresh ideas within the socialist movement and only through discussion of the main issues could this be achieved.

In the previous piece I discussed working life. I am delighted to be a member of a party who supports a £10 an hour minimum wage and an end to zero hour contracts. Not only that but the SSP will openly campaign for this to happen rather than merely pay lip service to it. I am looking forward to campaigning with many comrades in Dundee and throughout Scotland to get our message out to the people of Scotland.

I hope that in future discussions we will consider the option of making Sundays a day of rest for non essential services and look forward to that debate.

Today I would like to discuss education, I have taken this from the position of Scotland being an independent country, however being a devolved institution there are many of these policies which could be introduced. Again I hope this may lead to further debate and alternatives to what I am proposing.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Leaving the Family- It's All a Part of Growing Up

For some, leaving or joining a political party is like choosing what to have for tea at night. Changes in leadership, policy or dare I say it, electoral defeat causes some to ‘jump ship’ into the arms of another party. For others, membership of a political party is about finding a home.

For me, joining the Labour Party wasn’t a conscious choice, in truth I never really had a choice. I grew up in a Labour home, brought up with a family who on both sides through generations were all Labour voters, members and/or activists. I never imagined being a member of any other political party than Labour, it was my home. I first campaigned for the party at 8 years of age in the 1992 General Election, I remember writing a speech in a first year modern studies class and causing a scene when the teacher assigned my group as the Tories, I refused to take part until she changed us to something else (Monster Raving Loony Party was all that was left.) The nerve I thought, that Labour could ever associate with the Tories.

Joining the party in my late teens was a natural progression, In my student days I tried to get involved with the students association of the party. I met with the chair of the students at the time Michael Marra (Jenny’s big brother) and attended a debate on independence with a few others in the group. By the end of the meeting I never associated myself with them again. I heard their grand plans for research jobs then parliament, their obsession with hating the Nats, although none of them were quite sure why, worse was the denigration of anyone's opinion who wasn’t wearing a suit and tie. An old boys club which had no relevance to the lives of those the party was created to represent.

The unfortunate reality was that this did not solely refer to a jolly boys club at university, rather this was becoming the acceptable face of New Labour. In fact by the time I had joined the party, it was no where close to representing what Labour values actually stood for. The reason I joined was that I still believed in the values and principles that led to the creation of the party, that created the Welfare State and the National Health Service. Looking back it’s clear I believed in the party that my grandmother told me about, not the party I was a part of. Of course I had no knowledge of this at the time.

In the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, I seriously considered resigning from the party and joining the Scottish Socialist Party... Yet I couldn’t. Despite my contempt for the governments actions; to leave the party would be to walk out on my home. No matter how unsuited we were I still held on for the past and stayed within Labour ranks.

 It should be noted that while the New Labour team held the grip of power in most branches and CLP’s there were and still are some real Labour members in the party, who stand up for what the principles of Labour really are. It is a shame that this number continues to dwindle.

Despite being a member of the party I had always supported independence for Scotland. I did so, not as a nationalist but rather a believer in a nations democratic right to self determine it’s own parliament. I began Labour for Independence as a Facebook page to see if anyone else shared this opinion. I was amazed at the growth and development from a social media platform to a political organisation. I am immensely proud of the work that we did. Our message was simple, vote yes and you can have a real Labour Party back, one that returns to it’s founding principles of fairness, social justice and equality. In the end 38% of Labour voters agreed with us, (up from 9% when LFI was formed).

Throughout the two year campaign we (LFI), were slandered and abused by ‘comrades’ within our own party, decried an ‘SNP front, and treated as traitors by a great many within our own party. They did this through fear, through an understanding that they were in the wrong but couldn't help themselves be anywhere but where they were. Any time they debated with us, which was seldom, they lost. With even good socialists like Neil Findlay unable to mount a logical defence of the union regarding trident.

Yet this is not why I left the Labour Party, In the campaign we had Labour leaders call us a ‘something for nothing society’ that we are not ‘genetically programmed to make our own decisions.’ We have seen our so called comrades high five Tories at counts. Some, like  the new Labour Branch Leader of Scotland, Jim Murphy hugging Tories in Clydebank of all places. Thoughts instantly sprang back to that classroom and my refusal to be labelled as a fictional Tory.

But for me personally the final straw was seeing Johann Lamont outside Asdas smiling for a picture because they had announced to raise prices in an independent Scotland. What a vile act for someone claiming to be Labour, let alone the leader of the party. Regardless of her voting preference the fact she should take enjoyment out of rising prices that will effect the poorest and the working class the hardest is unconscionable.

So with a heavy heart, I resigned my membership of the Labour Party. To do so also meant resigning as Co-Convenor of Labour for Independence. For me there was an incredible sense of sadness and loss when I resigned. More than that I needed a new outlet to work, a new platform to continue to campaign. I just didn’t know if I could join another party.

After about a month of phone calls with Colin Fox, speaking to the local branch organiser and second guessing myself, I signed the membership form to join the Scottish Socialist Party. For some this would be nothing. But for me joining a party other than Labour still seemed strange. Even after the first couple of meetings I still wasn’t sure if it was the right fit. I attended the SSP conference and was asked to speak. I was worried I wouldn’t be accepted within the party, that the Labour name may have me be seen as an outsider. I needn’t have worried. I was welcomed as a friend and comrade.

It is still at times strange no longer being part of Labour, but more so, it is rejuvenating. I am now part of a party where I actually agree with current policy rather than the past. I am now part of a party whose two leaders, Colin Fox and Sandra Webster, I both respect and admire. Do I agree with everything that we do as a party? No, but I know more than most that no party is ever perfect. With the SSP I can argue my case and it will be considered. Political thought is not a hand grenade within the party like it was with Labour. We are an eclectic group of socialists who unite behind the interests of those we were formed to represent. The SSP is rising again and I am immensely proud to be a part of it.

When I think back to the Iraq War, when I nearly joined the SSP. I think, should I have taken the plunge then? I’m still glad I didn’t. If I had then I would never have worked with the great comrades in Labour for Independence. More than that I would never have had the full belief that Labour is not my home anymore.

Independence in Scotland was the last opportunity for a real Labour Party. It was the last chance for Labour. If I wasn’t still a member I might not of realised it. Many others in the party also realised it that day, those good comrades who kept fighting, realised it was over when Jim Murphy got elected as new leader in Scotland.

My home is now in the Scottish Socialist Party, I am a socialist and there is no other place for me to be and no other place that I would want to be. If my great grandparents, or grandparents were me... I know they would have made the same choice.