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.


  1. This is a bit all over the place. You don't want Left/Green unity because they want to work "within the capitalist system." But you want the SSP to move to the right so as to pick up ex-labour voters. What is your difference between leftism and socialism exactly?

  2. I consider myself a Marxist. I have in the past been a member of the CP, the Labour party and Labour for Independence. Allan and the SSP are right to try to build a wide socialist alliance which will be required in the New Scottish parliament. Jack asks what the definition of Socialism is. My response to that question is. Neo-Capitalism needs 'austerity' in order to survive therefore today the struggle against austerity is at the heart of the class struggle and will build the basis for socialism.

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