Last week I resigned from my position as a member of the Scottish Socialist Party’s Executive Committee. Upon informing the National Secretary I chose to share my resignation letter on social media. (Available here.) I understand that to some in the party they may have this an attempt to discredit the party. I want to assure all of my comrades within the SSP that this was not the intention nor do I believe the impact of my letter. Rather it was important to outline the reasons why I took this difficult decision. Important to explain to members who I greatly appreciate having elected me to that position and also to the wider left movement.
This past year has been a difficult one for me politically. I have tried to be enthused by an attempt at left wing unity. But the more I see of this, the more it proves to be an oxymoron. The left will never unite in the same way that the right will never unite. When did you last hear Nigel Farage calling for unity from back bench Conservatives to EDL supporters. We have to recognise and understand that the left endures similar far reaching schisms and any attempts at unity can only further divide.
What attracted me to the Scottish Socialist Party was the broad church under one banner. I have enjoyed being able to debate with comrades who would probably consider me too centrist in certain policy areas, while I consider their views as merely a step too far too soon for todays voters. I have enjoyed many such debate with passion, respect and tolerance for each others views. Since the creation of RISE left alliance this tolerance and respect has seemingly gone out the window. Labelling those who dare to utter an opinion not of your own an ist or scab does not endear your arguments to anyone. Nor will it appeal to voters on the streets.
I have been shocked and saddened at the attacks among those who should be comrades because they differ in strategy or belief. I used to often hear of the implosions of the left while in the Labour Party and in truth it is a huge disservice to the majority within The SSP and wider movement who know how to conduct themselves and argue their piece appropriately. It is fortunate that political social media does not reach the majority of the public or any left wing party or alliance would suffer more than they are projected to do currently this May.
It is not solely the left that must shoulder the blame for this vitriol, In recent days an online implosion between RISE and the more out there fringes of the SNP-1-2 brigade has begun. How the unionist party’s must be laughing at the break up of the yes campaign.... Only they probably aren’t. The referendum is over, for most it is back to atypical political season and an election once again means party politics.
It is difficult if not impossible to try to maintain an unofficial alliance in which parties and alliances will be opposing each other on the ballot box. It is unrealistic to ask non SNP supporters to support the SNP or ‘not rock the boat’ until independence, when a referendum hasn't even been put into an SNP manifesto, never mind taken to the public. The Greens, SSP or any other left wing party or alliance should not be expected to support or give a free pass to a party which on so many issues is geometrically different to their values. In this election, independence is not the only dog in the race.
However I would also have little sympathy for a political party or alliance which attacks the SNP then asks those who intend to vote for them, members activists and long time voters... To give them their second vote on the merit of being pro-independence, while in the same breath say this election is about so much more.
We agree on independence and we should be grown up to realise that when a second referendum arrives we will work together again. We also need to show that same maturity to acknowledge that a pro big business, neo liberal economic SNP will not be seen as the saviour of the left by socialists.
For me I find another election in which I could not put my name forward for a party I believed in. I tire of seeing everyday the illusions of grandeur to grasp the social media sphere when for the last six months very few doors have been knocked and very few real people have been spoken to away from a keyboard.
Quite frankly I am tired of speaking about it and listening to other comrades despair about RISE. While this does not mean I won’t ask the genuine important questions asked by many but still unanswered such as...
- Will the profits from the ‘Refugees Welcome’ merchandise they have sold be given to charities assisting refugees?
- When/Was was the RISE National Organiser actually elected or was it self appointment?
I will however endure to remove myself from this. I intend to spend the next 5 months trying to reignite the spark and passion that brought me to the SSP in the first place. To make a case for what the party can be and to make a case for the politics I can believe in. I hope amongst our electioneering and campaigning we all find time to take part in a larger debate, of what we believe, where we want our party to be and what kind of Scotland we want when we are finally independent. Let us do this in tolerance for opposing views and civility and let that be the legacy of YES and the future starting point of YES 2.