Oct 04 2006

How Dare they Split the SSP!

Category: Emancipation & Liberation,Issue 13RCN @ 6:53 pm

This is the text of a leaflet circulated by Richie Venton SSP national trade union organiser, calling on trade unionists and members to stay in the SSP.

Published on the Scottish Socialist Party website and reproduced here.

Dear comrade,

I write to you as a socialist and trade unionist whom I value, in sorrow and in anger at the wreckage being done to the party I helped to initiate, organise and build. I am not a member of any faction; I am a loyal, committed SSP member who appeals to you to save the SSP as Scotland’s class-struggle socialist party, the vehicle for working class struggle and socialist change, for an independent socialist Scotland.

Tommy Sheridan and a few others are threatening to wreck the party of socialist unity that hundreds of decent, honest socialists have built through years of selfless commitment. The SSP remains the natural home for the cream of Scotland’s trade unionists and working class.

Unrivalled track record

Look at our unrivalled track record of struggle, solidarity and socialist leadership in every major and most localised strikes and struggles for better conditions since the day we were formed.

The fire fighters; nursery nurses; public sector pensions battle; railworkers’ campaigns; NHS workers’ rights; postal workers’ jobs, conditions and privatisation; civil service jobs and pay; BBC jobs, pay and pensions…. to name but some.

Look at the SSP’s policies – £8 minimum wage, shorter working week, abolition of anti-union laws, public ownership, union democracy, MSPs on skilled worker’s wage, etc.

There is no place for two socialist parties in Scotland – no political justification in Tommy or anyone else splitting away to form a new party with policies shamelessly stolen from the SSP’s manifestos. The only winners from such wrecking tactics would be the pro-market parties that abhor trade unionism and socialism.

Tommy’s proposed split-off is an act of utter disloyalty and irresponsibility to the hundreds of thousands of working class people whose hopes have been raised by the Scottish left uniting into the one party – the SSP. It would be aparticularly cruel deceit of those courageous trade unionists who fought for and won affiliation of the RMT and CWU to the SSP.

These workers did not affiliate to Tommy Sheridan – they affiliated to the party whose working class socialist policies and fighting record matches their aims and aspirations. Why should they be dragged off into the wilderness by a split-off from the SSP?

Divisive act of revenge

Hot on the heels of his legal victory against the dirty tabloid rag News of the World, Tommy Sheridan declared he would challenge Colin Fox as SSP convener – a divisive act of revenge towards those decent, honest socialists with the courage to tell the truth.

Tommy was contracted by the anti-SSP, pro-New Labour tabloid Daily Record, paid £30,000, put up in a top hotel, and whilst in bed with these enemies of socialism, launched his front-page diatribe that he intends to ‘destroy the scabs’. This thuggish language has failed to intimidate those of us with the courage and integrity to tell the truth – however unsavoury the truth might be.

Now, because he has no confidence that he would win a democratic election for SSP convener, he wants to split the party built by those whose blood, sweat and tears put him into parliament.

In his statement calling for a split off, he accuses others of a fixation with personalities! Why should the principled socialist unity of the SSP be wrecked for the sake of one man’s career? Since when should one individual’s control and power take precedence over the greater good of the socialist party that has stormed Scotland with our open, honest, democratic socialist vision?

The SSP remains the champion of socialist unity. We remain Scotland’s only trade union party. Our policies and principles remain unchanged, untarnished and as urgently relevant as ever in the class war against poverty, inequality, war and capitalism.

Refuse to rewrite history

It takes courage to be honest, but only an honest, open, campaigning socialist party is capable of winning mass support for the vision we all hold dear – of an independent socialist Scotland.

Far from being ‘scabs’, ‘liars’ or ‘conspirators’ in ‘the mother of all stitch-ups’, I and others have upheld the honesty and integrity of the SSP, refusing to rewrite history. We have refused to add fuel to Tommy’s ‘mother of all inventions’ that the SSP is a party indulging in frame-ups, forged minutes and monstrous methods that Stalin would have envied.

We refused to join him in scorching the very earth the SSP stands on.

Read the real facts of the choices we faced once Tommy defied all friendly advice from me and others and forged ahead with his court case. By doing so he put the party on trial as much as News of the World.

I am a loyal, dedicated socialist who does not have a penny to his name because of working for the socialist cause for decades.

I appeal to you to read on and join us in defending the very integrity and existence of the SSP. No split off! Yours in solidarity, honesty and socialism,

Richie Venton

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