A statement from the Workers’ Unity platform in the SSP

The split in the Scottish Socialist Party is a tragedy. The Workers’ Unity platform has made strong criticisms of important aspects of the SSP policy and strategy. We were specifically formed to oppose the SSP’s turn to nationalism. And to oppose its determination to split the forces of socialism north and south of the border by building as a matter of principle a separate socialist party in Scotland.

However, by uniting the majority of organised socialists in Scotland and by establishing significant support in working class communities, the SSP demonstrated that a socialist unity project was feasible.

The collapse of that project can only lead to the disillusion of many activists and supporters. We must all maximise our efforts to ensure that the setback is as short-lived as possible.

Unfortunately, neither of the current organisations that have emerged from the crisis that followed Tommy Sheridan’s victory in his libel action is acting in a principled manner.

No to personality-cult politics

Solidarity, the organisation to be launched by Tommy Sheridan, the Socialist Workers’ Party and the Committee for a Workers’ International, is founded on the principle that the executive committee of the SSP had no right to hold its convenor to account. And on the preposterous lie that the majority of the EC and the SSP’s parliamentary group have engaged in a conspiracy to concoct evidence about Tommy Sheridan’s private life.

Already Solidarity is demonstrating that it will exploit the celebrity of Tommy Sheridan and others to the full. What price internal democracy and accountability in the new organisation? What price socialist principles?

Workers’ Unity believes that the SSP’s executive behaved correctly in refusing to support Tommy Sheridan’s ill-conceived libel action and in insisting that he resign as convenor when he rejected the options they laid before him.

However, it was a calamitous mistake to try and hide from the working class why the SSP’s leader had been sacked. It was an even bigger mistake – one that exposes flaws at the heart of the SSP project -to allow a new socialist force to become so dependent on one charismatic figure. Yet there are few signs that the leadership of what remains of the SSP is prepared to learn lessons about the party’s internal culture that could provide the basis of a revitalised socialist party.

No to nationalism

Instead, in a desperate bid to mark out a distinctive political space, the leadership of the SSP is resorting to petty-nationalist abuse. Even while the SWP and CWI continue to give credence to the illusion of an independent socialist Scotland, the attacks become shriller. By asserting that a socialist initiative involving London-based organisations is in some sense unacceptable, the leadership rejects the inclusive basis on which their own organisation was built.

It is true that the SWP and CWI have been outrageously opportunist in manipulating the SSP’s crisis. This reflects the sectarian nature of much of the left, rather than the national basis on which it is organised. If the leadership of the SSP has abandoned the objective of socialist unity, they will themselves be condemned to building a sect – and one that is more nationalist than socialist.

Workers’ Unity supports Scotland’s right to self-determination, campaigning against independence, but supporting the right of the Scottish people to choose it. But we have always argued that an effective socialist challenge to the British state was only possible by organising in an all-British socialist party. What the SSP’s crisis demonstrates is that neither can there be a resolution of the wider crisis of the British left exclusively in Scotland.

There are no short cuts to building the socialist organisation required by the working class. We can only begin with an honest evaluation of past mistakes.

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