In a letter to party members, Tommy Sheridan signals his intentions to split the SSP

Comrades and friends,

I’d like to make a short contribution to the debate now raging about the future of organised socialism in Scotland.

We came very far in a short period of time with the SSP, but that party may have reached its historical limits. The ULN faction has come to dominate key positions out of all proportion to its weight in the SSP and has abused our democratic structures. Individuals within that faction have ignored the will of the National Council. They have crossed the class divide in siding with the NOTW against a socialist and, consequently, have turned the party we have built together into a colossal train wreck.

They have tarnished the SSP banner – perhaps beyond all repair. At meetings with comrades individually and collectively over the last few days I have raised the following points for consideration, which I would now like to raise with you – the 360 signatories to the SSP Majority.

I have no doubt we could recapture the party apparatus and leadership at our conference in October – but we must ask ourselves what would be we be recapturing? The ULN will remain a constant thorn in our side, its extreme gender politics, fixation with personalities and infantile ultra leftism dragging the name of the party through the mud. Its obsession with rewriting the verdict of my defamation trial would continue to be a stone weight around our necks.

The policy and press co-ordinator of our party, Alan McCombes, declared in the Herald last week that the EC is now at war with me. I thought the only war we were interested in conducting was the class war against injustice and inequality.

Do we really wish to spend our energies and talents fighting an incessant internal struggle with these people for the next two months and beyond, without an end in sight? Or would it perhaps be better to make a clean break and begin anew, with a fresh, untarnished vehicle for socialist politics in Scotland? Is the best use of our time fighting an internal enemy while thousands of people out there in the real world want to build on the victory over Murdoch?

Would we not perhaps be better to take the best of our number – the trade unionists, members and branches who have stood united around principled socialist politics – and build a new party of the Scottish left that would be the kind of broad, open, campaigning party working people and their families can once again believe in?

I have in mind a new movement that would continue the battle for the vision we all hold dear – of an independent socialist Scotland free from poverty and want, of internationalism, of freedom from environmental destruction, of opposition to Bush and Blair’s imperialist wars – but bigger, bolder and better than anything that has gone before.

I raise these questions with you in the most serious manner and ask that you ponder over them over the next few days and weeks. I hope you will come to the All-Scotland meeting called by Rosemary and myself and have your say on these issues. The meeting will be held at: The Central Station Hotel, Glasgow. 1.00pm on Sunday 3rd September.

We have a historic decision to make. Whatever that decision is to be we must make it and take it together, standing and fighting as one.

Tommy Sheridan.
16 August 2006