Pointers for rebuilding the SSP

AGAINST AN SNP GOVERNMENT

The SSP must be clear that the likely Scottish National Party (SNP) government, pro-capitalist and pro-independence, is no advance on a pro-capitalist and pro-Union Labour (or Labour/Lib-Dem) government. As the SSP has pointed out, "the SNPÅfs increasingly pro-business vision of an independent Scotland... promises hundreds of millions of pounds in corporate tax cuts to big business. This could only be achieved by plundering our public services".

TURN TO THE WORKPLACES and TRADE UNIONS

The SSP needs to make a turn to systematic workplace and trade union activity, and to helping build rank-and-file groups in the different unions. The immediate focus for reviving trade union work is to try to build for strike action against the government’s two-year 2% pay limit for public sector pay rises. SSP trade unionists should take the lead in initiating local alliances of public sector unions.

The SSP also needs to formally abandon the long defunct “Make the Break” campaign (for unions to disaffiliate from the Labour Party).

Despite the Blairite project of driving the organised working class out of politics, Labour (unlike the SNP) remains based, in part, on the trade unions. The SSP should organise with other socialists in Labour-affiliated unions for those unions to fight for their policies inside (as well as outside) the Labour Party.

But the SSP paper Scottish Socialist Voice has not even reported on John McDonnell's campaign for Labour leader.

LABOUR MOVEMENT CAMPAIGNING

Scottish Socialist Voice announces that “we are going to draw together the disparate forces, including the SNP and Lib Dems, and representing the majority of the population of Scotland, calling for a local income tax to replace the Council Tax.”

This points in exactly the wrong direction. What’s needed is an orientation to specifically working-class and trade-union campaigns — not working with the likes of the SNP in the cross-party Independence Convention or the Independence First campaign. A joint SSP-SNP-Lib Dem “campaign” against the Council Tax would only boost the image of the SNP and Lib Dems. It would not in any promote the united working-class campaigning we need in working-class neighbourhoods and in workplaces.

LEFT UNITY IN CAMPAIGNING

It is now obviously impossible to claim that the left in Scotland equals the SSP.

Left re-unification in Scotland is not a realistic prospect in the short term.

But the SSP should appeal for, and where possible build, “united front” campaigns with other socialist and working-class forces in Scotland, such as the Scottish Campaign for Socialism, left Constituency Labour Parties, and Solidarity-Scotland.

A CLASS APPROACH TO INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGNING

The SSP needs to sharpen the political profile of its campaigning around international issues.

On Iraq, SSP policy is not just to oppose the occupation of the country but also to build support for the new trade unions emerging in post-Saddam Iraq.

But sometimes, from SSV, you wouldn’t know that. And a similar class approach needs to be extended to other international issues.

SSP policy of supporting Maoists in Nepal, Stalinists in Cuba, and a boycotts of Israeli goods has nothing to do with socialist internationalism.

DEFINING SOCIALISM and SOCIALIST STRATEGY

Socialism is the self-emancipation of the working class. It is not some nationalised industries plus a welfare state. It is not something to be achieved through a series of parliamentary reforms.

With some local exceptions, political education in the SSP has generally been a long way down the agenda.

The SSP needs to develop and promote an educational programme which equips its members with an understanding of class-struggle socialism and an engagement with the Marxist tradition.

• Adapted from a submission to the SSP National Council on 13 May 2007. See http://www.workersliberty.org/node/8437.