By Colin Fox
Yes Scotland and the Scottish Socialist Party have come a long way together since that famous launch event in Edinburgh in May 2012.
Many ‘wise’ people had written the Scottish Socialist Party’s political obituary back then referring to Scotland’s ‘post-SSP’ political landscape. But then people have been writing off the SSP since we were founded 15 years ago.
They said we would not last the year back in 1998. They predicted that we would never get MSPs elected to Holyrood. They predicted our six MSPs would not achieve anything. Ignoring our Bills to abolish poundings and warrant sales and NHS prescription charges for example they insisted they had nothing to do with us. They claimed we were finished after Tommy Sheridan tried to destroy us.
They told the country we were the ones who had committed perjury. Predictably, none of them had the character to apologise when the truth finally emerged. But that’s how it goes with these ‘Nostradamii’. Mark Twain put it best when he quipped ‘Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated’.
Despite these forecasts a brave band of SSP activists kept the faith because we knew of no other party worthy of working class support in Scotland. We refuse to accept Labour or the SNP are socialist parties nor can they adequately explain the nature of the world today far less provide relief from the never ending exploitation facing Scotland’s working class majority.
We helped launch Yes Scotland in May 2012 because we felt it could champion the independence cause most effectively and we felt we could win greater political support for the SSP from it. That decision has paid dividends. We have won widespread respect for the constructive and collaborative role we play in building Yes Scotland. It has become the biggest grassroots political movement Scotland has seen since the anti-Poll Tax struggle of the late 1980s, a movement many of today’s SSP leaders led.
Yes Scotland Chief Executive Blair Jenkins has voiced his appreciation of the role the SSP plays saying ‘From day one of Yes Scotland the SSP has been hugely supportive and the party is a highly-valued partner in the broad national movement for an independent Scotland. One of the real strengths of the Yes campaign is that people from different political perspectives are working side by side and street by street to get the result we all want so much in September. The SSP has brought all of its energy and enthusiasm to contribute to that Yes momentum.’
And Independent MSP’s John Finnie and Jean Urquhart, who have addressed several SSP public meetings throughout the past year, are also keen to point out the important role the party plays “There’s growing public awareness’ said John ‘that the independence debate is more than Alex Salmond, more than the SNP. Much of the credit for that change goes to the SSP who, by way of street campaigns and an ever growing list of well-attended public meetings, have taken the constitutional debate to the people. The Yes campaign is both a sophisticated political machine and a ‘grass-roots’ campaign and the SSP has been an active and informed contributor to both.”
Jean concurs adding ‘The Yes campaign has been a terrific melting pot for everyone in Scotland. The lost voice of the SSP in the Scottish Parliament is Scotland’s loss. After independence, we need to truly reflect all the people of Scotland; that cannot be done without its Socialist voice.’
Yes Scotland has at the same time been a godsend for the SSP. The independence campaign has given our work a clear sense of purpose, forced us to engage with complex issues and compelled us to come up with new solutions and strategies to address those issues.
The SSP is growing again into the mass socialist party Scotland so desperately needs. More than 700 people have applied to join via our website scottishsocialistparty.org alone in the past year. We have established new branches throughout the country and we recently inaugurated two new societies at Edinburgh and Stirling Universities that have enjoyed sparkling success promoting our unique socialist message among a new generation of students.
We have expanded the Scottish Socialist Voice – Scotland’s only socialist newspaper – to 16 pages and held two very successful Voice Forums to discuss issues emerging from the independence movement. We have hosted more than 30 SSP public meetings on ‘The socialist case for independence’ the length and breadth of the country with thousands having attended cumulatively. Our pamphlet The Case For An independent Socialist Scotland has become our most successful publication ever.
And of course all these rewards would not have been possible without the painstaking work carried out by a dedicated band of SSP members across Scotland who build the party every day. And I again pay tribute to them for their efforts. The lesson? The SSP has been good for the Yes Scotland coalition and vice versa.
Courtesy of The Scottish Socialist Voice