Thursday, May 10, 2007

SWP vindicated in Scotland???

Neil Davidson writes a remarkable sectarian and self serving report of Scottish elections in this week’s Socialist Worker.

Neil writes: “The result has also decisively shown which party of the radical left will act as a focus for electoral resistance. Solidarity, which has been in existence for eight months, polled 31,047 votes.
“The SSP, which has been in existence for nine years and, if nothing else, had the benefit of name recognition, polled 12,731, fewer than the Socialist Labour Party with 13,404, which has virtually no members and carries out no activity.
This is a tribute to the work of Solidarity members over the past months and vindicates their decision to split from the SSP.”

Did it really vindicate their position? Splitting the vote and getting no MSPs elected was a vindication? Two socialist parties splitting despite having exactly the same programme was always unprincipled and opportunist (In case you are wondering, the only difference I could find in their manifestos was that Solidarity wanted to build 30000 council houses, the SSP wanted to build 100000)

Rather than declaring that a disastrous set back for the Scottish left was a vindication of the SWP’s politics, perhaps we could ask were there alternatives?

Did Sheridan have to resign from the SSP? Even after the court case, could he have stayed loyal to working within the framework of the party? It seems he resigned because it was clear he would have a real fight on his hands if he challenged Colin Fox for the Convenorship, and that he probably wouldn’t be selected for his safe seat in Glasgow.

Prominent political figures don’t always fight safe seats, and sometimes within parties individuals or factions have set backs, but keep loyal to the party project.

In 1983 Tony Benn lost the selection battle after boundary changes to fight the safe labour Seat of Bristol South, to right winger Michael Cox, but he didn’t flounce out the party, he fought and lost Bristol East. This despite the impact that he was not an MP when Michael Foot resigned as leader, and was unable to stand for leader of the party.

In this recent Scottish election, SNP leader Alex Salmond did not fight an SNP safe seat, but Gordon which was 18th in their list of targets.

Imagine that Sheridan had stayed in the SSP, and perhaps headed the list for the Highlands and Islands, a region where the SSP failed to win a seat in 2003 by the narrowest of whiskers. Sheridan’s name, a united party and campaigning could perhaps have won a seat this time.

A united SSP would probably have comfortably returned the brilliant Rosie Kane in Glasgow, and they would have won two perhaps more council seats in Glasgow.

But hey, much better to destroy the party and get no-one elected, which “vindicates” the SWP.


rob j said...

But how could Sheridan have stayed in the SSP when Curran,Leckie and Kane refused to work with him?
Anyway the whole thing is a bloody and horrible mess.
If I was living in Scotland I'd have been tempted to sod the SSP and Solidarity and vote Labour(with gritted teeth of course)because it still has some connection with the working class which is more than you can say for the SNP .

AN said...

That would have been a challenge for him Rob, but not impossible. After all how much collaborative work do professional politicians actually do? i shouldn't think Hazel Blears and Jeremy Corbyn spend a lot of time together for example.

Many people have little control over who they work with, and Sheridan could have plowed his own furrow. There was insufficient political rastioanle for Sheridan and the SWP/CWI to split, and "I have to go becasue they won't play with me", is hardly enough.

rob j said...

Yeah, but the Labour party's big and broad enough for sworn enemies to avoid each other.
But small lefty parties are a diffrent thing altogether.Faction fights get bitter and nasty and blown out of all proportion very quickly.There'd have been a very damaging split eventually.

Korakious said...

To be fair, while I agree with your points, I don't think that the fault of Sheridan and co is that they walked out of the SSP, but that they caused the split in the first place.

After good comrades who had committed their lives to the SSP were accused of conspiracy, grassing and... sorcery, it is hard to imagine how disciplinary action (which, given the magnitude of the transgressions, would have necessarily resulted in expulsions) could have been avoided.

neprimerimye said...

The simple truth is that had it acted on principle the SWP should never have had anything to do with the SP or Sheridan. Sad to see a bloody good historian abase himself in this way.