Scottish Socialist Voice

Editorial Comment



The events of the last week have left what should be internal, democratic discussions of the SSP under microscopic, very public scrutiny.

The Voice editorial team wish to state very clearly that the party’s newspaper has always remained an outward-looking, campaigning paper, as we believe the SSP has always been an outward-looking, campaigning party.

We have striven, to the very best of our ability, to present a balanced account of the work of all parts of the SSP, across Scotland, inside the parliament and council chambers, and on the streets of our communities.

We insist that when the internal matters of the SSP have demanded comment in the pages of this public face of the party, we have done so fairly, without malice or bias.

In the wake of Tommy Sheridan’s resignation, in an editorial which went to press with the agreement of the party’s EC and Tommy, we wrote:

“In all the jumble of stories that people might have heard, it has to be made absolutely clear that [a Daily Record story of infighting and a leadership coup which had pushed Tommy out] was not the case. There is not one particle of truth in any of the allegations of internecine battles or political manoeuvring running behind what’s happened.

“Other SSP MSPs have been viciously attacked and smeared in the press over the last week.”
We continued:

“Whether on striking workers’ picket lines or in championing the abolition of the Council Tax, Tommy has brought to Scottish politics a unique voice that speaks up for those who could not make themselves heard in the elitist world of establishment politics.

“And that’s something he will continue to do as an SSP MSP for Glasgow, as an integral part of our group of six MSPs, and our party as a whole.”

We continue to cover the campaigning work of all our party representatives, defend the Voice as a forum for raising the radical ideas and actions of the Scottish Socialist Party and echo Colin Fox’s call for unity.
We applaud the SSP membership, who, since the birth of the party, have fought day in, day out to build a grass-roots led, vibrant, democratic force for change.

For socialism, independence and internationalism.

 

FEELINGS RUN HIGH AT NATIONAL COUNCIL

On Sunday 28 May, delegates convened at Glasgow’s Caledonian University for an emergency National Council (NC), called in response to the crisis precipitated by former convenor Tommy Sheridan’s legal action against News International.

By then, a number of SSP comrades had been summonsed to appear before a court, the party’s headquarters in Glasgow and its Edinburgh office had been searched by sheriff’s officers and Alan McCombes was in Saughton Prison for refusing to hand over confidential party documents. His home had also been searched.

The packed meeting was chaired by SSP co-chair Morag Balfour and SSP National Secretary Allan Green. It was a difficult meeting from the outset, with feelings running extremely high.

The set agenda was derailed before it began to take an emergency motion from Inverness branch written in response to an article printed in that morning’s Sunday Herald.

The motion called for the “immediate resignation of the senior party member” who, according to the Sunday Herald, provided details pertaining to Tommy Sheridan’s resignation in November 2004. It also called for “disciplinary action” against anyone who knew about this leak to the press. The motion was passed by NC on a show of hands.

Two hours after the NC was due to begin, Colin Fox, SSP convenor, moved the Executive Committee (EC) motion to support the stance of defiance that led to Alan McCombes’ imprisonment, and which Alan himself supported.

Opinion was highly divided. Tommy Sheridan was amongst those opposing the EC motion and calling for the minutes to be handed over in compliance with the courts.

The opposition vote won, by 82 to 67, on a card vote.

Because this motion fell, so too did motions 2-5 from local branches, which variously supported the policy of defiance.

With the meeting nearly at a close, there were loud calls from some to move straight to Motion 6, which offered Tommy Sheridan “our full political support in his battle” against News International.

NC demanded a vote without any debate. The motion was carried, by 81 to 60, on a card vote.

 

‘Put party’s best interests before all else’

by Colin Fox MSP, SSP Convenor

Last weekend our National Council decided to trigger the immediate release of Alan McCombes from Saughton Prison. Alan’s courage and determination to go to jail in defence of the principal that the SSP documents were our property, not that of the Court of Session, was unanimously and warmly applauded throughout the party. The will of the NC was immediately implemented.

After helping secure Alan’s freedom and greeting him outside the gates of Saughton Prison I went on to meet with Tommy Sheridan.

We had a full and frank discussion where I explained that although I had not supported the position adopted by the National Council, as a democrat I fully recognised my obligation was to implement their wishes. I did so.

However I felt I was entitled to add that I believed it was a great pity and indeed a mistake for him to circulate his ‘Open Letter to SSP Members’ to the world’s media. It is one thing for it to be circulated inside the party but quite another for it to go beyond our ranks.

I understand entirely that Tommy is angry about the rumours he believes are circulating about him. As National Convenor of this party I abhor ALL remarks which undermine fellow comrades, wherever they come from.

In so far as there being any plot to ‘do Tommy Sheridan in’, which has been suggested in the media, I reject the claim.

In fact I believe that, on the contrary, the party sees Tommy as a hugely important, integral part of the leadership, both now and in future.

My immediate concern now is to insist there is an end to all the back biting and utterly damaging divisions. I urge all comrades to remember and renew the spirit that built Scotland’s united socialist force in the first place.

As the National Convenor of the SSP, I call on the whole party to unite behind me.

I am determined to do all I can to help heal the deep wounds inflicted on each other here and although I am under no illusions at the difficulties in doing so, nonetheless see it as the only way forward. I ask all SSP members to help me put the party’s best interests before all else.

We all need to refocus on our democratic socialist principles, fighting against inequality, poverty and illegal wars and remember what we endanger by continued divisions.

 

 

 

June 2006

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