A lot about the past year has been shocking regarding what has gone on within the confines of the "principled left." (My blogpiece on the post Rise political landscape is HERE).
Two things that opened my eyes to some of those in control of the reins were how some manipulate in order to create mobs around them- with the effect that they are cushioned from the fight and the consequences, and how those with troubles can be used to tar those on the other side of an argument as also troubled in the same way.
Let me explain.
One of the repetitive lines that came from Rise members- usually those who only recently became involved in politics- was "I don't remember five years ago, never mind ten. How is "x" relevant to me? I am the future!"
Now, this line was encouraged over and over by people whose personal political history goes back ten, twenty and even with some, more than thirty years. And all of those who encouraged the young to say that, understood the political histories that led up to the point where the desperate met the "last ditch ambitious" and Rise was created. An organisation behind which hid people who have had political ambitions stretching back to the late seventies, but whose fighting "front" were angry young people, loaded with compliments and back slaps and sage nods and new labels such as "local activist," "feminist activist," "campaigner," and pointed at the "stale" old people who had brought the SSP from the brink (the brink some of those behind Rise had driven it to) and who in actual fact, had rebuilt branches, across Scotland, working heavily in communities and in political organisations, building relevance and political voices at grass roots level once more.
This same tactic was used towards the end of the 2000's- vulnerable, angry young men and women at that time attacked comrades across social media and in SSP forums- all on the behalf of older, much more Machiavellian people, taking the brunt of all of the counter attacks while those egging them on sat in the shadows. The difficulty I had then was I agreed with what those using the SSY were getting at, but I could not justify their methods. I voted in 2010 for a more open SSP (as I had done in 2005, and 2007), but of course, democracy had by that time, been shut down both by those who had told members not to comment about Sheridan because they knew better how to deal with him, and by those who decided the party needed them at the core and few else.
The ongoing (for many years) dispute in Glasgow over lack of democracy regarding who is the regional organiser and the current assertion by young people that Colin Fox and Bill Bonnar are a steady pair of hands, will keep the SSP small. There are far more talented people in the ranks than these two. Some of whom have cut their teeth in the biggest and best political experience Scotland has ever seen- something that gave them far more political experience than Fox, Bonnar etc got in the first ten years of their political lives. A political experience that Colin, and others, mismanaged the outcome of- an outcome that would have been very different had those who knew the days of the disunited cults controlling the left are over. The ridiculous words from Shafi, Boyd etc about trying to "unite the left" when they know full well the days of uniting small factions have long past- but the disingenuous fact is they used this on some within the SSP who still feel that is a priority.
It isn't. The priority, as Shafi etc know full well, is to unite those fighting locally against cuts to services and those fighting nuclear weapons and other issues again re-highlighted during the independence referendum. Yet these very clever people used their talents to turn socialist against socialist and used feminist and race argument to attack feminists and people whose lives have been about equality- just because they disagreed with the "vote Boyd in Glasgow," "Vote Fox in Edinburgh" fantasy they had foisted upon us via rousing renditions of The Internationale in pubs, after rousing rallies analysed as quite the opposite of what their numbers and outcomes actually were.
Attacking people for their friendships and contact and at times agreement over certain issues, with people they had decided we're "abusers," "creepy," "scabs," etc was a dreadful mistake- but one again encouraged by people who should have known better. The viciousness of those manipulated by these people is still crashing across social media over a week after Rise's demise. Some really didn't seem to want to pick up the pieces after what was sure to become (and did) the disaster of Rise. In fact, far from uniting the left, they still, in the aftermath, seem to want to keep it shattered. Who does this benefit? Those saying "Rise will still go on?" Rise will go the way of the ISG. It will whither due to lack of real democracy. And it will whither further as young people realise in the coming months just how much they were manipulated by forces who have been at this sort of thing for much more than "five years."
But sadly, the SSP, if it does not have the "balls" to replace those who fucked up with its more up to date and cleverer, more principled cadre, will bump along for another few years, recruiting ones and twos at stalls and paying a salary to those who love the fame of being "Scotland's longest serving political party leader," which in a principled socialist party should be a badge of crushed democratic shame.
The factions need to stop manipulating young, and at times vulnerable young people and they need to think carefully about what works.
There was much in the newly revived SSP that worked. It wasn't the bits Colin Fox was in control of (except perhaps at branch level- though he still confuses "education" with manipulation) and there was much in Rise that worked (it wasn't the dreadful social media "conversation").
Those serious about creating a democratic socialist change in Scotland need to leave the manipulators of crowds and dream twisters well out of what comes next.