The SSP, the "Skoda" of the left brands in Scotland, must reject the Ratners of the left, Rise.
Skoda was a brand that became the joke of the car world. Back in the eighties, the running joke was, "what do you call a convertible Skoda? A skip." Not any more as it now produces good quality cars and its brand is seen as reliable and worth every penny.
Ratners, a high street giant of a jewellers, died almost over night when its owner Getald Ratner, called his own products "crap."
Supporting certain people as "leaders" in the SSP; supporting the odd EC motion which is reminiscent of last years motion that all but destroyed the party and supporting a new "typical of any other political party" constitution will turn the SSP into the Ratners of the Scottish left. It lowers our aim from "being the change we want to see in the world" by having a democracy that allows vibrant, new ideas and campaigning to come from the root and branch, to following leaders. It will be letting those who caused mayhem last year off the hook -and indeed rewarding them with power (and paid posts).
I had interesting interactions this week with police, my Union and others I had to discuss online harassment I have had all year. Literally none of the 11 or so people I spoke to about this knew who Rise was, nor did they know of the leading Rise candidate I had recieved harassment from. All of them knew who the SSP was. Rise was something known only by a small left bubble- and those of us who want a socialism that is forward looking and backwards glancing, were trapped inside its stultifying, suffocating membrane.
Let's not make that a future description "The SSP was..." No- let's start thinking about how the ssp will help shape Scotland. What the SSP "is."
And let's get out of the extraordinary wee left bubble some have trapped us in by their "ambition within the Scottish left," and lack of ambition with the massively populated and 3D Scottish political left spectrum.
Rise was a badly thought out attempt at many things- one being a way to take on the hidden leadership of the SSP (in fact the dreadful first uses of the term "pale, male, stale," in relation to the ssp was aimed at this hidden leadership- but subsequently used to demonise those who had not joined the Greek/Spain "Scottish Syriza/Podemos" jolly.
This aspect, of course, will never be publicly admitted as part of its major raison d'etre. Unfortunately, that is because of how the self imposed secret leadership works- who it talks to/who it feels is valuable (ie who it can readily manipulate for its own ends). No one told the bulk of the SSP and those who were working desperately to change the culture within the party, who were then attacked by "comrades" who thought they knew all and thought they did not need to consult the membership in any meaningful way.
Unfortunately, they are the same people who have handed the party back, on a silver platter to Colin Fox and others who use it as a platform for their, at times, odd view of what a left alternative is- ie fighting with the SNP. With so much of the left now within and supporting the snp; rather than attack- we should be supporting those pulling that party into our territory. Our politics should always be what is best for our class- party comes second- and the hidden leadership of the ssp needs to be relegated into at least sixth place after branches, nc, regional councils, agm and the now scattered left diaspora in a constitution and in a movement of butterflies in the coming months.
Last year the growing, reborn SSP was asked to lower its gaze towards a group of 20 people called the ISG. The hidden leadership - those who rather than understanding the re-education of the past 10 years of the death of the small left groups and the realignment of the left into parties like The Greens, The SNP and the ssp, decided the wee, almost defunct groups were more important than the huge rebuild that was well under way. This was the very same mistake made by the party in insisting the SWP joined it in 2002.
Colin Fox, Frances Curran, Bill Bonnar and Richie Venton (amongst others) fought to keep their position within the small bubble of left politics rather than helping push the SSP to the next stage of becoming the left alternative to the snp. This was something a huge swathe of us seen as the next stage in the rebuild- not the dreadful immersion into something that relegated us (the ssp!) into second place in an alliance so undemocratic, even once unquestioning supporters are now asking about the action groups were bypassed by microphone grabbers and gurus (eg the Rise manifesto fiasco) and there are questions about how the Glasgow campaign went so wrong (and was given such a proportion of funds). Will these things be addressed by an SSP leadership that urged us to join? An SSP leadership that sat quietly while power was misappropriated within the alliance- all the time pretending the SSP was in charge?
Unfortunately all of these people (the hidden leadership of the SSP) plus their acolytes, bag carriers and thugs who bullied (and some who seem now to be supporting the bullying and harassment unquestioningly) will be voted into place to ensure the party bobs along below the surface, worrying about what small sectarian groups think of it. The NEW constitution will then support their unquestioned power.
Small left sectarian groups last year were worried about their existence following the the ssp rebuild. The SSP, in January last year, was looking like it was again shaping up to be a left party that could, if focused, be a real left voice in councils across Scotland.
The unopposed new/old leadership come Saturday will not apologise for the dreadful smashing of a newly confident and active party.
If they do it will have provisos and will be done in order to have conference again, "reluctantly," supporting a massively unambitious and in fact people's party crushing ec motion.
Also, the dreadful analysis, recently published, of the 2009 constitution should be rejected. The 2009 constitution, if followed, would have ensured Colin Fox was perhaps at the most a great branch organiser and someone who helped us regain our confidence.
The alternative will give Colin, and the National Secretary, more power than at present the ec have given him. And let's be frank here- Colin constantly refers to himself as the longest serving Scottish Political "leader." I've never heard the people's choice, Sandra Webster, EVER refer to herself as s leader.
The SSP seems determined in putting no alternatives forward to the old guard and the destroyers (eg Colin, Katie and Frances etc), who will keep the party small. These people were given free rein last year to cause mayhem, sew seeds of distrust and demean and in fact demonise members of the party who had since January 2015, rang alarm bells about the upcoming destruction of the misjudged SLP/Rise ISG vehicle.
Members: If Colin and Katie etc are to represent you- you need to ensure they have the strong arm of the NC staying their rapier arms and odd "cunning plans." Colin seems to want to keep the ssp small. Katie wants to lecture you like children as to what you should be talking about. Katie, last year, didn't want internal conversation on our forums about slp, obfa, drugs policy and Sheridan. Colin will write/ talk in the media not about what branches want him to, but what his wee hidden leadership want him to (as his recent statements show in Michael Gray's article. If you think our spokesperson should be making such statements without consulting NC, then you deserve the party you will get- and have bypassed reading the ssp 2009 constitution and the recommendations our internal enquiry came up with following the Sheridan Show).
So, I suppose the only way the ssp can take back the ssp, is to oppose the new constitution, and oppose the ec motion on Rise and then confident, uncompromising COMRADES should then work to shunt out the type of idiocy that will, in a matter of a few years, dissolve the SSP.
I hope comrades who came up with the analysis that RIC was ready to become a political party and that certain personalities who have done little only make speeches and promote themselves, they no again. Some of these people could come onboard the SSP, work hard in branches, on NC etc and would be easily, next year, be adopted by activists as spokespeople and given elected positions.
The SSP needs to build. It was doing that. Not only could the SSP have brought on board many new socialists- but it could have also, if Colin's incredible self analysis that spokesperson means policy maker was stamped on, squished, scraped up and deposited in the nearest dog poo bin, had many regional votes from socialists who supported the SNP and Labour for Independence.
The 20 or so ISG folk are not our priority. Whatever they launch will go the way of their previous incarnations- down the tubes in a blaze of recriminations and splits and accusations of mismanagement, cliques and middle class analysis.
Rejecting Rise will not be a sectarian act. It will be yet another SSP act of detoxification. The campaign that saw Rise activists rant and rave at socialists, republicans and feminists across social media was poisonous- the venom injected straight into the alliance artery and infecting all within it.
There are some within the ISG who should really take a look around them and recognise truth and move away from some individuals who will continue to damage their credibility, and when the SSP has, in the next couple of years, resolved its own internal stresses and strains, perhaps brand SSP will be like Skoda. At present it has fell back to 1989 Skoda with lots of potential-in two years time, it must bypass the personalities and build 2016 Volkswagon Skoda (without the dreadful, poisonous emissions).
Ratners died and is somewhere in a wee corner of the Internet, quietly selling its crap.