Scottish Socialist Party
|Scottish Socialist Party
Pàrtaidh Sòisealach na h-Alba
Scots Socialist Pairtie
|National co-convenors||Colin Fox and
|Headquarters||Suite 370, 93 Hope Street
|Newspaper||Scottish Socialist Voice|
|Local government in Scotland1|
|Politics of Scotland
The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) (Scottish Gaelic: Pàrtaidh Sòisealach na h-Alba; Scots: Scots Socialist Pairtie) is a left-wing Scottish political party. Positioning itself significantly to the left of Scotland's centre-left parties, the SSP campaigns on a socialist economic platform and for an independent socialist Scotland. It operates through a branch-based structure and publishes fortnightly Scotland's only socialist newspaper, called the Scottish Socialist Voice.
The party is the most successful socialist party in modern Scottish politics; following the 2003 elections to the Scottish Parliament, the party had six Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and two local councillors.
The party campaigns for the establishment of an independent Scottish socialist republic and for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan. The party also campaigns against cuts to public services and welfare being introduced by the UK government, in particular for the abolition of the bedroom tax,23 as well as for the provision of free school meals and for the government to mitigate fuel poverty caused by soaring fuel prices.4 The party's co-convenor, Colin Fox, holds a position on the Advisory Board of Yes Scotland, the cross-party campaign for Scottish independence in the upcoming referendum.
- 1 History
- 2 Policies
- 3 Campaigns
- 4 Local Government representation
- 5 Holyrood representation
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Scottish Socialist Party was formed from the Scottish Socialist Alliance (SSA), an alliance of left-wing organisations in Scotland. Following reasonable results by the Alliance in the 1997 General Election, the decision was taken to transform the SSA into a single party to contest the first elections of the new Scottish Parliament. The SSP polled well in this election and saw Tommy Sheridan, then the convenor of the party, elected to represent Glasgow.
The period following that election saw sustained growth for the SSP, including a boost to membership when the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers affiliated to the party. During this period of sustained and rapid growth, the party recruited extensively from former members of the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party, in addition to trade unionists, environmentalists, and community campaigners.
The 2003 elections to the Scottish Parliament saw the SSP become the largest left-wing party in Scottish politics, gaining five additional MSPs across Scotland: Frances Curran; Rosie Kane; Carolyn Leckie; Colin Fox; and Rosemary Byrne.
|Wikinews has related news: Scottish Socialist Party to split as Sheridan launches new party|
On 11 November 2004, Tommy Sheridan resigned as convener of the party, citing personal reasons. He was replaced by Colin Fox, SSP MSP for the Lothians. Following Sheridan's resignation, the News of the World alleged that he had had an extramarital affair. In response, Tommy Sheridan sued the paper for defamation.
On 16 December 2007, Sheridan was charged with perjury related to the case. The trial of Tommy and Gail Sheridan started at Glasgow High Court on 4 October 2010. In December 2010, Tommy Sheridan was found guilty of perjury.
The SSP first met at a national rally following the split in early September 2006, and again at a national conference in mid-October 2006, where all of the positions of the party were re-elected; including Colin Fox as National Convenor.
Neither the SSP or Tommy Sheridan's breakaway party, Solidarity, won seats in the 2007 elections to the Scottish Parliament. In council elections across the country, the SSP won a single seat for Jim Bollan in West Dumbartonshire.
The SSP did experience a recovery in 2008-09, increasing its vote compared to 2007 at by-elections in 2008 in Glasgow East and Glenrothes. The party contested the 2009 European elections around the slogan of "Make Greed History", campaigning for a Europe-wide "greed tax" on the continent's rich, and increased its vote share compared to 2007. The party ran ten candidates in the United Kingdom general election, 2010.
The SSP contested all eight regions in the Scottish Parliament election, 2011, with gender-balanced lists of candidates. The no. 1 candidates were:
- Jim Bollan for West
- Frances Curran for Glasgow
- Kevin McVey for Central
- Colin Fox for Lothians
- Colin Turbett for South
- Morag Balfour for Mid Scotland and Fife
- Angela Gorrie for North East
- Pam Currie for Highlands and Islands
Following the 2011 elections to the Scottish Parliament and the resulting SNP majority, the Scottish Government announced its intent to hold an independence referendum in 2014. In May 2012, a cross-party organisation called Yes Scotland was established to campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum. The SSP's national co-spokesperson, Colin Fox, was invited to sit on the Yes Scotland Advisory Board, reflecting the party's crucial support for independence for the past fifteen years. During the referendum campaign, the party has continued to campaign on other issues including the bedroom tax and equal marriage.5
Though the SSP is campaigning for a vote for independence in the coming referendum, they have stated a preference that Scotland should become a republic6 and that it should form an independent currency.7 This is at odds with the SNP's opinion that the Union of the Crowns should continue and that the pound sterling should continue to be used in Scotland.
In May 2013, Fox described a vote for independence as a "significant defeat for the British state and its stranglehold over our economy, society, culture and politics", as well as an opportunity to "[repudiate] neo-liberalism, corporatism, the financialisation of our economy and existing class relations". He added that he believes the referendum can be won "by persuading our fellow Scots of independence's transformational potential". SSP member and former Labour MP and MSP John McAllion agreed that socialists "cannot be fellow travellers on [the SNP's] road to independence", and urged Yes Scotland to offer a vision distinct from that of the SNP.8
As part of the party's campaign for independence, it has held public meetings across Scotland with a range of speakers.9 On 11 September 2013, it launched a pamphlet called The Case for an Independent Socialist Scotland,10 the publication of which has been welcomed by MSPs.11 It has become the party's fastest-selling pamphlet ever.
In November 2013, the party issued a statement in response to the publication of Scotland's Future, which said the Scottish Government's document had set out a vision "that unquestionably represents very significant advance for the people of Scotland", but reaffirmed the SSP's commitment to an independent socialist Scotland and a modern democratic republic. To that end, it said some policies in the document would be issues for the next general election.12
The SSP strongly supports autonomy for Scotland and Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom. It co-ordinated the rally for independence at Calton Hill in October 2004 and wrote the Declaration of Calton Hill, which sets out a vision of an inclusive and outward looking Scottish republic, based on the key principles of liberty, equality, diversity, and solidarity. A follow up event to mark the initial declaration was held in October 2005. It also supports the Independence First campaign which demands an immediate referendum on independence for Scotland. In 2006, it participated in the "Rally for Independence" together with other political parties as part of a broad-based campaign to demand the right of self-determination for Scotland.
The national self-determination sought by the SSP is driven by internationalist rather than nationalist concerns. It seeks to build an inclusive republican state which is run by and for the benefit of all who live in Scotland. As such, it supports the rights of asylum seekers to settle there, without fear of detention or deportation; opposes the expansion of the UK state, for example through ID cards; and seeks the abolition of the monarchy. Through prioritising independence as a key component in its political philosophy, it stands in the tradition of John Maclean, who set up the Scottish Workers Republican Party in the early part of the 20th century, combining socialist economics with a goal of Scottish independence.
Regarding independence, the SSP's Alan McCombes wrote that "the tearing of the blue out of the Union Jack and the dismantling of the 300-year-old British state would [be] a traumatic psychological blow for the forces of capitalism and conservatism in Britain, Europe and the USA", and that it would be "almost as potent in its symbolism as the unravelling of the Soviet Union at the start of the 1990s". He also claimed that while the break-up of the United Kingdom would not result in "instant socialism", it would cause "a decisive shift in the balance of ideological and class forces".13
A referendum on Scottish independence was announced by the Scottish Government shortly after the Scottish National Party won an overall majority in the 2011 elections to the Scottish Parliament. The SSP is now campaigning for a "Yes" vote in that referendum, with its co-convenor Colin Fox sitting on the Advisory Board of Yes Scotland. The campaign is also supported by the Scottish Green Party.
The Scottish Socialist Party proposes a Scottish Service Tax as a form of local income tax to replace the current Council Tax. The Council Tax, which was brought in after the Poll Tax became non-viable, is based on the value of the household in which the taxpayer lives; this can lead to unfavourably high taxation for people who are tenants in valuable buildings, or pensioners.
Prior to the establishment of the SSP, a number of SSP members were subject to warrant sales after refusing to pay the Poll Tax. One of the first bills that the SSP put forward once elected to Holyrood became the Abolition of Poindings and Warrant Sales Act 2001, a popular action, which transformed debt recovery systems in Scotland.
A bill proposing a progressive system of taxation based on a household's income was presented in 2005, but was defeated with 12 MSPs in favour, 94 against, and 6 abstaining.14 Although the Scottish Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, and the Scottish Green Party supported the concept of income-based taxation, all three parties disagreed with the SSP's specific proposals, which would have exempted anyone with an annual income of less than £10,000 and reduced liabilities for anyone with an annual income of less than £30,000, while targeting revenue generation to those with household incomes in excess of £90,000.
In 2005, Colin Fox MSP proposed a bill to abolish prescription charges similar to that which allows Welsh citizens free prescriptions on the NHS.15 Despite widespread support and success at committee stage, it failed to become law.16
In response to the bill and the publicity that it generated, the Scottish Executive announced a review of the impact that the charges had on the chronically sick and full-time students just three hours prior to the bill being debated. Prescription charges were eventually abolished on 1 April 2011, through legislation put forward by the Scottish National Party. Nicola Sturgeon later wrote to Colin Fox to acknowledge the SSP's contribution in the campaign for abolishing prescription charges.17
Frances Curran, then an MSP, led a broad campaign with many children's and anti-poverty organisations to provide free and nutritious meals for all Scottish schoolchildren to tackle the problems of poor diet and rising obesity amongst children.18 This claimed to be able to eradicate the stigma associated with the current means-tested system and also ensure that meals provided in school conformed to minimal nutritional standards.
A bill to this effect was proposed in parliament in 2002, but was defeated. However, a subsequent Scottish Executive consultation found that 96% of respondents were in favour of free school meals. A redrafted bill was launched in October 2006 and was resubmitted to the parliament, but it was announced in November 2006 that this bill would not be taken in that session of parliament due to time pressures. Frances Curran had pledged that the SSP would resubmit its bill early in the next session of parliament and announced a text service for supporters to text Jack McConnell to demonstrate their support for the free school meals bill.19 However, the SSP's exit from parliament at the 2007 election prevented this.
Under pressure from the SSP and the wider campaign, the Scottish National Party introduced free school meals as a pilot scheme for a small number of primary school pupils in selected local authorities and have announced that there will be free school meals for Primary 1-3 children from 2010, however have not backed the wholesale change that the SSP proposed.
The SSP has proposed the scrapping of all fares on public transport within Scotland, which they claim will reduce carbon emissions, cut road deaths, reduce air pollution and boost the incomes of workers reliant on public transport.2021 The capital costs involved in the project would, they say, be raised by reducing planned roadbuilding programmes, for instance the M74 motorway extension, which the SSP had been active in opposing,2223 and by ring-fencing all money raised by government and local authorities from parking meters and car parks.
Such a scheme has a precedent in Hasselt, Belgium, where the city centre was revived by the provision of free public transport, and was a key plank of the Greater London Council's policy platform in the early 1980s. Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, introduced free public transport for residents in April 201324 to considerable economic benefit,25 adding more precedent for the SSP's policy of free public transport.
The SSP also wish to establish a Scottish National Bus Corporation, which would be publicly owned and democratically run by regional boards. Privately run bus corporations would also be re-regulated. Upon the expiration of the ScotRail franchise in November 2014, the SSP want it to be transferred to a publicly owned and democratically managed Scottish National Rail Corporation.
The party has proposed the legalisation of cannabis and the licensing of premises to sell cannabis. It has also proposed the provision of free synthetic heroin on the National Health Service, under medical supervision to combat the problems of drugs in working class communities, as well as calling for a massive expansion in residential rehabilitation and detoxification facilities for addicts.26
The SSP campaigned against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The SSP was one of the founding members of the Scottish Coalition for Justice not War27 at its establishment in September 2001. The February 2003 march against the war in Iraq in Glasgow was attended by some SSP members, and later that year SSP MSPs were threatened with disciplinary action after SSP's Kevin Williamson staged a protest in the Scottish Parliament.28 In 2004, STV and Grampian threatened to pull a party political broadcast by the SSP which accused Tony Blair over the pretext for the war.
It works closely with Military Families Against the War, particularly in the Justice 4 Gordon Gentle campaign, standing down in the 2005 general election for Rose Gentle in the East Kilbride constituency.29 It has also campaigned against rendition flights, including introducing a debate in the Scottish Parliament over the issue,30 and against the lack of response from the UK government in Israel's war on Lebanon.
It has supported the non-violent direct action as a tactic to oppose the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Scotland and strongly opposes the replacement of Trident. It has participated in the blockades at Faslane nuclear base since its inception and a number of SSP members have been fined and/or jailed after blockading the naval base at the annual Big Blockade. In 2005, Rosie Kane locked herself on to a 25 foot Trident replica outside the Scottish Parliament, only releasing herself after the replica was dismantled fourteen hours later. Later that year she was fined £150 for her actions and in October 2006, she was jailed for 14 days after refusing to pay the fine. In January 2007, three of its MSPs were arrested,31 later released without charge, while in June 2007, five members of the SSP's youth wing were also arrested32 and held overnight, after blockading the base as part of the Faslane365 campaign.
The SSP contested the 1999 Scottish elections in all of the eight regions. One member was elected in the Glasgow region.
The SSP contested the 2003 Scottish elections in all of the eight regions and most first-past-the-post seats. This was part of a broader surge for smaller parties, as the Scottish electorate grasped the potential of their second vote. The SSP received 245,735 votes in total (6.5%). Six representatives were elected to the Scottish parliament from the regional lists including two in Glasgow, one in Central, one in Lothians and one in South of Scotland. In 2006, two of these representatives left the party, leaving the SSP with four MSPs.
The SSP contested the 2007 Scottish elections in all of the eight regions. During the campaign the party had to contend with a public image damaged following a protest in the Parliament which saw members of the party suspended from the chamber for a month, as well as the party's schism with the resultant departure of Sheridan. The SSP suffered a collapse in support, winning 12,731 votes across the eight regional lists. This was less than 10% of its results in 2003. It failed to gain any seats and lost all four of its MSPs. The decline in support marked a trend amongst smaller parties in the parliament, with the Greens and the SSCUP also losing seats.
The SSP contested the 2011 Scottish elections in all of the eight regions. It won 8,272 votes across the eight regional lists - 0.4% of regional votes cast.
- Keith Edkins (30 November 2009). "Local Council Political Compositions". Retrieved 2 December 2009.
- "SSP Councillor Jim Bollan leads Bedroom tax revolt". 2013-03-30. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- "Anas Sarwar targeted in Glasgow protest". 15 November 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Petition - Scottish Socialist Party". Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- "Video: Scottish Socialist Party says Scotland needs equal marriage ‘to be a beacon to the world’". 18 July 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Monarch surveys". 14 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Examining Scotland's currency options". 28 April 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
- "Scottish independence: Scotland's Road to Socialism". 29 May 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- "Socialist campaign comes to Penicuik". 15 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Out now ‘The Case for an Independent Socialist Scotland’ a new pamphlet from the SSP". 10 September 2013. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
- "Motion S4M-07572: John Finnie, Highlands and Islands, Independent, Date Lodged: 03/09/2013". Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "Colin Fox gives the SSP response to the Independence White Paper". 27 November 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
- "Why the left should back independence". 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- "Official Report Debate Contributions - Parliamentary Business". 1 February 2006. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- Call to scrap prescription charge
- MSPs retain prescription charges
- "Twitter / The_SSP_: @PaulJor38908319 @LiamMcLaughlan ...:". 6 October 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- Campaign for Free School Meals
- "SSP campaigns for free public transport". 26 January 2007. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Time is ripe to push for free public transport". 24 March 2007. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Parties unite to fight M74 plans". 11 May 2003. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Minister orders M74 inquiry". 18 June 2003. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Tallinn, Estonia's Capital, Introduces Free Public Transportation For Residents". 2013-04-04. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
- "Could free transport tackle our carbon problem?". 30 October 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- "Socialists want cafes for cannabis". 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- "Scottish Coalition for Justice not War". Banthebomb.org. Retrieved 2013-11-13.
- "Socialist MSPs given a warning after protest". 2003-11-21. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
- dead link
- "Protest over 'prisoner flights'". BBC News. 18 December 2005.
- Trident protest politicians held
- SSY Members arrested at Faslane
- Official website
- The SSP's first broadcast for the 2007 Scottish Parliament Election
- The SSP's second broadcast for the 2007 Scottish Parliament Election