Scottish Socialist Party

Scottish Socialist Party

:"This article deals with the Scottish Socialist Party that was formed in 1998 and is still active today. For the party that was formed in 1987 see Scottish Socialist Party (1987-1990)."

Infobox Scottish Political Party
party_name = Scottish Socialist Party
Pàrtaidh Sòisealach na h-Alba
party_articletitle = Scottish Socialist Party
leader = Colin Fox (National Spokesperson), Frances Curran (National Spokesperson) [ Note that the SSP does not have a leader in the traditional sense but two national spokespersons. ]
foundation = 1998
ideology = Socialism, Feminism, Environmentalism,
Scottish independence
position = Left-wing
international = "none"
european = European Anticapitalist Left
europarl = n/a
uk = n/a
colours = Red, Yellow
headquarters = 93 Hope Street
G2 6LD
website = []

The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) ( _gd. Pàrtaidh Sòisealach na h-Alba) 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 Scottish independence.

It operates through a branch based structure with additional networks for identity or campaigning groups, as well as accepting open platforms who are allowed to organise within the party.

Whilst following the 2003 elections to the Scottish Parliament, it had six Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and two local councillors, although its main focus is on grassroots community campaigns, the SSP lost all its seats in the Scottish Parliament in the 2007 election, and retained one local councillor. Its primary campaigns at the moment are the provision of free nutritious school meals and free public transport as well as opposition to the war in Iraq and campaigning against the council tax.


:"see main article History of the Scottish Socialist Party

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 from an electoral alliance into a single party to contest the first elections of the new Scottish Parliament. The SSP polled unexpectedly well in this election and saw the then National Convenor Tommy Sheridan elected to represent Glasgow.

The period following that election saw sustained growth for the SSP, including a boost to membership when the Socialist Workers Party in Scotland joined the SSP, and the Scottish section of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers affiliated to the party. During this period of sustained and rapid growth it 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 gain five additional seats across Scotland, becoming the foremost left-wing force in Scottish politics.

On November 11, 2004 Tommy Sheridan announced his resignation as convener of the party, citing personal reasons as being behind his decision, although it later emerged that he had effectively been recalled by the National Executive of the party. He was replaced by Colin Fox - SSP MSP for the Lothians, by a 5:3 margin in a contest with Alan McCombes - the SSP's policy co-ordinator.

On 29 August 2006, Tommy Sheridan announced his intention to leave the Scottish Socialist Party and found a new socialist political party called Solidarity. [" [ New socialist party for Sheridan] ", "BBC News", 29 August 2006, (retrieved 10 September 2006)] The split was formalised in September 2006. [ [ SSP crisis archive containing all the relevant materials from all sides.] ] .

In the aftermath of the split, the SSP first met at a national rally 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. A decision was also taken to review all of the party's structures including the role of the national convenor, the staffing arrangements of the party and the role of elected representatives with a view to adapting the structures to further strengthen members' participation and the party's internal democracy.

The SSP stood on the regional lists for the 2007 election, where it lost all remaining seats, and in council elections across the country, where it won just a single seat, Jim Bollan's in West Dunbartonshire. The party suffered badly, failing to gain as many votes as Tommy Sheridan's break away party Solidarity and even falling behind the Socialist Labour Party in vote share.


cottish Independence

The SSP strongly supports autonomy for Scotland and Scottish 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 the other political parties who campaign for independence 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 Scottish independence policies.

Reform of local government taxation

The Scottish Socialist Party claims to be at the forefront of the campaign to reform local government taxation.

, a popular action, which transformed debt recovery systems in Scotland.

The SSP propose a Scottish Service Tax, a form of local income tax to replace the current Council Tax, brought in after the Poll Tax became non-viable. A bill proposing such a system was presented in 2005, however it was overwhelmingly defeated. Even the two other parties in the Scottish Parliament who support such reform, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party, disagreed with this legislation and opposed its introduction.

Free prescription charges

In 2005, Colin Fox MSP proposed a bill to abolish prescription charges similar to that which allows Welsh citizens free prescriptions on the NHS. [ [ Call to scrap prescription charge] ] Despite widespread support and success at committee stage, it failed to become law [ [ MSPs retain prescription charges] ] .

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. This move was seen as a means of warding off the popular support that the campaign was receiving. The Scottish Nationalist Party have now announced that they are considering the abolition of charges for prescriptions, citing the evidence presented by Colin Fox in his campaign.

Free school meals

Frances Curran, then MSP, led a broad campaign with through 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. [ [ Campaign for Free School Meals] ] .

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 there is an increasing awareness of the role of diet on children's health and 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. However, in November 2006 it was announced 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. [] However, the SSP's exit from parliament at the 2007 election prevented this. The Scottish National Party (SNP) have now introduced free school meals as a pilot scheme for a small number of primary school pupils in selected local authorities, however have not backed the wholesale change that the SSP proposed.

Free public transport

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. The capital costs involved in the project would, they say, be raised by reducing planned roadbuilding programmes, in particular the M74 motorway extension, which the SSP has been active in opposing.

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.

Fuck Abstinence

Fuck Abstinence is a Scottish Socialist Youth Women's Group campaign that seeks to educate young women denied adequate sex education through the distribution of information on reproductive rights and to campaign for guarantees of such education in schools.

Reform of drug laws

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.

Anti-war campaigns

The SSP has campaigned against the Iraq War. The SSP was one of the founding members of the Scottish Coalition for Justice not War [] at its establishment in September 2001. The February 2003 march 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 [ [ Socialist MSPs given a warning after protest - Telegraph ] ] . 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 [ [] ] .

It has also campaigned against rendition flights, including introducing a debate in Holyrood over the issue [] , 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 14 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, [ [ Trident protest politicians held] ] later released without charge, while in June 2007, five members of the SSP's youth wing were also arrested [ SSY Members arrested at Faslane] ] and held overnight, after blockading the base as part of the Faslane365 campaign.

Make capitalism history

The party was highly active in the protests against the G8, joining the Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh and participating in the G8 Alternatives Summit.


The party (unlike most others) allows for the organisation of internal factions (which it describes as platforms), the intention is to ensure that socialists can work together on the issues on which they agree, however to respect the opinions of other socialists on the issues on which there is dispute.

Current platforms

*The Republican Communist Network (1999 - ) was a founding member of the SSP. It prints an internal journal "Emancipation and Liberation".

*The Workers Unity Platform (1999 - ) is an amalgam of members from small left groups who came together to form a platform within the SSP.

*The Solidarity Tendency (2006 - ) consists of supporters of the Alliance for Workers Liberty.

Former platforms

Two of the former platforms in the SSP both emerged from British Section of the Committee for a Workers International, following the "Open Turn" debate of the early 1990s, which was largely led by Scottish members. In 1998, the "Scottish Debate" led to the establishment of the SSP, however within the UK movement this was not widely welcomed. Tensions between many leading Scottish members, including Alan McCombes and Catriona Grant, and the UK leadership led to a split within the CWI into two separate platforms. The SWP joined in 2003 following extensive negotiations between the leaderships of the two parties, leaving in 2006 to join Solidarity. The United Left platform was formed in early 2006 in the midst of the internal problems which eventually led to the split in the party, after which the platform formally dissolved.

*The International Socialist Movement (1999 - 2006) was a founder member of the SSP and was affiliated to the CWI. It broke from the CWI in 2001, when some CWI loyalists left it. It published the journal "Frontline" until its dissolution in 2006, where upon Frontline became an independent Marxist journal.

*The International Socialists (2001 - 2006) consisted of a small number of individuals who remained affiliated to the CWI when the ISM broke away from the international in 2001. In 2006 the platform left the party [] .

*The Scottish Republican Socialist Movement (1999-2006) whose major focus is independence for a Scottish Republic, emerged from the Scottish Republican Socialist Party which was one of the founding platforms of the SSP. The SRSM officially disaffilated from the SSP in November 2006, although some individual members remain SSP members.

*The Scottish supporters of the Socialist Workers Party (2003 - 2006) joined the SSP in 2002 becoming the Socialist Workers Platform. In 2006 they left the party apparently to join Solidarity, a new party formed by former Scottish Socialist Party convenor, Tommy Sheridan.

*The United Left (2006 - 2007) was not officially incorporated as a platform within the SSP, however it operated in a similar manner and was largely regarded as such. It was formed in June 2006 and dissolved in January 2007.

P's role in the Sheridan libel trial

Tommy Sheridan sued the "News of the World" for defamation when, immediately following his controversial resignation, it was alleged that he'd had an extra marital affair. As a result of his lawsuit (Sheridan v News International), the minutes of the SSP executive meeting held on 9 November 2004 were subpoenaed by the newspaper. The party initially declined to hand them over. A raid was conducted on the SSP's offices in May 2006 and Alan McCombes, the SSP's national policy co-ordinator (who had possession of them) was jailed for 12 days. In response to a call from Sheridan to release the minutes, the party eventually handed them in to the court. It transpired that in that meeting the party executive had decided, unanimously, to ask for his resignation because he intended to take the "News of the World" to court for libel over allegations that were in fact true.

Sheridan claimed in the press that a cabal within the party's Executive Committee were out to destroy him, [" [ SSP votes to hand over documents] ", "BBC News", 29 May 2006 (retrieved 10 September 2006).] and expanded on this statement in an [ open letter] to party members on 28 May 2006, claiming there had been a long-standing slander campaign conducted against him by senior party figures and MSPs.

At his court case eleven SSP members testified that Sheridan admitted during the 9 November meeting to having attended a swingers' club, an admission which is noted in the disputed minutes, repeated to Charlie McCarthy [" [ text of letter from Charlie McCarthy, SSP Health Spokesperson] " ] and five other leading members in the SSP [" [,,1843620,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=19 "Guardian" article about open letter from Glasgow activists] " ] , as well as recorded on a videotape which surfaced in October 2006. [ [ Sheridan's Confession Tape] However, this video tape has been disputed by Sheridan that it was faked using excerpts of his voice to piece it together. [ [ Sheridan 'sex club' tape defended] Sheridan eventually won his court case though an appeal has been lodged on behalf of the "News of the World". A police investigation into allegations of perjury, conspiracy to commit perjury and witness intimidation has followed the trial. Computers from both the SSP and Sheridan's Parliamentary offices were seized for forensic examination. On 1 April 2007, "The Sunday Herald" reported that Lothian and Borders Police had reached a conclusion about the disputed minute. [ [ Jersey Visit for Sheridan Police Probe] ] . On 16 December 2007, Sheridan was charged with perjury related to the case.


The Socialist Workers Party and others on the left have criticised the SSP for having sectarian tendencies and no longer being a broad and open mass party of the left, and cited this as one of their reasons for splitting from the SSP to form Solidarity. The SWP and others on the left have also argued that the SSP has not responded adequately to wide public anger at recent wars. [ [ Socialist Worker Platform statement on Scottish Socialist Party] , "Socialist Worker Online", 21 August 2006 (retrieved 5 October 2006).] However, SSP defenders have contested that these opinions are based around the Socialist Workers Party's pre- 2007 support for Sheridan's ally and maverick left- wing MP for Respect, George Galloway, who has been at odds with the SSP leadership over issues like independence, amongst others. Those more hostile to the platform have cited the reason for the SWP's dislike of the SSP as frustration over being unable to take control of the Scottish Socialist PartyFact|date=January 2008, like they have with RESPECT - The Unity Coalition in England.Fact|date=January 2008

Other information

The SSP distributes a weekly newspaper, the "Scottish Socialist Voice".

The SSP is a founding member of the European Anticapitalist Left.

The SSP has an active youth wing, Scottish Socialist Youth.

The SSP has an active women's network, the Socialist Women's Network

SSP members helped establish Second Life Left Unity

Local Government representation

P local councillors

*Jim Bollan (Renton and Alexandria South Ward, West Dunbartonshire Council)

Holyrood representation

1999 elections

The SSP contested the 1999 Scottish elections in all of the eight regions. One member was elected in the Glasgow region.

2003 elections

The SSP contested the 2003 Scottish elections in all of the eight regions and most first past the post seats. 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.

2007 elections

The SSP contested the 2007 Scottish elections in all of the eight regions. It won 12,731 votes across the eight regional lists, less than 10% of its results in 2003. It failed to gain any seats.


External links

* [ The Scottish Socialist Party's Home Page]
* [ The SSP's weekly newspaper]
* [ The SSP's first broadcast for the 2007 Scottish Parliament Election]
* [ The SSP's second broadcast for the 2007 Scottish Parliament Election]
* [ International Socialist Movement] The International Socialist Movement was a platform within the SSP descended from Scottish Militant Labour
* [ Republican Communist Network] The RCN is a platform within the SSP
* [ SSP United Left] a former platform within the SSP, dissolved in January 2007

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