Farewell to Britain – What Should the Left Say?

The Break up of the UK? sponsored by Scottish Left Review

Saturday 20th September, 4:30 pm.
Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester

The Convention of the Left will host a Question Time style discussion about the implications for the left of the possible break up of the UK. The London based left have been slow to pick up on the escalating political divergence between Wales, Scotland and England. This session will for the first time ever bring together socialists from Plaid Cymru, The Scottish National Party, Scottish Socialist party the Labour Party and Respect with a variety of different perspectives. But most importantly there will be opportunities for participation from the floor.


Leanne Woods AM – Plaid Cymru;

Chris Harvie MSP – Scottish National Party;

Rupa Huq -A sociologist with an interest in suburbia and identity; Rupa has stood for Labour in parliamentary and European elections;

Gregor Gall – author of “The Political Economy of Scotland, Red Scotland, Radical Scotland”;

Andy Newman, contributor to the anthology “Imagined Nation – England after Britain

CHAIRED by Declan o’Neill

107 comments on “Farewell to Britain – What Should the Left Say?

  1. martin ohr on said:

    Bizarrely given the title, not one left-winger on the platform, nor anyone who is against petty nationalism.

  2. Anonymous on said:

    The left nats never want to debate with socialists on the question of the nationalist break up of the working class in britain. The case for workers unity against nationalism is too obvious and too strong. In Scotland the SSP has never agreed to debate with socialist opponents of independence.


  3. Why do they have the meeting in Manchester, why don’t they piss off to scotland?
    Is this London based left supposed to be representing England? I doubt it very much.wankers.

  4. Tom Long on said:

    The left should be saying “good riddance” to the Union. Can’t come soon enough for this Englishman.

  5. Bill Scott on said:

    And here was me thinking that we debated it with you every year at SSP conference Sandy! Just to remind you you that your arguments are so “obvious” and compelling that you usually lose the vote by about 100 to 3. Is it democracy that you can’t stomach or what?

    Other than yourself and the other cranks (CPGB) can you name any socialist (as opposed to social democratic) opponents of independence that you’d like us to have this debate with? For the life of me I can’t think of any – there is the SWP of course but they’re also nominal members of a party (Solidarity) who are supposedly enthusiastic supporters of independence. So no difference with yourself there then.

    Maybe you should have read the SSP’s constitution which states that the party supports Scottish independence BEFORE you actually joined? But don’t worry about the rest of us. You go on arguing that the earth is flat. You’ll convert us all someday, NOT.

  6. Bill Scott on said:

    Ah but Martin I hadn’t forgotten the AWL. You’re Sandy’s two supporters when it comes to a vote at conference. Your “fairly reasonable” arguments remain the views of a few cranks unable to secure the support of anyone outwith your own ranks in the party far less in wider Scottish society. Any time you feel like challenging this view you’re entirely at liberty to set up your own party and argue your case to the Scottish working class. Until you actually have the courage to live up to your own convictions I’d hesitate in accusing the SSP of not having the bottle to take on your arguments. Cat fleas (i.e. parasites) are never going to succeed in getting the cat to change direction.

  7. Well said Bill. The ‘World Socialist Web Site’ and this lot are very similar. Neither have any interest in actual developments in Scotland but both love to attack socialists in Scotland. Pathetic.

    Independence is normality. Why anyone would want the British state to continue when it guarantees future right wing Government and offers no hope to Wales and Scotland (never mind non-existant Cornwall) is beyond me.

    Scotland has a devolved parliament but we need the normal powers of independence to rid ourselves of Trident and take a different foreign policy.

    Perhaps the genuine ‘petty nationalism’ is the British type which doesn’t even seem to realise that the imperial nationalism it gives succour to is exactly what it should be fighting against!

    Oh and Gregor Gall supports independence as a member of the SSP and we already have a Communist party in Scotland and it supports wholeheartedly independence just like the SSP. The SNP Greens and SSP share a common objective as Scottish parties, something the Britleft dinosaurs and their tiny ‘we’re smarter than everyone else’ parties will never understand. Grow up!

  8. Peter Jacobs on said:

    And who represents the trodden down and worn out English voters? Who represents those in England, condemned to die for want of drugs dished out freely to the so-called Celtic Fringes?
    Stuff the Union. Stuff Labour and Stuff the anti-English neighbours. Not one more life in England should be sacrificed on the altar of Unionism. Not one more, you sick bunch of arseholes!!! I fucking hate the lot of you. Come round my way and I’ll punch your fucking lights out you racist murdering scum.
    Fuck you all and fuck your fucking Union!!!!!!!!!!!!11

  9. Reality Check on said:

    “a variety of different perspectives”

    So a left Welsh nationalist, two left Scottish nationalists a (pseudo) left English nationalist – I guess Rupa Huq must be the Unionist on the panel? You’re right, so many varieties it’ll feel like a Heinz convention!

  10. mark anthony france on said:

    I feel that what the left should say is goodbye and good ridance to the Union.
    Basically, The break up of the British State is a very good thing.

    It would be nice to see the work started by James Connolly, the Citzen Army and the Volunteers on the streets of Dublin at easter 1916 be completed by the 100 Anniversary of the Rising in 2016.

    British Imperialism would be at last broken.

    The English would have to find our own Identity and the left in England will have to find a place for itself within this identity.

    So if people agree we need to start the work to bury the Act of Union and prepare the Celebrations for English Independence in 2016.

  11. Does anybody really believe that imperialism would suffer a fatal bkow from constitutional re-arrangements between the same capitalist class? A genuine question.

  12. mark anthony france on said:

    The dynamics of “nationalism” are fraught with difficulties…just ask Radovan Karidic. However, in the context of the British State it would Clearly be weakened by Scottish Independance…. Would an Independent Scotland want an Independent Nuclear deterent? Would an Independent Scotland expel the ‘British Navy’ from Faslane? What is the Status of the ‘British Army’ after Scottish Independance.
    There is a clear Anti War majority in Scotland and Wales that does find expression through ‘bourgeois’ nationalist parties. If Independence happens it would completely disorientate the ruling class…. opps must go my son has just got home from school better make him a snack

  13. Jill St Custard on said:

    Would an Independent Scotland want an Independent Nuclear deterent?

    Quite possibly, not that there’s anything the least bit ‘independent about the current one.

    Would an Independent Scotland expel the ‘British Navy’ from Faslane?

    Almost certainly not.

  14. Sounds like an interesting event. Scotland’s independence referendum is now scheduled for 30th November 2010 – with only the unionist dregs in the Holyrood Parliament able to scupper democracy in action – and it will be interesting to see what kind of practical support the English left gives, or doesnt give, to our fight for independence.

    Saor Alba

  15. martin ohr on said:

    Jill and Johng (if you’re not the same person) what is the line coming out from the SWP this afternoon? Have Rees and German been sacked from the SWP CC or just from the leadership roles in left alternative?

  16. martin ohr on said:

    #22 What is interesting about your ‘fight for independance’ is that it is a ‘fight’ against the bulk of the scottish working class who have no interest in seperating themselves from english and welsh workers and will say so in a referrendum.

  17. Bill Scott on said:

    “Does anybody really believe that imperialism would suffer a fatal blow from constitutional re-arrangements between the same capitalist class? A genuine question” – Johng

    As Scotland provides around one third of the front line troops for the British Army (i.e. more than three times as many as would be proportionate to our population) then imperialism would not suffer an actual knock-out blow but it might suffer a body blow. I think that a full-blooded world-wide revolution might be necessary for a knock-out to take place. (If one’s on offer where can Scotland sign-up for it?)

    American imperialism, surely the most dangerous form facing us, would also suffer a body blow as their Mini-Me allies (GB Inc.) would no longer have the man-power to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. Without Britain/Blair’s support the invasion of Iraq would also have been very difficult for the American ruling class to justify and their future adventurism could well be curbed if they were deprived of their most vocal and accommodating ally, the British state.

    Don’t give me that one ruling class is the same as another crap. They have different interests some of which occassionally coincide with our own. An independent Scottish parliament would never have voted to participate in Iraq and any one living here knows it.

    Scotland has been providing the troops to further British imperialism for over two centuries now and all that the Scottish working class has received in return are body bags. Pray tell how the break-up of the UK state could not be other than a body-blow to British war-mongering?

  18. martin ohr on said:

    Bill, your line of reasoning is laughable, not only do you ignore the reason why such a greater proportion of young scottish men and women join the army, but what would happen to them come independence and just how a scottish parliament would react to pressure from the US.

    Lets face facts for a second, if scotland had independence tomorrow you would end up with an SNP government -at least in the short term. Are you suggesting that they would withdraw from Nato, not co-operate as fully if not more so with the US than the british governemnt already does? Are you saying that an SNP government would not act solely in the interest of the ruling class?

    For socialists, the only possible argument that could support breakup of the current union is that it would in some way progress quicker towards socialism, your side is yet to present any evidence for this whatsoever.

  19. Jill St Custard on said:

    #26 – looks like Martin touched a nerve … palace coup afoot?

    Nope, I just have no time for muck-raking sectarians who quite frankly have no business asking about the ins and outs of organisations they have nothing to do with.

  20. Bill Scott on said:


    You’re a nice guy but get real.

    Am I suggesting that an independent Scottish government would “not co-operate as fully if not more so with the US than the british governemnt already does?”. Damn right I am.

    Vote in the UK Parliament for Iraq war in 2003 – 412 to 149. Same vote in the Scottish Parliament – 62 to 57 with 3 Labour abstentions. At that time Labour and the Tories combined to defeat the SNP, SSP, Green and Liberals but in an independent Scotland the war mongering unionists would be in a minority. But don’t a little thing like reality intrude into your world. What colour of sky is it there anyway?

    PS Kevin – Have you got any inside knowledge on Goodwood? To paraphrase – I spend my money on wine, gambling and song. The rest I just waste.

  21. New poll shows increased lead for SNP
    SNP News
    08 Sept 2008

    New poll humilating for Labour leadership
    SNP News
    08 Sept 2008

    Just to say,
    that despite the buckets of filth being continually pored over First Minister Alex Salmond by all of the foreign-owned Scottish corporate news media, as well as their allies in the British Nationalist Left, Alex is getting the kind of public approval ratings and support you normally only expect tofind in the Global South with such figures as Huga Chavez and President Castro etc.

    The only time western political leaders get to be as popular as Scotland’s First Minister, is during wars abroad, terrorist emergencies and the like, which are mostly all just pnoney conconcoted PR stunts.

    As for the fight against imperialism –
    – well, this is about the fight to improve the living standards of all the people of Scotland, right now, rather than about improving standards abroad for others.
    What happens after independence, well who knows, except I don’t think it much of an argument that people shouldn’t be allowed their own government just because it maybe won’t help anti-imperialsm.

    I always thought more democracy and more accountability equalled less imperialism, not more. As Britian is a phony artificial state anyway, mostly the product of the machinations of the London-Oxbridge based establishment, then an independent Scotland is going to equal less imperialism, by its very nature.

    People can’t be expected to continue to wait for years, or decades, for Brit Nat Lefts getting their act together, as they always keep promising they will, but never do. People have to get on with their lives in the here and now. I think it irresponsible to expect poor folk to continue to suffer, especially when there are real solutions to their problems, within easy reach, which they can use to help improve their lot and get them out from underneath the right-wing one-party British state.

    all the best!

  22. Are you suggesting that they would withdraw from Nato, not co-operate as fully if not more so with the US than the british governemnt already does?

    Who is the only western government leader to stand up for the rights of the besieged people of Gaza, rather than smashing them in the face as the US orders them to?

    Scottish medical supplies across Europe to Gaza: End the Siege
    Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

    (just scroll down for First Minister’s tv interview about Gaza)

    If for some strange reason an independent Scottish government did decide it was going to keep Trident on the Clyde at Faslane, and also keep its nuclear warhead stockpile, then I think its fair to say, there would be riots and total bedlam in Scotland. No government would survive, for even a millisecond, if they tried to pull a stunt like that.

    Currently Scottish opposition to Trident is running at nearly 90%

    Sign the SNP petition here –
    SNP Campiagns

  23. Patrick Harris on said:

    Sorry! I must have missed something, did Alex Salmond just suddenly turn up one day and take the reins of governance in Scotland or was he voted into office by the Scottish electorate, oops sorry for mentioning voters, they always get it wrong.
    As an Englishman I can only say that I wish we had one man of Salmond’s calibre sitting on the benches in Westminster, fighting for the best interests of the English. More power to your elbow Mr. Salmond, you are doing a great job, how do I know? because the left (who should be doing it for the brothers and sisters) are pissed off at him.

  24. Bill Scott on said:

    Hi Joe90,

    Interesting poll results on who would make best First Minister. But including every party leader or prospective leader I only got up to 66%. Who did the other 34% vote for?

    All the Best,

  25. The left should say that the people of England, Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland should each have their own referendum on independence. If any country chooses independence then the UK should be disbanded!Should the remaining countries want to form a new alliance that would be up to them.
    That’s democracy. Let the people decide at the ballot box. I doubt the left will propose refernda because the left never were in to democracy. Tht’s why no ENglish delegates are invited.

  26. I find it hard t understand the argument that no English delegates are invited, when both Rupa Huq and I are English.

    Rupa can speak for herself, but I am broadly in favour of the break up of the UK.

  27. Sandy wrote;
    “In Scotland the SSP has never agreed to debate with socialist opponents of independence.”
    Sandy, every SSP conference since we were formed has featured a debate in which you have made the case for a British Socialist Party and every single time you’ve been on the losing side of the vote.
    What you mean is that there’s never been a debate in which your arguments have succeeded in winning a majority.
    That’s not the same as having no debate, it really isn’t.

  28. sub commandante marcos antonio on said:

    what is interesting is looking ahead to the status of England in the future. i for one feel it is high time to complete historic tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution that were never completed precisely because of the emergence of British Imperialism.
    forward to the English Republic! prepare the youth for combat! form new volunteer battalions of the English Citizen Army!

  29. karl shayne on said:

    well, if the union does break up, and this is far from certain, the left would, i hope, say two things.

    1. defend the unity and fighting capacity of the working class and its organisations across the british isles.

    2. continue the class fight against any capitalist rulers and their states, fight for a democratic and equal socialist federation of england, scotland, wales and ireland, as part of a wider european socialist federation.

    clearly we are never going to agree on the question of whether socialists should actually advocate independence / seperatism. maybe more agreement is possible on the position to take post the break-up of the uk, should that ever happen.

    best wishes,


  30. #41: SWPer comments at #26 and #31 imply it’s true. I was forwarded it by a member of the AWL who I trust, who said an Executive Committee member of theirs had circulated it:

    — On Wed, 10/9/08, office@leftalternative.org wrote:
    From: office@leftalternative.org
    Subject: Left Alternative Members Bulletin
    To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Date: Wednesday, 10 September, 2008, 3:04 PM

    Left Alternative Members Bulletin
    10th September 2008

    1. Statement from Left Alternative officers

    The officers of the Left Alternative are sad to have to inform our members of the resignations of John Rees and Lindsey German from the officers group and National Council. However, they remain members of the Left Alternative.

    John and Lindsey have been tireless members of the officers group and National Council since the inception of Respect. As National Secretary, John has provided consistent judgment and direction in the most difficult political circumstances, while Lindsey has been our inspirational Mayoral candidate in the GLA elections in both 2004 and 2008.

    The National Council, at its meeting on 6th September, agreed a unanimous vote of thanks to John and Lindsey for everything they have done for our organisation. We are proud to have them as members of the Left Alternative and look forward to continuing to work with them in campaigns from Stop the War to the People before Profit Charter.

    2. Troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan

    Stop the War Demonstration at the Labour Party Conference
    Saturday 20th September 2008, 12:30pm
    All Saints, Cavendish Street, Manchester

    It’s now less than two weeks until the Stop the War demonstration in Manchester and all Left Alternative members should be helping to make sure that it is as big a demonstration as possible.

    The Left Alternative newsletter will be out this week by email, and we will also have a print-friendly version available on the website for downloading and printing for the coaches to Manchester. There will also be an A5 black and white leaflet for the demonstration, available shortly from the website: http://www.leftalternative.org.

    3. People before Profit protests

    Supporters of the People before Profit Charter are calling for lobbies of MPs in support of a windfall tax for energy companies, which are making multi-million pound profits while implementing huge price rises for ordinary people. If you haven?t already signed the Charter, go to http://www.peoplebeforeprofitcharter.googlepages.com and talk to contacts in your area to build a lobby of your MP. You can find out if your MP has signed a call for a windfall tax at http://www.compassonline.org.uk/campaigns/campaign.asp?n=2773.

    Supporters of the Charter are also calling for protests at local Tescos when their profits are announced at the end of this month.

    Finally, don’t forget to send the details of your Left Alternative events to the office so that we can publicise them on the website. You can email the office on office@leftalternative.org or ring 020 8983 9671.

    The Left Alternative
    209 Coborn House, 3 Coborn Road, London E3 2DA

  31. Comment 36 –
    Interesting poll results on who would make best First Minister. But including every party leader or prospective leader I only got up to 66%. Who did the other 34% vote for?

    Don’t know?

    which other leader of a government do you know Bill, who has to put up with such unrelenting and total opposition from the likes of the right-wing corporate media, as well as the likes of the British Government, and is still able to get such public support as the Scottish First Minister does?

    Put it another way,
    how come the likes of New Labour gets such crap approval ratings, and is heading for extinction, despite overwhelming support from the British coporate news media and the rest of the British establishment?

    If Alex can do it (although he hasn’t done it all by himself, I am simplifying somewhat),
    then surely there’s hope for Left, and Left of Centre political organisations and parties in England?

  32. Britain is and always has been an English idea. Scotalnd, Wales and Ireland never joined the union on their own terms, so the left should say good bye and good luck and that some day in the future we hope that we can come together again as part of a democratic socialist federation on terms favorable to the working class in all four countries.

  33. That is weird. But any way it is good news, hopefully it will lead to the rest of the being able to trust and work with them again without any of the shenanigans we saw with RESPECT/reespect.

  34. not quite on said:

    “But any way it is good news, hopefully it will lead to the rest of the being able to trust and work with them again without any of the shenanigans we saw with RESPECT/reespect.”

    Not quite. There has been no change in their methods. They don’t admit they did anything wrong. They still think they are without blame – it all just went wrong because of Galloway.

  35. #50 you could very well be right. I’m just saying that is hopefully what will happen surely we’d have to give a while to find out. It’s only come out today didn’t it?,

  36. Stop the witch hunt on said:

    Rees and German have been forced out of running the Left Alternative by the CC. It looks like the fight at the top is spilling over into the rest of the party now things are going public.

    A resolution passed by the CC transferring responsibility for electoral work to Martin S and Charlie K has been sent out to members by the SWP centre. I doubt Rees and German will just accept this. They are likely to fight. But on what political basis will the debate take place?

    Like “not quite” I think it unlikely any part of the SWP leadership is going to honestly account for what’s gone wrong. There’s apparently a strong feeling in the party that the entire electoral turn was a mistake. That’s the last nine years. If that kind of view prevails, then it will be a sad turn away from involvement by what is an important part of the left, for all its faults.

  37. I am pretty sure that the Left List bulletin stated that they had resigned and not that Rees had been sacked. Also that the officers thanked Rees and German for their work, not anything about taking responsibility for recent events or the failure of the Left List/Left Alternative.

    Not sure that this necessarily means anything in terms of their positions on the SWP CC, and that is a matter for them really. I think it does ask some serious questions as to why they spent a large amount of members fees on the vanity project in the GLA elections. And what will happen to the LA conference called for 8th November?

    This may be merely damage limitation for the SWP rather than anything else

  38. Stop the witch hunt on said:

    anti fascist fighter

    As you spotted, the resignations were not forced through by the Left Alternative National Council. It has shown no independence from Rees and German. It is simply an SWP formation which had to follow Rees and German because they carried CC authority.

    It is clear that a large amount of that authority has slipped away from them. Smith and Kimber have launched a coup, with the backing of older CC members like Callinicos and Harman.

    Two questions spring to mind a) whether they will follow through to the logical conclusion. I wouldn’t want Rees and German sulking around ready to knife me at the first opportunity. b) whether there will be a positive change in political direction.

    CPGB and AWL types would see a positive change in direction as turning towards a propaganda routine and a hard turn leftwards away from mass work. I do hope the SWP doesn’t go in that direction.

  39. End of an Era on said:

    For those Left Alternative branches planning on sending resolutions to the November 8th Conference perhaps they should check with the SWP CC first to see if they should bother.

    Apparently they have already decided that the LA ‘should be reduced to a minimal, but still existing, role’. This seems to amount to maintaining an elected body under the watchful gaze of Charlie K and Martin S, updating the website and producing a monthly email bulletin.

    The office staff is to be reduced to just one whose main job seems to be recouping some of the LA’s large debts. So LA members can soon expect a phone call asking for a donation for an organisation that aspires to a ‘minimal but still existing role’ – I expect the coffers will soon be full to overflowing.

  40. “Smith and Kimber have launched a coup, with the backing of older CC members like Callinicos and Harman.”

    Hey witchfinder general, not that it’s any of your business, but where is your evidence for this? Floating around the periphery of the SWP hoping to have some relevance is never going to happen for you.

    Sharpening your knives in anticipation of the Convention of the Left isn’t in the spirit of the occasion and won’t promote unity.

  41. Stop the witch hunt on said:

    #56 It’s very clear what has happened. I imagine most SWP members will be relieved. It’s been a damaging year.

  42. Interesting, isn’t it, that the English left is more interested in navel gazing about the ins and outs of the leadership of some obscure left sect whereas the left in Scotland and Wales is making policies that actual improving workers’ lives.
    The SNP’s success so far is partly based on its opportunistic nicking of SSP policies on prescription charges, free school meals etc as well as Salmond’s undoubted ability. There is criticism to be made of the SNP’s business-friendly policies but make no mistake, this is a social democratic government that is clearly anti-war and anti-Trident. A similar situation exists in Wales under the One Wales coalition.
    We face changing circumstances and the sooner the comrades in England wake up to that, the better.

  43. not quite on said:

    “Sharpening your knives in anticipation of the Convention of the Left isn’t in the spirit of the occasion and won’t promote unity.”

    The convention of the left, which SWP party notes dismisses as symptomatic of groups “jostling for position”.

    Are you saying you are interested in unity, Ray?

  44. “Are you saying you are interested in unity, Ray?”

    I’d need eyes in the back of my head where you’re concerned. A sharp dagger in the back is not what I call unity. But you’re used to promoting that type of politics.

  45. The SNP’s success so far is partly based on its opportunistic nicking of SSP policies on prescription charges, free school meals etc…
    – Come on now seren, don’t be silly.

    As if the SSP are the only ones to have ever thought of such things – or that the SNP, are in anyway, so scared of the SSP that they have to adopt their p unique policies in order to nutralise them as an electoral threat.

    These issues are agreed on across the board by decent honest people, of which, Solidarity Scotland, the SSP, the Scottish Greens and the SNP are representative. There is consensus, not just phoney divisions and divisiveness, such as you get at Westmidden which occurs there just for the sake of appearances.

    all the best!

  46. A few points to anwser the falsifications of bill Scott

    1) The SSP has refused to debate the independence question in public with socialist opponents of independence. I had to go to London to debate Gregor Gall. The SSP at its “socialism” public events refused to organise any such debate. I challenge him to debate independence at a public forum in Glasgow

    2) At the launch of the SSP socialist opponents of independence were invited to join the SSP. We did so. The SSP was then a party with a class struggle dynamic. It was not a party where a leading member would secretly tape another member and sell the tape for personal gain to the news of the world.

    3) I was barred from the SSP discussion list for calling for george mcneilage to be censored by the party for his action. All my attempts to take this matter up within the party were undemocratically and unconstitutionally blocked

    4) The Scottish independence project is an neo liberal anti working class project. It aims to remove what is left of the welfare state. It aims to divide the working class in Britain along national lines and thus render it weaker. The purpose of the SSP would seem to be to attempt to paint this anti working class project in a red colour in an attempt to fool the working class vanguard into supporting the project of its class enemy


  47. Tom Long on said:

    How SOCIALIST is it for the people of England to be punished with higher taxes so that this ‘BRITISH’ government can spend more per person on the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish than it does on the English and for a ‘BRITISH’ Government to then deny the English medicine on the grounds of COST ?

  48. Dear tom Long

    your attitude and arguments are a perfect example of why nationalism is anti working class. If working class people are going to get anywhere they need unity against the establishment. Stop blaming the Scots, Welsh etc and start blaming the people at the top of this society who are coining it in at our expense.

    for working class unity against big capital


  49. Bill Scott on said:

    Hi Joe90,

    “As if the SSP are the only ones to have ever thought of such things – or that the SNP, are in anyway, so scared of the SSP that they have to adopt their unique policies in order to nutralise them as an electoral threat”.

    Of course the SNP thought of such things and supported them when discussing them – with the electorate where they knew they were popular. So why wouldn’t a single SNP MSP – including their most left wing ones, Sandra White etc. – decline to support the Bills proposed by the SSP in the last Parliament which would have introduced these policies years sooner? I know because I went round the Parliament for weeks trying to persuade them to sign up to them – but they had been ordered not to.

    That’s outright hypocrisy and opportunism. There is nothing as flattering as your political opponents nicking your clothes. Or as frustrating when you know that they agreed with you all along but wouldn’t support the policies for fear that they’d boost a much smaller rival party’s press coverage and popularity. Also don’t mistake a trial of free meals for Primary 1-3 (SNP Government policy) with free school meals for all pupils (SSP policy).

  50. Sandy, see those events where motions are submitted, then amendments and then everyone gets together putting forward their opinions and then a vote is taken… these are called debates and they happen every time there is an SSP conference.
    You have participated in all of these debates that involve Scottish independence, look you can even see them on YouTube;
    The fact is Sandy that each and every time you have spoken against supporting independence you have lost the vote and, as I said earlier, that’s not the same as there being no debate.

  51. Eddie

    The SSP is a controlled show. It is run by a clique. If a motion is passed that the clique dont like it is simply ignored and no action taken to implement it. I could go on about how i was excluded from the SSP discussion list. A SSP regional committee passed a motion to bar me from SSP discuss without informing me or giving me a chance to speak. (This was because i called on the SSP discuss list for George mcNeilage action in selling his tape to the NOTW to be condemned by the party.) A copy of the “decision” was posted on SSP discuss. I appealed this decision. Four months later i was told that there had been no such decision so my appeal was not competent. none the less i was still barred from the list. I asked for clarification but none was forthcoming. No minutes for the meeting that barred me were taken. also my official complaint re mcneilage was simply ignored and has never been dealt with. it was a farce.

    As the working class militants left the SSP it became even more of a controlled show. The SSP action re the TS case have been a disgrace to the socialist movement. Solidarity have been no better. The left nationalists have reaped what they sowed.


  52. Tom Long on said:

    #65 Sandy

    I was blaming the ‘British’ government – not the Scots, Welsh etc. I’d say its pretty anti working class for a ‘British’ government to place a higher tax gurden on the English working class in order for it to be able to spend more on the Scots, Welsh and NI. Its pretty anti working class to deny English citizens cancer drugs on the grounds of cost. Its the working class who suffer most from this as they have no other means to fund these drugs. Its English working class youth who now think twice about going to university because of England only taxes like University tuition fees. The working class suffer most from ‘British’ government imposed England only taxes like prescription charges / hospital parking charges.

    Seeing the end of Britain is a massive step in the right direction for all working class citizens of England.The end of Britain would also see the end of wasting Billions on wars and weapons, the end of Britain would make the world a safer place for working class people abroad as well.

  53. There isn’t a single “correct” left position on independence, it depends on context.

    For socialists in England, the issue is of national liberation. Our role is to argue against the likes of “Tom Long” above, saying that if the Scottish/Welsh people wish to be free of their English rulers then the loyalties of workers in England should be with the latter, not the former. Critique or endorsement of the SNP/Plaid is not that relevant, as it’s about undermining British/English nationalism in favour of international proletarianism.

    For socialists in Scotland/Wales, support for Scottish/Welsh independence should not be automatic, more analysis is needed. I would say we recognise that most people are either supporters of or sympathisers with the national cause, not necessarily because of deeply held nationalist sentiments but because it seems like the best escape from the rule of either the Tories or a New Labour which is arguably worse. Commenters have already pointed out the left planks in the SNP programme; Plaid (now often dropping the “Cymru”) are calling for a “socialist” Wales.

    If working people (both parties are sweeping through old Labour heartlands) identify with these parties’ struggle against a London full of Tories Red and Blue, then fine, this we support. At the same time, we understand the limitations of nationalism in general and of the SNP/Plaid in particular, and should be under no illusions as to them providing the answer. In other words, the idea of the United Front fits better in discussing the SNP and Plaid than in anything in England (where there’s precious little for socialists to be uniting with). Comrades in Scotland/Wales should be calling for unity with the nationalists, while maintaining ideological independence.

  54. mark anthony france on said:

    I am with Mel Gibson on this debate…”The prisoner wishes to say a word.”
    William Wallace:
    [shouts loud and long]


  55. mark anthony france on said:

    anyway I want to know when I am going to get my free prescriptions and know when my son can go to university without paying tuition fees. Maybe the fatal blow to British Imperialism which Scottish Independance will deal at the end of this decade can pave the way for the english people to rediscover a rich heritage of pre-imperialism, pre labour aristocratic, radicalism and internationalism.

    In England we still have unfinished business from our Civil War. While Cromwell started his murderous imperial adventures in Ireland another True Leveller tradition was dispersed. It is this thread laid down by Gerard Winstanley that the english need to pick up now.
    Christopher Hill gives a good account of this thread at http://www.diggers.org/diggers/gerard_winstanley.htm
    The last word to Winstanley:
    “The King’s old laws cannot govern a free commonwealth…. Such laws have always been made against such actions as the common people were most inclined to …’ Private property, ‘hath made laws to hang those that did steal, it tempts people to do an evil action and then kills them for the doing of it. All laws that are not grounded upon equity and reason, not giving a universal freedom to all but to certain persons, ought to be cut off with the King’s head. England is not a free people.”

  56. Bill Scott mate,
    you seem to have it in for the SNP, which is fair enough.

    Regarding your comment at no.66 –
    Speaking of stealing other parties policies, since when has the likes of the SSP and its membership started to support Scottish independence, a very SNP policy if I may say so?

    Sounds to me like outright hypocrisy and opportunism.

  57. Bill Scott on said:

    “Speaking of stealing other parties policies, since when has the likes of the SSP and its membership started to support Scottish independence, a very SNP policy if I may say so?” – Joe90

    Eh? That would’ve been at our founding conference and written into our constitution and the policy we’ve stood under at every general and by-election since.

    As a matter of fact I don’t “have it in for the SNP” and work alongside them on very good terms in the Independence Convention.

    The difference is that if the SNP had come to the SSP seeking support in getting an Independence Referendum Bill through Parliament or to support Palestinians in Gaza they’d have got it – we wouldn’t have refused it on the grounds that it might make the SNP look good.

    I’m not moaning about it. Politics is tough and the SNP did what they thought would be best for them electorally – but don’t hold them up as some paragon of political virtue. They didn’t think of the people who’d suffer from not getting free prescriptions earlier – they thought of the votes we might get if the Bill succeeded. And that’s what I call hypocrisy and opportunism. What’s “hypocritical” about me or anyone else in the SSP supporting Independence? It would only be hypocritical if we didn’t believe in it and as I spend half my time on these boards arguing with unionist numpties you’d think that I might be taken to mean what I say.

    However if you want to check out my own credentials on the issue have a look at these Independence Convention website blog articles –



    Until there’s “Saorsa” comrade.


  58. Sure your moaning Bill
    why else get petty about the Scottish opinion polls I posted above?

    My point was about British nationalist left-wingers in Scotland adopting SNP policies on independence – why have they seen the light, all of a sudden, when they’d been totally against Scotland having its own government since time immemorial?

    …but don’t hold them up as some paragon of political virtue.
    – I would never do that Bill, especially when the SSP and its policies are ever so popular that the SNP needs to steal from them in order to look good. Hence the reason the SSP doesn’t get much votes no doubt.

    Still, it’s always good to see SSP personal being their usual cheery divisive selves – no wonder the SNP doesn’t go near you if this is what they can expect.

  59. Sandy; you claimed that nobody in the SSP would debate independence with you.
    You made that up, we debated independence repeatedly with you, it’s just that you lost the vote, repeatedly.
    Unless you think the YouTube video of us debating independence is a fake I would suggest you are just making yourself look stupid;
    Joe90; Bill has explained to you that SSP support for independence has been party policy since we were formed 10 years ago. Do you understand that ?

  60. Bill Scott on said:

    Actually re-read my question. I was genuinely asking about the opinion poll as the numbers didn’t stack up. I wasn’t questioning Alex Salmond’s undoubted popularity. Just who the hell else got support for being First Minister after you eliminated those supporting him and the other party leaders/contenders?

    Does it matter? Not really. I just thought that you might be the right one to ask for an answer given that you’d supplied the original figures but it seems that sectarian point scoing is more your cup of tea.

    “No wonder the SNP don’t come near us?” They don’t have to mate and I never claimed that they did but if this is how you win friends for the Independence Movement we might find ourselves a few votes shy of a majority when it comes to the referendum.

    Meanwhile I’ll continue to work with SNP members with whom I can have adult disagreements about adult subjects. At least they don’t throw their toys out the pram if I dare to question their Government.
    Get a grip for chistsakes.

  61. Joe90; Bill has explained to you that SSP support for independence has been party policy since we were formed 10 years ago. Do you understand that ?
    – Yes I know that.

    I am asking why did Scottish left-wingers adopt SNP policy of independence for Scotland, when before they formed the SSP, they were all mostly British nationalists and dead against the SNP?

    It’s a simple enough question about the roots of your adoption of Scottish nationalism – unless I’m mistaken, and you were all supporters of the SNP but decided to invent yet another Scottish nationalist party for some strange reason.

    Only one party is needed as a vehicle for a policy as fundamental as independence. Why split the vote and confuse matters if Scottish independence is the true aim of the SSP.

    It doesn’t make sense, if you were already Scottish nationalists, to go to all the trouble to invent a new party for the purpose of independence.

    I’m sorry if I gave the impression that the SSP was in anyway beholden to the SNP. I didn’t mean that at all. I just meant that there are many decent political parties in Scotland, with the progressive ideas and policies. Voters have a real choice of who to vote for come election time – unlike Westmidden elections, where the voter is basically reduced to voting for the least worst on offer, most of the time.

    Sorry if I was making the SNP look good at the expense of the SSP – this is always an issue on a website called ‘Socialist Unity’.

  62. In the article below this ex IMG chancer Kerevan understands the real anti working class character of the Scottish independence movement. He envisages a hedonistic timefor our new rulers in an independent free market Scotland freed from dependency

    He fails to see ( or turns a blind eye to) the likely rise of an
    authoritarian right in an independent scotland linked to organized
    religion. But then again he can always move if he finds the new
    scotland too restrictive of his right to spend his loot as he pleases.

    Those on the left who see the SNP independence project as “social democratic” are living in a dream world


    Reinventing Scotland

    Why has it taken so long for the Scottish radical, free-market right
    to join the cause of independence?
    George Kerevan

    George Kerevan is associate editor of the Scotsman

    Michael Fry’s conversion to the Scottish nationalist cause has created
    a modest stirring in the heather north of the border. Prior to
    devolution in 1999, the Scottish intelligentsia and media had debated
    constitutional change ad nauseum for two decades, seeing it primarily
    as a bulwark against Thatcherism. With an elected Scottish parliament
    in place, the intellectuals went back to contemplating personal angst
    while hacks such as myself frothed at the mouth over the low calibre
    and limited vision of the new Holyrood politicians, many of whom still
    behaved like the small-minded Labour councillors they had previously been.

    The only group still willing to debate Scotland’s post-devolution
    future was—of all folk—the professional historians, among whom Michael
    Fry was a class act. A fierce war broke out involving the peripatetic
    Fry, Tom Devine of Edinburgh University, Richard Finlay of Strathclyde
    University and even the far-flung Niall Ferguson at Harvard
    University. And this was no obscure academic discussion: the public
    began devouring books and newspaper articles on the Highland
    clearances, the Scottish diaspora and the (large) role of the Scots in
    the British empire.

    The reality behind this historical debate was that the Scots—having
    re-established their historic political institutions, complete with a
    £431m parliament building—were proceeding to deconstruct their
    relationship with the English and the union in an era when
    globalisation and so-called multiculturalism had denuded the idea of
    Britishness of any intrinsic meaning. Much of the debate was conducted
    in defence of the imperial union: we Scots ran the empire for the
    English and made a fortune in the process, so we should accept that
    devolution is just the next stage. Thus it came as a shock to many
    when Michael Fry—free marketeer and Hayekian libertarian—jumped ship
    to embrace the independence cause, especially as the SNP leans to the
    social democratic left. But when a nation decides to rewrite its
    history books wholesale, it is usually a prelude to reasserting its
    national autonomy.

    For my part, having made the same journey as Fry a decade previously,
    I am just surprised that so few on the radical, free-market right
    understand why Scottish independence has become necessary. Devolution
    was essentially a defensive move by the old, conservative Scottish
    institutions that had escaped Thatcherite reform, allied to the
    old-Labour monopoly that controls civil and political society in Scotland.

    The Scottish electorate and business community, looking over its
    shoulder at the Celtic tiger in Ireland, expected devolution to
    modernise the country and its lacklustre economy. Instead they got the
    ancien régime writ large. Over half of Scottish GDP is now in the
    state sector, productivity is dire and economic growth glacial. We
    have the highest per capita health spending in Europe and the worst
    health under a Stalinist, super-centralised Scottish NHS. Twenty per
    cent fewer young Scots finish high school (post-16 education) than the
    European average.

    The only way to destroy this conservative, subsidy-driven culture is
    by cutting off its financial lifeline to England, which is there
    because Gordon Brown and other ambitious Scottish Westminster
    politicians such as John Reid are anxious to protect their domestic
    base. Fry sees this revolution in moral terms, forcing the Scots to
    return to their thrifty, self-improving, Presbyterian roots. He has a
    point, but I suspect 21st-century Scottish society will entail a
    radical reinvention of its traditional character as new political
    forces emerge. When the conservative shell is finally shattered, we
    will be more youthful, hedonistic and risk-taking. Scotland as a fun
    place for the English to visit? I have my hopes.

  63. From the SNP. The SNP are not social democratic but neo liberal. The capitalist class are not offering social democracy anymore. You would need an international mass working class movement to frighten them into reinstating social democracy.

    One of the leading lights of Irish finance has urged Scots to pursue
    independence to maximise the benefits of its world-class financial
    services industry.

    Mary Fulton, financial services partner in Dublin with “big four”
    accountancy firm Deloitte, told the Sunday Herald that Scotland would
    be more likely to build a thriving financial services sector as an
    independent nation.

    The call was echoed last week by Ben Thomson, chairman of Scotland’s
    leading investment bank Noble Group and a declared supporter of fiscal
    autonomy, who said Ireland’s example showed that Scotland suffered
    from being “shackled to the UK tax system”.

    SNP MSP Alex Neil said:”Ms Fulton’s comments endorse what many in the
    business community already know.”

    “With Independence, Scotland would have the full range of powers
    needed to deliver a more competitive business environment and to
    attract even greater investment into our financial services sector.

    “While the Scottish financial sector has done incredibly well over the
    past 10 years the Irish financial services industry has grown by
    nearly 300% over the same period.

    “There is no doubt Ireland’s power as an independent country to set
    competitive tax rates, a power Scotland does not have, has been a key
    factor in that success.

    “The SNP in Government is already delivering real improvements for
    Scottish business with lower taxes on small businesses and a skills
    strategy that meets employers needs and is winning the support of the
    business community in the process.

    “As more and more business people see the potential for Independence
    to deliver a more competitive economy and a growth rate to match that
    of other small European nations that support will only continue to grow.”

    A recent survey by the Scotsman newspaper found 39% of business people
    more likely to support Independence than they were prior to the SNP’s
    election win.

  64. Joe: “My point was about British nationalist left-wingers in Scotland adopting SNP policies on independence – why have they seen the light, all of a sudden, when they’d been totally against Scotland having its own government since time immemorial?”

    Must have been the Mel Gibson movie. Less than two years after it came out Scots voted for our own parliament. A year after that the SSP was founded supporting Scottish independence. Great movie.

  65. Joe: “My point was about British nationalist left-wingers in Scotland adopting SNP policies on independence – why have they seen the light, all of a sudden, when they’d been totally against Scotland having its own government since time immemorial?”

    The career prospects in the left wing of the independence movement were better than those on the left wing of the labour party from the early 90s onwards. The old Militant project of reforming the labour party was dead. So All hail the Scottish independence movement

    there was no real attempt to theorize the big change. they just went with the flow


  66. Thanks Kevin.

    I actually got sidetracked there a wee bit and didn’t mean to be so adamant with the guys from the SSP.

    I didn’t come along to bum up the SNP, and if they did scupper the school meals bill then that was and is wrong and there’s no real excuses.

    My main point, just to re-iterate, was that given the wholesale opposition to the SNP by the British Establishment and the foreign-owned corporate news media, and from many other quarters as well, just look what the SNP has been able to achieve in the way of responding to public concerns rather than the concerns of big buisness.

    Progressive political parties, and their members in England, should to take heart from this example.

    And anyway, I keep hearing it said that England will vote in right-wing Parliaments to Westmidden if they lose the Scottish electorate. Isn’t it the case though, that English public opinion on many issues, is actually not that far behind Scottish public opnion?

    Just for instance – the last time I looked, Scottish opposition to Trident was something like 87%, whereas British opposition to Trident, overall, was something like 73%. Factoring out Scots, that’s hardly a population that is naturally right-wing.

    I am sure the opinion polls for England don’t actually point to a right-wing electorate at all, but one that is actually left-of-centre at least.

    I think its just a myth that the English electorate is right-wing.

    all the best!

  67. Solidarity on said:

    Not everyone here I expect reads the Morning Star and the Sunday Herald. So here is an opportunity to see something of the SSP in action.

    ‘HYMAN Frankel (M Star July 29), calls for the SSP to be returned to its former glory. Alas, if only it were so simple.

    In truth, it is now nothing more than a poisonous rump of a party forever tainted by the role of its leadership in the high-profile defamation case involving former leader Tommy Sheridan against the execrable Rupert Murdoch and his anti-working class, racist News of The World Sunday tabloid.

    Sheridan won his case in spectacular fashion after sacking his lawyer and conducting his own case. In the aftermath, a perjury investigation was launched by the police. It is an investigation that is still ongoing, with Sheridan, his wife, father-in-law and five other former members of the SSP who gave evidence on his behalf during his original trial having been arrested and charged. Perjury in the UK carries a prison sentence of anything up to nine years and, to their eternal shame, the SSP have co-operated with this investigation every step of the way.

    The SSP are now deemed untouchable by the trade union movement and among significant sections of the progressive movement in Scotland and the UK. At a recent rally in Glasgow to foment support for what is now known as the Sheridan Seven, over 250 people turned out to hear the likes of Kenny Ross (FBU), Paddy Hill (Birmingham Six) and Gerry Conlon (Guildford Four) excoriate the SSP for their role in aiding and abetting the Murdoch press in court and trying to get socialists sent to prison for perjury.

    As a result of Ross’s speech, which was particularly scathing, four high-ranking members of the SSP sent an official letter of complaint to FBU head office in London, claiming defamation and demanding that Ross be disciplined. Ross, it should be explained, was speaking at the rally in a personal capacity and not as an official representative of the FBU. The FBU looked at the complaint and decided to not only endorse Kenny Ross’s speech but to officially affiliate to the Defend Tommy Sheridan campaign and give a donation of £500.

    Among the list of signatories to this campaign are the likes of Bob Crow, George Galloway and hundreds of trade unionists, socialists and progressives from around the world. The website can be found at http://www.defendtommysheridan.org/defend


    (Wednesday 20 August 2008)
    BECAUSE the matter is sub judice, it is not possible at this stage to fully respond to John Wight’s intemperate tirade against the Scottish Socialist Party (M Star August 14). His letter says more about the madness underpinning the split in the SSP engineered by Tommy Sheridan than it does about the SSP itself.

    Is John Wight seriously suggesting that the SSP should have refused to co-operate with a police investigation into perjury, when 11 members of the SSP executive were being denounced in the media as “perjurers” after Tommy Sheridan’s libel case – not least by Sheridan himself, who received £30,000 from a tabloid newspaper for making the accusation?

    Following the libel case, Lord Turnbull ordered an investigation into both sides, making the point that one side or other was lying. Naturally, those witnesses falsely accused of perjury will fight to clear their name.

    Wouldn’t John Wight do the same if he faced false accusations and the prospect of a lengthy jail sentence or is he just playing politics with other people’s lives? And why does he single out the SSP for attack? Why does he fail to mention Tommy Sheridan, who welcomed the police investigation at the outset and has guaranteed his full co-operation?

    Is John Wight seriously suggesting that it is acceptable for Tommy Sheridan to co-operate with the police – presumably by repeating his accusations that the SSP leadership plotted against him, fabricated evidence, perverted the course of justice and committed perjury – but taboo for SSP members to defend themselves against these accusations?

    John Wight is close to the mark but not quite accurate when he suggests that perjury can carry a sentence of up nine years imprisonment.

    In fact, under Scots law, there is no limit to the sentence that can be imposed. This is precisely why, from 2004 onwards, when John Wight was living in Hollywood pursuing his personal ambitions of fame and glory, the SSP leadership tried repeatedly to dissuade Tommy from his kamikaze court action.

    Unlike the splinter group Solidarity, the SSP has avoided seeking to draw external organisations and individuals into this sorry affair and has concentrated on building support for those in the front line in campaigns over pay, public services, jobs and peace.

    But we cannot and will not tolerate the spreading of malevolent half-truths by people like John Wight, who was only ever a member of the SSP for a short period of time before splitting away with Solidarity, which he then subsequently abandoned.

    As the philosopher Hegel once said, history is the most terrifying judge of all. Whatever the outcome of the current legal proceedings, members of the SSP will always be able to look themselves in a mirror with a clear conscience.


    Alan McCombes’ attempt at playing the victim in the case involving Tommy Sheridan (MStar August 20) may help him sleep nights, but the fact remains that he and his cohorts, despite extraordinary attempts at self justification in the aftermath, willingly took the dock on the side of the Murdoch Press against a fellow socialist.

    Alan McCombes is quite right to point out that the case is currently sub judice; however, the ethics involved remain up for debate and it is a debate that needs to be had within the wider trade union and socialist movement.

    He asserts the moral right to defend himself against attacks from Tommy Sheridan, but the simple and undeniable fact is that no such need would have ever existed if he and others had not decided to cross class lines and verily stick the knife into one of their own.

    Alan McCombes then descends into the argument of last resort by engaging in a personal attack. For the record, I lived in Los Angeles from 2000 to 2004, where I worked among other things as a full time organiser in the US antiwar movement and as a spokesperson for the IRSM (Irish Republican Socialist Movement). I will have Alan McCombes know that of the 10 million or so people who live in and around LA, not all are there pursuing fame and fortune. Yes, I may have been in the SSP for a relatively short period of time before the split, but at the age of 41 I like to think that I’ve been on the planet long enough to know the difference between the smell of roses and bullshit.

    Finally, in line with his adoption of a quote from Hegel in support of what can only be described as an attempt at intellectual gymnastics to justify the position that was taken by him and others during the court case, let me provide one of my own in the form of a Tibetan proverb: ‘Better to have lived one day as a tiger than a thousand years as a sheep’.

    John Wight

    (Friday 05 September 2008)
    IN HIS latest tirade against the SSP (M Star September 1), John Wight fails to deal with any of the points raised in his initial letter which have since been comprehensively answered. Instead, he tries to mislead readers of the Morning Star by suggesting that the SSP “decided to cross class lines and verily stick the knife into one of their own.” We decided nothing of the kind. The SSP did everything in its power to prevent our members being dragged before the Court of Session in a sordid little dispute that should never have come to court in the first place.

    For the record, I personally, with the backing of the SSP leadership, repeatedly defied demands by the Court of Session to hand over internal SSP minutes to the News of the World’s legal team before the libel case commenced. As a result, I was deemed to be in contempt of court and sent to jail.

    In order to keep internal SSP business out of the courts, I was prepared to stay in Saughton jail as long as necessary.

    But, by a slender majority, railroaded through by Tommy Sheridan, the SWP and the CWI, the SSP national council voted to back down and hand over our minutes to the Murdoch press and its legal team.

    Inevitably, this led to the SSP executive being cited under oath by both sides in the case. We refused to provide precognition to the News of the World’s lawyers. No-one was in the Court of Session by choice other than Tommy Sheridan.

    Is John Wight seriously suggesting that, after going to jail for keeping our minutes out of the court, we should then have pretended to the world at large that we had actually forged these minutes in an attempt to frame Tommy Sheridan?

    Yes, let’s debate the morality involved. Should lifelong socialists debase and humiliate themselves and rewrite their own history in the process, because one man has decided that he wants to clean his tarnished halo?

    Is that what John Wight means by ethics?


    Alan McCombes in his letter (MStar 05 September) makes the point that the SSP leadership backed him in defying demands by the Court of Session to hand over minutes of a crucial SSP executive council meeting pertinent to the story which appeared in the NOTW concerning Tommy Sheridan. He then goes on to state, rightly, that the SSP National Council subsequently voted to overturn the executive’s decision to defy the courts, hand over the minutes, and back Tommy Sheridan in any court action he decided to take against the Murdoch Press.

    The key point here is the complete and utter disrespect which Alan McCombes reveals for the SSP National Council. For me, and many others who were in the SSP, the national council was the leadership, with the executive taking direction from the NC in key matters such as the Sheridan case for precisely the reason that this body represented a broad layer of the party’s membership. He then attempts to dismiss this NC decision, which it is worth pointing out took place through a democratic vote, by slandering the CWI and SWP, as if it were only members of both organisations who took Tommy Sheridan’s side. This is untrue. I for one was a non-aligned member of the SSP and I backed Tommy Sheridan; and I know for a fact there were many others who were also non aligned and who took the same position. But, regardless, members of the CWI and SWP were also members of the SSP at the time, so is Alan McCombes suggesting they should not have had the same right to a vote on as the rest of the membership?

    At the time in question I have no doubt that Alan McCombes was more than happy to see SSP coffers bolstered by dues from members of both organisations, and also happy to have them exert themselves in SSP campaigns around the country, which makes it nothing short of disgraceful to hear him dismiss and categorise them in this way.

    With regard to the (two days?) that he spent in prison, it is clear to me and others that his motivation for doing so was to mitigate the fact that a damning minute had been noted concerning a comrades’s personal life, which would have brought the clique intent on marginalising and removing Tommy Sheridan from his position as Convener into disrepute in the eyes of a large section of the party. That the minute in question was false and taken with nefarious intent was affirmed by a jury of 11 men and women after a trial lasting a month in the summer of 2006.

    Since then leading members of what is left of the SSP have been involved in the distribution of tapes, statements, and smears to the right wing press in a manner which has brought nothing but shame to the socialist movement. A prime example of such tactics is Alan McCombes’ attempt to discredit me with a personal attack in his initial letter. It is a tactic of desperation and reaction that has come to define the SSP over the last couple of years. It is one which has repulsed an increasingly wide layer of the trade union and progressive movement.

    John Wight

    ‘Charity faces probe over Sheridan support
    Complaint after Mojo founder backs Solidarity leader
    By Paul Hutcheon, Scottish Political Editor

    A PUBLICLY-FUNDED charity set up to assist people who have been wrongfully imprisoned is facing a probe into its support for a controversial politician charged with perjury.
    The Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (Mojo) in Scotland, run by campaigner John McManus, has been criticised after backing former MSP Tommy Sheridan. Its support for Sheridan has led to a complaint being made to the charity regulator about MOJO’s compliance with strict rules governing political activity.

    MOJO was set up by McManus and Birmingham Six victim Paddy Hill to assist “innocent people both in prison and after their release”, for which they received £58,450 last year from the Scottish Government – the bulk of their funding.

    The charity also provides an advocacy service to help prisoners who claim they are innocent, by recommending defence lawyers and forensic experts.

    However, the group is facing an investigation after McManus came out in support of Sheridan, the co-leader of Solidarity. The left-wing politician won a high-profile defamation case in 2006 against News of the World, but has since been charged with perjury.

    The “Defend Tommy Sheridan” campaign was then set up, with McManus one the group’s most high-profile supporters. McManus’ name, next to Mojo, appears on the campaign’s list of “individuals who have pledged support” for the former MSP, while a statement in his name reads: “There is little doubt that if this was any other person, they the police would not have gone to the length they have, especially for a civil case.”

    The Mojo founder also made a keynote speech at the “Defend Tommy Sheridan” rally earlier this year. Flyers for the rally flag up the appearance of McManus, in his Mojo capacity.

    A complaint has now been lodged with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), which has been asked to investigate MOJO’s political activity and links with the Sheridan campaign.

    Charities are forbidden from advancing political parties and must always act in ways that demonstrate “public benefit”. Guidance supplied to charities states: “There needs to be a link between activities and the reason the charity was set up and recognised as having charitable purposes.”

    Mojo’s remit applies to individuals who have been sentenced, rather than to people who have been charged with an offence.

    McManus said: “Tommy supported our organisation from its inception. If somebody supported me in the past, I will support them when they need my help.” He added: “Tommy Sheridan is not a political party. I wouldn’t say it was campaigning for a political party.”

    A spokesman for OSCR would neither confirm nor deny whether any charity was subject to a complaint.’

  68. Left wing right wing. It makes my head hurt.

    It’s enough to say that England is populated by a great many working people. Allow me to quote someone who said it better:

    “The cultural identity of the English has been submerged by a history of dominating the United Kingdom and the world, such that the common people of England have been persuaded that in return for their status as subjects of a King or Queen-Emperor, they somehow shared the glory of that Empire. In fact England, like Scotland and Wales is the colony that never secured its own liberation from that monarchical power.” — Tony Benn and Andrew Hood, Common Sense: A New Constitution for Britain, 1993.

  69. Sandy, I always liked and respected you. I thought you were always brave and tenacious in your argument for a British socialist party and were clear about your stance against independence in the SSP and you always seemed to be a honest man until of late – I think you have invented a past to suit your cognitive dissonance. Bill is not putting forward falsifications at all but you seem to be.

    Sandy wrote: 1) The SSP has refused to debate the independence question in public with socialist opponents of independence. I had to go to London to debate Gregor Gall. The SSP at its “socialism” public events refused to organise any such debate. I challenge him to debate independence at a public forum in Glasgow.

    I was at many debates and discussions on independence and the national question – we never stopped debating and discussing it. Every year at socialism and every year at the SSP conference we would discuss it. It is plainly not true considering our stap line is for An Independent Socialist Scotland.

    Indeed at one conference I think it was 2004 in Edinburgh you and other members of AWL and CPGB caucused at lunch time and beyond about your intervention about the motion about supporting independence that you missed the motion and debate despite me coming out to tell you (as the Chair) the debate was about to start!

    Sandy wrote: 2) At the launch of the SSP socialist opponents of independence were invited to join the SSP. We did so. The SSP was then a party with a class struggle dynamic. It was not a party where a leading member would secretly tape another member and sell the tape for personal gain to the news of the world.

    There are still people in the SSP who have minority positions and it is their right to argue for them. I had for many years a minority position that prostitution is violence against women and we should be fighting for its elimination and targeting the buyers of sex. All 6 of our MSPs in 2003 signed Margot McDonald’s Bill for Toleration Zones. You were welcome in the SSP but you chose to leave after becoming abusive and not following the constitution or guidelines.

    Sandy wrote: 3) I was barred from the SSP discussion list for calling for george mcneilage to be censored by the party for his action. All my attempts to take this matter up within the party were undemocratically and unconstitutionally blocked

    You were barred from an internal discussion site for being abusive and breaching the constitution. You refused to follow the constitution in how to address this matter and choose to do it outside the SSP. You were not suspended or expelled from the party.

    Sandy wrote: 4) The Scottish independence project is an neo liberal anti working class project. It aims to remove what is left of the welfare state. It aims to divide the working class in Britain along national lines and thus render it weaker. The purpose of the SSP would seem to be to attempt to paint this anti working class project in a red colour in an attempt to fool the working class vanguard into supporting the project of its class enemy

    And that Sandy is your right to debate and promote this idea. Myself and many other socialists do not see independence as anti- working class, I do not see it the be all and end all only party of the flowers you smell on the journey to working class liberation. It has its pitfalls but many Scots do not feel British this is not about being anti-English or anti Welsh its about being against imperialist Britain.

    Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales already have different legislations and the unions fight with different strategies. You cannot deny that their is a Scottish identity. I am under no illusion that independence per se will deliver socialism but I think the break up of the British state is a step against imperialism and allows the peoples of Britian to express themselves.


  70. Incidently its a long way up but someone was arguing that Zulu the film showed working class scottish soldiers with English officers. Perhaps the film does. In reality though there were plenty of Scottish officers and moreover the Scottish bourgoisie was heavily involved with Empire. A Marxist I know, writing on the Scottish Enlightenment was delighted to discover that he might have relatives in Bengal. Less delighted by the reason which was some ancester of his was a planter (a real one!) in Bengal. He is not the sort of Scotsman who generally likes to be associated with planters. In any case as he put it ‘and I thought I was of good proletarian stock’. The Scots played a big role in the elite of colonists (both in some of the great intellectual names associated with colonialism from grand old orientalists like William Jones to a whole generation of lawyers and administraters, through to of course engineers and soldiers). Trying to present this history as being about the English exploiting Scottish workers is grossly misleading. This would be true of the Irish case. Its grotesquely inappropriate in the case of Scotland. Scottish lawyers incidently codified the sharia in South Asia. Its still in the personal law sections of all of the constitutions in South Asia. One of the less well known off-spring of the Scottish Enlightenment. As was much of the revenue system of the entire region.

  71. JOhn G

    “Incidently its a long way up but someone was arguing that Zulu the film showed working class scottish soldiers with English officers. “

    Have you ever seen Zulu?

    The scene where they sing “Men of Harlech” is a good clue :o)

    Sorry – I don’t mean to be unfriendly about what was a good point you made about the Scopts in Empire. The film that is relevent to that discussion of Scottish Britishness is “Tunes of Glory”, and Kevin Williamson has a different reading of it from what I do.

  72. yeah well actually I thought that. I was referring to a comment further up. Scotland seems different from Wales as well. One reason for the strong working class traditions in Scotland was to do with the rapid development of industry and finance in which the Scottish bourgoisie play a large role (not usually associated with colonialism) which also explains the very large role that class played all over the British Empire (I kid you not, any serious study of the leading figures in the colonial period yields a surfeit of Scotsmen, right across the board from economic to intellectual matters. I don’t know very much about the trajectory of the Welsh bourgoisie. Were the pit owners Welsh? What was the spread of other industries? They were not anyway nearly as central in colonialism despite Zulu and the Welsh regiments, in terms of the kind of distinctive presence Scotland had within the Empire. Lots of parsons for some reason. One of the strange things though, is that despite these key linkages between the Scottish bourgoisie and Empire, there is not a lot of academic work exploring this. Perhaps its because throughout this period British identity was much much more important in popular consiousness then Scottish. Or perhaps because it doesn’t sit well with attempts to include Scotland in the ‘post-colonial’ rubric (although in many ways this is precisely the kind of complication that good post-colonial theory ought to address) ie its politically incorrect to be reminded of this aspect of Scottish identity at a time when many left wingers are attempting parrallels with colonialism. But I really think, whatever the position on the contemporary situation, attempts to portray the relationship between England and Scotland as historically colonial are absurd. It just makes no sense given what colonialism is usually associated with. You just have to look across the water to Ireland to see that.

  73. With regard to Scotland JOhn I don’t think that the idea that Scotland was a colony of England is the dominant narrative at all.

    The more common argument is that the Union was a ruling class lash up, that allowed the Scottish ruling class to participate in Empire while allowing the English to strategically resolve the military/political threat from the north. As such it was a merger of states not peoples. Tom naeirn describes quite convincingly the disproportionate role of Scots in Empire – one reason for which is that it was easier for a Scottish lawyer to succeed in Bengal than in London.

    Wales is different in the sense that the union of England and Wales is rooted much deeper in the pre-modern period; and constitutionaly Wales was no different from an English region. The fact that Wales didn’t simpkly become absorbed as an English region is only slightly georgraphy, and much more that the working people of Wales have always considered themselves another nation.

    The Welsh rich became very early indistinguishable from the English, while national identity and language became the secret scripture of the poor. That is why Welshness is much more about class than Scottishness is, and also why Wales has a culturallly deeper difference with England, combined with much higher levels of support for the union

  74. Thanks for the clarifications on Wales and on Scotland. In the Scottish case though I think the narrative which suggests that the Act of Union (which was really the birth of modern Scotland as well as Britain) represented a lash up between members of the ruling class rather then peoples (precisely what other form do such things take? particularly in the 18th century) and the contrast between states and peoples in relationship to this question, raise larger issues about what kind of a norm this deviation is being measured against.

    Surely the central involvement and indeed vast prosperity that accrued to the Scottish bourgoisie in the long term after the act of union, militates against seeing any of this as an example of national oppression traditionally understood? Given that this history unfolds in a capitalist world? I just don’t get, in terms of history in the round, how such a relationship can be concieved of given the circumstances. To me the whole question for socialists revolves around the political content of the demand for independence with respect to the fight against capitalism, that political content not really being fixed in advance over any long historical period (in other words its not really true that there is a long tradition of progressive scottish nationalism).

    Is it really true today that Welsh language is the ‘secret scripture of the poor’ incidently? I also find it implausible that the existence of a seperate wales is simply a product of the peoples culture or whatnot. I don’t find this opposition between ‘the people’ and a determinate analyses of the emergence of capitalism very convincing. Usually the use of phrases like this conceals a transcedence which is simply nationalism rather then a Marxist analyses of it. This probably links in to my being unconvinced by the standard left take on the Act of Union you mention.

    Incidently on the basis of things I’ve read, I’m very unconvinced by Nairn’s attempt to present the Scottish element in colonialism as in some sense the result of discrimination. Very unconvinced.

  75. Nowhere within the discussion above on “independence” can I discern a single reference to the EU. It’s as if it has no bearing on the matter. All the parties in Scotland that support “independence” either explicitly or implicitly support membership of the big business driven EU. Therefore under any reasonable definition of “independence” it must be concluded that none of these parties genuinely support independence for Scotland.

    E.g. their “independent” Scotland would be severly curtailed in public expenditure by EU rules, barred from directing support to local industrial regeneration, would be unable to remove VAT (the flat rate rich man’s tax) from, say, home fuel bills etc etc…

    Where’s the independence there?

    The real question must be why all these “independence” supporting parties duck this central question? Is it a sin of omission or a sin of commission?

  76. JOhn #98

    There is a cerain amount of over-reading going on in your response here.

    There is no question whatsoever beign raised about Scots being oppressed in the Empire – it is simply a reflection of the specific structure of the Empire that the greatest opportunities for professional class Scots was in the colonies. That was not oppression,that was simply individual Scottish professionals making decions based upon their ow best interests. Britain was an expansionist political project, because the common interests of Scots and English was expressed in imperial expansion. And yes, there is also a long history of Scottish professionals coming to London, but that was often not the best opportunity.

    The Empire was a very complex social phenomenon, and for example there was discrimination aginst the creole settlers from Oz, NZ asnd Canada – who could not gain advancement in the imperial service outside their own colonies or at the metroplotian centre, and in many ways were no better regarded than that class of Anglo-Indian civil servants recruited to run the Raj on the initiative of Thomas babington Mccauley.

    And you really need to widen you understanding of marxism to include acccounts of pre-modern manifestations of the nation – following otto bauer. Welsh people have persisted in considering themselves a nation for hundreds of years – if your “marxism” can’t exmplain the facts then time to reconsider the theory not ditch the acknowledged facts.

  77. My objection was simply that the City and London and Empire were hardly seperate projects at the time. I’m well aware of how complex the Empire was but the Scots were not ‘creole’ in that sense. They functioned at the most senior levels possible in the Empire. Its perposterous to argue that the Scottish in India were treated like Anglo-Indians. My understanding of Marxism and the question of ‘pre-modern’ nations is perfectly wide. I just disagree with attempts to equate modern nationalism with pre-modern ‘nations’. The belief that either my views or those who are modernists in this sense, are guilty of ‘narrow reading’ is a silly debating trick nothing more. Different views of these questions are rarely to do with with ignorence. They’re usually to do with differing interpretations of the same facts.

  78. Actually the person I referred to as pleased and horrified to find he had relatives from Bengal (actually what is today Bangladesh) sums up the problem of anachronism. I have an image of local scholars in an archive in Dacca suddenly hearing a gruff horrified voice: ‘A fucking planter!?’. Who’d a thought it. The same shock people sometimes get from family trees modern nationalists often get from their past. Its one thing to be told that your nation is perenial. Its another to find out who the bastards actually were (quite often). More seriously the attempt to root nationalism in human nature runs into the same difficulty as theories suggesting the importance of blood-ties on the basis of the existence of ‘clans’ in what used to be called savage socities. Of course such people might use a language of ‘blood’ but given that often they had no biological notion of the family (making no distinctions between the adopted and biological for instance) it hardly meant the same thing it does today.

  79. JOhn

    You willfully misread what i am saying, and imply that i am arguing the exact opposite of what i very clearly say. As I have never argued that the SCots were nationally opprressed, and I don’t beleive Tom nairn has ever argued that the Scots are nationally oppressed either – certainly never in my reasonable wide reading of his work, why do you wilfully bring this straw man into the debate?

    Of course I have not argued that the Scots were creoles. But the Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders were. How many canadians were there at the highest level of the Raj? (for the unitiated creole is a descendent of the colonialists born in the colonoes rathet than in the imperial motherland – by some accounts creole rebels (George Washington, Simon Bolivar) are the first conscious nationalists)

    Yes of course Scots operated at the very highest levels of the Empire, not only in Africa and India, but also in London. But it is simply a fact that generally creoles from Australia, canada and NZ did not work at the highest level of the Empire – except in their own colonies; any more than the Anglo-indians did.

    You seem totally unable to understand the simple and obvious meaning of words.

    The question of raising the creoles is to point out the multi-threaded nature of the structure of the Empire. Scots were not creoles, but neither were they English. The simple facts – for example – that the Scots had an entirely different legal system, education system and Kirk – meant that they were integrated slighly differently from the English into their joint imperial project. Nor was trade with London the most important route to commercial success – and Glasgow was a major imperial city in its own standing, with more trade with New York in the nineteenth century than any Engish city had.

    When you write: “Incidently on the basis of things I’ve read, I’m very unconvinced by Nairn’s attempt to present the Scottish element in colonialism as in some sense the result of discrimination. Very unconvinced.”

    It is extremely hard to locate this in anything that either Tom Nairn has ever written or argued, or anything that actually happened in the Empire.

    The Empire was a joint imperial project by the Scots and English working together to try to create a merged British nation-state; but it wasn’t an equal opportunities project by the English to give the Scots a leg up in the Empire. Scots capitalists, merchants, financiers, manufacturers, lawyers, slave-traders, soldiers and politicians, and every other stripe of exploiter made the best of the opportunities that the Empire gave them, and they started with accumulated political and economic capital in Scotland itself. The best opportunities for promoting their interests were in imperial expansion, resting upon their own already accumlulated assets, not competing with the already stronger English economy and institutions. So the Scottish were not excluded, but neither were they deliberately included in English society. Many Scots made it in England, especially politicians and civil servants who shared in the joint British institutions.

    Your own position is bizarre. You claim that we are arguing that the Scots were discriminated against as explanation of the higher than average proportion of Scots in the most senior and well-rewarded positions in the worlds most expansive Empire! If that is the position you think we are arguing, no wonder you are confused. Some discrimination!

    Scots were not discriminated against in the Empire, but the Empire gave greater opportunities to Scots in some areas than others.

    You rather oddly say: “I also find it implausible that the existence of a seperate wales is simply a product of the peoples culture or whatnot. I don’t find this opposition between ‘the people’ and a determinate analyses of the emergence of capitalism very convincing”

    Look at Wales. A climate and landscape that encouraged a certain type of farming, combined with a different language, history, traditions and folk legends; and geographically isolated from England by a difficult land route, but with easier trasport via sea, linking it to the Celtic world in the pre modern period. Of course that community of fate will have led to similariries in valued character types, perpetuated and celebrated in their shared language and culture. Wales was a nation in the pre-modern period. Wales is a nation now

    The facts that Wales and Welshness exists is a fact that we have to understand; not reject becasue it doesn’t fit in with a religiously ossified “Marxism”

    How little interaction there was between the Welsh and English can be seen from the Landsker line. 700 years after the English settled in pemborkeshire you can still draw the line on the map unaided just by looking at the place names, and if you go there, not only do they speak English south of the landsker and Welsh north of it, but there has been almost no intermarrying through those centuries, and there is even a change of majority blood group exactly coinciding with the landsker. (Thoigh of course these “English” are now Welsh – but just not Welsh speakking)

    Naturally this difference and seperation led the Welsh to develop a shared feeling of nationhood in the pre-modern period; but this was (like the Czechs in Moravia and Bohemia) restricted to the ordinary working people and their priests – hence my description of it as a secret scripture of the poor. The rich Welsh integrated with the English, and promoted the suppression of the Welsh language and culture as a perceived impediment to trade and prosperity, as well as a reservoir of oppositionism.

    This is also an explanation of the persistent tradition in Welsh national identity for related Welshness to class, and honest labour.

    John – you falsely claim that the Marxist tradition of Otto Bauer seeks to “root nationalism in human nature “, but it does exactly the opposite, it roots the development of human nature and national cultural differecnes in the shared, lived experience of real women and men producing and reproducing their actually existing societies in the the specific historic contexts that they lived in. Recognising that historically, in the pre-modern period the lived experience, the cultural background, the terrain and language, the relationships with other cultures will have been unique, aand will have developed different nations – and that these nations were also the product of internal differentiation, class struggle and cultural/ political development; as well as being subject to the infleunce of external political and cultural influence.

    The only way to understand the overlapping question of English/Britshness, is to try to understand what it means to be Welsh and Scottish;and what Britain means in Scotland and Wales. Denial that Wales even exists as a nation runs the risk that your “internationalsim” refelcts the common sense of British chauvinism.

  80. JOhn,

    Your confusion is well revealled by the link that you have provided at #102.

    Presumably you provide this link thinking it somehow refutes the chronicles of Nairnia.

    But in fact the account you link to is itself informed by the same argument that I am putting – that the union was in the self-interest of the Scottish ruling class, and now the Empire has gone, leading to a widespread questiooning of Britishness in Scotland.

    How does that in any way contradict what i am saying. given that I ahve been arguing that same point for years myself?

  81. Anonymous on said:

    You were barred from an internal discussion site for being abusive and breaching the constitution. You refused to follow the constitution in how to address this matter and choose to do it outside the SSP. You were not suspended or expelled from the party.

    No I was not barred from SSP discuss for being abusive or breaching the party constitution. I was barred due to my politics and my call for the SSP to condemn George McNeilage for selling his tape to the NOTW for personal gain. All my attempts to overturn the ban were blocked or ignored. I was eventually told that it was all a misunderstanding and that i had not been barred so i could not appeal but since the SSP discussion forum was independent of the party the SSP could not order my reinstatement. So I could keep paying my dues but not take part in discussions