File Size: 81 kb
File Type: doc
Download File

Building Unity for a Scottish Socialist Republican Scotland


For the last decade the Communist Party of Scotland has been working to build unity among the left in Scotland who share the vision of a socialist Republic as the way forward.

We were part of the drive to create the Scottish Socialist Party but refused their offers to join them when we discovered that we would have to disband and only have the opportunity of coming together as a party a couple of times a year.

We are now a small party, set up in the aftermath of the collapse of the Communist Party of Great Britain and most of us hailed from there although from different political strands and experience.

The experience we shared was that of broad left development, working to build it, often without any credit for our efforts; and working to expand it.

Any analysis of the situation in Scotland will show clearly that the left who support a socialist republic is quite small-so we need all the unity we can muster. The Scottish National Party has to become an ally whether it wishes to or not. They have a member ship of about 15000 of which perhaps 10 or 15 % would share our goal. So we have to find ways to persuade them of our case and of our usefulness as allies. This may mean that our definition of broad left is wider than some on the left would wish, but it is critical for us as our size is so small and we cannot do it by ourselves.

It was quite a surprise for me to realize that there are sections of the SSP who do not seem to view the SNP as potential allies. Others who characterize them by their big business contacts.

It is ludicrous to omit the SNP from the equation because they are the National Party of Scotland. Not only do we have to nudge the SNP towards the cause of socialism and republicanism, we have to convince them that this is the best option for Scotland.

The SNP rather like the Labour Party are a broad swathe of the population that have views spanning from left to right. We describe them as Social Democratic in character although they do not have the backing of a large trade union movement, like the Labour Party. Their opposition to Trident, the war in Iraq and their commitment to a non-aggressive defence force for Scotland marks them out as essentially anti-imperialist. They have shown their commitment to the public sector and support for small businesses, issues that are vital to the growth of the Scottish economy. The Labour Party has set its face against independence, largely to protect the interests of the Union although the claim is that they need to maintain labour movement unity –a deluded view in my opinion.

We cannot count on any or much support from Labour Party supporters although there quite a few that have joined the SNP. The Labour Party manages to retain its hold on the trade unions in Scotland although many are very keen to see the party move from its neo-conservative view of the world and move to the left.

We in the CPS hold out no such hopes as 13 years of Blairite triumphalism left no space for reforms to anti-trade union legislation.

So we who are for independence, socialism and republicanism must develop close working links with those who share our views and values.

We have been working closely with the 1820 Society, the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement and the John McLean Society, left members of the SNP and individual socialists and republicans. We work closely with the SSP and Solidarity whenever we can but the Sheridan affair seems to have eclipsed their political activity for the moment.

What are the principles on which we build unity? Mutual respect, shared principles and a long term view.

It does not help if people fall out over disagreements - equally it is important to express disagreement in a careful way. There is no point in throwing gratuitous insults at would –be allies. We, in Scotland have long traditions of schisms and splits probably rooted in historic clan feuds and ecclesiastical disputes from the Covenanters onwards. Much of Scottish politics has been dominated by the industrial influence of the Central Belt. There is a need to ensure that there is a broader view that includes small towns, rural and fishing communities and their political ideas.

It is my view that an internationalist view of the world is helpful to this. My own experience in the old CPGB was in anti- racist and anti-imperialist work. This brought me into a close relationship with comrades with an internationalist view and contact with other communist and worker parties and comrades. The range and variety of struggles observed gives a good basis for comparison.

I was very privileged to work with Indian, Pakistani, African and Caribbean comrades whose circumstances of struggle were often very different but whose understanding of the need to win allies and cement understandings was powerful and strong.

Political posturing is of no help to anyone. You have to judge comrades by their actions and claims of political left purity are of no help if people don’t deliver the goods.  It is my view if you make a commitment that you honour it, whether it is about turning up to meetings or standing up to be counted when the going gets rough. It is important to include issues from the agendas of your allies in your agenda-basic common sense, I think!

In our case we have invited speakers from other organisations to join our platforms and have always tried to reciprocate when the requests come our way.

We have opened a part of our monthly meetings to this process as well as setting up a series of Marxist education meetings /debates. This has been a gratifying process and we have seen a range of people from other parties begin to appear at meetings and find areas of agreement. Great oaks from little acorns grow! We have much to gain and little to lose particularly when you consider the dreadful ravages that the last bout of Tory rule inflicted upon Scotland.

We are about to hold a public meeting in Stirling at the Smith Art Gallery and Museum on Saturday 26th March at 1.30pm. The title is ‘the Union-Consent or Forced Marriage?’ with Dr James Young, Michael Donnelly and Donald Anderson as speakers.

United we stand –divided we fall! Venceremos!

Maggie Chetty,
Communist Party of Scotland