History of the Scottish Socialist Party
In Scotland, the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) is a left-wing political party. The party was formed in 1998 from an alliance of left-wing organisations in Scotland. In 1999, it saw its first MSP returned to Holyrood, with five more MSPs elected in 2003. It lost all MSPs in the 2007 elections and has lacked representation in the Scottish Parliament since.
- 1 Early years (1996-1998)
- 2 Formation and growth of the SSP
- 3 Crisis and split
- 4 References
Early years (1996-1998)
The forerunner of the SSP was the Scottish Socialist Alliance (SSA), which was a coalition of left-wing bodies in Scotland formed in 1996. The largest group involved was Scottish Militant Labour.
United Kingdom general election, 1997
The SSA contested 16 seats in Scotland at the United Kingdom general election, 1997, including all ten Glasgow seats, Edinburgh North and Leith, and both Dundee seats. Tommy Sheridan saved his deposit in Glasgow Pollok, and Jim McVicar and Alan McCombes picked up a significant vote in Glasgow Baillieston and Glasgow Govan respectively.
The SSA's electoral stance was that there needed to be a left alternative to New Labour and the SNP, and the SSA felt that the experience had been enough of a success to go on to form the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in 1998, with Tommy Sheridan as its convenor, in advance of the Scottish Parliament general election, 1999.
Formation and growth of the SSP
Scottish Parliament general election, 1999
The period following the election of Scotland's only socialist MSP saw sustained growth for the SSP, including a boost to membership when the Scottish section of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers affiliated to the party. During this period of sustained and rapid growth, it recruited extensively from former members of the Labour Party and the Scottish National Party, in addition to trade unionists, environmentalists, and community campaigners. It also achieved what was, for a minor party, a respectable vote at the United Kingdom general election, 2001 and a series of by-elections for the UK and Scottish parliaments (Hamilton South, Ayr, Glasgow Anniesland, and Falkirk West).
Scottish Parliament general election, 2003
The 2003 elections to the Scottish Parliament took place shortly after the decision of the UK parliament to invade Iraq and the UK firefighter dispute 2002–2003. The SSP was active in the anti-war movement and the firefighters' dispute, and gained five additional regional list MSPs across Scotland: Frances Curran; Rosie Kane; Carolyn Leckie; Colin Fox; and Rosemary Byrne.
Campbell Martin, a former SNP MSP who had become an independent, came fairly close to joining the SSP. The party did, however, recruit John McAllion, a former Labour MSP who lost his seat at the 2003 election. He stood for the SSP in the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election, 2006, but gained only 537 votes (1.6%).
Crisis and split
|Wikinews has related news: Scottish Socialist Party to split as Sheridan launches new party|
On 11 November 2004, Tommy Sheridan resigned as convener of the Scottish Socialist Party, citing personal reasons. It later emerged that he had been pressured into resignation by the party's National Executive because he intended to sue a national tabloid newspaper over stories he knew to be true. There were two candidates to replace him: Colin Fox, SSP MSP for the Lothians, widely regarded as a favourite; and Alan McCombes, the SSP's policy co-ordinator. Delegates to the SSP conference voted on 13 February 2005 and Fox was elected with 252 votes to McCombes' 154.
On 29 August 2006, Sheridan announced his intention to leave the Scottish Socialist Party and found a new political party, which he called Solidarity. His move was supported by Rosemary Byrne MSP.
The first meeting of the SSP after the split was at a national rally in early September 2006, and again at a national conference in mid-October 2006, where all of the incumbent party officials were re-elected, including the re-election of Colin Fox as National Convenor.
Scottish Parliament general election, 2007
At the 2007 elections, neither the SSP or Solidarity won a seat. At the local elections, SSP councillor Jim Bollan was re-elected in West Dunbartonshire. He remains the only elected socialist councillor in Scotland.
Scottish independence referendum, 2014
Despite setbacks, the Scottish Socialist Party has re-emerged as the leading force on the left in Scottish politics.
Colin Fox has been appointed to the Advisory Board of Yes Scotland, the organisation campaigning for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence.
In September 2013, the party published The Case for an Independent Socialist Scotland in advance of the March and Rally for Scottish Independence, which became the party's fastest-selling pamphlet ever. A launch event was held in the Scottish Parliament hosted by Independent MSP John Finnie. Subsequent launch events also took place in Paisley and Aberdeen.
As a consequence of its work in Yes Scotland, it has established new branches in Ayrshire, Inverclyde, Dundee, and Aberdeen.
- Scotland’s brave new world
- Profile: Scottish Socialist Party
- "New socialist party for Sheridan", BBC News, 29 August 2006, (retrieved 10 September 2006)
- "SSP executive says Sheridan is on the road to oblivion". 21 August 2006. Retrieved 25 June 2013.