"No2EU": Tensions in Scotland

Submitted by martin on 22 April, 2009 - 11:07 Author: Dale Street

In Scotland No2EU is backed not only by the Communist Party of Britain (CPB, the “Morning Star” faction of British Stalinism) but also by “Solidarity Scotland” (launched after its core membership split from the Scottish Socialist Party in 2006).

Despite a scattering of branches round Scotland, “Solidarity Scotland” is more a flag of convenience than a cohesive political movement. The two socialist organisations which still support it, on paper at least, are the Socialist Party (SP) and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).

Unlike the SP, however, the SWP does not currently support No2EU. This must ratchet up the internal tensions between the SP and the SWP in the rump “Solidarity Scotland” still further.

But the enthusiasm of “Solidarity Scotland” for No2EU is rather less than whole-hearted. The National Steering Committee meeting which agreed to back No2EU also criticised the name of the electoral initiative, the lack of any element of Scottish autonomy, and the policy that any successful candidate would not take their seat in the Euro-Parliament.

The SP and “Solidarity Scotland” will probably try to “recalibrate” the politics of the campaign in areas where they have enough local influence to do so and that will cause tension within No2EU, particuarly with the CPB.

The top three candidates on the No2EU list for Scotland are John Foster, Tommy Sheridan, and Leah Ganley, a member of “Solidarity Scotland” in Dundee.

Coupling John Foster and Tommy Sheridan as numbers one and two on the No2EU Scottish list is a further demonstration of extent to which No2EU in Scotland is rotten to the core.

Foster is a long-standing Stalinist hardliner. Whatever countries Soviet tanks rolled into in order to crush working-class unrest and pro-democracy movements, there too the spirit of John Foster went with them. Sheridan, on the other hand, claims to come from a Trotskyist background. The two of them do, however, share an idolising admiration for Cuba.

It is Sheridan at number two rather than Foster at number one with whom No2EU will be associated in the public eye. This is something which the CPB in Scotland — and, apparently, Foster in particular – were anxious to avoid.

Even the basic question of whether the SP and “Solidarity Scotland” really have any genuine commitment to No2EU is open to debate.

Arguably, the calculation of the SP and “Solidarity Scotland” is that participation in No2EU allows them to: resurrect the ghost of Tommy Sheridan; participate and stand candidates in an election which they would otherwise not have the resources to contest; break into the CPB milieu in the trade unions; and spin out the fantasy that No2EU can provide the basis for “further projects for the Westminster elections with leading trade unionists in Scotland.”

The Euro-elections will expose the tragedy of the sorry state of the Scottish left: still debilitated by the 2006 split in the Scottish Socialist Party, too mutually hostile to each other to promote a joint electoral initiative, and too politically disoriented to draw up a genuinely socialist-internationalist manifesto for the Euro-elections.

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