Saturday, October 28, 2006

SSP: post-Sheridan

I attended a meeting organised by Socialist Resistance on the SSP and Tommy Sheridan. Yes, it may seem like, “not another post on Sheridan” but I believe it is important and needs to be debated as it throws up some many issues especially around women. Firstly, I will put my cards on the table and say that I support the Socialist Resistance statement regarding Sheridan. Secondly, I attended the meeting out of curiosity as I wanted to hear what Frances Curran had to say.

I just want to give a broad brushstroke of the meeting as on Liam’s blog you get a fancy recording of Frances Curran’s speech. She gave a chronological account of the events which led up to the court case. What put Sheridan on the political radar for me was the open letter and the “gender obsessed” comments. This was brought up in the meeting as the letter was seen as factional and misogynistic. It is also apparent where Sheridan sees women’s liberation and lesbian and gay rights in the old pecking order. In order to be a “class fighter” women’s liberation and lesbian and gay rights are integral to the struggle and not something you can chuck out when it suits you. Or indeed, whether fighting oppression was taken seriously in the first place. What also appalled me was that women and feminism were being shafted.

I found it an interesting meeting as there were some very good discussions about gender and the position of women on the left, “male ego politics” (shades of Derek Hatton, Daniel Ortega and others were compared to Sheridan) and importantly, how do you defend the integrity of the party? What mistakes, if any, were made and so on by the SSP.? And how can the left learn from this experience.

The Sheridan case has thrown up issues around democracy, accountability and transparency. There was also a discussion about the current state of the SSP and the fact that Frances said she believed this has strengthened the party and that the SSP is doing well in the polls. I went along primarily to get some understanding of the situation and how the SSP plans to go forward. There was around 300+ at the conference and there was a good turn out for the unity demo to defend asylum seekers the same weekend. As a Labour Party member I have much respect and admiration for the SSP has done and probably if I lived in Scotland I would be a member. They also have a lot of strong and vibrant women in their ranks as well.

It was announced at the start of the meeting that Rosie Kane had been sent to prison for 2 weeks for refusing to pay a fine when she was arrested over an anti-Trident demo.

Update: Details to send letters of support to Rosie
Rosie Kane, 99451, Bruce House, HMP Cornton Vale, Cornton Rd, Stirling, FK9 5NU