Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Rise crisis continues as internal election results delayed

The crisis engulfing the Socialist Workers Party's hostile takeover of Scotland's most successful-ever socialist party is intensifying tonight as the group plunges into chaos amidst concerns over whether it will be able to make it into May's general election.

Having embarked upon its takeover of the SSP by promising the SSP membership that it was an electoral alliance, and specifically and categorically not a political party, it sneaked registration as a political party with the Electoral Commission through the week before Christmas. 

Embarrassingly for a group often derided as a gang of middle-class student politicians and wealthy Merchant City socialists, its registered address is a swanky flat in the exclusive Shawlands area of Glasgow, a magnet for students and the more discerning clubbers. 

The group, marketed as a bottom-up political party composed of "circles" who collectively make decisions, now has a "Leader". It also has a nominating officer - the polarising figure of Frances Curran who has attracted criticism from SSP members for attempting to hand the SSP membership list over to Rise, riding roughshod over the Data Protection Act, and who attempted a pro-Rise putsch against the SSP's popular co-spokesperson at the party's last annual conference, before abandoning it on the day. There appears to be no record of any vote ever being taken within the membership of either Rise or the SSP for either of these two exalted positions. 

Intriguingly, the registered Treasurer does not appear to be the actual Treasurer, the latter also being the person who counts the votes in a highly controversial selection for List places which has led to continuing chaos and anger in SSP branches in South of Scotland.

With Rise not yet managing to break above the 0% mark in any opinion poll yet, this would seem unimportant: yet the entire point of Rise was to hijack the SSP's increased public recognition from the independence referendum in order to sneak SWP people into Holyrood. The complete failure of Rise to register in the public consciousness has rendered this extraordinarily unlikely - such failure to elect even a single radical Left deputy despite the raising of our profile in the last three years must lead to the resignation of those of the SSP's Executive Committee for railroading this through against the wishes of the membership - but there is still jockeying for the top position on the Lists "just in case". 

h/t Yes Giffnock

Voting in most provinces closed at midnight on Monday the 28th December, yet on the evening of Saturday 26th December, Rise had already leaked the "winners" of the internal election to the Sunday Herald. Not a great surprise as the List leaders had been decided in a shabby backroom deal between the SWP types and the SSP leadership months previously. 

Previously, a potential perception of impropriety in that some of those counting the votes had personal stakes in those seeking election had led to crisis meetings between the SSP and the Rise leaderships. My understanding from very senior SSP figures tonight is that this crisis has intensified, with the remaining Rise-sceptic figures on the SSP EC extremely peturbed by news that many SSP members - and in at least two cases, entire branches - had been banned from voting in the Rise internal elections. 

In a curious development, these members and branches are exclusively Rise-sceptic ones, who could not be trusted to vote the "correct" way to ensure the List results rigged in the backroom deal would be achieved. 

The results of the elections, due out on Tuesday 29th of December, have now not been released as anticipated.

Separately, there is a brewing unpleasantness over Rise's merchandising section: the group has appropriated the "refugees welcome" slogan used by refugee charities and has printed it on merchandise which it is selling on its website at £6,99 a pop (the group is obviously not one for the low-paid worker, given the expensive membership fees and sky-high prices to attend its set-piece conference, at which only Rise-approved members are permitted to speak). At the time of writing, the group has not yet managed to respond to questions about whether the money raked in from appropriating the "refugees welcome" slogan will go to the refugees, or whether it will be pocketed by Rise for use in its campaign to catapult the SWP into Holyrood. 

Calton Books - the excellent radical bookshop based on Glasgow's London Road, next to The Barras which you should visit now - is selling "refugees welcome" merchandise, with every single brass cent going to Glasgow-based charities. Would that Rise follow suit. 

Rumours are swirling about mass resignations from the SSP in light of the continuing opacity and mendacity surrounding the Rise project; and the Radical Independence Campaign has confirmed that no money from its upcoming conference, organised by comrades in Aberdeen, will go to the struggling group. There are also low-level rumours that many SSP members, released from their membership obligation not to campaign against the SSP by the leadership's standing down from contesting the election, will campaign in favour of other socialist parties, such as TUSC (which is banned from the "socialist unity" group, Rise) and the Socialist Labour party, founded by the great Arthur Scargill, and other Left parties such as the Scottish Greens, against Rise.

Given the continuing unease by many long-serving and founding members of the SSP over Rise, as well as a widening fracture between the SSP rank and file and the Rise leadership, the group limps on for the moment, but it looks increasingly likely that it may not make it to May. 

The SSP without Rise is the country's most-successful socialist party, capable of attracting over a quarter-million votes in a Holyrood election. 

Rise without the SSP is a gang of SWP-linked student politicians, and some children with little to no knowledge of politics.

I know which one I'd back to survive independently.

A note on terminology: Although it has now transpired that Rise and the SSP leadership lied when assuring SSP members Rise would not be a political party, I have referred to Rise as "the group" and the SSP as "the party" throughout in the interests of avoiding confuddlment. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Unknown - I'm afraid I had to delete your comment. While we're all responsible for what we post, I'm also liable as the publisher for any possible defamation. Apologies.