Around 60 members of Solidarity - Scotland’s Socialist Movement met in Glasgow last Saturday to discuss the organisation’s strategy in the 2016 Scottish parliament election.
Solidarity emerged out of a split in the Scottish Socialist Party in 2006 and is a coalition of individuals and socialist organisations including the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in Scotland.
Two main issues dominated the conference – building left unity, and what attitude to take towards the Scottish National Party (SNP) in next year’s election.
Solidarity called on people in Scotland to “lend” their vote to the SNP in this year’s Westminster election, a position opposed by the SWP and other socialists in Solidarity.
Whatever its anti-austerity rhetoric and good intentions, the SNP is far from being a socialist party. Its councillors in towns such as Dundee have been no less willing to make cuts than Labour has.
Regrettably, and again in the face of opposition by SWP members and activists from Fife and elsewhere, that same position was re-adopted.
An executive motion calling for a vote for the SNP in the constituency vote and a vote for Solidarity in the regional list vote was passed by a clear majority.
The 45 percent vote for independence last year and the election of 56 out of 59 pro independence MPs to Westminster was largely due to the social movement that developed around the referendum.
Solidarity members and particularly co convener Tommy Sheridan played an important part in building that movement through the Hope Over Fear campaign.
The movement provided the left with a unique opportunity to move on from the splits and divisions of the last ten years and offer a united left alternative.
Solidarity announcing that it will definitely stand in each of the regional seats will make the task of achieving that unity more difficult.
Despite these differences, the mood of the conference was fraternal and all present were clear about the need for the left to work together.
A highlight was an inspiring contribution from a striking homelessness caseworker, now in the fifteenth week of their strike in Glasgow to be regraded. Conference agreed to donate £200 to their strike fund.
One can only imagine how much more quickly the strike might have been won had there been a united left party behind the strikers, building the kind of campaign that we saw last year around independence.