Thoughts on the Scottish Socialist Party

In all the discussion and debate around the current situation Scottish Socialist Party, the politics of it have been obscured mainly because we are still in the thick of thing.  This paper aimed to explore the politics behind the current crisis – examining the history of the SSP, where it came from and where it was headed before it was derailed in a rather brutal fashion. 

Revolutionary parties make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.  The better we understand these circumstances the more chance we have to influence our future.

This paper explores some of the history and background to this crisis, in particular the role and action of the former Militant Tendency preceding and within the SSP as well as the role that the emergent national liberation movement, the incorporation of feminist analysis and the development of a strong and active youth wing have played in it.

It ends with an options appraisal – suggesting three possible ways forward, a bitter and bloody civil war in the best traditions of the Communist Party of Great Britain; an amicable split between the parliamentary operation and the grassroots movement following the approach of the Scottish Green Party, and reformed organisational methods promoted by those such as Gramsci, Luxemburg, Draper and Debs.

The start of the SSP (1998 –  May 03)

The SSP grew out of the Scottish Socialist Alliance – a loose coalition of left-wing groupings.  The main instigator of the alliance was Scottish Militant Labour (SML).  In 1998 the alliance was formalised into a party, with the groupings that had made it up transformed into platforms, a formalised and open form of factional alignment.

The SSP had very quick success, with the election of Tommy Sheridan, by far the best known member and a very powerful orator, in 1999.  In the period 99-03, Sheridan played the traditionally defined role of embodied identification.  He had little actual power in the party, either formally or informally wielded, but provided a voice for the ideals of the movement, a personalisation of the movement and a beacon for progressive individuals to gravitate toward.  This period saw massive growth for the SSP, quickly becoming an established and respected political party despite its small size.  There was also a recognised cadre comprised primarily of those who had established the SSP initially.

The incorporation of the SWP in 2002 brought its own challenges.  Although the basic thesis on which the SSP was built was essentially Leninist and most of the groupings which has comprised it had a Trotskian base, it had moved significantly away from this position in the interim  – especially with the majority of leading members from SML breaking away from their international organisation – the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) to form a new platform, the ISM.  The SWP were a more traditional organisation, with a democratic centralist organisational form, which brought in into a level of conflict with the more progressive SSP.  This incorporation was a significant coup for the SSP, making it effectively the only socialist grouping in Scotland, however the challenges that integration of a significant number of comrades from an identified tradition took significant effort and negotiation.

The public standing of the SSP grew regardless. Sheridan excelled both in parliament and on the streets.  His name was a familiar one in Scottish politics ever since he had played the embodied role in the anti-poll tax movement and through the councillor position in Pollock he had held since the early 90s.  With the parliament providing a springboard for public recognition, together with the desperate need for the SSP to gain column inches, Sheridan became increasingly reported on.  For a time, the promotion of Sheridan as a tactic by the party to communicate our ideals and the increased interest, both tabloid and broadsheet, in his fame went hand in hand.

The success of this strategy – coupled with intense community, workplace and street based activism – was realised in 2003 with the election of six MSPs to Holyrood.

The maturation of the SSP (May 03 – Nov 04)

In May 2003, on the back of an intense push, the SSP achieved six representatives in the Scottish Parliament.  The SSP had never been a parliamentary party.  Although many of its members had at one time belonged to the Labour Party, they were involved community activity and workplace activism rather than the formal political process.  None of the five new MSPs, despite being active in community, environmental and workplace activism, had ever held any formal elected position before[1], in contrast to Sheridan who had been a councillor for nearly a decade before entering parliament.

In the period to May 03 there was a skeleton staff of poorly paid full-timers co-ordinating a mass of unpaid activists and volunteers, with a small parliamentary operation consisting of one secretary and one caseworker.  The turnover of the party was minimal – funds, such as they were, were raised and kept locally with party memberships being sent to the head office.  Suddenly in May 03, there was a need for a full parliamentary operation, backed by funds from the parliament.  This was supplemented by short money, which enabled us to commission research and the residual from the MSPs wages under the workers wage agreement.

Almost overnight we gained responsibilities far exceeding our organisational structure.  Rather like a new mother caught unawares by the birth of her baby, too frightened to buy baby clothes in case it challenges the Gods, little thought had been given to how we would manage the responsibilities that a moderate parliamentary operation would bring.  Although Sheridan had been in parliament for a term already, he was there as a sole player which enabled him to use it as a springboard for external activism rather than getting bogged down in the day to day business.

The increased public expectations together with a desire to make the parliament work to bring about radical change meant that we became increasingly parliamentary focused.  Many of the most experienced activists in the party became paid full-timers, either as MSPs, as parliamentary support staff or as regional organisers paid for by the increased finances, which once parliamentary salaries were taken into account, transformed the SSP from an organisation operating on a shoestring budget to one which had financial responsibilities approaching £0.5 million annually.  While prior to 03, most staff survived on pitiful allowances supplemented by benefits or other paid work, there was a drive to ensure that party workers, both within and outwith parliament, received a living wage.

On the back of this grew a schism between the paid full-time workers, including the MSPs, and the unpaid part-time activists – concern was raised about this at the time, particularly by the MSPs and their staff, however the pressure of keeping things on an even keel meant that the discussion was postponed indefinitely.  There was an intense desire throughout the party to capitalise on our success, but also a lack of knowledge about how to do this.  Furthermore although our parliamentary representation had increased, there was no such increase in our local representation, exacerbating the gulf between the elected representatives and full time staff who operated primarily on a national level and the activists who operated locally.

From May 03 there set in a sense of anti-climax among branches and activists.  Although we had far exceeded our expectations, gained a level of respect even among detractors and our media standing was higher than ever, branches and activists lost their sense of purpose.  If our goal was to win elections we had succeeded spectacularly, but increasingly there was a sense of phyrric victory.

The thesis was coming apart, there was now a two-tier membership of paid activists, involved with the party on a daily basis and responsible for keeping the ship afloat with an increasingly distanced and alienated membership, whose activism was declining.  The ideal remained the same, however the material conditions on which it was based were no longer adherent to it.

As has been pointed out before, the SSP from its conception was moving away from the traditional Leninist organisational form.  With its tolerance of platforms and encouragement of autonomous networks, the classic democratic centralist organisational form was undermined, and its stated goal to build a new workers party as opposed to a revolutionary vanguard was a change in direction for the revolutionary left.  Hence the antithesis was present from the very establishment of the SSP.

Over the period 99 – 03, this position grew internally stronger, yet was effectively imperceptible from the outside.  The establishment of an autonomous women’s network, LGBT network, Black network, Disability network and Youth network meant that there were a number of different perspectives recognised and respected within the party; while the existence of platforms, some with objectives opposed to that of the party as a whole, most notably on the national question, led to a toleration of differing viewpoints wholly uncommon amongst the “one true path” brand of socialism.

The new education strategy (NES) initiated by Alan McCombes took this position to another level.  The NES attempted to move internal education away from the traditional format of a lead-off given by a member of the cadre followed by discussion and debate to one based on Marxist principles, explicitly influenced by Paulo Friere.  Rather than an exposition on Marxist theory, or contemporary events being the impetus for discussion, methods would be used to raise consciousness collectively, whereby all participant’s experiences and viewpoints would be recognised and acknowledged.  Rather than a chair or discussant, a facilitator would be used not to provide any particular insight but to enable the group to understand the situation and identify ways of changing it.  This strategy was experimented in a number of areas of the party, most notably in the SSY and the Central Region and a workshop was also held for all exec members in 2003 as a way of kicking off its roll-out across the party as a whole.

The election of six MSPs in 2003 added to the tensions between the traditional appearance and the alternative ideal of internal organisation, while at the same time the resources that this had brought to the party had increasingly made it revert to type.


The Clash – Part 1

In November 2004, the thesis and its antithesis clashed in a spectacular way.  By this time Tommy Sheridan was no longer the sole beacon of the party with others taking the initiative on various issues, yet he was still the most identifiable SSP MSP and attracted far more press coverage than the other five put together.

The executive were called to an emergency meeting on 9th Nov 04 to discuss a News of the World story regarding an unnamed married MSP attending a swingers club.  There was speculation that this MSP was Tommy Sheridan and that there would be further revelations to come The entire premise of the thesis was that Sheridan, the man, was subordinate to Sheridan, the embodiment of the SSP, and as such a story damaging to Sheridan undermined the SSP as a whole.  There was a request at that meeting for Sheridan to go public with aspects of his private life which had been hitherto hidden from view, or alternatively stay silent on the issue and ride the storm.  When Sheridan declined, and announced that he planned to sue the News of the World, the executive recalled him from the convenorship post, keeping the minutes of that meeting confidential – a strategy proposed by the executive and endorsed by the National Council on 27th Nov 04.

A more foggy issue, which was never explicitly debated at that time, but which is critical to the politics of the situation, centred around the personal behaviour expected of a socialist.  As the convenorship was largely a symbolic role, designed to provide a gravitational pull, reputation was key, however this was to some extent a projection of ideals rather than a representation of personal reality.  While in the traditional format this was an acceptable deceit, the antithesis demanded that individuals are accountable for individual actions especially where they are providing leadership and/or playing a public role.  In bringing the libel action, Sheridan was acting in the public arena, and as a prominent socialist could be considered accountable.

The aftermath

The aftermath of the crisis brought the poles into conflict.  The resignation of the convenor left a vacancy with no obvious successor.  Sheridan was by far the best known and popular member of the SSP.  Internal discussion on how the vacancy should be filled created a debate around the role of the convenor with suggestions including a rotational convenorship, shared convenorship, duel convenorship as well as the straight forward election of a successor – reflecting the desire by the Libertarian Marxists to change the internal organisation of the party.

The latter option was eventually chosen, with Colin Fox running against Alan McCombes.  Both had previously been prominent members of the Militant tendency, later SML and now both members of the ISM.  McCombes personified the more libertarian anti-thesis, while Fox, mainly thanks to the backing of Sheridan and the SWP and CWI platforms came to represent the status quo.  A McCombes victory may have brought the clash more to a head, with noises being made about establishing or extending other political parties to compete with the SSP.  In the event Fox won on approximately 2/3 of the votes, on a promise to bring reconciliation and unity to a divided party.

Outwardly, a period of calm emerged.  Fox, seeking to unite the increasingly divided poles, did little to push his personal agenda – either publicly through the media or internally within the party, instead working with both of the poles to reconcile their differences.  Internally however the poles were pulling ever further apart, including within the MSP grouping which was becoming increasingly incapable of working as a unified grouping.  The majority of the full-time activists tended towards the McCombes pole, as a logical trajectory from the original direction of the SSP, as did much of the central belt and Glasgow stronghold, while in the outlying regions, particularly the South of Scotland and the Highlands and Islands were perceived to be gravitating towards Sheridan.

What had initially started out as a Democratic Socialist project was increasingly separating into two different directions – with Sheridan joining up with the more Leninist forces within the party and McCombes leading towards Libertarian Marxism

The Crisis: Part 2

Although internally the party was divided from top to bottom: within the MSP group, between MSPs and their staff; between full-timers and lay activists; between regions and between platform vs non-platform members, the tension was holding it all together.  Despite pleas from a variety of individuals to withdraw from his libel case, Sheridan pursued News International with a court case for libel due to start on 4th July.

The issuing of subpoenas to four party members by News International demanding that they produced the minutes of the Nov 04 EC meeting caused this tension to snap.  An emergency executive was called to discuss the situation, which issued a call for Sheridan to drop the libel case.  This would have to some extent papered over the cracks, however as it became clear that Sheridan had no intention of doing so, the call was withdrawn.

At the hearing, as per prior agreement, McCombes took the responsibility of the minutes and refused to hand them over, following the NC decision in Nov 04 to keep them confidential and was eventually jailed for contempt.  While this was ongoing, urgent discussions were ongoing within the party about what should be done.  It was acknowledged that the consequences of non-compliance were likely to become increasingly severe, however the right of political organisations to organise without state surveillance was under threat.  Regional meetings were held up and down the country where members were given three options: Defy – refuse to hand over the minutes indefinitely; lie – doctor the minutes to erase any damaging contents or comply – hand over the minutes.

Neither the Libertarian Marxists (who urged continued defiance), nor the Leninists (who urged submitting an alternative set of minutes) were happy about handing over the minutes to the court.  While it is unquestionably true that the state demanding the internal minutes of an executive meeting of a political party is worrisome, there were other influences.  The Libertarian Marxists wanted to stop the court case at all costs, faced with ever increasing fines and jailed comrades, they felt that the defiance strategy would sufficiently pressurise Sheridan into dropping the case.  The Leninists on the other hand wanted Sheridan to win at all costs including the re-write of internal records.  Neither strategy was really viable, Sheridan had indicated that he would not withdraw from the case under any circumstance and thus the defiance strategy was ultimately a Mexican standoff with no end game; however doctoring the minutes, bearing in mind that only a limited number of people had been present at the original EC, and there were allegations of cabals and plots already meant that the truth may become obscured through alternative sets of records with disputes arising over which was the “real” one.

By the time the NC met in late May, the crisis was in full swing.  McCombes had been jailed, party offices had been raided by officers at arms, as had McCombes home. The meeting was acrimonious with calls for purges and expulsions.  Following an impassioned speech from Sheridan the eventual outcome of the meeting was a decision not to continue to keep the minutes confidential and implicitly to hand over the minutes to the court and also, controversially to back Sheridan in his libel case, although it should be noted that many did not accept that the full democratic process had been followed in this meeting and allegation of Stalinism and bullying were rife.


The role of the former Militant Tendency

It should be noted through all of this that the main “players” have been primarily former Militant Tendency members.  In addition to Alan McCombes, Tommy Sheridan and Colin Fox all coming from that stable, most of the key positions in the party are held by people who have been in the Militant[2] or its children.[3]  As such this organisation and its offshoots have played a key role in the precipitation of this crisis.

The Militant Tendency – in many respects the parent of the SSP was a primarily entrist organisation. It operated within the Labour Party as “a party within a party”.  Its strategy was interesting and its experiences telling in the light its subsequent direction.  At its height in the 80s, Militant had two MPs and several dozen councillors, it also held effective control of the Labour Party Young Socialists.  Despite the tensions, between the Militant and the Labour Party, once a Militant candidate was selected to represent the Labour Party, it benefited from Labour’s administrative and executive expertise.

Although working within a parliamentary system, with parliamentary representation Militant and their supporters had little opportunity or encouragement to be active in that sphere. As a consequence, Militant orientated itself heavily towards local and community campaigns, its hidden nature (Militant, it was argued, was not an organisation, but a newspaper with readers) meant that it did not push itself and its name in the same way as other left-wing organisations with the attendant charges of opportunism, but worked alongside community, workplace and local activists and sought to recruit on an individual basis, gaining much respect both for their hard work and their willingness to work with others.

By the late 80s, following the success of the Militant councillors in Liverpool and fearing its growing power through the anti-poll tax movement, the Labour party sought to expel anyone associated with the paper or the hidden organisation behind it.

Scottish comrades, proposing a move away from the entryist strategy which until this point had been adopted by the CWI in Britain under the organisation of the Militant newspaper, but which was rapidly coming apart as a result of the expulsions, largely led the Open Turn debate of 91/92.  Although it explicitly invokes Trotsky, the papers prepared suggest a fundamental shift in tactics – looking at establishing a workers party rather than a vanguard party and an elementary appreciation of the necessity of embracing national liberation to fit the political situation in Scotland.  The eventual outcome of the debate was the establishment of Scottish Militant Labour and a separate socialist organisation in England and Wales.

The Scottish Debate of 98/99, the concept of a workers party was further debated within the CWI.  While the Open Turn move was largely supported by the CWI, the proposal from SML to morph into the revolutionary vanguard within a larger workers party which would draw in other left forces was more controversial, Within this debate there was a critique of Leninist organisational methods which had been implicit previously, but were now being drawn to the fore.  Although there was no explicit break from Leninism, Leninist organisational methods were being questioned as to their applicability to the new situation following the collapse of Stalinism.  Eventually in 1999 the SSP was launched, if not with CWI blessing, at least with their toleration alongside a new international section of the CWI, the ISM, which would operate as a platform within the new party.

In 2000, tensions within the ISM grew to a head.  A minority faction was formed within the ISM and a subsequent debate within the CWI internationally ensued.  This was the most explicit challenge yet to the Leninist approach.  The ISM openly criticised the CWI’s adherence to key tenets of Leninism including democratic centralism and the transitional programme.  Eventually the ISM disassociated itself from the CWI international, with the minority faction becoming a new platform (CWI platform) within the SSP.  From this point on, increasingly individual members of the ISM began to openly declare that they were no longer Leninists.

This move which spanned over a decade, incorporating the establishment of the SML; the development of the Scottish Socialist Alliance; the set-up of the SSP together with the ISM and its eventual disassociation with the CWI international was mainly played out through discussions around the “national question”, which was seen to be the major ideological break, however, rather like feminism was to become in the next phase of development, this was a peg to hang larger ideological schisms on.


The totemic use of Feminism

Feminism and feminists have been highlighted throughout the crisis.  This issue has been denoted by Sheridan, in both of the Crises as the “opposition”.   Given that the womens’ network is largely moribund and there is no significant feminist movement within the party, it is worth exploring where this position comes from

One of the final debates within the SML in 1995 was on 50:50 gender balance and a commitment to fighting for it should there be a Scottish parliament.  The debate resurfaced internally in 2002, with the 50:50 debate which explored mechanisms for ensuring gender balance within the party.  This debate was rancorous and centred primarily around parliamentary representation, in anticipation of an expanded parliamentary operation on the basis of the 2003 election. A number of mechanisms were proposed, including putting forward equal numbers of male and female comrades for selection through various means as well as the position that was eventually adopted – to demarcate regions for gender specified regional lists.

This position was narrowly won.  The ISM, in contrast to other platforms, took no line on the issue, allowing their members a free vote and indeed there were significant number of ISM comrades opposed to this mechanism, despite it being supported by the majority of its leading comrades – in particular Tommy Sheridan.  The debate continued after a male and which adopted the position, with disagreement over which regions should be headed by a female, and – outwith international issues – proved to be the most notable area of internal disagreement in an otherwise quite homogeneous party.

The Prostitution debate of 2003, although less central and less fraught than 50:50 also brought gender issues to the fore.  A proposal was on the table to legalise prostitution in Scotland within geographical and temporal boundaries from Margo McDonald, an ex-SNP MSP.  Initially this was supported within the party, as a means to end the targeting of prostituted women by the police, as a means to provide targeted health services and protect them from violent clients.  There was a minority position which opposed this, believing legalisation would lead to the entrenchment of prostitution, increased trafficking and increased respectability for the prostitution “industry”.  This debate highlighted issues of patriarchy and structural power which went beyond a narrow economic focus, and incorporated elements of radical feminist analysis within the debate.  No resumption was ever established on the issue – in 2005 a compromise was attained which ducked the issue.

From the establishment of the SSP, the workers wage was a key principle of the party – that an elected representative should be paid no more than the wage of an average worker.  While on paper this may be straightforward, in practice reforms to the benefits system targeted at median paid workers with children, meant that adaptations to incorporate the  benefits which would have been accessible to parents whose wages were at median levels, but were not available to MSPs on a notional wage in excess of £40K had to be incorporated.  Several of the MSPs were parents requiring additional financial help which would have been available to them on the average wage.  Hence they contributed less of their wages to the party than those who were childless, this caused a level of resentment among certain sections, particularly in the financial crisis of 04.  Although this was not a gender based issue as such, given that women tend to take responsibility for children in the event of a relationship breakdown, state benefits associated with childrearing responsibilities are more crucial for females than males as indeed was the case among the MSP grouping, where three of the elected MSPs were single mothers.

The totemic role of feminism in this clash has been precipitated less by an active layer of feminists, but by a number of leading liberatory Marxists being female, and consequently aware of and sympathetic to with the feminist movement over the last 40 years.  Feminism is a major undercurrent of left-politics in the post-war period and arguably the strongest.  As such it provides a well developed tradition that comrades have attempted to integrate within our party, posing a challenge to the narrow economism of the Leninists.   The axis on which the clash rotated was underpinned by News International publishing allegations about Sheridan’s sexual conduct.  As one of the key tenets of feminism is the role of private relations in the political process this brought one of the aspects of the feminist analysis present in the emergent antithesis to centre stage.

The Role of the SSY

While national liberation and feminism have provided hooks on which to hang an emerging Libertarian Marxist current, in and of themselves they are largely incapable of identifying the underlying ideological split. The emergence of the SSY as a powerful force in its own right has done a great deal to provide a unified emergence of the antithesis.

Most of the older comrades in the SSP have either come directly from a Leninist organisation, or have been a member of them at some point.  The minority which haven’t, in particular those who have come from the SNP or the Labour party have a less well developed idea of Marxism and as such tend to have less confidence in challenging the organisational methods.

The SSY by contrast, partly through the influences of the broader anti-capitalist left, which is in general more Anarchist than Marxist, the educational methods which have been used in the SSY, more geared towards developing individual awareness and analysis of oppression rather than the study of classic texts promoted within traditional organisations come to the SSP without the baggage of Leninism and the emotional commitment to it.

In the post 03 period of stagnation for the SSP as a whole, the SSY has gone from strength to strength, operating autonomously to develop an ideology more suited to the situation and times that we find ourselves in.  “Youth issues” as such is not their primary concern – in contrast to the wimmins network or the promoters of national liberation who rally around a particular issue –  they have played an important role as change agents in providing a rallying point to the antithetical position.


This isn’t over yet, nor is it likely to be for some time to come.  The politics of the situation have been obscured by personality clashes, distorted through the lens of the corporate media and papered over in the name of unity.

Neither position is ultimately tenable.  The idea of a personified ideal in an age of celebrity operating in a hostile culture is bound for failure; the notion of cadre is outdated now that progressive socialism has finally embraced liberatory movements, and central co-ordination leads to a stagnation of ideas and the concentration of power.  Conversely the notion of individual action combined with diffuse and diverse leadership is in conflict with participation in bourgoise democracy, which brings with it defined roles, pre-allocated resources and an engagement with the state on their level.  Yet as any good Marxist knows, from the clash of thesis and antithesis, a synthesis eventually emerges.

Options Appraisal

A bitter and bloody civil war

The powerful CPGB, weakened by split after split after split, despite huge efforts being put into reform had to be destroyed in order for other left forces, such as the SSP to emerge.  Perhaps it may just be necessary just to fight it out then emerge from the rubble to see what it left. But it is worth remembering that when history repeats a tragic event it tends to do it as farce.   This is the way things are headed.


This may be productive if there is no hope of reforming the SSP to allow new developments to arise however requires that we abandon all of our progress of the last 10 years.

An amicable split

The Greens operate a two tier approach to politics, with a parliamentary operation which has a narrow focus, but operates in the context of a wider grassroots movement, effectively allowing the libertarian and the Leninist Marxists to follow their own course

This might be productive if there can be sufficient dialogue and trust between the two groups, however this tends to dissolve into reformism.  Furthermore the split is not so much focused on parliament vs grassroots in such a clean manner to amicably resolve this.

Reformed organisational methods (Luxemburg; Draper; Gramsci)

The ideological clash that we face is not a new one, but one which has been faced time and time again over the last 30 years as the weaknesses of Leninist organisational methods have been exposed.  Luxemburg was probably one of the first to explore how a non-Leninist revolutionary party could operate within a Western Democratic context. There have been a variety of methods suggested to reform the internal organisation of the party, including autonomous regions; rotational positions, maximalising collective decision making and the promotion of spontaneity

This might be productive if there can be a mechanism for this debate to be had in a full and frank manner with respect for both Leninist and Liberatory Marxist positions, however it requires a commitment to introspection which many may find uncomfortable.


Furthermore for the kind of reform required to be effective, consensus led and get the buy-in of the whole party it requires a period of outward calm.  There is great interest in the SSP at the moment for all the wrong reasons.  Fundamental reform cannot happen in the glare of the media and the more outward stability is projected, the more radical the internal debates can be.  This is not to say that these debates should be restricted however – for them to truly be effective we need to involve not only the active members, but also our dormant members, voice readers, fellow travellors, supporters, sympathisers and voters.



Mhairi McAlpine

Falkirk Branch Scottish Socialist Party

24th July 2006












A note on terminology

In this paper I have used the terms Leninist and Libertarian Marxist, although I am not sure that people within the groups that I label as such would self-identify in those terms.  Partly this is due to historic links, partly through a misuse of terms and partly through the difficulty of labelling the emerging antithesis, which by definition is more fluid and less defined than the traditional position.

Most of those who I would identify as Leninist, would probably describe themselves as Trotskyist – which was/is the main identification of their current or former groupings.  However as Trotskyism is ultimately based on Leninist organisational methods, I have chosen to refer to it by the more global term.

The Libertarian Marxist definition is probably more controversial – I have deliberately picked a positive rather than a negative descriptive term (eg non-Leninist), however what to call it remains a difficulty.  It has elements of the Euro-communism of Gramsci (particularly in relation to its use of the parliamentary processes); the neo-Marxism of the Frankfurt School (particularly in relation to exploring sources of power underlying the economic), the Structural Marxism of Althusser (particularly in relation to the global situation) as well as a number of other left traditions.

[1] Although Carolyn Leckie had served as branch secretary during two strike actions and on the executive of UNISON

[2] including Richie Venton (Glasgow Organiser); Stevie Arnott (Highlands and Islands Organiser); Stevie Nimmo (Lothians Organiser) Kevin Williamson (Voice Columnist); Catriona Grant (Equality officer); Eddie Truman (Press Officer); Francis Curran (MSP), Kevin McVey (Central Organiser)

[3] including Jo Harvie (SSV Editor) and Donnie Nicholson (former SSY co-ordinator)

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