Connor Beaton who was elected as the SSP secretary at the last conference dramatically resigned at the SSP Executive (EC) last week.
He issued a resignation letter.
A statement in response was circulated by ColinFox to EC members asking for agreement to issue it publicly, there was no agreement from EC members a large number were opposed to issuing the statement. However a watered down version of the same statement appeared in the National on Saturday under Calum Martin’s name.
I cannot speak for the others but below is my response to the draft statement circulated to EC members. The impression has been created that the EC agrees with the statement in the National — this is far from the truth.
“I have noticed there had been no discussion on Connor’s resignation letter, until the article in the National which I have just read.
I want Connor’s resignation letter as an item on the agenda of the next EC and I want the leadership of the party to address the issues — we are crying out for an honest discussion, and to ask why we are in this state and it is democratic to ask those in the leadership positions to give an account of how the think we got here and what responsibility they shoulder for this situation.
We have just lost Connor who was an asset to this party, who had a commitment to the party and who represented a younger generation of activists. (He is only 22). I have watched 4 waves of young people come through this party during and after the indy ref campaign, the majority have passed through and gone out again, the vast majority of them are still active in the movement but not in the SSP, I still work with them. The culture of the party is a factor in this decline. It does not facilitate democratic engagement and discussion.
And as a result of this there is a total lack of political analysis and then a strategy of how to create and develop a mass socialist/anti-capitalist wing on the independence movement rooted in the working class.
I was totally opposed to the way Connor was treated. I was opposed to his absence being an agenda item added half way through the meeting. I was opposed to the culture and the attitude of Colin and made the point that this was wrong that no-one has even spoken to Connor making the point that we don’t know why he is at the James Connolly meeting. I specifically used the words “I am opposed to this culture” in my — by then — rather heated exchange with Colin in the break. Unfortunately, a family member had taken seriously ill and I had to return to Glasgow and wasn’t present for this agenda item. I remember Callum saying that he had assumed Connor was ill but that Connor hadn’t explicitly said that in his apology for the meeting.
I think it is disingenuous to say the EC unanimously asked Connor to account for his absence. I would have opposed it and I made my view clear in the break.
Connor outlines a pretty devastating critique of the party and the leadership, some of which I concur with and other points, particularly political points which I don’t. But in any healthy party those differences would be easily accommodated and in fact be seen as a strength.
The attempt to argue that he is either: not up to it; a renegade; not a real socialist; not a real revolutionary; a dilettante; doesn’t sell papers or do stalls; or is an enemy of the party, so we will not entertain his points, is quite frankly poor.
These patronising insults have been tossed after a whole procession of talented people who have joined and then left this party over the last 5 years.
I have raised these issues on numerous occasions at the EC to be met with deaf ears and a closing down of discussion and on way too many occasions been shouted at by Colin. A bullying culture which brooks no descension or any genuine discussion. In any other organisation it would not be tolerated.
The leadership of this party which has been in place for 10–20 years have totally failed to develop another layer of young members to a leadership role. A devastating track record.
So, the party continues to be run into the ground, it is in the worst position ever since we launched in 1999. Nationally the branches have never been weaker. Glasgow is a rump of a party, we have little visibility, no influence and even fewer active members.
It was demanded that Connor account for not attending one meeting. Where is the accountability of the leadership and the paid organisers of the party for the dire situation of the party?
There is no democracy, a few individuals put themselves on almost every platform at public meetings, these decisions are not taken democratically. There is no collaboration or any democratic channels for discussion certainly not at a Glasgow level about political analysis strategy or tactics. Every leaflet is written by Richie despite challenges to that situation. How are those decisions taken? Where is the democracy? This has been challenged over the years but there are no democratic structures through which to challenge it. The Glasgow regional committee was closed down by the regional organiser about 7 years ago.
This is not the SSP I founded, discussion was encouraged, pluralism, ie different political points of view were welcomed, we were trying to clarify both a political perspective for this new party and a strategic plan of development. All of the EC members spoke at meetings on behalf of the SSP, Allan Green, Alan McCombes, Rosie, Carolyn, me, Tommy, Richie, Colin, Donnie (youth) and many more. We consciously tried to develop a collective leadership. We introduced 50/50 and massively changed the representation of women in the party, now we have one of the worst situations of any party for women’s representation and activism.
The party leadership has overturned the culture that the SSP was founded on and has withdrawn from the unity of the left, the strategy of the early SSP. They have retreated to the ‘ourselves alone bunker’.
The paid organisers and the de-facto leadership should be asked to account for the steady decline of the party.
Connor has raised some serious points which merit serious discussion, I don’t agree with all of them but I do agree with others, this should be put on the agenda for discussion not swept under the carpet.
I don’t support issuing the statement. I agree with Kevin’s proposal.”
I circulated the statement below to the SSP executive committee following my resignation from the party on Saturday 4…zcbeaton.wordpress.com