As the SNP conference meets, the media are speculating that proposed changes to the SNP constitution are designed to "reward the wider Yes Scotland movement for its efforts in the referendum campaign by allowing the fast-tracking of activists to be party candidates at next year's General Election", adding this "paves the way for SNP constituencies to approve non-party members to stand as MPs under a different banner, such as Yes for Scotland, in May's poll." (Herald 14 November 2014).
The same article goes on to claim "The SNP has resisted calls from the Greens and Scottish Socialists for a pro-independence pact next year, but [if agreed, this constitutional change] ...would open up the potential for pro-independence campaigners who are not party members to stand under the SNP banner".
As an aside, I'm personally unaware of whether or not the Greens have called for such 'a pact'; certainly the SSP has asked them to back a pro-independence alliance for 2015, and we would hope they'd join forces with us in pressing for this with the SNP leadership.
PRESSURE FOR UNITED FRONT IN MAY
But the SNP's plans reflect the massive pressure from their own ranks, especially those thousands of new recruits who fought alongside the SSP and others for a Yes vote, saw the value of a united front, now favour that being sustained for the Westminster elections, and look to SNP conference to agree it. Another indication of the mood for such a united front is the election of Stewart Hosie as SNP deputy leader, after he had declared for some such arrangement.
However, and it's a big however, if the Herald has got it right, allowing people "to stand under the SNP banner" is far removed from a genuine alliance or united front. It's an attempt to square the circle; to go it alone as the SNP in the glow of mass recruitment and spectacular opinion polls, whilst trying to appease the demands of (especially new) SNP members for a continuation of the success that was the multi-faceted Yes movement. It wouldn't work! If they intend to suggest SSP or Green party members stand as SNP candidates it's a complete non-starter.
FOR A GENUINE ALLIANCE TO CONFRONT TORIES AND LABOURIf, more probably, they hope to rope in Yes campaigners with no party affiliation to stand under the SNP banner, that's up to those individuals to decide, but they will have to face up to being held responsible for all that is negative about the SNP, as well as what is positive. In particular their track record on passing down Westminster cuts rather than mounting a mass campaign of resistance, whether at Holyrood, council, college or NHS board levels.
There is a powerful mood to unite in opposition to the Westminster Tory dictatorship and their cuts, and the SSP's call for a pro-independence, anti-cuts alliance for next May's elections matches the hour.
So we hope the ranks of the SNP respond to our appeal for a genuine alliance of pro-independence, anti-cuts candidates - named as such in every seat - as outlined in the Press Release below that I sent out in the west of Scotland at the weekend.
PRESS RELEASE: for immediate use (9.11.14)
SSP calls for pro-independence, anti-cuts 'Yes Alliance' for 2015 Westminster elections
The Scottish Socialist Party is campaigning for a Yes Alliance to contest the Westminster elections next May. This was agreed at the recent SSP national conference.
SSP west of Scotland regional organiser RICHIE VENTON told us:
"The savage cuts to benefits, pay, jobs and people's basic democratic rights announced in the wake of the Referendum has driven increased numbers of Scots to favour independence. And even those still unconvinced of full-scale self-government are strongly in favour of vastly increased powers for Scotland over benefits, taxation and measures to protect Scotland from the Twin Tory Coalition onslaught.
"Many of the same people want to punish Labour for their collaboration with the Tories in blocking independence, leaving us at the tender mercies of Cameron's dictatorship of and for the obscenely rich.
"The SSP is conducting a systematic campaign - in the streets, communities, workplaces and through local public meetings - for powers for the Scottish parliament to transform our lives, including the ability to set a £10 Scottish minimum wage for all at 16; establish a benefits system that supports people instead of demonising them; to ban fracking and take the Big Six energy giants and the green energy sector into democratic public ownership, to banish profiteering and fuel poverty; to repeal all the Thatcherite anti-trade union laws; and to implement progressive taxation of the very rich and big business to fund decent public services.
"We have these distinctive policies, often radically different from those of the SNP. For that reason alone, we are not prepared to give a blank cheque to the SNP in the 2015 elections. We will not be calling on people to just vote SNP and forget their differences with them on key matters of policy.
"However, we are stepping up our appeal to the SNP, Greens and people of no political party who made up the very successful Yes campaign to sustain that united front in the Westminster elections. That's what our recent SSP national conference agreed unanimously.
"We want a pro-independence, anti-cuts alliance that agrees one candidate in each constituency, to challenge the Tories and Labour, appealing to not only the 45% who voted Yes, but to the No voters who want a radically fairer distribution of wealth and power.
"We believe the beauty of such an alliance is that it would appeal to outraged, disenfranchised Labour voters in a way that the SNP on its own never will, with socialists, greens, SNPers and independents standing as candidates in an agreed allocation of seats.
"And my message to the forthcoming SNP Conference is that they need to recognize the growing support for this idea at grassroots level. For instance, I have spoken at several local Yes groups that support such a multiparty alliance, including many people who have joined the SNP recently.
"The SSP will never drop its commitment to an independent socialist Scotland, but we are eager to reach agreement with others in the interests of resisting Tory attacks on the working class, and of keeping the flames of social justice and independence alight, through a pro-independence, anti-cuts alliance for May 2015."