frontline 19.

SSP Conference 2006 Preview

Jim McVicar, national organiser of the ISM, rounds up the motions coming up to this years SSP conference and highlights a few interesting debates.

This years SSP annual conference meets in Dundee against the background of the successful campaigns the party has mounted over the last year, both in our local communities and inside the Scottish Parliament. Campaigns on the council tax, free school meals, free prescription charges and many other local and national campaigns .The motions submitted by SSP branches to this years conference should form the basis of a few healthy debates on the conference floor but more importantly the policy motions agreed by conference should form the foundation stone of our policy programme for the 2007 Scottish Elections.

The party EC have produced a number of policy statements for conference along with the branches motions which cover most social issues that effect Scotland, the party structures and international issues.

The main EC papers, People not Profit, and the motions on campaigning contained in this section are of a positive nature and concentrate on how the party should campaign in the local communities raising the ‘people not profit’ slogan as a central demand in our campaign to improve our communities and the lives of working class people Scotland.

The continuing attack by the Blair government on workers pension rights and local authority cuts are raised by a number of branches and the EC in this section.

The Socialist Woman’s Network motion on equal pay for women raises a list of demands around the issue of equal pay as a campaigning issue for the party to be taken into the Scottish parliament and the trade unions, in the battle to make equal pay for women a reality.

Not surprisingly the hardy annual of independence, an independent socialist Scotland and the independence convention are all there, with the EC statement and the Tay coast motion taking up the issues surrounding the launch of the independence convention. Tay coast call for the party to produce a pamphlet on Scottish independence, and a series of events organised by the party in support of Scottish independence.

There are a number of motions in the public election section of the conference which raise a number of important issues for the party, in particular one from the ec on first past the post seats at the 2007 Scottish elections with the suggestion that in general at these elections the party should only stand in the list seats, and one from Baillieston calling for 50/50 gender balance at the Scottish council elections in 2007.The section on crime carries a number of motions on the issue of youth crime and in particular the scourge of knife crime in the west of Scotland, and how as a socialist party we should devolop a strategy to tackle knife crime. Several positions are put in the motions, in particular from Cardonald where as part of their strategy they call for mandatory sentences of 18 months for unlawfully carrying a knife.

On international issues there are a series of motions on Iraq ,and international regroupment. Those in particular that stand out are one from Maryhill East calling for the SSP to organise an international left conference in Scotland and a motion carried over from the national council calling for the party to become an associate member of the ‘Group of the European Left’, an amalgam in the European Parliament which includes a hotchpotch of groups, and whose recent London meeting was addressed by a representative of New Labour! This should open up an interesting debate with pointers to the political direction some want the party to take.

I have highlighted what I think should be important issues at conference. There are motions that because of space I’ve not had an opportunity to mention in this brief outline. However I know comrades will put be putting forward their views at conference. Comrades can check out the motions at the conference web site.