From its inception, the Scottish Socialist Party has strived to unify the forces of socialism in Scotland into a single, unified party capable of successfully spearheading the fight for an independent socialist Scotland.

In the first few years, we have succeeded in drawing together socialists from a range of political backgrounds, including individuals and groupings who in the past have been members of the Labour Party, the SNP, Scottish Militant Labour, the Communist Party, the Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Republican Party.

Others have come into the SSP from the trade union, environmentalist, peace and animal rights movements.

Most importantly of all, the SSP has drawn into political activity large numbers of people who have never before been involved in politics, but have been inspired by our vision, our dynamism and our commitment to socialist unity.

When the SSP project was first launched, many people were naturally sceptical that such diverse forces could be welded together into a unified party.

The first two and a half years of the SSP have proven that is possible to build an open, democratic and pluralistic party which is united around a common goal.

The success of the SSP has persuaded many who were initially sceptical that the building of a united socialist party is the best way forward for the left in Scotland.

SWP discussions

For a number of months, we have been involved in discussions with the SWP about their possible participation in the SSP project.

There has been rivalry in the past between the SWP and the SSP/Scottish Socialist Alliance. Nonetheless, we now feel that we can put aside these rivalries and work together to build a bigger, stronger socialist party in Scotland.

The SWP have made it clear they accept the aims and constitution of our party and are prepared to adhere to the guidelines for platforms agreed at the recent SSP conference. They have also stressed their long term commitment to building and developing the influence of the SSP.

The successful absorption of the SWP into the SSP could mark an important breakthrough in the battle for a socialist Scotland. We should not underestimate the impact - for the first time in 70 years and more - of a single socialist party with a single public newspaper.

We recognise that the entry of the SWP into the SSP could create some tensions in certain areas, especially in the initial period. All SSP and SWP members have a serious responsibility to behave in a tolerant and respectful manner, and we would appeal to members of both parties to act in a co-operative and comradely fashion towards one another.

In order to allow the SWP to play a full role in the SSP, we are proposing the following measures, which have been accepted by the SWP leadership.

1) Timetable All SWP members would join and be accepted into full membership of the SSP by May 1st - ie before the general election campaign proper kicks off.

The SWP would cease to exist as a party in Scotland. Those current SWP members who wish to do so will have the right to organise in a platform

2) SWP paid workers

The SWP full-time staff in Scotland - comprising of three people - would from May 1st work under the direction of the SSP executive and national executive, rather than under the direction of the SWP central committee.

The three would work alongside the SSP area organisers for the duration of the general election. The SSP Executive, National Council and Regional Councils will then review the allocation/deployment of all full time staff.

The aim of that review will be to maximise the effectiveness of the full time staff. We will seek arrangements that are mutually acceptable both to the existing SSP staff and to the new full time workers transferred over from the SWP, guaranteeing the organisers transferred from the SWP a place in the full time team.

3) Finances

Subscriptions currently paid by SWP members (198 on baners satnding order plus another 74 registered members who pay cash subs) would be transferred from the SWP national account to the SSP The balance between the wages/expenses of the SWP workers and the new revenues into the SSP from the transfer of SWP subs would produce a net surplus for the SSP of £800-£1000 per month (with £800 agreed as a minimum net surplus and £1000 agreed as a target before transfer).

In addition, the SWP have committed themselves to raise at least £15,000 towards the cost of the SSP general election campaign.

4) Scottish Socialist Voice

From May 1st, former SWP members will sell the Scottish Socialist Voice. Public sales of the Socialist Worker will cease in Scotland.

Provisional upon the SSV being sustained as a weekly paper beyond the initial two month trial period, we will expand the full time editorial staff from four to six. This would include Dave Sherry of the SWP, who has journalistic experience.

5) Administration

SWP member Jimmy Ross - currently the party's treasurer in Scotland - would be drafted in to play an administrative and/or financial role in the SSP Glasgow HQ in an unpaid, voluntary capacity.

6) Leadership bodies

The SWP would be entitled to attend National Council meetings via their platform, in line with existing arrangements for all other platforms. All paid staff of the SSP, including those transferred from the SWP, are also eligible to participate in the National Council meetings.

Executive members are elected at the annual conference. In the meantime, we would invite one of the organisers transferred from the SWP to attend Executive meetings as an observer.

7) Procedure for decision making

The annual conference agreed that the National Council will take the final decisions on the terms of the SWP's entry into the SSP.

We are therefore proposing a special National Council meeting to take place on April 29.

However, to maximise consultation with the membership of the party, we have asked area organisers to convene four special all-members aggregates during the month of April in all four regions of Scotland.

At these four meetings, a consultative vote will be taken on these proposals to enable the Executive and the National Council to gauge wider opinion before the final decision is taken on April 29.