Before we set off on a journey it is always helpful to know where we have been and how we arrived at where we are now. Radical Scottish republicanism began with massive sympathy for the American Declaration of Independence, due to mass emigration and antipathy towards the Hanoverian Crown and many, particularly the Scotch-Irish, whom Washington claimed fought the British hardest. Half his Cabinet came from that stock. Leaving aside the colonial nature of the US, founded on mass theft, murder and slavery many thought they were imbibing in the spirit of Tom Paine and the French philosophers. This was more than matched with support for the French Revolution, although that Republic also turned out to be as disappointing as the nature of other Republics throughout the globe, whether it be the US, South African, USSR, or even the ancient slave based Republics of Greece and Rome. The radical Scottish Republican Rising of 1797 aimed for higher ideals, as did the Republican Rising of 1820, which was probably the first general strike in industrial history.
The mass rallies of the Scottish Republican Chartists also carried on the tradition, as did the two successive Highland Land Leagues, which became a consistent part of the original Scottish Labour Party along with the Scottish Home Rule Association, SCWS and STUC. The SLP was soon taken over by the GBLP and many Republicans left, as did the founding Chair and Secretary, R B Cunningham Graham and Dr Clarke, who founded the National Party of Scotland in 1928. John MacLean’s Scottish Workers Republican party of 1923 survived him till the late 30’s.The first Scottish Socialist Party was formed in 1932, by (Sir) Patrick Dolan as an alternative to the ILP, of whom may were republicans, including Ramsay MacDonald. The SSP merged with the Labour Party on 1940. John MacLean said correctly that, "he would be Sir Patrick before he would be Saint Patrick
Oliver Brown was a leading member of the second, more Republican, “Scottish Socialist Party “of the forties and fifties. He stood In a By election in Greenock and Port Glasgow. After coming bottom, at the count, he said that he had appealed to the intelligent electorate of the constituency and was glad to see that they turned out to vote for him. The third SSP was formed, 1988 - 1990 and Bill Kidd stood in the Glasgow Central by election of 1989, losing to Labour’s curtain raiser, Lord Watson of Invergowrie. The SSP, like Sillars’ “Scottish Labour Party” was heavily infiltrated by British entrists, leading to its demise: a lesson here? The fourth SSP was formed in 1999 from the Scottish Socialist Alliance conference, 1998, and other groupings, all supporting an Independent Socialist Scotland. The Scottish Republican Socialist Clubs were formed in 1973 from the existing John MacLean Society, with Nan MacLean Milton and Hugh MacDiarmid as Honorary Presidents. It was felt that the wide mix in the Society was against MacLean’s Republican principles and hence the need for Socialist Republican Clubs.
There was the usual split in 1979, with the formation of the Scottish Republican Socialist League on a tighter basis than the cross party SRSC. After the League’s demise there was a coming together to form the Scottish Republican Socialist Party and eventually the SRSP disbanded, with many forming the current cross party Scottish Republican Socialist Movement. This was after the decision to join the SSP as a platform in the belief that it would be wrong to have a Party within a Party. The Scottish Trade Unions were taken from us in the late 60’s followed by the Scottish Cooperative Wholesale Society in the early 70’s. What next, the SSP to be taken over? The question now remains, where now for the Scottish Socialist Party? Is it going to remain true to its founding principles for an Independent Socialist Scotland? Is it going to become a political force making history in Scotland? Or, is it going to shrink itself to yet another British left rump, Heinz number 58?
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