Scottish Socialist Alliance

From Academic Kids

The Scottish Socialist Alliance (SSA) was a coalition of left-wing bodies in Scotland which existed from 1996 to 1998, and was the forerunner of the Scottish Socialist Party. It arose out of some Socialist Forums which involved public discussions between various socialist groups. There had been private discussions about some attempt to bring some form of political cohesion to the Scottish left, but events were forced by the formation of the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) by Arthur Scargill. The forces who went on to form the SSA had talks with Scargill where they said that they were prepared to join his party if he accepted some degree of Scottish autonomy, when he refused they formed the SSA. The largest group involved was Scottish Militant Labour, although it also involved people from various backgrounds, and some smaller groups e.g. the Scottish Socialist Movement, which had been a loose discussion circle, and which dissolved into the SSA not long after this.

The first election it fought was the Toryglen by-election for Glasgow City Council in late 1996, with Rosie Kane as the candidate, where it won a respectable 18% vote. They contested sixteen seats in Scotland at the 1997 UK general election, including all ten Glasgow seats and both Dundee seats. Tommy Sheridan saved his deposit in Glasgow Pollok, and Jim McVicar and Alan McCombes picked up a significant vote in Glasgow Baillieston and Glasgow Govan respectively.

Initially Scargill's SLP avoided engaging the SSA in a head-on confrontation, they concentrated on establishing a few bases of their own e.g. in former mining areas. At the 1997 general election the two organisations reached an unofficial understanding that they would not stand candidates against each other. Scargill opposed this and instructed his supporters not to have any contact with the SSA, and they stood candidates against each other in the Paisley South by-election in late 1997.

Overall the SSA's election results were patchy but they were not invariably derisory. Generally most people in the SSA felt that the experience had been enough of a success to go on to form the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), with Tommy Sheridan as its convenor.

The SSA's agenda was by in large the same as the SSP's is today.


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