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Scottish Socialists hold conference


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via Eddie Truman

The Scottish Socialist Party held a highly successful Special Conference over the weekend of 29/30th March to discuss changes to our constitution and elected positions. This was the culmination of 12 month long consultation process following a Commission established to look at the SSP's structures and constitution.

The conference was addressed by a Shelter striker, Aileen Orr from the Scottish Independence Convention and also by Hilary Wainwright from Red Pepper who spoke on the future of political parties and the need to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

The way the conference was organised marked a radical departure from the norms of the socialist movement with discussion starting in groups of 6 delegates or so with a facilitator modelled on the participatory democracy and radical education methodology that the SSP has been increasingly using over the past 2 years.

Following the discussion groups the 110 plus branch delegates came back together for plenary sessions and voting, either with a traditional show of cards or using Single Transferable Vote proportional representation on issues such as the nature of the leadership of the party or the composition of elected bodies. While many of the decisions involved small changes to the wording of the SSP constitution a number of highly significant changes were agreed underlining the SSP's reputation as a groundbreaking socialist organisation.

The SSP will introduce 4 year fixed terms for National office bearers Executive Committee members, spokespersons/office bearers and Regional office bearers on a staggered basis from 2008, to avoid a situation whereby all national office bearers and experienced EC members stand down together in 2012.

The party has agreed that the SSP will have two national spokespersons, one male and one female to be elected in May 2008. The party also unanimously agreed to preserve the rights of platforms within the party, despite the wrecking tactics of the Socialist Worker and CWI platforms prior to the split in the SSP in 2006.

Other changes agreed include a more flexible approach to student organisation by the SSP's highly effective student activists and that Point 2 of the Aims and Principles of the party should be rewritten to include a clear statement about women's oppression. This will be drafted by the Women's Network and presented to Conference 2009. The party also reaffirmed it's commitment to producing Scotland's only socialist newspaper, Scottish Socialist Voice.

A special meeting of the SSP's delegate National Council will be held in May to complete the changes agreed.

www.scottishsocialistparty.org

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