by Sandra Webster
The recent snap general election announcement is not a surprise. Our joint national spokesperson Colin Fox warned us to be prepared. However with the local elections – we can truly demonstrate that communities are the Scottish Socialist Party’s life blood. One of my first activities on joining the SSP was at the Tory party conference in Troon. They stood behind six foot fences and watched us. To me, it was like a day out in Blair Drummond Safari Park. Only, the fences were there for their protection.
We should be proud to be an inclusive party – we live in our communities. We see and feel first hand the impact of the brutal cuts on a daily basis. It is our neighbour we help when they are sanctioned, we offer support in completing complex PIP forms which feel like writing a novel. We help complete the Discretionary Housing Payment forms to offset the Tory and Liberal’s hated Bedroom Tax.
We do not talk about “them and us” – as it is only “us”, a working class socialist party who reaches out. Our role is to educate and most importantly liberate, to give people the confidence to know their voice is powerful, it is important and it has a right to be listened to.
So we stand with local campaigns such as our own local children’s ward – in my local area – because it is the right thing to do. We challenge the stigmatisation of refugees, gently pointing out the truth. We were one of the first parties to support the One in Five campaign, whose support has been very helpful in the council election campaign.
“We are not Brigadoon politicians” – we don’t vanish into the ether but continue to campaign against inequality everywhere we see it.People with disabilities and unpaid carers are given little credence by politicians so we should be proud of our role and challenge disablist language wherever it exists. As Chomsky (and Gramsci) teaches us language is a powerful weapon. It can be a tool of oppression, but also a great liberator.
The SSP do not expect communities to come to us. Instead, we reach out to where they live and show we all stand together. This is not only at election times but at all times. A comrade said to me, “We are not Brigadoon politicians” – we don’t vanish into the ether but continue to campaign against inequality everywhere we see it. We don’t just preach “another way is possible” but pledge to be our own best selves, showing the reality of a kinder, fairer society and why socialism can tackle inequalities.
That is why I am a socialist and proud member of the SSP.
I wish all such candidates well, as I do to all my comrades. We remain on the right side of the Tories’ fence and stand with our communities.
Sandra Webster is the SSP’s 2017 council candidate for Paisley North West.