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Consistently democratic and vibrant?

In the Autumn 2004 edition of Emancipation and Liberation there is an editorial on The role of platforms in the SSP - Why have the RCN platform?

While agreeing with much of the article at a certain point it says:

One reason that platforms are suppressed is they may present a threat to the controlling faction, i.e. they are seen as a ‘leadership in waiting’. This is not the role the RCN has any desire to pursue. The RCN welcomes the current leadership’s concerted attempts to open up the SSP, to create a climate of genuine debate and comradeship.

If a group of people feel strongly enough to meet separately, produce different publications, organise within the structures around motions and amendments to the party structures etc., this is usually as a result of feeling that the leadership is operating inadequately on a whole number of levels. If that is not the case then the logic of being mostly happy with the internal regime is to be a non-aligned member perhaps raising the odd concern or worry in the different party forums now and again.

Platforms are necessary in circumstances where there is really a problem in relation to how the leadership of the party lead and one of the goals of any serious platform should be to offer an alternative leadership to the membership when this becomes feasible.

I don’t believe the Militant tradition has fundamentally changed in its nature. Clearly individuals do change and whole organisations can too but the tolerance of the ISM dominated leadership has always struck me as the tolerance of people operating in circumstances where they do not feel really threatened by small platforms.

Proposals were put forward to the 2005 SSP Conference that platforms detail membership figures and finances, etc. It is clearly aimed at the SWP although it will cover all platforms and is an indication of what the Militant tradition would do if they felt their control was really in jeopardy. And their control-freakery is on the whole linked to a lot of bad politics - not least acting as a break on activism and creating a slightly more left version of the SNP.

The correct approach is not to put out a smoke signal that the ISM does not have to come after us because the RCN has no intention of forming a leadership at any point in the future but to be hard on the control-freakery and political sectarianism and thereby force the membership over a long period to choose what kind of party they want - one that is consistently democratic and vibrant or one where conforming to the leadership of the SSP is the central requirement.

Peter Burton