Breakaway: The Scottish Labour Party

Breakaway: The Scottish Labour Party

Breakaway: The Scottish Labour Party

Breakaway: The Scottish Labour Party

Excerpt

This book is a study of an episode in recent Scottish political history -- the creation and first months of the Scottish Labour Party. The party was formed early in 1976 by a revolt of Jim Sillars MP and a group of his friends against the Labour Party. The creation of the party, the need for which had been frequently discussed by Sillars and a group of journalists for some time beforehand, was an immediate sensation. Helped by the flattering and intense publicity it received, it grew to have nearly nine hundred members in forty two branches by the time of its first annual Congress in October 1976. In the process of growing the SLP acquired active support from people who had no previous political affiliation as well as from former SNP members, from two Trotskyist groups, and, most of all, from former members of the Labour Party.

Although its soundest base was in Sillars' home county -- Ayrshire, the party attracted support from all over Scotland. If nothing else, it demonstrated in its early days that there was a fair amount of unused political talent in Scotland (as perhaps in the rest of Britain). Then, just as it should have been consolidating its achievement, the SLP exploded, scattering debris over the political landscape. Some members were expelled; more left in anger at the expulsions; still others drifted away when they were convinced that the party was just another 'wee bitty to the left of the Labour Party' organisation.

This study is an attempt to record these dramatic events and to draw lessons from the experience. The SLP was created to combine socialism and nationalism in a new party. Will the gap it sought to . . .

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