In recent weeks eleven new members joined the Scottish Socialist Party in the Edinburgh area. At a recent branch meeting we invited them to tell us why they joined, why now and what they hope to see the SSP achieve. In the first of a series of articles Karly, Catherine, Henry, Colin, Tancred, and Steve tell us their stories.
Karly Oliver lives in Leith and she joined the SSP after moving to Scotland from Australia. 'I was a member of the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne for a year before I came here. There have been contacts between the Socialist Alliance and the SSP for some years I guess. We always speak highly of the SSP back home. People still recall Colin [Fox's] speaking tour back in 2003 with admiration. The SSP's was the only party for me when I came to Scotland and I'm looking forward to being part of a big party in the months and years to come.'
Colin Webster is a teacher and he lives in North Edinburgh. Like Karly he only moved to Edinburgh fairly recently. He is originally from Inverness but more recently lived in Galashiels. 'I vote SSP. Voting for the so called 'mainstream' parties never crossed my mind. My beliefs are held by the SSP and I now want to do more than vote. I want to help get the SSP's message over in one strong socialist voice.'
Catherine and her husband Henry live in South Edinburgh. They were both members of the Labour Party for many years until, so disgusted by Tony Blair over Iraq, they left. 'I'm an idealist. To me the SSP is the only party which cares for those who have nothing. I like the way you stand up and speak out on issues of social justice, poverty and inequality. I have a handicapped son. I know what it is like to care for the old, sick and disabled in today's society. Lenin used to say 'From each according to his ability to each according to his need'. I joined the SSP after seeing Colin [Fox] on the European Election programme[on STV] and I'm so glad I did because I have found ideas are welcomed in the SSP in a way they never were in the Labour Party.'
Her husband Henry added 'When I saw the SSP party election broadcast [during the European elections] a light came on. 'At last' I thought 'someone who speaks for the poor and disadvantaged. I don't know what I expect from the SSP really but it is so nice to be part of something like this with people who share the same values. It is fantastic to be around so many people who feel the same way I do. I really think the SSP will go from strength to strength and I'm really proud to be a member.'
Steve is a civil servant who lives in Lochend, East Edinburgh. 'What it comes down to for me is that New Labour has been just a terrible let down. The big thing was the Iraq war. I also feel the absence of a socialist voice in the Scottish Parliament keenly with no one there to speak on behalf of those who need help the most. Like Henry, I enjoy spending time with people who don't regard my views as weird and that is what is so good about the SSP.'
Tancred is also a civil servant from East Edinburgh. He has a particular interest in fair voting, issues of justice and enhanced democracy. 'I have always been left wing I suppose. None of the other parties speak for me. What pushed me towards the SSP in recent months has been the newspapers which have been forced to reflect more and more the opposition to neo-liberalism. I support vast amounts of the SSP's policies like free school meals and its green agenda like free public transport which is an amazing idea. No other party is in favour of taking finances away from the military. I like the party's approach to legalizing cannabis, gay and lesbian equality, and the way it says 'no' to public spending cuts. Privatisation is hugely unpopular and yet governments are still pushing it on us. That's why I am here, in the SSP.'