Post by spqr on Apr 29, 2017 2:16:13 GMT
They were more or less a busted flush following their disastrous first conference in late 1976, when the media reported attempts at entryism by the International Marxist Group. Sillars publicly expelled the offending members, who promptly walked out with one-third of the conference delegates in tow. This group went on to establish their own 'splitter' party (initially known as the Scottish Labour Party - Democratic Wing, later to be renamed the Scottish Socialist League). Henry Drucker, in his book Breakaway, argued that the IMG weren't an especially significant presence, and that Sillars used the pretext of Trotskyist infiltration to purge anyone he saw as a threat.
The negative publicity the SLP received stalled their momentum, which at one point looked like becoming significant - several journalists, including Neal Ascherson and Chris Baur, were very favourable in their attitude to the new party. Drucker reported that in 1977 just 883 people were paying members, with a disproportionate number from the coalfield villages that formed the backbone of Sillars' South Ayrshire constituency (I seem to remember that Patna had more SLP members than Dundee - Alex Neil, then the Labour Party's Scottish Research Officer, was one local defector). The SLP stood one candidate in the Glasgow Garscadden by-election in 1978 (the wife of a local academic, as I recall) and three* in the 1979 General Election. All received derisory votes and lost deposits, with the exception of Sillars himself - he captured 31.5% of the vote in South Ayrshire and ran the Labour victor (George Foulkes) close. The party disbanded in 1981.
I'm sure you knew a fair bit of this already, jimboo2017 - just thought I'd enjoy myself by going back in time.
*Along with South Ayrshire, the other two constituencies where the SLP stood were Edinburgh Central and Paisley