READERS of The National would be advised to take the claims made by former Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) member Connor Beaton with a pinch of salt.

READ MORE: Scottish Socialist Party executive blasts leadership in resignation letter

For Connor resigned as national secretary after being unanimously called to account by the party’s executive committee for his conduct in that role.

He resigned in a dramatic fit of pique last Saturday leaving our monthly meeting without a single word of explanation as to his reasons.

His actions followed the unanimous decision of the previous monthly executive committee to call him to account for his unexplained absence at the previous month’s meeting and his performance as national secretary.

Myself, as chair, and our national treasurer were asked to meet Connor and obtain an explanation from him for his performance as national secretary.

We met him in Dundee where he unreservedly apologised for letting the party down citing personal reasons.

It was agreed we would report back to the executive committee, recommend his apology be accepted, that we would all try to help him in his duties as national secretary and move forward together on that basis.

At no time did he raise any of the criticisms he now alleges in his resignation letter.

The SSP rejects each and every one of the allegations. Moreover he did not raise any of them formally inside the party at any meeting of the executive committee, national committee or other forums available to him. That is because he knew the party as a whole did not agree with him.

His conduct this week has shown the wisdom of the executive committee in calling him to account in the first place. He has now left the party in a way that could inflict damage on his ex-comrades as he goes. Such is life.

Meanwhile SSP members look forward to participating in next weekend’s independence rally in Dundee, intervening in forthcoming university freshers fayres and hosting the Scottish Socialist Voice Forum on the Sustainable Growth Commission’s report in Edinburgh on September 15 (further details to follow soon).
Calum Martin
SSP National Chair

I HAVE just read Gregg Brain’s long letter, and nearly been moved to tears by it (Torture of children by Home Office is entirely deliberate, August 9). I therefore acknowledge that there are far more pressing issues to address than mine.

However, I remain exasperated and indignant at the contempt with which the rail companies continue to treat their customers. I have travelled from Lockerbie to Edinburgh and back four times recently, and on three of these occasions have encountered a train so massively overcrowded that people crammed into the available spaces in corridors between seats and doors could not possibly move, even to reach the toilet.

On one such occasion, not even the ticket collector could gain access in order to check tickets! A young neighbour of mine has experienced this on every journey recently, and the fatuous excuse came over the tannoy: “We are experiencing excessive passenger numbers due to Edinburgh Fringe!” Really? So why did this train only comprise three carriages? If they knew about this, then why did nobody make provision for it? What a cheek!

How can it be that this nonsense continues to prevail on our railways? We were assured by First Transpennine that 2018 would see an end to this as new rolling stock would be brought into service. But it continues unabated. Why?

Well, it must be obvious to any sentient being that the culture of selling more tickets than available seats has to be addressed not at company level, as, of course,

they have a vested interest in promoting this, precisely because Britain’s railways, since 1993, have been operated on a privatised, profit-making model. The promise of more rolling stock is not the solution either, because, of course, this will be filled to the gunwales as well. No, the only means of killing this nonsense off is at government level. But this pernicious practice cannot be stopped so long as there are willing ears to listen to the “business interests” of the private companies.

The first step has to be complete public accountability through public ownership. That is an absolutely essential precondition, but not a sufficient one. The system was run publicly from 1948 until 1993, but many of the bad old practices simply were not addressed, and the whole thing was woefully underfunded. This was set against a background of promoting a car culture into the bargain.

But times have changed. We desperately need a responsibly-run, publicly-accountable and affordable railway, one that will persuade people to leave the car at home. We can – and must – do better.
Brian York

PS. Oh, and how does this overcrowding square with health and safety, I wonder?