THE Scottish Socialist Party is being “run into the ground” by the party’s leadership, one of the founding members has claimed.

Former MSP Frances Curran, who still sits on the party’s executive council, made the astonishing statement in an open letter posted on her blog.

The SSP, she said, was in the “worst position” it has ever been in during its 19-year history.

Curran was writing in response to a letter to The National from SSP national chair Calum Martin, published on Saturday, in which Martin questioned the accuracy of claims made by former national secretary Connor Beaton.

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

In Friday’s paper we reported how Beaton, who had quit his post, had blasted Colin Fox, and the SSP’s leadership, accusing them of abusing their position and presiding over an “organisation in terminal decline in both political and practical terms”.

In his letter, Martin says Beaton’s claims should be taken “with a pinch of salt”.

He said Beaton’s resignation came after he was “unanimously called to account by the party’s executive committee for his poor conduct in that role”.

“The SSP rejects each and every one of the allegations,” Martin said before claiming that “the party as a whole did not agree” with Beaton.

In her response to that letter, Curran says that is not accurate. The party is “crying out for an honest discussion,” she added.

The SSP, she said, is in decline, and that is in part down to the “culture of the party”.

Curran, who served as a list MSP for the West of Scotland between 2003 and 2007, and is a former party chair, said that people who raise concerns are described by the leadership as “not up to it; a renegade; not a real socialist; not a real revolutionary; a dilettante; doesn’t sell papers or do stalls; or is an enemy of the party”.

She added: “I have raised these issues on numerous occasions at the [executive committee] to be met with deaf ears and a closing down of discussion and on way too many occasions been shouted at by Colin.

“A bullying culture which brooks no descension [sic] or any genuine discussion. In any other organisation it would not be tolerated.”

The SSP, Curran added: “Continues to be run into the ground, it is in the worst position ever since we launched in 1999. Nationally the branches have never been weaker. Glasgow is a rump of a party, we have little visibility, no influence and even fewer active members.”

“This is not the SSP I founded, discussion was encouraged, pluralism, ie different political points of view were welcomed, we were trying to clarify both a political perspective for this new party and a strategic plan of development.”

A spokesman for the party said: “These are matters best discussed inside the Scottish Socialist Party’s democratic machinery, and that machinery is open to everyone from ex-MSPs to ordinary members.”

The SSP won its first Holyrood seat in 1999, when Tommy Sheridan was elected on the Glasgow list. At the next election six SSP MSPs were returned, including Fox and Curran.

The party split with Sheridan in 2006 after he took the News of the World to court over allegations the paper had made about his private life.

It has never again had anywhere near the same level of electoral success.

In last year’s Scottish Parliament election, the SSP was part of the RISE project to bring together left-wing and socialist groups in Scotland.

RISE polled 3000 votes less than the Scottish Christian Party, and achieved a quarter of Ukip’s support.