S B O J R O FIGHT F paper of the socialist party scotland committee for a worker’s international (scotland)
t’s that time of year again when a fresh batch of school leavers will be thrown head first into the world of unemployment.
Wayne Scott Dundee It will make little difference how many qualifications we have, or how hard we’ve worked at school, almost all of us will be in the same boat. One in five 16 – 24 year olds are currently out of work with little being done to help by the ConDem government or their pals in the SNP government in Holyrood. While we might hear from our politicians that they care about creating jobs for people, they only further the problem. Cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs from the public sector in no way tackles the issue of unemployment. At the same time they have they are cutting millions of so called “scroungers” off benefits! During the Scottish elections we often heard cries of “apprenticeships!” from SNP and Labour. What they weren’t giving us a guarantee on is whether or not young people will have a guaranteed job at the end of this apprenticeship or whether it will pay a living wage. Youth Fight for Jobs demand that all apprentices receive the minimum wage that we would demand is raised to at least £10 an hour without exception for all age groups. The youth of Scotland are worth more than just cheap labour.
whatwe standfor work and income ● For the unions to take immediate action to increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour without exemptions as an immediate step towards £10 an hour. For an annual increase in the minimum wage, linked to average earnings. ● Reject Welfare to Work; for the right to decent benefits, training or a job without compulsion. ● A maximum 35-hour week without loss of pay. ● All workers, including part-timers, temps, casual and migrant workers to have trade union rates of pay, employment protection, sickness and holiday rights from the first
solidarity price: £2.00
ISSUE No 17 MAY/JUNE 2011
Unemployment, low pay and cuts to education are just some of the things that lead to a whole range of social issues such as depression, crime and drug abuse, as well as a general sense of frustration with the society they are forced to live in under capitalism. Youth Fight for Jobs activist Eoin Lesslie recently commented in an interview for a national newspaper that lack of a job or any kind of income had “driven him to despair”. In the coming months, Youth Fight for Jobs will be producing a manifesto for young people. This manifesto will talk about issues that the youth of Scotland are faced with such as low pay, cuts in benefits, lack of affordable housing and lack of jobs. We will also talk about who caused this crisis and how it is young people and the working class who will suffer as a result. This manifesto will however layout an alternative to the cuts agenda of the Con-Dems and try to show young people how they can fight back. It will show how people have fought back in the past such as the Jarrow March in 1936 when 200 unemployed people marched from Jarrow in the north of England to London demanding jobs. The youth of Scotland face the same situation today that people faced in 1936. This October, Youth Fight for Jobs will be recreating this march (see page ) and are calling on all young people to join us on the march to tell the government that we refuse to accept their cuts. We will fight back against every attack against us and will build a mass movement demanding jobs, better pay and free education for all!
environment ● Major research and investment into replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. End the problems of early obsolescence and unrecycled waste. ● Public ownership of the energy generating industry. No to nuclear power. No to Trident ● A democratically planned, low fare, publicly owner transport system, to help end environmental pollution.
public services ● No to privatisation and the Private Finance programmes. Renationalise all privatised utilities and services. ● Free, high quality education for all from nursery to university; with a living grant. No to the return of tuition fees in Scotland. Cancel the student debt and end the cuts in education funding. ● A socialist NHS to provide for everyone’s health - free at the point of use and under democratic control. Kick out the private contractors from all parts of the NHS. ● Keep council housing public. For a massive programme of publicly owned housing to provide good quality homes at low rents. ● Fully fund all services and run them under accountable, democratic committees that include representatives of workers and service users.
paper of the socialist party scotland committee for a worker’s international (scotland)
Issue No 17 - May/June 2011
LET’S STRIKE TO BEAT THE CUTS SNP in power but the cuts continue
Youth Fight for Jobs
Building the anti-cuts movement
pages 9 and 12
❐ Trade unions must build a one-day public sector general strike he new SNP Government intend to carry out the Con-Dem cuts of £3 billion to the Scottish Parliament's budget over the next three years. So much for the SNP's rhetoric of standing up for working people and the services they rely on.
● See page 9 for more on youth and students
day of employment. ● Scrap the anti-union laws. Build fighting trade unions, democratically controlled by their members. Full-time officials should be regularly elected and receive no more than a worker’s wage. ● An immediate 50% increase in the state retirement pension, as a step towards a living pension. Reinstate the link with average earnings now.
rights ● Oppose discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, disability, sexuality, age and all other forms of prejudice. ● Repeal laws that trample of civil liberties. For the right to protest. End police harassment. ● Defend abortion rights. For a women’s right to choose when and whether to have children. ● For the right of asylum. No to racist immigration laws. A mass working class party ● For a mass workers party that draws together workers, young people and activists from other movements to build a political alternative to the big business parties. ● Trade unions should disaffiliate from the Labour Party now and play a central role in helping to build a new workers’ party.
socialism and internationalism ● No to imperialist wars and occupations. Withdraw the troops now from Iraq and Afghanistan. ● Tax the super rich. For a socialist government that takes into public ownership the top 150 companies and banks that dominate the British economy, and run them under democratic working class control and management. Compensation only on the basis of proven need. ● For a socialist Scotland and a free and voluntary socialist federation of Scotland with England Wales and Ireland. ● A democratic socialist, environmentally secure plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people. ● No to the bosses neo-liberal European Union. For a socialist Europe and a socialist world.
Brian Smith Branch secretary Glasgow City Unison (personal capacity) At a time when real incomes of average households are due to fall by almost £1,000 this year due to the Con-Dem cuts, this will come as a blow to many who voted for the SNP as a party who would fight the cuts. 2011 will be the fourth year in a row that disposable incomes have fallen. The first time this has happened since the 1870’s. The SNP Government intend to cut public services workers wages and attack their pensions, reduce funding to local councils services by around 12%, cut support to community organisations,
implement big cuts in further and higher education and slash housing budgets. Alex Salmond's first act after the SNP's huge win should have been to tell David Cameron that he wanted the £3 billion stolen from Scotland by the Con-Dem cuts to be returned. It should have been an announcement that the SNP government would defend public services by setting budgets based on the needs of people in Scotland. Instead Salmond and the SNP were silent on the cuts. The UK Government's attack on the welfare state and disability benefits on top of the Scottish Government's cuts mean that the anti-cuts movement in Scotland must step-up it's activities and organisation at local, city and national levels. Community campaigners, student groups, disability groups, service user organisations and trade unionists should organise protests and occupations in their local areas and get involved with the newly formed Scottish Anti - Cuts Alliance (SACA) including supporting its lobby of the Scottish Parliament on June 15th. Many local anti-cuts alliances / campaigns and trade union branches from
UNISON, UNITE and the UCU have affiliated to SACA, as has PCS Scotland, the main civil service trade union. However, the most powerful weapon of the anti-cuts movement is determined, co-ordinated strike action by the trade unions. The collective power of working class people organised in democratic trade unions with accountable, combative leaderships is the key to defeating the cuts and protecting jobs, services and living standards. Civil servants in the PCS trade union across the UK and education workers in England intend to take strike action on 30 June against attacks on their pensions. The other trade unions, UNISON, UNITE and the GMB included, must step-up their campaigns and mobilise the rest of the public sector trade union membership to take action as soon as possible. The STUC and the trade unions must lay plans now for a one-day public sector strike. A determined programme of of co-ordinated national strike action, can turn the tide against the parties of cuts and privatisation. Let's build the resistance. We can defeat them
email: email@example.com website www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk website of the committee for a workers’ international: www.socialistworld.net
www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk - May/June 2011
EDITORIAL: May elections leaves....
Con-Dem coalition left battered and bruised it was slapped, punched, kicked and finally knifed before being left for dead." The overwhelming defeat in the AV referendum was also a reflection of the population’s fury with its main advocates, the Liberal Democrats. Some media commentators have attacked the electorate for voting in the referendum on ’trivial’ grounds. But given a rotten choice between two bad systems, why not vote in order to punish the Liberal Democrats? As even Nick Clegg admitted before the election, AV was a ’dirty little compromise’ which would have been no fairer or more proportional than the existing system.
Tories The Tories, by contrast, are breathing a sigh of relief that they have, for now, escaped the electoral consequences of their brutal policies. There are several reasons for this. In the working class cities of the North the Tories are still hated for the crimes of Thatcher. As a result they had no councillors to lose. The same is true in parts of London, where there were no elections this year. In most of England, however, Tory councils still dominate, despite some gains for Labour including in Gravesham and Ipswich. The Tories were even able to marginally increase their numbers of councillors, largely by making gains from the Liberal Democrats. This is no surprise - after all why vote for the monkey if you can have the organ grinder? However, it would be a major error to assume the Tories will escape in future elections. A year into the Coalition government, there is still a section of society who believe the Tory propaganda that it was New Labour’s policies in government that were responsible for the misery that is now being inflicted.
he root of the government’s weakness is the continuing profound crisis of capitalism in general and British capitalism in particular.
The general election of May 2010 seems a lifetime ago. For the thousand richest people in Britain, whose wealth has increased by 18%, the year that followed has been a resounding success. The number of billionaires increased from 53 to 73. For the rest us the year has brought pain, with the biggest fall in family income since 1977 and cuts and privatisation of public services on an unprecedented scale. The misery inflicted by the Coalition has not been taken lying down. We have seen the biggest student move-
ment in twenty five years, and the biggest trade union demonstration in Britain’s history. At the end of June coordinated strike action against the cuts will begin. The May elections however, was the first opportunity for voters to pass judgement on the Coalition at the ballot box. As was widely predicted beforehand, the Liberal Democrats bore the brunt of the population’s anger, losing 700 councillors in England and 12 members of the Scottish Parliament.
Slapped, punched and kicked... As Jonathon Freedland put in the Guardian: "The party was not just given a bloody nose by the electorate:
Labour Nationally Labour gained over 800 seats despite, not because of, its policies. Millions of people in working class areas voted Labour to punish the government, and in the hope that Labour councils would cut less brutally than those led by the Tories or Liberal Democrats. One consequence of this was that the BNP suffering an electoral meltdown. This does not preclude that the BNP, or other far right forces, could make an electoral comeback in the future against a background of economic crisis and rising unemployment if a mass anti-racist workers’ party has not developed. When in power Labour acted in the interests of big business, and in particular of finance capital. More privatisa-
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition stood 143 candidates in the 5 May 2011 local elections in England and Wales. In addition there were 18 Socialist Alternative candidates in Coventry and eight Democratic Labour Party candidates in Walsall who have endorsed the TUSC local elections policy platform. In Leicester, there were also four tion of public services took place when New Labour was in office than under any previous government. The deregulation of the City which began under the last Tory government continued apace under New Labour. When the economic crisis began, New Labour bailed out the banks and demanded that working class people paid the price. Just like the Tories and Lib Dems, Labour support huge cuts in public services, just at a marginally slower rate. Coalition Some on the right wing of the Tory party are bleating that Cameron should take advantage of the election results and break up the coalition in the vain hope that the collapse of the Liberal Democrats would deliver a Tory majority. The leadership of the Tory party know better and, given their complete dominance of the Coalition, have no pressing reason to bring it to an end. However, as Philip Stevens commented in the Financial Times, "coalitions rot from the bottom up". At the top, the Coalition parties are clinging to each other and to power. For the Lib Dem activists who are watching their party being destroyed, however, it is a different story.
Profound crisis of capitalism There are a number of fault lines for the government, including the difficulties that could be created at a later stage by a referendum in Scotland on independence. But however it is manifested, the root of the government’s weakness is the continuing profound crisis of capitalism in general and British capitalism in particular. Far from being over, the economic crisis in Britain is ongoing. According to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research Britain’s output will not reach the levels of 2008 until 2013. And even this may be optimistic. The latest figures show that manufacturing, previously the part of the economy that had stuttered into growth, now has the second lowest level of new orders since the recovery began in 2009.
candidates of the Unity for Peace and Socialism party, and a mayoral candidate, who stood on a common platform with the TUSC candidates in the city. Thirteen candidates polled over 10%. Over a quarter polled more than 5%. The total vote for the 173 candidates listed was 25,523. (See pages 6 and 7 for feature on Scotland after the election) The fall in orders is a reflection of very weak demand in Britain, rather than reflecting the weakness of Britain’s puny exports. No wonder. On average, workers are taking home £1,088 less a year than two years ago. Their real pay has fallen by 5% since the beginning of 2009, which was half way through the recession. As the Bank of England governor Mervyn King admitted, workers are already suffering the most sustained fall in wages since the 1920s. Bad as they are, the government’s cuts have only just begun to bite, and will dramatically further depress demand. It is a pipe dream to imagine that British capitalism will be able to compensate with increased exports against a background of a profound crisis of Europe and world capitalism.
No way out British capitalism has no way out other than to attempt to offload the crisis on the working class. However, they are already facing mass resistance to their attempts to do so. The working class flexed its muscles on 26 March - when over half a million people marched in opposition to the cuts. At the end of June the PCS and NUT, perhaps along with others, will strike together against the cuts and in defence of public sector pensions. In the other public sector unions the call for coordinated strike action is growing. A 24-hour public sector general strike is on the agenda for 2011. This would terrify the government. The working class in Britain now needs its own political voice more urgently than ever. The Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts candidates in the local elections, who received 25,000 votes, were a step in that direction. Over the next year the anti-cuts movement can draw the conclusion that it is necessary to stand far more widely to offer an electoral alternative to the axe men and women. Most importantly, faced with the barbarity of twenty first century capitalism, a growing number of workers and young people are searching for socialist ideas. Our most important task in the immediate period is to reach them with a clear socialist programme.
Scottish teachers must reclaim the union after EIS leaders sell-out e know that the of leadership the EIS have, for years, worked hand in glove with our employers but we could never have imagined such a betrayal.”
Have you got some news for us?
I’d like to find out more / join Socialist Party Scotland (delete as appropriate)
The paper of Socialist Party Scotland The Socialist, PO Box 10132, Dundee, DD2 9AR E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk Editor: Philip Stott
Name .................................................................................................................................................................. Address ............................................................................................................................................................. ............................................................................................................................................................................... Postcode ............................... Telephone .................................................................................................. Please return to us at PO Box 10132, Dundee DD2 9AR or email email@example.com
Strike against the ConDem pensions robbery ord Hutton's second report into public sector pensions has confirmed the attacks that we have been expecting. He has recommended:
Martin-Powell Davies Jim Halfpenny EIS member This reaction from a classroom teacher in West Dunbartonshire clearly reflects the sense of anger felt by Scottish teachers at the sell out of their pay and conditions. Having carried out an indicative ballot on the employer’s first offer, which returned a 97% rejection and an 85% call for industrial action on a 56% vote, the Salaries Committee recommended acceptance of a second offer which was almost identical to the first and completely ignored the fact that it contradicted EIS policy agreed by the AGM. Outrage at this new offer swept schools throughout Scotland. Opposition was so great that those in EIS Headquarters were forced to carry out a mass propaganda campaign threatening teachers with job losses and unilateral abandonment of pay and conditions agreements by local councils if they did not accept. EIS Reps. were told that they could not “circulate or promote to members such material which does not emanate from official EIS sources”. You would have been forgiven for mistaking these threats as the hysterical diktats of a right wing Local Authority hell bent on destroying workers rights. Incredibly, after the first overwhelming vote of rejection, EIS General Secretary, Ronnie Smith, declared that he saw no mood for a fight and went to a second ballot. The result of 56.2% in favour of acceptance and 43.8% against was, in reality, a massive blow to the right wing bureaucracy. For years they have treated ordinary teachers with contempt but despite their threats and intimidation they just scraped a majority of those who voted. What this leadership will understand is that the 44% who voted against with such determination and conviction
“The message we need to send to the politicians, of all parties, is that we are not prepared to take it any more. We will not allow the continuing dismantling of Scottish education in order to pay the bill for a publicly funded bail out of banks that was necessitated by the greed and dubious ethical standards of city traders and financial speculators.” Ronnie Smith (EIS General Secretary) before the sell-out have rejected all the misinformation, the offer and the position of Smith, Mackie, et al. What they also know is that a large proportion of those who accepted the deal will have done so through fear of a leadership doing the dirty work of our employers. They have no genuine base within the union for advocating this disgraceful attack on teachers pay and conditions. These same leaders, who fronted the “Why Must our Children Pay” campaign and the Anti-Cuts demonstrations in Edinburgh and London, say that there is no alternative to the £60 million of education cuts demanded by COSLA and that teachers will have to pay with a salary freeze which will allow inflation to cut at least 10% off wages over the next 2 years. When the Times Ed (11/2/11) claimed “pay talks on a knife edge” few of us would have believed that our negotiators would have taken that knife and plunged it so deeply into our backs.
It is absolutely essential that those on the left within the EIS organise themselves quickly. This attack on pay and conditions will only be the first and we will have to be prepared to defend ourselves against the McCormack Review and further cuts next year. The conditions exist for forming a substantial broad left within the union and the rank and file movement, Reclaim EIS, has made a significant start. We must build a network of contacts within every Local Authority who can get our message into every school in Scotland. It is entirely possible within a short space of time to organize an opposition to this bankrupt leadership which will shake this union from top to bottom. There has already been a clear call by rank and file members within the EIS for, ❐ A campaign of industrial action to restore all our conditions of service ❐ A pay claim which restores the living standards of Scottish teachers ❐ The direct election of the EIS General Secretary by the EIS membership every five years If you believe Salaries Convener, Dougie Mackie, then there is little we can do about cuts. On the contrary, we must organise our substantial forces and, if possible, in conjunction with other public sector unions take industrial action to protect our members. Part of this task will be to sweep away this treacherous leadership and establish a democratic union responsive to the wishes of our members.
PCS members re-elect a fighting left leadership to prepare for cuts battles n the Public and Commercial Services union ( PCS), the left-led Democracy Alliance national executive committee has been reelected with an increased majority.
Join the Socialist Party Scotland
www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk - May/June 2011
PCS vice president, personal capacity
This demonstrates, for those willing to take notice, that when workers are offered a campaigning alternative to the attacks of pro-big business Labour and coalition governments they will be prepared to fight to defend their jobs, services and conditions. This is a solid endorsement of a cam-
paigning, left leadership that over the past decade has transformed PCS into a union that has become a beacon for workers desperate to challenge the calculated destruction of the public sector and the race to the bottom. Members have again rejected the donothing collaborationist "4themembers" group, a cynical re-branding of the despised "Moderates", who failed in an attempted coup to remove Mark Serwotka as general secretary ten years ago. Members and activists have been fully involved in the development of the union's campaign strategies. While PCS members face unprecedented challenges, they can have confidence in a leadership that always starts from a simple principle - the union must defend jobs, conditions and services
a) An end to final salary pension schemes - to be replaced by 'career average' schemes in order to cut the value of pensions. b) Retiring older - the 'normal pension age' would rise first to 65 for all but increase further to 68 in future to track the rising state pension age. This comes on top of the attacks we already know about, particularly: c) Paying more - with the government wanting to increase pension contributions by 50%. First, he claims that 'there is no alternative', that we're all living longer and so we have to work longer to pay for it. The financial statistics don't back this up. As the NUT press release has stated: "The National Audit Office has confirmed that public sector pension costs are falling as expected due to the reforms already in place. "Pensions have already been cut by changing their link from RPI to CPI inflation. As a result of this, next month's pension increase will be 1.5% less than it should have been". Second, Hutton claims that publicsector workers can't expect to carry on with final-salary pensions when most private-sector workers aren't getting them. But why should we allow ourselves to be ripped off in the same way that many private companies are ripping off their employees? The best way to defend all workers - in both the public and private sectors - is for someone to put up a fight, and we are going to! Lastly, as well as trying to divide public sector workers from private sector colleagues, Hutton wants to
"These proposals represent a further assault on workers living standards. Taken with other measures like pay freezes, it means poverty. We need a united response of coordinated strike action across the public sector to fight these attacks." Ian Leech Unison member and local government worker, Glasgow divide classroom teachers from promoted colleagues by claiming that 'career-average' schemes will be 'fairer' to those lower down the scale. But what he intends will be unfair to all of us. These schemes will be constructed to give us less pension even though we'll be paying in more. There's nothing 'fair' about Hutton's proposals they are just another part of this government's agenda of cuts and privatisation. Hutton did have to admit that there would have to be consultation and changes to legislation to bring in these changes. That means we have a window - although it might be a short one - to organise the united action needed to stop these attacks. Hutton's report must be met with a quick response - coordinated ballots across the public sector for strike action to defeat this pensions robbery. Hutton's report is an example of distorted propaganda on behalf of this millionaires government. As Unison have rightly pointed out: "The local government and NHS pension schemes were renegotiated in 2006 to make them sustainable and affordable. Both schemes are cash rich more is going in than coming out. Last year, the NHS scheme received £2billion more in contributions than it paid out and this money went straight to the Treasury. The average pension in public service pension schemes is very low, for example in local government, the average is just over £4,000, falling to £2,800 for women. If these people didn t save for their retirement, they would have to rely on *means-tested benefits paid for by the taxpayer.
PCS will fight cuts to benefits centres t has been announced that 17 benefit processing sites and five contact centres will be shut, mostly within 12 months, with the loss of 2,400 jobs.
Jobcentre Plus has already cut more than 10,000 staff since 2009 and this latest decision will mean more delays in processing claims. This comes as ministers are reviewing the jobcentre network as a whole; the PCS union fears there is a risk they will
decide to close more jobcentres, particularly in rural areas. Delegates to the PCS union's Department for Work and Pensions group conference debated an emergency motion to launch a campaign against the closures. This was alongside a motion debated at PCS's national conference which called for a national strike ballot over cuts to jobs, pay and pensions and for the union to "work with other trade unions to coordinate the action for maximum impact".
Send us your workplace and trade union news The Socialist is dedicated to reporting the struggles of workers and developments in the trade unions in Scotland, Britain and internationally. If you have a report for us please send it in by post to: PO Box 10132, Dundee, DD2 9AR
or you can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
using all campaign methods and never being afraid to use industrial action.
The Socialist Party Scotland website is: www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk The CWI website is at: www.socialistworld.net
10 international Bin Laden’s death won’t stop terror attacks he killing of Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qa’ida’s figurehead, represents an important symbolic setback for Al-Qa’ida’s forces but is unlikely to affect the military effectiveness of its forces.
tions of its opponents. This strategy is enthusiastically backed by the current commander of US troops in Afghanistan and soon to be CIA chief, General Petraeus, dubbed a policy of "hot pursuit". It follows recent attempts to assassinate Gaddafi in Libya. They imagine that by the removal of one man they will resolve the problem.
It will make little difference to the issue of terrorism in the world. It will not resolve any of the underlying social conditions which have resulted in the emergence of forces such as AlQa’ida and the Taliban. Terrorism has its breeding grounds amongst those sections of the population with a strong sense of injustice about their social conditions and who despair about the lack of an alternative which the same people see as realistic about addressing that injustice. The poverty inflicted on whole areas of the world arising from the exploitative activities of Imperialism creates the breeding ground for the support for terrorism. However, we lend no support to Bin Laden or Al-Qa’ida, either ideologically or the vicious terrorist methods they have used. It should be remembered that US imperialism supported such forces in Afghanistan in the 1980’s as part of its efforts against the USSR, who were supporting a puppet regime in Afghanistan. After the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and the withdrawal of their forces, US imperialism’s support for rotten corrupt regimes in some Muslim countries boosted Bin Laden and other forces. Significantly, the large mansion in Abbottabad, near Islamabad, where the killings took place was very close to the Pakistani Military Academy in an extremely wealthy area largely populated by retired military officers. This points to the fact that sections of the Pakistani state machine around the secret services, ISI, and especially retired military officers, may have colluded with Al-Qa’ida and Bin Laden and the Taliban, despite US support for the regime in Pakistan. The US operation represents a further development in US imperialism’s foreign policy of targeted assassina-
While Bin Laden opposed both Mubarak and Ben Ali in Egypt and Tunisia, Bin Laden’s use of terrorist methods, including mass terrorist methods caused devastating slaughter and misery for ordinary working people did not show any way forward. It was the mass uprisings in those countries which showed a way forward. Rather than strengthen US imperialism in Pakistan and the neo-colonial world the killing of Bin Laden in many countries, including Pakistan, will be likely to increase anti-US sentiment in some areas of the Muslim world. In particular it will strengthen opposition to the war in Afghanistan which was justified on the basis of capturing Bin Laden. Following the attacks on 9/11 Bin Laden had 40-50% approval ratings in Pakistan. However, the attacks by his forces and those of the Taliban in the urban areas and indiscriminate killings of ordinary people in bombings and shootings have led to a sharp decline. Bin Laden’s and Taliban approval ratings have fallen to 4-5% in recent polls in Pakistan. However, it cannot be excluded that some Al-Qa’ida forces may get a certain boost from this operation in some countries. In Pakistan and parts of the Muslim world it will further undermine the position of US imperialism. The continuation of imperialist domination and of landlordism and capitalism will result in organisations like Al-Qa’ida continuing to exist and other similar ones arising. The horrors that capitalism and the reactionary forces of Al-Qa’ida and the Taliban mean for the mass of the population can only be ended by the working class and poor struggling for a socialist alternative - the only solution to the carnage which has developed.
Socialist Party Scotland
thesocialist www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk - May/June 2011
Western imperialism’s hypocrisy over Libya he revolutionary wave that swept across Tunisia and Egypt also erupted with an uprising against the dictatorship of Gaddafi in Libya at the end of February. Mass protests across the country shook the regime as pro Gaddafi forces were driven out of many towns and cities.
Why not find out more about us The Socialist Party Scotland is the Scottish section of the worldwide socialist and Marxist organisation, the Committee for a Workers' International. The CWI is active in 45 countries across the world. Our sister parties include the Socialist Party in England and Wales and the Socialist Party in Ireland. We have a long history of struggle, and experience of leading mass campaigns in Britain and internationally. We have elected councillors and/or MPs in Australia, Germany, Pakistan, Sweden, Ireland, Holland and Eng-
land. We work to build new mass parties of the working class armed with a Marxist programme to defeat the attacks of the bosses and capitalist governments and to build a movement internationally that fights for a socialist future.
CWI CIT www.socialistworld.net www.marxist.net
Libya, a country in flames
protracted conflict The deployment of ground forces by the western powers cannot be ruled out as the conflict situation in Libya becomes more protracted. So far Gaddafi's regime has had enough sup-
May Day attack on Kazakhstan socialists he ruling parties in the former Soviet countries usually use May Day, in a cynical manner, organising official events to which people are expected to turn up to wave balloons and listen to speeches and pop music.
Having been prevented from organising their own event, activists of the opposition 'Kazakhstan 2012' movement and Socialist Resistance Kazakhstan (the Socialist Party's counterpart in Kazakhstan), decided to partic-
Building a mass anti-cuts movement fter 5 weeks of campaigning, the Scottish Government is looking forward to getting down to business at Holyrood. For MSPs of all parties this means a new term and new faces in Parliament.
quagmires of Afghanistan and Iraq unilaterally intervene in states like Libya to protect its interests. It, along with Britain and France, has had to act though an unstable coalition that is mired by constant squabbles between imperialist powers and regional players like Turkey which calls for a councilitary attitude towards Gaddafi . The major powers hope the action of brutal air strikes and support through military aid totalling hundreds of millions of dollars for mercenary type "rebel" organisations will be enough to protect oil interests and lead to a stable client regime coming to power. Similar levels of aid have not been made available to the suffering civilian population. Caught between the brutal violence of both sides ordinary people in Libya have had their day to day situation worsened by the air strikes that have destroyed infrastructure leading to fuel and food shortages . Many are unable to leave their homes due to snipers and house to house fighting in many urban areas. Gaddafi's forces have massacred civilians who have supported the uprising using the brutal tactic of mass rape against women. Refugees have poured across the border to Tunisia and Egypt , many have also risked thier lives trying to cross the sea for Europe and been turned back by the same powers that are bombing Libya.
ipate in the official event. However, once the red flags had been unfurled the police waded into their part of the demonstration to remove any opposition activists. Socialist activist Ainur Kurmanov received head wounds after being kicked by police whilst on the ground. As the oppositionists chanted "shame" and "stop police repression", other participants began to shout out their disgust at the police actions. Later a section of workers who had joined the official parade broke away in protest. Through the night the KNB (political police) consistently harassed Ainur and his friends and comrades. Firstly they
port and military strength to hang on to most of the west of the country and Libya's largest cities. The rebels have been ground down in urban areas in brutal street fighting. The western powers are now having the reap the seeds they sowed by financing and arming Gaddafi over the last decade. Gaddafi spent large resources on privileges for the army that ensures loyal support. Gaddafi also has a certain amount of political support from certain tribal leaders and sections of the population because of the higher living standards and record of social reforms not present in neighbouring countries due to state intervention financed by oil revenues. The present outcome of the conflict is uncertain. The intervention of the imperialist powers to try and manipulate a revolution has stirred up divisions in Libya that may result in a wide scale civil war creating a "new Somalia" in the region. To avoid this nightmare the Libyan people must be allowed to decide their own fate. Socialists oppose all outside imperialist intervention into Libya, end the air strikes and stop the support for unaccountable warlords and mercenaries. We support and build solidarity for the efforts of the people of Libya, the working class, peasants and poor in their movement to overthrow Gaddafi. There is a need to begin building mass democratic organisations, if needed armed, to continue the revolution linking up with revolutionaries across the region . To end the rule of dictatorships and the imperialist powers a social revolution is needed to take the countries rich resources and use socialist planning for the benefit of the majority. tried to pressure the doctor to change his diagnosis, to say he had not been hurt and then attempted to get Ainur to admit that he had organised an "unsanctioned protest". Activists of Kazakhstan 2012 organised a round the clock presence at the hospital to protect Ainur. During the night prisoner rights activist Vadim Kuramshin was attacked by police. The authorities say they want to charge Ainur with organising an unsanctioned protest - he faces yet another 15 days in prison. This attack comes against the background of an increase in strike action in the country, a new wave of prison disturbances and more harassment of the opposition. A video of the attack can be seen on: www.socialismkz.info/
fighting the cuts 3
www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk - May/June 2011
Secretary, Scottish Anti- Cuts Alliance
Matt Dobson The imperialist powers in the west terrified their oil interests were threatened eventually responded by abandoning Gaddafi, a previous ally, and declared support for the uprising. Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy have claimed they are protecting civilians from Gaddafi's focres and through the UN got a resolution for a "no fly zone" across Libya. This no fly zone has meant bombing of urban areas and military targets. At the start of the uprising anti Gaddafi protestors used slogans against western intervention demanding they they be allowed to overthrow Gaddafi with interference from the imperialist powers. This was ignored by the major powers US, Britain and France who began backing and arming "rebels". Many of these rebel organisations that have been given support by the west are not genuine representatives of the people of Libya. Often they are former security and military figures who have defected from the regime in an attempt to hang on to their power and tribal warlords who wish to divide the population. At the time of writing NATO is using air strikes to target Gaddafi, his family and senior figures in the regime. The innocent casualties include children in the Libyan capital Tripoli. This follows the new doctrine of US imperialism of "hot pursuit". As with the recent assassination of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan by US navy seals. The Obama administration hopes that by "taking out" Gaddafi that his base of support will collapse as will opposition to the agenda of the western powers. Obama's strategy shows the uncertainty of the imperialist powers in reaction to the revolutions and political instability in the middle east and north africa. No longer can the US, with a raging economic crisis at home and military overstretch and weariness in the
So that's that then. Life will be rosy and we can relax, safe in the knowledge that the new Government has our best interests at heart. If only it were true! The reality is that for workers and communities across Scotland, nothing has changed. Cuts are still on the agenda. Politicians from all parties, including the SNP, are still peddling the lie that slashing budgets is the order of the day...nasty but necessary. They think they have convinced us that they need to make brutal cuts to Government and local council budgets, but that somehow jobs, and services to the poor and the vulnerable, will be shielded from this. To say that cuts are necessary, and can be made without affecting the most vulnerable in our society, is a downright lie Ask the people who use the Accord Centre in Dalmarnock, whose facilities are being axed ? They have not been protected from the cuts. The Accord Centre, a day care centre run by the City Council for adults with disabilities, is threatened with closure - to make way for a bus park for the Commonwealth Games ! Parents and users of the centre have been told that due to the 'economic climate' there will be no new day centre but have been given no information about what services will be available for them. Talk to the thousands of disabled people who are being forced off their benefits . Ask them if they have been shield-
ed from the cuts. Atos Origin have just been awarded a £300 million contract by the coalition Government to continue to use a testing system that means people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions are being declared fit for work and having their benefits cut. Plans to scrap Disability Living Allowance means that this testing is likely to be applied to everyone in receipt of a disability or health related benefit. And thousands of public sector jobs are under threat. Workers will be forced on to the dole with no hope of finding work in the private sector. And what will happen to the people who rely on the services those workers provide, services which will disappear completely ? The effects of cuts being made up and down Scotland is already being felt. But whilst ordinary folk are being made to pay for the excesses and greed of a few, the super rich are getting even richer! Figures just published (The Sunday Times Rich List , 7th May 11) show that the number of millionaires in the UK has increased this year by 20, from 53 to 73. Their wealth has gone up by 18% ! So much for the lie that the pain of the cuts is being spread fairly ! No surprise then that the fight back against these cuts is well under way. Anti cuts groups are being formed across communities as more and more people realise what is about to hit them. Community groups, the disabled,students and trade unionists have been out in force (see local reports in this paper) voicing their opposition and making it clear that they will not roll over and accept the decimation of their communities and the services we all depend on. All anti cuts groups, whether organised in communities,by students or through Trade Union branches are essential in the fight to oppose the cuts in their particular areas and workplaces. But to be really effective, all of these groups need to be linked to a mass movement that unites everyone who is involved in the fightback against cuts.
I’ve joined the Socialist Party
Nicola and Diane fighting the cuts
Socialist Party Scotland has been recruiting many new members recently. In a regular column we’ll be asking some of our new members why they joined. "Years ago I was involved in the Anti Poll Tax Campaign so I know how successful organised resistance can be. After years of Thatcher and the Tories, when Labour got elected, I was waiting for things to get better, but they didn't - nothing changed. Ordinary folk getting kicked in the teeth as usual. You can look at any country in the world and it's the same thing, misery and poverty for billions of people. I needed to do something other than just moan about it. The main political parties are all the same, they won't change things
because at the end of the day they don't care about working people, they only care about keeping big business happy. I'm fed up being told I have to pay for the country's debt, when rich people are laughing all the way to the bank. I joined the Socialist Party Scotland because it's the only party that stands for the same things I do, for a new mass party that represents workers, and it's actively fighting day to day against this rotten system that only serves the rich. I want a socialist future and I joined Socialist Party Scotland to help fight for it." Diane Harvey, Unison shop steward, Glasgow "I joined the Socialist Party Scotland because I reached a point where I knew I could not stand back and do nothing at a time of unprecedented attacks on working people and the poor. What appealed to me about the SPS is that fact that they are the most active, locally, in campaigning for a socialist alternative to our crisis ridden capitalist system. I understand the importance, at this critical time, of being part of a Marxist based socialist organisation. " Nicola Crawford, Unison shop steward, Glasgow Join us today. See page 2 for details
Scottish Anti-Cuts Alliance activists marching on the Glasgow May Day demo
he Scottish Anti Cuts Alliance (SACA) was founded in January this year with the aim of building that mass opposition.
SACA's key principles include opposition to all cuts, and the demand that politicians vote against cuts,and set needs budgets that protect public services and jobs. Since SACA was launched many anti cuts groups and Trade Union organisations have agreed with those principles and affiliated to SACA. These include PCS Scotland, Glasgow City Unison, Greater Glasgow and Clyde NHS Unison, and Unite Scottish Housing & Co-ops Branch. The SACA Steering Committee includes delegates from Unison SCRA, Lanarkshire United against the Cuts, Defend Glasgow Serv-
ices, Dundee Unemployed Support Group, Black Triangle and Youth Fight for Jobs, all committed to building a strong,effective campaign against the onslaught of cuts that we face. SACA has helped build and co-ordinate support for anti cuts protests, lobbies of councils and demonstrations across Scotland,including rallies in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Lanarkshire. SACA affiliates travelled in numbers to take part in the 500,00 strong demo in London on March 26th. But demonstrations alone are not enough. We have to step up the campaign. We need to link the anti cuts struggles taking place in communities with co-ordinated strike action by trade unions. As our jobs and services come under further attack, we must continue to
build a strong, united opposition. The rich will do everything in their power to protect their wealth, at our expense. We must be just as determined to fight off these savage attacks. We need to work together to build the mass movement that will be vital if we are to protect our jobs and services and defeat the cuts. I therefore urge all community anti cuts groups, students, disabled groups, and Trade Union's to affiliate to SACA. To affiliate, for more information, or to invite a SACA speaker to your anti cuts group or TU branch Contact Scottish Anti Cuts Alliance E mail: email@example.com Write: SACA, c/o Glasgow City Unison Branch 4th Floor, 18 Albion Street, Glasgow G1 1LH Tel : 0141 552 7069
Defend Glasgow Services campaign he past few months has seen the Defend Glasgow Services Campaign (DGS) further develop and, through important initiatives, begin to sink roots in the local community and Glasgow trade union movement.
Ian Leech Defend Glasgow Services
The campaign that began in January 2010 with a meeting of 120 trade union members and community activists has continued to build as the cuts begin to take hold. An increasing number of trade union branches have affiliated to DGS, including Glasgow City Unison, (who set the campaign up) Glasgow and Clyde Unison Health, the FBU and the PCS. Unison’s Scottish Council formally recognised the campaign at its April conference. This progress was further evidenced with an invitation to DGS organiser and Socialist Party member , Brian Smith, to address the Glasgow Mayday Rally. Brian’s contribution called for trade unionists to back DGS and for
local councils of whatever political colour to stand with communities to fight the ‘Con-dem’ cuts. In addition, he called on Council’s to refuse to make cuts but instead to set ‘needs budgets’ whilst organising citywide campaigns of opposition to cuts. He finished by announcing that that DGS would support any councillor from whichever party who was prepared to stand up and vote against cuts. On 28th April DGS called a lobby in support of people with disabilities timed to coincide with a meeting of Glasgow councillors. The lobby, in George Square attracted over 400 trade unionists and community members and significantly drew the support of a number of carers and disability campaigners from various campaigns around the city. The lobby sought to highlight the attack on the disabled through the implementation of the ‘personalisation’ agenda being heralded by the’ Con-dem’ government and supported by Glasgow City Council as a major step forward for the disabled. They argue that this is an opportunity for disabled people to take real control of their own finances allowing them to create a truly dedicated package of support that suits their individual needs.
This object is laudable but in reality the proposals are, an opportunity in a climate of massive cuts in public sector budgets, to drive down funding and in turn drive down costs in wages and terms and conditions in the voluntary sector. Already, due to cuts in funding the voluntary sector body “Quarriers” has issued 90-day redundancy notices to staff and others will follow suit as funding bodies such as Glasgow City Council take the axe to budgets. There have been some horrendous stories related about huge amounts of money cut from carers and the disabled personal packages that will drive people into poverty. The Defend Glasgow Services Campaign fully supports carers and people with disabilities in their fight to defend their living standards and incomes. Now that the Scottish Parliament elections are over there will be a deluge of cuts emanating from Holyrood via local councils. With little support from elected members in sight the task ahead of the DGS campaign will be to organise amongst local community defence campaigns uniting them with public sector workers in a campaign of demonstrations, occupations of community premises and industrial action. ‘NO CUTS – NO PRIVATISATION’!
www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk - May/June 2011
We need working class unity not sectarian division ver since Neil Lennon came to Scotland to play for his boyhood team he has received torrents of abuse.
Ryan Stuart No doubt for a section of bigots, being from Northern Ireland, a Catholic and a Celtic fan is enough to mark him out for this treatment. Lennon decided to stop playing for his own country in 2002 after receiving death threats from a paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. He was also assaulted and knocked unconscious in 2008 by two Ranger’s fans after an Old Firm game. Recently Lennon and others at Celtic have received death threats, mail bombs and ammunition through the post. While at the touchline watching his team play at Hearts he was attacked by a fan that broke through the security and hit him before being taken away. (see article below) Whenever he is away from home Lennon’s family have to be taken to a safe house and he is under 24 hour guard for fear of attack. This season has seen a marked rise in sectarian tension in Scotland, specifically around football. Thousands of Old-Firm supporters travel from Northern Ireland to Scotland for matches every week. Given the deep sectarian divisions within Northern Ireland, it is inevitable that this has an impact on the character of the games here as well. However, the reality is that the big majority of the working class, including the majority of Rangers supporters, are opposed to the attacks. The attacks and threats against Neil Lennon by sectarian thugs are a danger, not just to him and has family, but they also carry the threat of sowing
Our sister party in Ireland, the Socialist Party, has a long record of opposing sectarian division and fighting for working class unity. In Northern Ireland we have built a base among Catholic and Protestant workers and young people. For more info visit www.socialistpartyni.net
division among sections of the working class. It’s a small minority who practice anti-catholic or anti-protestant bigotry, however we cannot allow ourselves to be pulled back into a time when sectarianism was more prominent within Scotland. While not as much of an issue now, these events prove it is still a factor – especially when it is linked to the football and the Old Firm. At a time when the working class are under attack from vicious cuts to the public sector, benefits and pensions these problems can only help to try and divide the working class. We need unity. No matter what religion you are or what team you support, these are secondary to the need to fight for the unity of working class people here in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. The working class won’t be taken back into the bog of sectarianism. Supporters of both teams need to take initiatives in ridding sectarianism from the grounds. Above all the trade unions and the workers’ movement should be clear about the need to fight any element of sectarianism and for working class unity. The historic discrimination against Irish people and Catholics in Scotland was largely undermined by the growth of the trade unions, the wider labour movement and through common struggle that brought workers together, regardless of their background. And it’s on that basis that we can defeat hate, fear and sectarian division on all sides today.
Rigged market drives prices up ousehold fuel bills could increase by this winter, 20% adding £200 a year to a typical customer. Centrica (supplying British Gas) is claiming that energy prices are rising this winter by 25%. They blame the crisis in the Middle East and the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Ray Gunnion They also claim that a rise in transport costs will add to this rise, despite the sharp fall in oil process by the second week in May. This rise in fuel prices means inflation is expected to hit 5% later this year according to Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England. The number of people calling a leading debt advice charity because they are struggling with energy bills has increased by 180% in the past four years Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: "Fuel debts have now become a major part of our debt landscape and are one of the fastest growing problems we have witnessed at National Debtline. As consumers we have to pay close attention to how much gas or electricity we use and whether or not we have the right tariff – not always an easy decision." If this next winter follows last year in its intensity, the decision for many will be one of whether to EAT or to HEAT… ....and there's more....According to the WFP (World Food Programme), rises in food prices since June 2110 has pushed 44 million people worldwide into extreme food poverty and hunger. That figure represents double the population of Australia. According to Howard Schultz, of Starbucks' Coffee Shops with more than 17,000 outlets worldwide, this inflation in world commodity prices urgently
need more transparency to identify those responsible for pushing up raw material prices. Mr Schultz, who is Starbucks' chief executive and chairman and currently in London on a book tour, said that the current spike in the cost of commodities such as coffee and other foodstuffs is "not based on supply and demand" but based on market speculation. This allegation is denied by leading figures at the Bank of England who claim the present prices are simply due "some froth in the markets"! "Right now, Schultz claims, we are experiencing a very strange and almost inexplicable phenomenon in the commodities market. Without any real supply or demand issues we are witness to the fact that most agricultural food commodities are at record highs at once, and coffee is at a 34-year high," he said. How much "froth" can we take? "Through financial speculation – hedge funds, index funds and other ways to manipulate the market – the commodities market is in a very unfortunate position. This has resulted in every coffee company having to pay extraordinarily high prices for coffee." In April, coffee cost an average of $2.31 (£1.38) per pound, according to composite prices from the International Coffee Organisation. A decade ago, the average price for a pound of coffee was 45.6 cents. Retailers have also been hit by soaring prices of commodities such as cotton, copper, sugar, wheat and oil. What we need across all commodity markets is transparency and control. That’s only possible by bringing the major corporations, including the food, fuel and oil companies, into democratic public ownership.
Celtic manager, Neil Lennon
ynecastle Stadium in Edinburgh is a unique place to watch football. The closeness of the fans to the pitch, the steep angle of the stands and the volume generated by the supporters packed into the confines of the tight ground all lends itself to providing one of the best atmospheres of any footballing venue in Scotland.
Graeme McIver The game between Hearts and Celtic on Wednesday 11th May should have been one of the occasions where the
I write this article as someone who has attended the vast majority of Hearts home games at Tynecastle over the last quarter of a century. Whilst there have been many explosive fixtures and controversial incidents during this time I cannot remember an atmosphere quite so poisonous and hatred filled as the one that hung in the air over Tynecastle on that stormy May evening. Prior to the match steel barriers were placed around the ground to keep supporters segregated and many more police and stewards were on duty that at normal SPL fixtures at the Edinburgh ground. Despite this increase in security Hearts will face censure from the football authorities for failing to prevent the assault on Lennon. The scenes all around Tynecastle were a depressing reminder that Scottish football has failed to deal with the issue of sectarianism in its midst. Yet there are solutions out there. When I first attended football in the late 1970’s terracing violence was endemic and overt racism common place. I would never believe that the culture would change…but it did and much of
it was done by self policing by the fans themselves. Football violence still exists in Scotland of course but it is marginalised and mainly takes place between miniscule and specialised groups of football casuals. Racism still exists but not to the degree it did when fans of both Hearts and Celtic showered bananas and aimed chants at Mark Walters of Rangers in the mid 80’s. Indeed, in the same papers covering the story of the Lennon assault there were reports of a Celtic fan who had been jailed for racist chants aimed at Diouf of Rangers. He had been reported to police and stewards by his own fans demonstrating there is an intolerance of racism that did not previously exist. The vast majority of football games pass of free from the incidents witnessed at Tynecastle on May 11th. If there is an honesty and genuine attempt to tackle this problem I believe the situation can be improved. If the clubs, politicians and authorities choose to sweep it under the carpet then unfortunately we may see more scenes of madness.
youth and students
www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk - May/June 2011
n the 26th of March, tens of thousands of young people, including students, workers and the unemployed, marched side by side with the trade union movement in London.
Jamie Cocozza Glasgow
Rising food prices have helped spark revolutions in North Africa.
ATOS must go TOS is a private, profit driven multinaFrench tional. They currently work for the Scottish Government, NHS Scotland, Scottish Power, Scottish Water, and the list goes on.
David Churchley Black Triangle campaign Most controversially of all they are currently working for the DWP carrying out “Work Capability Assessments” into people in receipt of Incapacity Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement and many other benefits. They have won this contract by claiming they will “achieve a 30% spending reduction from those who are not claiming DLA justifiably. In a city like Glasgow with 20% of the workforce unfit for work due to MS, Alzheimer's, bi-polar disorders and many other debilitating conditions, this will have a major impact. ATOS assessments of people claiming DLA and ESA benefits are finding roughly 40% of claimants fit for work. Some 1.9 million disabled people are due to be assessed in the next three years. From May onwards that’s a total of 11,000 people a week. Hundreds who are appealing are also getting their benefits reinstated, but it can take months of suffering and hardship before they do. The campaign by the Con-Dem government to slash welfare costs. is causing huge anxiety and stress for those who have to go through the process. ATOS has been given a three year contract with the DWP, netting them around £300 million, in all they could end up with £1billion. Their modus operandi is to take around 20 minutes to carry out an assessment on the perceived level of disability. Despite the fact that the ESA medical handbook contains 207 pages. The Black Triangle disabled rights campaign has been organising protests at ATOS in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. We are lobbying the British Medical Association to demand that GP’s refuse to work with this company. We are demanding an end to government contracts for this money-hungry multi-national.
Students join fightback against the cuts
Rises in food prices since June 2110 has pushed 44 million people worldwide into extreme food poverty and hunger.
An atmosphere of poison and hatred famous atmosphere once again came to the fore. With the fans of the home team celebrating clinching third spot in the league and the visiting support urging their team on in their title challenge it had all the ingredients for a night to remember. But, the following day and all across the world, newspapers and television news programmes would show the darkside of the Scottish game as Celtic Manager Neil Lennon was attacked by a Hearts fan shortly after his team took a 2-0 lead. The assault was followed by large scale disturbances in the away end as visiting fans fought with police and stewards whilst sections of both supports indulged in sectarian singing and chanting. In the same week as the Hearts v Celtic fixture arrests were made for firearm offences outside Celtic’s Lennoxtown training facility and two men were arrested in Ayrshire and charged with sending explosive devices in the post. This has been a season to forget for Scottish football as stories of sectarianism have replaced stories about soccer on both the front and back pages.
50 school students walked out of Harris Academy in Dundee on April 1 and marched on Dundee City Council.
By Wayne Scott, Eoin Lesslie and David Mundt Students Defending Dundee Schools The walkout was organised and coordinated by Students Defending Dundee Schools (SDDS), a citywide school student led campaign group set up to oppose the councils £4 million cuts to school budgets and proposals to merge Advanced Higher classes into a “City Campus”. The "City Campus" will involve bringing Advanced Higher students from all Secondary Schools to one campus for three afternoons a week. This is a cut to Education. We fear it will have a negative effect on pupils and the provision of Advanced Highers in Dundee. It will cause widespread disruption as pupils will need to be transported across the city. This may cause loss of class time, learning time and breaks. It is already having a negative effect on pupils; acting as a deterrent as pupils have already stated their intentions to leave school due to this proposal. Members of the Socialist Party Scotland play a leading role in this campaign. Hundreds of school students have joined the SDDS facebook group and taken part in organising the walkout. As the march passed through residential areas into the city centre people of all ages came out onto tenement front steps to applaud, shout encouragement and join in the chanting of “councillors here us say city campus , no way” and “no if’s no buts, no education cuts” Once the Harris pupils crowded into the city square they were joined by students from other Dundee secondary schools such as Morgan Academy and St Johns swelling the number of protesters
to near two hundred. We then marched to Tayside House and were met with applause by council workers coming out of offices. A delegation was sent in to demand that the education convenor or a representative from the SNP administration meet with us and receive our petition. Disgracefully it was left to admin staff to explain to us that all the councillors had gone home early and not one manager of any department was in the building. The council can be warned that this will not be the last protest and opposition to the cuts will only increase. In the new term we will organise mass lobbies of councillors, further walkouts and demonstrations with the support of Youth Fight for Jobs and the wider anti cuts movement.
We Demand: ● The SNP led council drop the "City Campus" proposal and fully fund the provision of Advanced Highers in every school in Dundee. ● The Council must agree to a public consultation and meetings involving pupils, parents, teachers, trade unions and the wider community. ● Support for teachers facing cuts to wages and conditions. Oppose all redundancies. ● A Secondary School Student Union is set up to support and represent Secondary School Students. ● That Secondary School Students have the right to exercise their Democratic Rights. ● That the voting age be reduced to 16. The Lord Provost has recently called on school Students to stop campaigning against the cuts and the City Campus. We will keep protesting and handing out petitions until the Council listen to our demands. Education is for the masses, not just the ruling classes! Join your fellow students and together fight the cuts!
The TUC march had the significant result of energising a whole new layer of young activists. The struggle has intensified in Higher Education in Scotland as more and more cuts are being planned in colleges and Uni’s across the country. At a meeting of Glasgow University Court, a consultation involving very highly paid senior management took place on cuts designed to save £20 million over three years. The plans included dropping several modern language courses, withdrawing Nursing, merging history with archaeology and classics, and dropping Adult and Continuing Education departments. Glasgow University is the only university in Scotland to offer Pol-
ish and Czech as degree programmes. These cuts would represent a massive blow to many students. The Senate, a body responsible for the university’s academic direction, have been ignored. Business ‘leaders’ have acted as useful cheerleaders for the cuts programme. Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, when asked about course cuts, urged the university to “lose the weakest”, which, ironically, sums up the government’s attitude to free education rather succinctly. Naturally, students have picked up on this. Jennifer Sinclair, a French student at Junior Honours level, commented that, “the University have made it quite clear that they do not value our education.” Co-ordinated strike action and demonstrations by students and staff have forced the university management into delaying the program implementation. However, with the Holyrood election out of the way, the consultation process will resume in June, with other large universities following suit. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels. Strathclyde University is determined
Fight poverty pay with a decent minimum wage Labour Research Department publication has stated that the TUC welcomed the government's confirmation that the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for workers aged 21 and over will go up by 2.5%.
Mark Evans This really is the TUC clutching at straws because this percentage increase amounts to a 15p increase in the hourly rate from October taking the NMW to £6.08. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said that the increases showed that the government "understands the NMW must remain an important part of working life". He apparently went on to point out that there was evidence that workers on the NMW spent all their pay rises where they work and live. Someone should point out to Brendan Barber that on the current level of the NMW and the pay rise workers
could not afford to travel far to spend it. The closest Brendan Barber comes to criticising what amounts to a drop in the living standards for those on the NMW, given price rises, is when he called the proposed rises "modest". Barber of course does not criticise the current level of the NMW because it was his New Labour friends in government that maintained it at a poverty level. I don't recall generous increases when they were in power during a so-called boom. If this so-called increase for 21 yearolds and over is not a disgrace enough,
Come to Jarrow and march for jobs and a future upport from trade unions for the Jarrow march for jobs (initiated by campaign group Youth Fight for Jobs) has taken off.
Thanks to donations from trade unions and activists, including a fantastic £1,000 from the Fire Brigades Union and a £1,000 personal donation from FBU general secretary Matt Wrack, and £500 from a Unite branch, we have
broken through the £3,000 mark on the 'Jarrow-ometer'. RMT transport union president Alex Gordon announced that his union's executive committee has backed the march unanimously. The RMT also wants to send people on the march. We also have the support of four national trade unions, PCS, FBU, TSSA and Bectu. Youth unemployment currently stands at about of one in five. Young people today are the first in generations
to follow in this same pursuit; already, one hundred jobs have been earmarked for closure and a consultation process has begun where its Ramshorn Theatre and Collins Gallery are now threatened with closure. It is significant that, not only would cuts and closures threaten the livelihoods of university staff and impact on all-round student services, cutting the afore-mentioned galleries would be a huge cultural blow to the city itself. The city’s third university, Caledonian, intends on, under its new proposals, merging its six academic departments into three, a move which would decimate its staffing levels. In addition, ninety-five administration positions are up for removal; in total, these proposals mean that around 6% of its workforce would be up for redundancy. Perversely, Principle Pamela Gillies has defended plans to open a satellite operation in London, using a private company to recruit overseas students to study in Glasgow and an increase in management posts! June is set to see the continuation of the fightback. Cuts consultations are due to be held by Glasgow, Caledonian and Strathclyde universities during the first month of the summer.
who face lower living standards than their parents. With huge attacks on education and public sector jobs being made by the Con-Dem government, young people need to link up with workers in the trade unions to build the biggest movement this country has ever seen. This October, young people will be out on the streets to say; we won't be a lost generation! We will fight for jobs and education! The Jarrow march for jobs will be key
rallying point for the anti-cuts movement. We’ll be taking transport from Scotland to the demo on October 1st. YFJ is calling on trade unions to help the march financially by sponsoring a marcher and/or supporting and helping to organise a local demonstration/meeting/rally in support of and/or during the event. See www.jarrow2london2011.wordpress.com and www.youthfightforjobs.com for model trade union resolutions and more information.
the rate for young workers, - 18 to 20 year olds and 16 to 17 year olds will only rise by 1.2% and 1.1% respectively. For many all capitalism can offer is legalised poverty, where young workers are valued less and exploited more than older workers. If Barber and most of the other trade union leaders won't lead the fightback against the Con-Dems or any other government that seeks to place the burden of the crisis of capitalism on our shoulders, then they should stand aside for those who will.
www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk - May/June 2011
www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk - May/June 2011
Tunisia: We need a second revolution Gains for Socialist Party in Irish elections The tremendous mass movement of Tunisian youth, workers and poor masses which overthrew Ben Ali’s rule has served as an inspiring example for all, and sparked a wave of mass protest across the whole region. Yet four months later, the counter-revolution is raising its head again, with all the dangers that represents for the future of the revolutionary movement. Riots and violent clashes with the police have subsequently occurred in many places, especially in poor neighbourhoods around Greater Tunis, such as Ettadhamen. All this is taking place amidst a general climate of uncertainty and rising violence, also fed by counter-revolutionaries, supporters of the former ruling party the RCD and police elements organising ’loot, smash and burn’ operations in order to create a climate of chaos that can justify further repression. The revolutionary gains and the freedoms won through the heroic struggle of the masses are clearly under threat. As the article below written by Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France) argues, in order to avoid authoritarianism taking back the upper hand, a general mobilisation involving the youth, the unemployed, workers and trade unionists, and all the progressive forces of the country is urgently needed to organise a strong response, as part of a determined fighting back agenda. The aim of which should be to get rid of the remnants of the dictatorship and proceed to a real transformation, for a genuine socialist society.
he general election in Ireland was historic but not for the reasons being stressed by the new government partners of Fine Gael and Labour. It is that true both parties achieved unprecedented successes at the polls but these are pyrrhic and temporary victories.
Kevin McLoughlin Socialist Party Ireland
he huge mass movements which got rid of the former dictator Ben Ali and then of his prime minister Ghannouchi, who led the two first provisional governments, have not said their last word. Essebsi, the new prime minister, is an old personality very close to the previous dictatorship of Bourguiba. Since Ben Ali’s fall, every government has been formed by people who never made the revolution.
Even if there is now more political freedom, all of this remains very precarious. Repression can take sudden and violent forms. More and more, previous leaders of the regime are finding positions of responsibility again; a large part of the repressive apparatus is still in position. When the social situation gets a little better, it is only where strikes have taken place. The situation is dominated by these struggles. The many questions asked by those who made the revolution are to know how to take it on to its conclusion. The disputes between the main parties, often cut off from the masses, are not an answer to the deep needs of the Tunisian people.
Most demands are not satisfied The Tunisian revolution began because of the lack of freedom, the weight of the police dictatorship and of the president’s party, the RCD, combined with a more and more disastrous social situation: massive unemployment, no future for the youth, starvation wages, and underdevelopment of the Central and Western areas. Millions of people have at last had the possibility to challenge all these elements of Tunisian society after 23 years of Ben Ali’s regime, on a massive scale and were ready to go on until the overthrow of Ben Ali’s regime. This revolution did obviously worry everybody - the mafia in power, the RCD, the security forces, and the imperialist countries, particularly France and the USA. That is why they supported Essebsi as prime minister, someone who never missed an opportunity to behave as a lackey of imperialism. He honoured the foreign debt payment of 400 million euro in exchange for a new loan for a total amount of 800 million euro. The debt dates back to Ben Ali, whose clan were the only ones to benefit by it, but the Tunisian jackpot continues to favour the imperialists, thanks to Essebsi.
Strikes increase In Ben Arous, Sfax, Gafsa… struggles and strikes are countless - working women who discover that the contribu-
The election was historic mainly because it saw the near collapse of Fianna Fail, the dominant party of the capitalist establishment in Ireland since the foundation of the state and one of the most successful capitalist parties in Europe over the last eighty years. The election results are also extremely significant because it marked the emergence of the United Left Alliance, which won five seats. The Socialist Party, who initiated the process that led to the formation of the United Left Alliance, got two TDs (members of the Dail - the Irish parliament) elected. Clare Daly was elected for the first time to the Dail in the Dublin North constituency (with 7,513 first prefer-
Lack of central initiatives for the workers and the youth Since March, the situation has been unstable and uncertain. A real political void exists and the political debate remains mainly in the hands of parties which do not challenge capitalism. On the left wing, the organisations that came out of the underground – the Communist Workers’ Party of Tunisia (PCOT) and various groups previously from the Maoist political camp such as the Democratic Patriots - have not understood the importance of this issue. Though many activists of these movements are active trade unionists, or demonstration organisers, there is no real campaign to build a mass party of the workers and the youth. In fact, none of these groups express a revolutionary socialist perspective for following through revolution. No real political struggle, based on a public and open debate, has been led in order to clear out the corrupt leaders of the UGTT, using an extraordinary congress of the union. This maintains mistrust towards the UGTT from a section of those who made the revolution, particularly the youth. And yet this battle is crucial. By linking it up to the proposal of a real campaign on the part of the union, for
employment, wages and support for the struggles in progress, with the prospect of a national day of strike, towards the active and sincere layers within the union, such a battle could unite the workers, the youth, and the poor masses. The main left parties seem only concerned with the future Constituent Assembly, without even an expression of a socialist content for the future constitution, nor any form of organisation for the debate and the elections themselves that could widely involve the population. Most political debates leave the vast majority of the population in the background, particularly the most disadvantaged masses. The religious party Ennahda, combining Islamist references and social demands, tries to take advantage of this situation, while presenting themselves (at present) in accordance with all democratic rights. There is a real danger that a current in favour of a religious dictatorship can arise from this party. But it would only be possible because of the lack of a mass party of the workers and the youth. Many parties keep focusing on an “Ennahda danger”, calling for unity but masking their procapitalist programme. And yet it is on the economic and social terrain that the political battle against Ennahda must be taken up.
A new socialist revolution is needed in Tunisia
of this declaration caught the activists off guard and could be used by the reactionary forces within the government. A first demonstration was ferociously repressed on Thursday May 5th and since then there has been an escalation. Bourguiba Avenue is now under the control of heavily masked police. This outburst of violence caused an inevitable reaction of many youth not ready for such a return of the previous state methods of repression. Moreover, it seems that the former RCD is pushing for chaos to gain the upper hand, particularly by paying gangs to riot and loot. Essebsi could, in his turn, jump on this opportunity. In his 8 May speech, he blamed “manoeuvres of destabilisation”, even saying that the left wing was involved. “Tunisia loses 8,000 jobs per month”, “the state might be unable to pay the civil servants next month”… Obviously, Essebsi never says that the Tunisian capitalists and imperialists, whose servant he is, are responsible for all this. And he added that “if demonstrations go on, it will be chaos”. In other words, there is an excuse for authoritarianism to regain control over the situation, which can lead to wider repression. From now on, the government is starting to indicate that the elections will be postponed.
Repression increases This situation of political indecision cannot last for a prolonged period. A statement of the former minister of the interior, Rahji, on the 5th May, was enough for the government to start a “security” offensive again. Rahji declared that a military coup was being prepared in case of an electoral victory of Ennahda. It is difficult to understand the purpose of such a statement, moreover 3 months before the elections. It is obviously a scenario which has always been possible, but the very sudden form
of intensity. In the priority areas of Dublin North, Dublin West and Cork North Central, the party went all-out, while the campaigns in the other areas were more limited. However mass postering, leafleting and canvassing were a feature of all our campaigns. In our election priority areas, we did a full door to door canvass of all homes in the constituencies, including some 'double canvassing'. We supplemented the initial mass postering of constituencies with additional billboard posters, and posters with slogans and points addressing the key issues that came up on the doorsteps. In the key areas for the party, houses had three different leaflets delivered: an initial Socialist Party leaflet outlining the basis of our challenge in the election, our four page manifesto and then final leaflets that addressed key local issues and, in particular, the false claims that Labour would fight against austerity in the next government, an issue that came up on doorsteps. Crucially if the ULA fights on the key issues facing working people, and if it advocates a distinct left and socialist programme, it could become the key force to represent the anger and radicalisation that will grip Irish society in the months and years ahead. The Socialist Party will gain significantly given the crisis facing capitalism in Ireland.
Labour sticks the boot into workers
Scenes of jubilation following the revolution in January.
tions for their pensions are not registered at the Social Security, employees who are still under renewable one month contracts… Workers on strike in a textile factory in Ben Arous (industrial area near Tunis) The Greater Tunis and other cities’ dustmen won their strike within a week on their main demands: permanent posts for all workers, better equipment for working. It received huge support from the population. But as in other struggles, the UGTT leaders only involved themselves as official intermediaries between strikers and bosses.
ence votes or 15.2%). Joe Higgins was returned to the Dail representing Dublin West (8,084 or 19%). Both excellent results also represent the outlook of many working class people throughout the country, who see Socialist Party TDs as representatives of the working class generally not just for their particular constituencies. In Cork North Central, Socialist Party candidate Mick Barry had an outstanding campaign, polling 4,803 (9.2%) first preference votes, nearly three times the vote he got in 2007. This puts the Socialist Party in a very strong position to challenge for a Dail seat The United Left Alliance (ULA) is comprised of the Socialist Party, the People Before Profit Alliance, the Workers and Unemployed Action Group (Tipperary) and the independent socialist group in Sligo. The three other ULA TDs elected were Joan Collins (PBPA) in Dublin South Central, with a first preference vote of 6,574 or 12.9%, Richard Boyd Barrett (PBPA/SWP), in Dun Laoghaire, with 6,206 or 10.95% and Seamus Healy (WUAG) with 8,818 or 21.3%. The ULA stood in eleven of the twelve Dublin constituencies and got 38,808 first preference votes or 7.6% of the total vote in those constituencies. Standing in nine areas, with limited resources, meant that the Socialist Party election campaigns had different levels
For a socialist revolution How to continue the revolution is a widely discussed question. There is a lack of sufficiently large workers’ and poor people’s organisations to allow wide layers of the population to organise and discuss the prospects, to define their needs, and the means to meet them, and to defend themselves against repression. The committees which arose in the neighbouroods, the factories, the educational institutions, to defend the
revolution in its first days, would be more than ever necessary today. In linking up locally and nationally, democratically electing their representatives (subject to recall), such committees could build an alternative to the present Tunisian state and its government which serves the capitalists. A government that really comes from the revolution, defending its aspirations and demands, could result from such a development. This prospect of a government of workers, youth, peasants, and unemployed, able to set up a genuine socialist and democratic policy, nationalising the key sectors of the economy under the democratic control and management of the workers, allowing in this way an economic development plan which will ensure employment, housing, etc for all, will give its real meaning to the slogan “for a second revolution”. That is the way to clean up the whole country of what remains of the previous regime. The debate about such a revolutionary socialist perspective is central in the discussions we have with many activists. The CWI will do their best to help the Tunisian activists in their fight against a still repressive state. There is a need for a truly socialist, revolutionary, democratic organisation in Tunisia, to propose a programme breaking with the mistakes of the present left wing, addressing the most combative revolutionaries, discussing its programme on the widest scale, and also with other movements, fraternally. This would permit the Tunisian revolution to succeed at last in clearing out the mafia, the capitalists, and the imperialists.
You can follow regular reports and updates about the Tunisian revolutionand many of the events in Norh Africa and the Middle East by visiting: www.socialistworld.net
uring the General Election campaign the Socialist Party had no illusions about the reactionary role that the Labour Party would play in a coalition government with Fine Gael. We knew that Labour Leader Gilmore’s angry speeches in the Dail against Fianna Fail policy on the banks was just so much bluster that would fade the instant he was ensconced in government.
Joe Higgins Socialist Party Ireland TD
Clearly, however, a certain cohort of voters took Gilmore at his word and had hopes that the Labour Party might make some kind of difference by being in government. Indeed, the desperate plea by Labour when their vote began to slip during the election campaign, was that the party needed to go into coalition with Fine Gael so that they could rein in the right wing thrust of that party. How ironic then that Labour Party ministers have been to the forefront of a propaganda campaign to bully and frighten public sector workers with threats of more pay cuts if implementation of the Croke Park agreement between public sector unions and the government does not result in thousands of job cuts and “major savings”. Labour Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte, has been very vocal in demanding voluntary redundancies in the public sector and demanding that the workers who remain “must take up the slack”. This is a real slap in the face for workers like nurses and teach-
ers who voted for Labour. They have been “taking up the slack” for years now as frontline health workers face more and more pressure while class sizes increase in schools and special needs teachers are not being appointed. Labour Ministers, Ruairi Quinn and Brendan Howlin, have also been out threatening public workers and issuing dire warnings if they do not accept the savage planned reduction in jobs. At the same time they are ruthlessly implementing the EU/IMF agreement, a policy of pouring billions of taxpayers’ resources into major European banks to rescue them from the consequences of their speculative losses in the Irish property bubble. Eamon Gilmore and Pat Rabbitte were members of the Workers Party. Last week they were joined in their attacks on the public sector by another relic of that party, Kieran Mulvey, now Chair of the Labour Relations Commission, who also demanded that workers carry the burden. So enthusiastic have Labour Party ministers been in their eagerness to place the burden of payment on workers that their Fine Gael counterparts have been able to hide in the background. It demonstrates just how far they have travelled from the socialist roots of the party founded in 1912 by James Connolly, Jim Larkin and the men and women who saw the need then for a fighting organisation of the working class. Labour is now irretrievably a party of the Right firmly situated in the camp of the capitalist market and willing to do the bidding of those same markets. That does not mean, however that this Fine Gael/Labour government is assured of a five year term in office. As the policies it implements become more and more painful for ordinary people resentment will grow against Labour’s role to the point where that party can find itself as hated as the
Socialist Party members elected to the Irish Parliament Clare Daly and Joe Higgins
Ireland’s economic crisis worsens t the end of March Fine the Gael/Labour Government announced a €24 billion bailout for Ireland's four remaining banks. In so doing, the government indicated that their banking policy is a mere carbon copy of that previously pursued by Fianna Fail and the Green Party.
Fianna Fail/Green Party government that was unceremoniously booted out of power by an angry electorate. The new line up in the Dail and the huge majority that the Fine Gael/Labour government has makes it imperative that we step up our campaign to provide a socialist alternative to the economic disaster and build a new political movement of the Left that can develop into a mass alternative to all the right wing political parties
This total capitulation to the demands of the markets and the European Central Bank was a clear indication that "Labour's way" was always a sham and "Frankfurt's way" was now government policy. The bailout - the fifth in three years - brought the total cost to date of Ireland's bank bailouts to €70 billion. Per head of population, this is 10 times the size of the bank bailouts that have taken place in the USA in recent years. The bill for the bank bailout is now to be presented to the Irish people in the form of cutbacks, privatisations and fresh attacks on public sector workers. But will the bailout and fresh public sector cutbacks solve Ireland's economic crisis? Or will they, in fact, worsen it? These are key questions for the workers' movement in this country. Ireland's national debt is ballooning under pressure from falling tax revenues and from the cost of the bank bailouts. In 2007 Ireland's debt/Gross Domestic product (GDP) ratio was just 25% low by international standards. By the end of 2010 - before the latest bailout - this had risen alarmingly to 95%. The Department of Finance estimates that the debt/GDP ratio will rise in the aftermath of the bailout to 107% by the end of this year, increasing to 110% by the end of 2012 and 111% by the of 2013 before falling back to 109% by the end of 2014. Irish capitalism is now caught in the maw of a giant contradiction: the same austerity policies which are being introduced as a way of cutting the debt/GDP ratio are choking off economic growth, lowering tax revenues and undermining attempts to resolve the debt crisis. This is clearly shown by the fact that
the authorities have had to revise economic growth projections downwards in the face of austerity and the bailouts. However, by February that forecast had been revised downward to a prediction of 1.7% GDP growth and an actual shrinkage of GNP. The Central Bank is more optimistic than the International Monetary Fund who predicted 0.9% GDP growth for 2011 last December before virtually slashing that projection in half with a revised forecast of a mere 0.5% in April. A 100% debt/GDP ratio is a very dangerous place for an economy to arrive at.It means that in order to simply pay the interest on the debts the country's economic growth rate plus inflation rate must equal the rate at which inter For example, if Ireland pays off its national debt at an average interest rate of 5% at a time when inflation is at 2% then the economy needs to grow at a rate of 3% per annum just in order to stand still. David McWilliams writing in the Sunday Business Post recently reported that traders on Wall Street regard an Irish sovereign default as inevitable stating "No one here believes a word that comes out of the European Commission, the ECB or the organs of the Irish state." Fine Gael TD Paschal Donohue has argued in a recent small pamphlet ("Should the 31st Dail be the Default Dail?") that a default would result in cutbacks five times harsher than those introduced in recent years. While Donohue may exaggerate the case he is more correct than McWilliams and other economists who argue that a sovereign default could be "relatively painless". The key conclusions for activists in the workers' movement from all this are: ● Further austerity will worsen the economic crisis not solve it ● Further austerity will not avoid a default crisis but hasten it ● Further sacrifice by working people is utterly pointless given the inevitability of default ● The workers' movement must resist austerity now and at the point of the default crisis ● Activists must organise with great vigour to reclaim the unions and fashion them into fighting organisations on behalf of working people ● The workers' movement must put forward a socialist alternative to the bankruptcy of capitalism.
thesocialist www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk - May/June 2011
SNP in power: but the cuts keep coming
thesocialist www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk - May/June 2011
thesocialistreview The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
The Scottish National Party’s (SNP) victory in May’s Scottish elections was certainly historic. The SNP’s overall majority of 69 MSPs is the first time any party has been able to hold more than half the 129 seats in the Scottish parliament. However, despite this majority it’s clear that the SNP will not be using their mandate to refuse to implement the Con-Dem cuts. In this feature Philip Stott looks at the outcome of the election and the prospects for the SNP government.
reviewed by Roy Farrar Why did the SNP win big?
he Scottish National Party’s (SNP) victory in May’s Scottish elections was certainly historic. The SNP’s overall majority of 69 MSPs, is the first time any party has been able to hold more than half the 129 seats in the Scottish parliament.
Their victory was all the more dramatic, given that the electoral system in Scotland was supposed to mitigate against any one party being able to form a majority government. The SNP’s share of the vote rose significantly. By winning 45.4% (+12.5%) of
the first-past-the-post constituency vote and 44.1% (+13%) of the regional list vote, the SNP emerged with not only their biggest ever share of the poll in any election, but also with the largest vote ever for any party in an election to the Scottish parliament. The swing to the SNP was largely, although not exclusively, due to the collapse of the votes of the Con-Dem parties in Scotland. Between them the Tories (-3%) and LibDems (-8%) lost 11% of their constituency vote. This made up the large majority of the 12.5% increase in the SNP’s increase in the first-past-thepost section of the poll. The Lib Dems in particular were mauled, losing 11 of the their 16 MSPs,
including all their mainland constituencies while losing 25 deposits, and endingup with just five seats. The Tories also lost ground falling from 17 to 15 seats. The Greens held onto their two seats elected from the Glasgow and Lothian regional lists. Margo McDonald was again elected as an independent. For the first time ever the SNP have won a majority of seats in previously safe Labour areas including Glasgow, Lanarkshire and across the central belt of Scotland. Every seat in north east Scotland, including those in Dundee and Aberdeen were won by the SNP. Five of the six Edinburgh seats as well. They now hold 53 of the 73 local constituencies - a huge gain of 32 seats from the 21 they won in 2007.
The SNP re-built a significant electoral base in Scotland from the late 80’s on, as a radical nationalist party, positioned to the left of Labour. At a time when Labour was moving to the right and being transformed into an out-and-out party of big business, culminating in the election of Tony Blair as leader and the abolition of “socialist” Clause1V from the party constitution, an increasing political vacuum emerged. Under Alex Salmond’s (see picture) leadership – he was elected SNP leader in 1990 - the SNP adopted a social democratic, mildly reformist programme. This included support for public ownership of the privatised gas, electricity and rail industries, for huge increases in public spending on the NHS, pensions and housing, as well as support for the abolition of anti-trade union legislation and the scrapping of nuclear weapons etc. Today, such a programme would seem almost revolutionary – when contrasted to the SNP’s current policy, or indeed that of New Labour. Like all the main capitalist parties the SNP moved to the right and in a more neo-liberal economic direction during the nineties and the noughties under the impact of the collapse of Stalinism and the seemingly unstoppable impact of capitalist globalisation. They abandoned their support for public ownership and embraced the economic model of the Irish Celtic Tiger – a low corporate tax haven for foreign multi-nationals. The increasing role of finance capitalism also led them to pin their hopes for a successful independent Scotland on the, now effectively nationalised, banking and finance sector. To an extent the support for the SNP in this election was based on the carrying through of some relatively progres-
Socialists, the SNP and an independence referendum ne of the most important consequences of the outcome of the election is the inevitability of a referendum on independence.
But Alex Salmond had made clear that the referendum will only take place at the earliest by 2014. Moreover, in the last parliament the SNP advocated a bill for a multi-option referendum, including a vote for more powers as well as full independence. They are likely to want to adopt a similar approach towards a new referendum bill. In the first instance the SNP are hoping to wrestle concessions on the Scotland Bill that is currently being debated at Westminster. This bill proposes extending, in a limited way, the powers available to the Scottish parliament. But this election outcome will apply extra pressure on the ruling class and the ConDem government to concede further powers, possibly over borrowing, control over revenues from the Crown Estates
and even control over corporation tax which they want to lower It looks likely that at least borrowing powers for capital spending will be brought forward and given to the Scottish government by 2012. Around £2 billion could be available to the SNP for key projects. While the big majority of cuts on jobs, pay and public services will go ahead under the SNP’s plans, the use of borrowing powers could have a limited effect of slowing down some of the cuts. Borrowing for spending on capital projects could lead to a certain recovery in terms of creating jobs in the construction industry for example. The SNP have been very careful not to “antagonise” the interests of the majority of the capitalists who are opposed to independence at this stage. Opinion polls indicate a minority of people back full independence, with a big majority for stronger powers. For the SNP a multi-option referendum would still be their preferable course of action – which, even if the independence option was defeated,
would deliver extra economic levers to the Scottish government. The majority of the SNP see the gradual accumulation of more powers as the key for a possible future independent Scotland. As one of their MSPs, Kenny Gibson, commented, “more powers are an important staging post on the journey towards independence.” What the SNP leadership mean by independence is more of a “social union” than full independence anyway. Salmond’s vision for an independent Scotland would still see a shared monarchy, even defence and foreign policy could be shared. It would certainly be a Scotland dominated by the power of big business and run in the interests of the rich. Socialist Party Scotland support a multi-option referendum. We stand for a Scottish parliament with full powers over the economy and taxation. Including the powers to increase the minimum wage and welfare benefits, tax the rich and bring into public ownership the major companies that control the economy.
We will also fight for a socialist majority inside the parliament linked to a mass movement of the trade unions and the wider working class to fight for a socialist Scotland. Only then could we have independence from poverty, unemployment and cuts. A socialist Scotland would seek to linkup as part of a voluntary and democratic federation with a socialist England, Wales and Ireland as a step towards a socialist Europe.
sive policies from 2007 - 2011, including the freezing of council tax, the ending of prescription charges, the abolition of the back-loaded tuition fees and the reversal of plans to close A and E services at hospitals. For a significant layer of people, the SNP are still seen as a more radical alternative to Labour. The SNP opposition to the war in Iraq and their long-standing policy against nuclear weapons and nuclear power has reinforced the perception of the SNP as a “anti establishment” party. In reality, the increased support for the SNP also reflects the potential for the development of a genuine left party in Scotland. A new mass workers party could grow significantly, particularly as the SNP embark on a deep programme of spending cuts. The SNP’s historic victory was also aided by their previous minority government postponing the bulk of the spending cuts until after the election to try to avoid being fully exposed as a government of cuts. This meant that a majority of these cuts have still to be fully felt. The SNP will now, however, attempt to use their parliamentary majority to attempt to carry through the deepest and most savage spending cuts in decades. Their plan is to pass on the Con-Dem austerity and axe £3.3 billion from jobs and public services in Scotland over the next four years. Ironically, with a Con-Dem government in power in Westminster, many people will have voted SNP as a protection from the cuts that are looming like a tsunami over the jobs, benefits and wages of millions of people in Scotland. In reality this new SNP government will arouse mass opposition if they attempt to implement the Tory cuts on the working class communities across Scotland.
What kind of government will the SNP be? Following the election Alex Salmond said, “We are now the national party of Scotland – acting in the interests of all of Scotland.” But in reality Salmond and the new SNP government will be a party acting in the interests of big business and carrying out savage cuts. It was no accident that a series of leading business figures backed and bankrolled their campaign. This included Brian Souter, head of Stagecoach who donated £500,000 to the SNP’s election funds, Tom Farmer, millionaire founder of Kwik-Fit and a long-term donor, George Mathewson, former Chair of the Royal Bank of Scotland and many others. The SNP have proved again and again that they are prepared to defend the priorities of capitalism – which is to unload the costs of the economic crisis onto the backs of the working class. The widespread support for the SNP by the billionaire owned press, including Murdoch’s Sun, the News of the World as well as the Scotsman, the Herald and Express groups and others, are also a clear signpost to the political direction of the new SNP government. The Scottish budget is being cut by 12% in real terms between 2011 and 2015. A total of £3.3 billion. This has
he Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell is a classic book, which every socialist should read.
T Building the socialist alternative he highest left vote in Scotland was achieved by the George Galloway – Coalition Against Cuts list in Glasgow, which also involved Solidarity, Socialist Party Scotland and the Socialist Workers Party.
This campaign, which stood on a platform of opposing all cuts, supporting the setting of needs budgets and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with trade unionists and communities fighting the cuts, polled a very respectable 6,972 (3.3%) of the vote, defeating the Lib Dem’s list and came 5th out of 15 parties. Solidarity also stood on its own in the other seven Scottish regions. As expected, Solidarity’s votes were very low and averaged around 0.2% - a total of 2,837. The jailing of the Solidarity leader, Tommy Sheridan, earlier this year after being found “guilty” of perjury was a major factor. The public standing of Solidarity has been affected by the unrelenting campaign by the Murdoch press, the police and the legal establishment against Tommy Sheridan and other members of Solidarity. Nevertheless, the Solidarity vote already resulted in year-on-year pay freezes for a majority of public sector workers in Scotland and thousands of job cuts through voluntary redundancy/early retirement and the non-filling of vacancies. The STUC have estimated that up to 90,000 public and private sector jobs could be lost by the year 2015. Public services, including the NHS, will also be severely affected as a result. This will have the effect of undermining support for the SNP, as the reality of the cuts hits home. Even the SNP’s proposals to introduce a 5-year freeze in council tax and hold to a pledge not to introduce tuition fees or a graduate tax in Scotland will be under pressure.
Can Labour recover? If the election was a triumph for the SNP, it was a catastrophe for Labour. It’s an open question as to whether they can ever recover from their worst result in
added to the Coalition Against Cuts list in Glasgow (which also involved Solidarity) polled more than 9,000 votes for clear and principled anti-cuts platform. The votes for the Scottish Socialist Party, who had six MSPs as recently as 2006, has virtually disappeared. The SSP polled 0.4% of the national vote with 8,200 votes. This compared to 12,000 in 2007 and 128,000 in 2003.
Lessons The primary responsibility for the collapse of the socialist vote in Scotland lies with the political mistakes and actions of the leadership of the SSP. This grouping split away from the Committee for a Workers’ International in 2001 following their proposals for the dissolving of the Marxist forces around Militant (the forerunner of the Socialist Party Scotland) into the broader SSP. We argued that a cohesive Marxist organisation should be retained and built in order to help strengthen politically the SSP. We warned that the leaders of the SSP would put into jeopardy the initial gains made by the SSP if they continued on their political course away from a principled Marxist position. Scotland in 80 years. The long-tem decline of Labour’s support in Scotland is evident when previous election results to the Scottish parliament are examined. In 1999 Labour won 39% of the constituency vote, this fell to 35% in 2003, 32% in 2007 and 31.7% in 2011. On the regional list vote the corresponding figures are 33.7%, 29%, 29% and 26.3%. With virtually no policy differences, except on independence and a referendum, the outcome of the election came down for many between a choice between Iain Gray and Alex Salmond as First Minister. A contest that could have only one winner. This was reinforced by Labour’s incapability of exposing the SNP over their spinelessness over the cuts – because Labour support austerity and are making deep cuts as well. After all in the run-up to the 2010 Westminster elections Labour promised to make cuts even deeper than Thatcher’s. The new crop of Labour MSPs, are widely seen as the “third eleven” - total-
Their subsequent actions, including their central role in the prosecution and jailing of Tommy Sheridan, ensured that the final nail has been driven into the coffin of the SSP.
Where now? It is a vital task now to work to rebuild a viable socialist and anti-cuts movement in Scotland. With the election of an SNP government prepared to make huge cuts to jobs and public spending this task is urgent. As part of building a mass anti-cuts struggle, that can spread like wildfire in the months ahead, a political alternative to cuts and capitalism must be built. Socialist Party Scotland will be advocating that the anti-cuts movement, socialists, trade unionists and communities work to build a fighting coalition against cuts that will stand in the council elections next year. To elect councillors who will refuse to make cuts and will stand up to the ConDem government in London, the SNP in Edinburgh and the councils who are wielding the axe across Scotland. This can be an important step in building a socialist alternative to the parties of cuts ly inexperienced and devoid of any real connection with the trade unions and the working class. This can reinforce Labour’s long term decline as a political force in Scotland. This underlines the analysis of the Socialist Party Scotland and the CWI that Labour is no longer seen as a party of the working class by big sections, especially of younger people. Although it can still maintain an electoral base as a “lesser evil” as we saw in the Westminster elections in 2010. The impact of this election can also have a significant effect on the trade unions. There will be the increasing possibility of sections of the trade union bureaucracy moving towards building links with the SNP. Another section will argue that now is the time for Labour to “re-find its roots” and move back to the left. However, Labour’s defeat can also open up more space for the idea that the trade unions should break with Labour and move to establish a new mass workers party. This idea can gain significant traction, especially if it is linked to a struggle over the cuts agenda.
Its author was a worker who died 100 years ago in poverty but his legacy lives on. I remember a bright June day in Liverpool in 1977 hundreds of trade unionists and socialists took part in a march to rally at the final resting place of Robert Noonan - known more popularly as Robert Tressell, author of "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists". In a rough, weed-choked field opposite Walton Jail we gathered to unveil a marble plaque to mark the grave. This wasteland held the bones of over 1,000 paupers, their bodies wrapped in canvas bags, stitched up by former inmates of the jail, and cast into mass graves. Local activists had located the grave of Robert Noonan, plus the names of the 12 others interned with him, and all had been etched into the black stone. Robert had died of tuberculosis in Liverpool Royal Infirmary at the age of 40 in 1911. Why this homage to Robert Noonan? He was a member of the Marxist Social Democratic Federation but as far as we know he did not lead any mass campaign or strike. He wrote only one book, a novel about working class life prior to World War One. Shortly after joining the Labour Party Young Socialists in 1966 a worn copy of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists was pressed into my hand with the recommendation that I may find it a good read. An understatement if ever there was one. Turning the pages I was drawn into the tale of a year in the life of an Edwardian town in southern England. It revealed how the capitalist system rules and exploits workers an accurate historical account of the lives of working people, and more, a condemnation of the horrors of capitalism, a comprehensive explanation of how the system works, and the necessity for a socialist alternative. Robert Tressell speaks through the 'hero' Owen, a building worker, describing incidents and characters that any worker could relate to today. The "philanthropists" are the workers willing to work for the "good cause" of giving their unpaid labour to the "masters" - the bosses' profits. Casualisation, bullying bosses, low pay, poor housing, debt, unemployment, and the regular humiliations endured by working people throughout their lives, are all graphically depicted by Robert. The overwhelming impression is of a book written by, not just a well
placed observer, but as Noonan puts it "the story of twelve months in Hell told by one of the damned". Robert wrote his novel between 1905 and 1908 but despaired of having it printed as publisher after publisher rejected the manuscript. After Robert's death his daughter Kathleen managed to sell the manuscript, for £25, to its first publisher, Grant Richards, who described it thus: "the book was damnably subversive but it was extremely real". Unfortunately in the first edition, in 1914, and in subsequent editions, the novel was much hacked about and shortened, and given a depressing ending with Owen contemplating the killing of his family and his own suicide! Fred C Ball, Robert Noonan's biographer, tracked down the original manuscript and eventually, in 1955, the first unabridged edition came off the presses and with Robert's uplifting final chapter restored. Throughout the novel are various episodes where Owen explains the real workings of capitalism to his workmates and argues the need for socialism. The Money Trick, chapter 21, gives a lucid and as straightforward introduction to marxist economics as any and made memorable by its humorous treatment and realistic portrayal of the behaviour of the characters involved. One charge sometimes laid against the book is of being biased to men and their workplaces, that the women receive a lesser treatment. But as early as chapter three Tressell shows Ruth Easton as being more able than her husband in managing the household budget - a greater insight of the economics of capitalism which enables them to survive. In chapter six it is Nora Owen, in conversation with her young son, who from a socialist perspective describes capitalism and the problems to be overcome in changing it. The Philanthropists lack feelings of class solidarity and the novel is hazy about how they may attain class consciousness to forward the struggle for socialism. Occasionally the idea of the impoverished masses driven by their wretched conditions to overthrow the capitalists in a bloody uprising is proffered, at others an appeal to "reason", to vote for revolutionary socialists. Owen's 'lectures' of course mirror the socialism of his day, a convincing analysis of capitalism coupled to the drawing of a wonderful vision of a socialist future, but somewhat vague as regards the transition between. But for Noonan's tragic and untimely death, a worthy sequel to the Philanthropists may have been written - depicting working people awakened by great events, realising their capability to challenge the "masters" and to change society.