Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Lesson in Khmer

by Kevin Hattie

There is undoubtedly something different about people here (in Laos), different being the only word I can think of even if it fails to grasp the true meaning of what I'm trying to say. It is no secret that different societies contain their own unique norms and values, with some similarities to be found thanks to geography, historical colonialism and modern globalisation. There is a hint of French-ness about Vientiane and the reason for this is no secret, but what will happen to cultures like this one when globalisation and the notorious Americanisation seeps through its borders and attempts to create another Asian New York or London?

There is a question I have been asking myself since I arrived here: how much development does this part of the world want? And does this development necessarily mean the loss of tradition and culture? Coming from one of the most developed parts of the world I know from experience that living in a modern industrial and technologically advanced society does not guarantee happiness(it can even lead to disillusionment and unhappiness). I believe and I stress the emphasis on "I" and "believe", that education, free from state or corporate agendas is a right all should have access to. I also believe food and adequate housing are necessary for living a dignified life. Health care should be free and available to all people and furthermore there should be a safety net for people who do not have an income that allows them to meet the demands of everyday living. Cambodia and Laos do not provide all these things to their people and along with the political stage the economic distribution of both countries is anything but exemplary. It is important in a certain respect to try and learn about the social order in the country you are visiting but this is all I want to say on the subject of development and politics for now. Instead I feel compelled to discuss something altogether more human. This includes what I have observed from others and what I have learned upon personal reflection. 

I am fortunate to have gone beyond mere tourism in my travels so far, living with the local people in South America and here in South East Asia. I have come to understand Khmer culture through participation in the education system, attending a wedding and countless conversations with the local people about their lives, hopes and dreams. I know through observation that I am materially better off back home in Scotland than the people I am living and working with here, but as those who have travelled to such regions will testify, spiritually we are impoverished by comparison. 

I am here in Asia as a volunteer English teacher for hope agency. Despite my intention to help children further their education,  I find myself playing the role of student on a much more regular basis. I have learned how little I 'need' to make me happy and also the importance of community and solidarity. In Bakod village where I am based in Cambodia,  people would not survive without each other. The government has neglected the area, leaving locals to fill in pot holes on the dirt track roads as well as erecting their own homes and farming the land. It is a defiant example in the face of people like Ayn Rand who believed that the working people of any society would struggle without private tyrannies and their self congratulating 'entrepreneurs'. My empirical experience is that people are capable of running their own lives and when the need for solidarity presented itself and the political classes are absent, people pull together and answer the call. 

Learning about a culture so different from my own has been an enlightening experience.  Looking inwardly I have to try and honestly assess the inevitable change that occurs in a person who travels afar. Back home in Scotland as the push for independence and hopefully a fairer society reaches a crucial stage, people can appreciate that no matter the outcome we are fortunate to be part of our society and enjoy the stability we do compared with places like Palestine at present. That being said we have our problems at home and poverty which shamefully still exists in Scotland should never be accepted as an inevitable outcome of our economic system. We need to find the same solidarity that the villagers of Bakod have found in order to build their lives and keep extreme poverty at bay. In doing so we will not only be able to tackle physical problems such as poverty and injustice but we will also make inroads in fighting the psychological problems and spiritual poverty that is common to all capitalist, consumer based societies. 

Alienation, depression and anxiety that comes from feeling like an outsider in society and feeling like more of a consumer and worker than human being can be overcome and we can move towards a society that is more humane in nature. My own feelings of hopelessness and frustration have dissolved as I spend time with people who care about others. If I were part of the ruling oligarchy that controls so much of the worlds resources, wealth and power, I would be making sure people keep buying the favourite line of the political right: that human nature is inherently selfish and we are all in it for our selves, and keeping people away from the little pockets of hope in the world where it is made clear through actions and not false prophecies that human beings can live in harmony as equals. Thanks to the people of Bakod village in Cambodia, most of whom are children, this dreamer has found enough hope to fuel his desire to see peace, justice and respect not only in Scotland but the world. Until that day comes I can only try to embody the spirit of Bakod village with my actions, beginning with a show of faith in my own community and voting Yes in September. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Please help our Yes campaign!

Last night, Yes activists, some from the SSP, some ex-Labour Party, some not from any political party at all, and some from other political parties, delivered 1000 Scottish Socialist Voices, specially produced for East Dunbartonshire. The local branch have had 6000 of this edition produced – to add to the 6000 previous issue already delivered and the 10,000 other leaflets already delivered advertising SSP Yes meetings and events. SSP members have helped distribute Yes produced materials in the area over the past two years – the SSP is an integral part of Yes Scotland.

East Dunbartonshire YES Scottish Socialist Voice
The Scottish Socialists Voice produced for East Dunbartonshire have cost £600 so far. Add to this the cost of thousands of leaflets, hall hire, petrol and activists time, the total spend by one branch of the SSP is nearing £2000 over the past year.

The SSP, or the Campsie branch of the SSP, is not funded by Euro-millions winners. All of those Voices, each giving positive reasons to vote Yes, like getting rid of murderous nuclear weapons, or getting rid of Governments we don't vote for and highlighting the Tories, Lib Dems and New Labour's complicity in the dreadful bedroom tax and throwing local families to the mercy of food parcels and food banks, were paid for by unemployed members, disabled members, retired members and mums, dads, grandads, students and low paid workers.

They don't ask for this money back- it was gladly given in order to spread the hope of Yes; to spread the hope of socialism.

But we do ask you to help us to print more leaflets; produce more pamphlets; hire more halls for people to go listen to Jim Sillars, Sandra Webster, Campbell Martin, Colin Fox, Katie Bonnar, Richie Venton and the other great speakers who have been touring Scotland spreading "The Socialist Case for Independence..."

The price of a bus ticket will help us leaflet 50 houses in our YesSSP campaign across Scotland. One small community could receive hope from your fiver and our shoe leather… please give what little you can. Every pound offers answers and hope to those suffering the yoke of Tory/ Libdem and New Labour economic oppression.

Please click HERE to donate


Campsie Socialists

Israel Must Stop!

Joinus tomorrow in Glasgow to call on Israel to STOP THE KILLING.

Our press release HERE

Israel must stop.

The Scottish Socialist Party feels and shares the worldwide revulsion at Israel's ground attack on the people of Gaza.

This is an area slightly smaller than Motherwell, but with the entire population of the Central Belt of Scotland crammed into the small space, which has been subject to attacks by a professional army, equipped by Nato, for two weeks.

The children whom Israel has not managed to kill are traumatised by life, and the essential infrastructure of Gaza has been shattered.

Israel's actions are entirely out of keeping with the responsibilities of sovereign states. They are aimed at civilians, and they kill civilians. Reports from the Foreign Correspondent for the American TV station, NBC news, Ayman Mohyeldin (@AymanM) have plainly shown the Israeli forces targeting and attacking a group of football playing children. The children, who were shelled as they played, were between the ages of 9 – 11. Four young boys died shortly after the correspondent had been kicking the ball with them. Day after day, hour after hour, report after report, we see the medical services in Gaza, overcome by the targeting, injury and death meted out on ordinary children, women and men.
A child lies dead on a beach in Gaza after Israeli forces shelled his football match.

A mother is told the news of her child's death on the beach.

The Israel Defence Forces are acting in a manner in which they would never perpetrate against Israeli citizens.

We have been here before. There is a word for what the behaviour of the IDF has done to demolish the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians.

It is the only word which the Afrikaans language has given to the world. It is a word we hoped would only ever be used in history classes.

That word is Apartheid.

We oppose genocide. We call on the governments of Europe to join us in this opposition. We plead with the governments of our European Union to oppose Israel's genocide. We recognise and welcome the statement from the Scottish Government opening our hospitals to those injured in the Israeli attacks, but this needs to go further.  Scotland needs to send hospital aircraft to the region.  Scotland needs to send humanitarian aid and Scotland needs to ensure all TV services allow
a Disasters Emergency Committee humanitarian aid appeal.We plead with the Scottish and UK Government to oppose Israel’s attacks and to use all the levers of commerce and diplomacy to bring this disproportional action to a halt.

Murder hurts its victims. Mass murder hurts humanity.
Israel must stop.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The SSP condemn the Israeli attacks on the people of Gaza.

The Scottish Socialist Party deplores the continued violence in the Middle East and the completely disproportionate violence from the Israel Defense Forces, which amount to collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

We condemn the State sanctioned and executed murders of civilians. The UN has stated that 70% of those who have been killed by drone attack, ground forces, fighter-planes or gun boat have been ordinary Palestinians who are in effect, imprisoned and ghettoized behind the Israeli built  wall. Shockingly, disgustingly, sadly 30% of those killed have been children.

We call upon the Israeli government to rein in their Defense Forces and to remember that the inhabitants of the Gaza strip are human beings, entitled to be treated with dignity; and entitled to the protection of the Israeli Defense Forces for as long  as Israel takes it upon itself to blockade Gaza.

We call upon both Israel and Hamas to cease fire immediately, and call on both sides to refrain from deliberately targeting civilians.

We further call on Israel to end its economic and physical blockade of Gaza, and to replace the essential infrastructure which has been destroyed by its actions - actions which were perpetrated by their Defense Forces with no heed given to their proportionality or legality.

The grievous loss of life of civilians in Gaza is a stain on the reputation not only of the Defense Forces, but on the whole State of Israel.

Statement: Councillor Jim Bollan

As long as the State of Israel behaves in this manner, the Scottish Socialist Party believes we have no option other than to call on our members and supporters, and indeed all Scots, to boycott all Israeli goods.

SSP West Dunbartonshire Councillor, Jim Bollan who in 2010 led his Council to boycott Israeli goods said,

"Zionist Israel must be forced to stop the Genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza.  We need  to build public pressure on all Governments to take action against the Israeli Government to force them to halt the slaughter of Palestinians Immediately.  Israeli Apartheid is no different from that in South Africa.  Solidarity and respect with the Palestinian People."

(Previous - Threats to SSP Councillor from Zionist website: HERE

Statement from Jim Bollan on the threats: HERE

SSP condemn the Israeli attacks on Peace Flotilla HERE )

Saturday, 21 June 2014

East Dunbartonshire and North Glasgow Mass Canvass and Public meeting @the_ssp_

Please pass this on to others who may be interested!
Please attend some of these events:

Tomorrow (Sunday) 11 am, Meeting outside Auchinairn Primary school, the East Dunbartonshire/North Glasgow Radical Independence Mass Canvass.  We need Canvassers (new canvassers will be trained) AND leafletters.  PLEASE spare some time for this very important media event.  We will also be leafletting for "The Socialist Case for Independence" Public Meeting in Wallacewell Primary School.  On Thursday 26th at 7.30 with Jim Sillars and Richie Venton.

We also need leafletters for the public meeting during the week.  Contact local organizer, Willie Telfer 07963538234 (and contact Willie about local SSP meetings!) or West of Scotland Organiser, Richie Venton 07828278093 to let them know when you can help.


Friday, 20 June 2014

"Red Ed?" @labour4indy #indyref

If any doubt remained that austerity is here to stay under which ever party or combination of parties rules the uk after the 2015 general election. Then that doubt evaporated as Ed Milliband laid out plans to abolish jobseekers
allowance for the under 22s.

With Tories readying themselves to strip housing benefits for the under 25s, what chance have the young people of Scotland got if they find themselves at the wrong end of the prevailing tight job market. It is now blatantly obvious what their only chance is and in the run up to September, no one needs to spell that out.

There is still a professed line within Scottish Labour that the salvation of the working class in Scotland will be a new New Labour government presided over by our great champion the magnificent and idealogically pure "Red Ed".

I now predict the defections to the Yes side by Labour Party members which started off a few months ago as a trickle and are now in full flow will become a flood on the back of this claxon like signal about where Labour UK want to position itself for the 2015 general election.
I will be amazed if the Labour for Independence chair Alex Bell has time to come to speak at the Kirky Miners on the 25th, he may be too busy processing applications to join a growing organisation which may just help protect us from those who have lost their values in his own party.

Willie Telfer
SSP Strathkelvin Organiser

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Scottish Socialist Party ‘The Socialist Case for Independence’

Public Meeting, Kirkintilloch Miners Welfare, Kirkintilloch, Wed 30th April

‘Audience React Positively to Case for Independence’

Over 80 members of the public packed into the Miners Welfare on 30th April to take part in the SSP Public Meeting in Kirkintilloch on ‘The Socialist case for Independence’. It was one of the best attended public meetings on Independence in East Dunbartonshire. The Speakers, veteran former MSP/MP Jim Sillars, who has had a major impact on Labour and SNP politics for over 30 years, and SSP Co Convener and former MSP Colin Fox, were given a good reception as they outlined their vision for an Independent Socialist Scotland within a modern democratic republic. They advanced their view that this was a historic chance to elect a government of the left which would pursue policies which would benefit working people such as a living wage, abolition of the bedroom tax, investment in public services, repeal of anti-trade union laws and the removal of Trident. Colin fox made the point that the SSP regards this as only the start, a means to an end, with a Yes vote eventually opening the door to a Socialist government with the powers and political will to tackle poverty and inequality with far reaching redistribution of wealth and power.

Colin Fox outlined the SSP’s support for Scotland’s right to self-determination and that all the evidence shows that the working class majority will be economically, socially and politically better off in an independent Scotland. Referring to the ability of Scotland to run its own affairs, and the negative campaigning of the No Camp on this issue, Colin Fox pointed out;

‘’As a socialist my view is that our most precious asset, worth more than the oil revenue and all the whiskey, is the people of Scotland who are capable of running this country and making a success of it’’

He said it was now the chance to grasp the greatest opportunity in our lifetime, to change the direction of the economy and social policy and in so doing improve the living standards of the Scottish people. It was in his view the greatest debate in 300 years;

‘’The stakes are enormous and the consequences are enormous. This isn’t just a vote for independence but it is a vote to reject neo- liberalism and war mongering. These things have held Scotland back and should not be part of a future Scotland. It’s about creating a new Scotland based on fairness, social justice and social democracy. The British establishment don’t want Scotland to be independent because they gain financially from Scotland.’’

He continued that a Yes vote and the eventual election of a left government would lead to improved working conditions and employee rights, which have been constantly under attack over the last three decades by both Labour and the Conservatives;

‘’We are going through the worst recession in 80 years. A million people are now on zero hours contracts without any security or trade union rights or hope of permanent employment. The working class people in Scotland are held back on employment rights, held back on pensions and held back by another 10 years of austerity. We are rejecting that by voting for Independence.’’

Jim Sillars outlined his view of a socialist case for independence in a deeply thought provoking manner given his involvement over so many years as a socialist and independence campaigner. He emphasised that in his view there is definitely a sense of renewed optimism within working people, with the realisation that they have the capability to run their own affairs and to radically change society for the better, but that it will only come with the powers which independence brings. Jim Sillars reflected the mood within the audience when he made the following observation;

‘’What we can take from this public meeting is that there is now a sense of self confidence within ordinary Scottish working people and that we no longer need to feel inadequate about what we can achieve. One of the great tragedies of the Scottish working class is that we’ve believed what they told us, we’ve believed that were inadequate. We have been caught in a great prison of the myth of our own inadequacies. We need to convince the Scottish working class of their talent and their ability. This referendum is fundamentally about the liberation of the Scottish working class.’’

The audience reacted in wholehearted agreement to this statement!

There were a broad range of questions asked by the audience on a number of issues. A number of people signed up for more information on the SSP and wanted to be kept informed of further meetings, campaigns and activities organised by the SSP Campsie Branch. The meeting could undoubtable be termed a success both in terms of numbers attending and the energy within the audience which was reflected in the quality of the questions to the speakers. What can definitely be taken from the meeting is that there is now a growing sense of self confidence and political consciousness within ordinary working people. As Jim Sillars commented, we no longer need to feel inadequate or lacking in self confidence about what we can achieve.

It was clear from speaking to audience members after the event, that most of the people attending had never been to a political meeting before, and these augers well for the chances of a Yes vote come September. The good attendance at this SSP meeting, as well as recent others in Ayrshire, Govan and Pennilee reflect the fact that people are becoming more engaged with the Campaign as it progresses.

The success of the SSP public meeting was also down to the determined hard work of the local SSP and other activists in the weeks leading up to the meeting. A series of activities including door to door leafleting, postering, newsletters and press releases in local newspapers all collectively helped to advertise the meeting. We can take renewed satisfaction that the work of the Campsie Branch of the SSP is making a difference on the ground by engaging with people on the issues that matter to them. We can have confidence that there is definitely public interest out there on what the SSP has to say and we will continue with renewed energy organising further public meetings, campaigns, stalls and newsletters and these will be discussed at future SSP Campsie Branch Meetings.





Saturday, 26 April 2014

Sillars and Fox in Kirkintilloch

Socialist case for Independence


Friday, 18 April 2014


Please join our protest at Oakburn Park in Milngavie, 1130am on
Saturday April 26th

Parents and pupils at St Joseph’s Primary School, in Milngavie, are
involved in a fight and we need your help.

East Dunbartonshire Council is currently considering the results of a
formal consultation on proposals to close our school and send the
children to a new build in Bearsden. Instead of a local school, they
are offering a bus pass.

Unsurprisingly, the plan has provoked outrage across the community.
You can get a sense of how strongly people feel just by walking
through the town centre.

Colpi’s Ice Cream shop is displaying a huge banner with our pink hand
logo and campaign slogan ‘Keep St Joseph’s in Milngavie’.

St Joseph’s central location, just a few hundred yards from the town
centre, means that many of the children walk to school. On sunny days,
the playground quickly fills up with bikes and scooters.

This generates increased footfall for local businesses. Shopkeepers
say that the school run is the busiest time of their day.

Schools are also vital community assets. St Joseph’s is the site of
Milngavie’s only volunteer nursery and it is well used in the evenings
by local groups, from the Karate Club to the Tuesday Club, which
provides support to adults with learning difficulties. They could also
be forced to shut their doors if the school is closed.

Parents have responded in the best possible way – by getting organised.

One mother remarked in the playground that she had been on more
demonstrations in the past few months than in a lifetime of living in

In October, when the consultation concluded, Milngavie saw its biggest
protest in living memory. The police estimated that over 500 people
marched through the town centre.

A noisy crowd of parents, grandparents, friends and parishioners
banged bongo drums and blew whistles, while children sang at the top
of their voices, “Please don’t make us cry, keep St Joseph’s in

We believe this campaign has national implications because it has
highlighted a democratic deficit in Scottish education.

East Dunbartonshire Council will meet to take a final decision in the
next few weeks. They could still save the situation by bringing
forward new proposals, such as a shared campus with a
non-denominational school in Milngavie.

However, the fact that closure is still on the table shows that even
small local authorities can be remote, unresponsive and out of touch.

The primary objective of our campaign is to save our school. But we
also need to start a discussion about how parents and communities can
have a bigger say in education across Scotland.

So please, join us at our protest in Milngavie on Saturday 26th. Help
us to make our voice heard and add your own.

Find out more about our campaign at www.keepstjosephsinmilngavie.com
or follow us on Twitter @KeepStJoes