Monday, 1 December 2014

Baiting our poorest on Black Friday

Seventeen Christmases ago, when my now teenager was only one, my wife and I were on benefits. We lived in one of the poorest housing schemes in Ayrshire, in poverty, surrounded by poverty. We struggled weekly with food bills, nappies and the daily grind of transport, heating and feeding the meter. We, like all of the proud working class parents living around us, all hit by Thatcher’s decimation of industry and mining in the area, wanted the best for our wee boys and girls. Santa brought far less to him than to the families we now live amongst in Bearsden and Milngavie, but we turned the heating off for days, and ate bargain baked beans to save for a purple singing dinosaur. 
 

If you want to know what inequality is like, live on benefits at Christmas.

The media on Friday and Saturday gleefully participated in the biggest poor baiting marketing ploy in this country for a while. Black Friday, the day that, supposedly, the country goes mad for bargains, was thrust upon us. Black Friday is an American invention in which large retailers select “target” stores, advertise huge price reductions on limited items, place them in their narrow doorways and open the doors when the cameras have been safely set up behind the pile of price slashed gift ideas.

The publicity generated not only helps remind ‘consumers’ to hurry up and come spend, but also helps advertise NEXT year’s PR drive to have shoppers spend their paltry food bank enhanced pay. The people of Dundee and Pollok, two far from affluent areas, were shown on our TV’s and in our newspapers, fighting and scrambling for TV’s, X-boxes, Tablets and the like. Fights broke out, while miserably paid (and perhaps Workfare enslaved) young workers got in the way of fists and angry words. I saw desperation in the faces of those videoed cynically for the good of the Tesco and Wal-Mart/ASDA Board of directors. Black Friday was a PR success, and next year’s event is guaranteed to be even bigger, more successful, violent and desperate for the poor trying to heat their homes, feed their families and give them a dignified, ‘happy,’ less indebted Christmas.




Have no doubt – those fights were started by the marketing departments of those retailers. The police called to ensure it didn’t get too out of hand were part of the publicity. Perhaps Police Scotland can investigate why people were herded, in view of the media, into bottlenecks with small stacks of radically price reduced gift ideas in their paths and why this didn’t seem to be the case in Bearsden or Morningside (both places I was on Friday)? Perhaps the Police can ensure that those who instigated the riot are pulled in and questioned and perhaps arrested? I seem to remember a huge operation that jailed people who, on Facebook, had “incited” the English riots” in 2011 from the comfort of their armchairs? Perhaps those who incited these riots from the comfort of their boardrooms should be arrested also?

Seventeen years ago, if a large, singing Barney electronic dinosaur had been reduced by 75%, which would have meant we didn’t have to do without heating for days on end, was placed in front of me, in front of cameras and surrounded by police and fearful low paid shop assistants, I too may have made a grab for it. I too may have been part of the poor-baiting media storm. I too may have fell victim to another poor father punching his way to a dignified, ‘happy,’ less indebted Christmas. I too would have been a victim of the Thatcherite, Tory/Libdem coalition profit grabbing, greedy, violent success of the vicious, nasty PR exercise that was Black Friday.

Neil Scott

East Dunbartonshire Scottish Socialist Party Organiser.

This letter was published in today's "The National" newspaper, from Campsie Branch Organiser, Neil Scott. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

East Dunbartonshire against Fracking


Last nights packed anti-fracking meeting in Bishopbriggs


"The Scottish Socialist Party welcomes the setting up of "Frack Off" anti-fracking groups across East Dunbartonshire that will work together as part of the wider, national campaign. We are happy to have been invited by local activists to be part of the formation of the local Bearsden Milngavie Frack Off group as we believe this is an issue on which people from all parties, including our partners in the Yes campaign The Scottish Greens and the Scottish National Party, can work closely together on. 

East Dunbartonshire Green Organiser, Ross Greer; Anti-fracking campaigner, Ron Mackay and Strathkelvin SSP Organiser, Willie Telfer,

Although the Westminster Tory/Liberal Democrat Coalition claims to be the greenest government in history, like all of their pledges and claims, this has to be heard by a cynical ear as funding and governmental help has benefitted the energy companies wanting to turn a quick profit, rather than those wanting to develop energy solutions that have little or no negative environmental impact on East Dunbartonshire, Scotland and indeed, the world. 

Evidence coming to light in countries such as the USA and Australia is very worrying, and these Fracking Companies and their Westminster Parliament shareholders seem to care more for their pockets rather than the safety of ordinary people. 

The local and national SSP will endeavour to support the anti-fracking campaign and support clean energy alternatives. 

Neil Scott Organiser, East Dunbartonshire SSP"

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

East Dunbartonshire Yes Political Parties come together for "Bairns not Bombs"

Strathkelvin Scottish Socialist Party organiser, Willie Telfer, lifelong anti-nuclear campaigner Ron MacKay and Local Green Party organiser Ross Greer, last night urged the people of East Dunbartonshire to head to Faslane for the Scrap Trident "Bairns not Bombs" demo on November 30th to add their voices to the calls for nuclear weapons to be removed from Scotland. 


L-R:   Ross Greer, Ron Mackay, Willie Telfer.            Photo:  Neil Scott
Activist Willie Telfer said, "The SSP was founded on the principles of fairness and equality and we have been fighting for the resources and money given over to the billionaire shareholders of these arms companies to be used for schools, hospitals and care of our most vulnerable citizens. It is a disgrace that while people will struggle to heat their homes and feed their families this winter, billions of pounds of our taxes will be given over to maintain and then replace these lethally dangerous and indiscriminate weapons. Let us know if you want a place on the bus to protest outside the home of Europe's biggest nuclear arsenal. Trident must go."

91 year old Ron Mackay, who was first arrested protesting the American nuclear weapons system Polaris in 1961 said, "I have been protesting these dreadful machines of death since news came to us of the execution of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in Hiroshima an Nagasaki when I was posted out in India in 1945. To use these indiscriminate murderous weapons would be a war crime. Having them situated near Scotland's most densely populated area is madness. Only profit can be the motive for keeping them. I'll be outside Faslane's North Gate adding my voice to the Scottish public who in poll after poll say, 'no to nuclear weapons. Not in my name.'"

Ross Greer said, "The continued housing of these weapons on the Gareloch is not only lethally dangerous, but a total disgrace in the 21st century. The Green Party will proudly join our friends across the political spectrum in demanding Trident is scrapped."


For a place on the Bishopbriggs, Kirkintilloch, Milton of Campsie, Lennoxtown, Milngavie coach, please email eastdunbartonshiressp@hotmail.co.uk                 £6.50 per seat.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

SSP Campsie Yessing!

Our branch has been extremely active over the past few weeks on the Yes campaign across East Dunbartonshire.  We have had RIC stalls, leafleting, partying and direct action.

The photos show only some of our activities, some may not be admitted for a few months after the referendum!

The pics show one of our biggest stalls, organised by us, and joined by Yes Bearsden/Milngavie and RIC Kirkintilloch.  We asked Citizen Smart and other musicians along last Friday as well as the awe-inspiring symbol of Independence, the Green goddess, Spirit of Independence, which is no longer green!

I'll add photos of Saturday's stalls, which were all over the constituency when I have them.
Thanks to David Thomas and Thomas Swann for these pics!

And of course, our first of a series of huge banners throughout the constituency and beyond - our banners will be seen soon on the Ochils and the Kirkpatrick Hills as well as again, on the Campsies.  The Hills have Ayes - keep watching!

Citizen smart and Gavin singing for Yes and RIC in Kirkintilloch




Yessing in Milngavie with Chris Law and Spirit of Independence!















Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Opinion: Neil Scott on No Campaign negativity

The norys are trying to make any real dialogue on the ground difficult in order to ensure the billionaire, London based press is the only outlet for "fair discussion." Demonising loud, enthusiastic voices is designed to demonise the very word, "Yes."  A problem with this is, the press and other media outlets pretend to be neutral when they quite patently are not, so they gleefully print ugly words about our street and social media discourse. Those of us who, from the outset of this campaign have been assaulted, insulted and bullied on the streets by Labour hacks and right wing thugs, know the truth of who have tried to bring this campaign down to their sewer level. Project Fear, their name for their campaign, is also Project Intimidation, Threat and Violence. 




Peaceful protest against the proto-fascist Farage and the Tory Leader Cameron is being made to look as if, 1, these people have something important to say to a country that has through democratic means rejected their politics of hate and division and 2, we are stifling debate.




Peaceful, and sometimes noisy, protest has been a feature of Scottish civil politics since Dundee Jute workers became the source of the term "to heckle," many, many years ago.
That said, we must ensure people hear our positive Yes message through the negative, nasty No camp noise. Yes  gives a myriad of colourful, bright, healthy, wonderful, prosperous paths. No forces us on our knees, down the path towards the torture of continued and increasing austerity and poverty and robbery by the corporations and billionaires.




Any protest, if needed at all on the lead up to the historic day, against those who wish to impoverish our people with neo-liberal thievery and lies, must be turned into a joyous occasion with our alternatives to their austerity displayed imaginatively, positively, colourfully and in a way that ignores them, because they really have nothing to say to the majority of people in Scotland.




Let them lie to the media. Scottish people arny daft. Our truths should be displayed with pride.

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

Thanks.

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 )