Saturday, 21 December 2013

The SSP Campsie Curry...

...was today!

Many thanks to the Indian Cottage for a great meal (and a super deal!) and putting up with the racket!

We also managed to decide that we will make a collection for the local foodbank at the next branch meeting.







Utopia

 Review by Kevin Hattie


                                                 
On Thursday 20th of December 2013, ITV and its Scottish sister channel STV aired a documentary film by Australian investigative journalist John Pilger. Anyone familiar with Pilger’s work will be aware of the truly shocking nature of previous documentaries such as: War on Democracy, Death of a Nation and Stealing a Nation. However, despite the fact that his previous work has created a ‘nothing shocks me anymore’ mind set, the setting of this latest documentary and given it was filmed only last year (2012), has perhaps hit those viewing it in the UK harder than many of the older documentaries.

Australia is a country with close ties to the UK. It is a country that still shares the royal family, and displays a Union Jack in the top left hand corner of the national flag. Many of the people are descended from British settlers many generations ago and there are a large number of British people living in the country having moved recently. It is perhaps this connection which we feel to Australia that makes John Pilger’s documentary as hard hitting as it was. There is no doubt that had this particular situation come to light in any country it would have been equally as shocking, but through decades of inaccurate media coverage the people of Britain have come to believe that Apartheid is a thing of the past, and exclusive to under developed countries with despotic governments.

Firstly, it is important to state that Australia is a country with some wonderful features, friendly people and vast natural beauty. It is none the less important to ask questions of the image that most people have of the Island continent. Racism is something that leaves an ugly scar on a countries image but Australia still has an open wound. The aborigine population have been subjected to slavery, genocide, rape and robbery in a country that seems to forget about its original people. War memorials speak of Australia’s heroes in the WW’s with intense detail, but they seem to forget the first war that the country experienced; that of the aborigines against the British invaders. The only place the aborigine people are represented at this particular museum is in stone carvings on the wall alongside Animals such as Lizards and Birds. This rejection of the true history of Australia’s past mixed with the dehumanising effect of the stone carvings leaves the viewer in disbelief. Surely a country as developed and as modernised as Australia would not lack the ability to see how offensive and racist it is to display such things?

From the lack of truth about Australia’s oppressive history, which includes a former concentration camp turned luxury island resort with no mention of the islands previous use, to modern day apartheid. The aborigine population see none of Australia’s wealth trickle down to them. 1 in 3 of the native people die before the age of 45 and the incarceration rate in northern Australia for Black Australians is 10 times higher than Apartheid South Africa. Specific cases of police brutality and lack of care resulting in deaths of aborigine men, with no convictions, puts faces to the statistics. 2 of the men interviewed during the program died during the filming. Living conditions no doubt played a major role. Shacks with a mattress on the dirt floor reminded the viewers of sub Saharan Africa and the poverty that exists there. Keeping in mind Australia is one of the richest countries in the world, this fact is even more inexcusable.

John Pilger at one point during the documentary set out to interview citizens of Australia in Canberra who were celebrating ‘Australia Day’, a day that celebrates the history and formation of the country. Asking questions about how the native people will feel on such a day, Pilger received mixed responses ranging from confusion to right out racist ignorance. One man had the audacity to say if they come to this country they should learn to live our way. Obviously the fact that these people he refers to were there first escaped this gentleman.  This statement however summed up nicely the very attitude that has plagued this earth allowing such racism and intolerance to exist.


It is a refusal to accept other cultures and differences that have caused great divisions in the world since people started moving freely across it. Schools promote homogeneity, capitalism excludes anybody and any group of people that it does not see as value producing and nationalism is thrown around to keep people supporting profit making, illegal wars such as the Afghan war. The above statement from the Australian gentleman on the streets of Canberra is the very attitude which allows the oppression and murder of whole groups of people based on their race, religion and/or culture. The aborigine people do not ask that the white people that inhabit Australia leave and return to their ancestral homes in Europe. All they ask is that they get the opportunity to live in dignity, and to be allowed to celebrate their ancient culture which has survived oppression and genocide. They are more than happy to live side by side with their white Australian brothers and sister in doing so. 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Open Letter to local Labour Party activists

from Willie Telfer, SSP Campsie Strathkelvin Organiser

Many groupings look to their elders for sage advice on the future. This should be the case in relation to local labour activists approaching the independence referendum next year.

Willie Telfer (left) "Labour Party activists would do well to listen to Canavan and Charlie Gray - stalwarts of long standing commitment to true 'Labour' values."


Look at the position of the once giants of the local Labour party, Dennis Canavan and Charlie Gray. Names from the local past when a labour party branch was an integral part of the life of every town and village in Strathkelvin, where the pursuit through representation of social justice provoked large numbers of ordinary folk to become active to ensure their election to Westminster and to the Strathclyde region.

With their experience and their long standing commitment to true Labour values surely the modern day Labour activist would be well advised to listen to them on independence. Denis is of course a national co-chair for a Yes vote and is proving a powerful advocate who is respected by all in Scottish politics, he links independence  with the opportunity to build a progressive society which could show the way for other progressive forces in UK . Gray would agree with that opportunity,though his recent declaration for independence is perhaps more targeted at the heart and soul of Scottish Labour and those activists that still carry the torch for socialism in an organization embarrassed by the very word.

The fact is that the Labour party in an independent Scotland would and should go back to being the mass party of the people,of the working class. It would be free of the shackles of chasing the minds of middle England, placating the Sun, the Mail and the Express, Old Scottish labour values for Scottish people, I believe they would see a regeneration of activism as they rediscover the cause.

The recent white paper on independence shows at present that amongst the larger parties the SNP have at least a decent idea of politics for a cause and in coalition with the SSP, the Greens and other forces on the left, the message of a fairer more just Scotland will gain the day.

I say the only place for a true socialist to be,no matter which party banner they fly, is in the yes camp. Don't take my word for it comrades, Canavan and Gray are calling you again to build a better country and to save the soul of the Scottish Labour party itself.


Saturday, 7 December 2013

Opinion: Neil Scott

Madiba - Our Fight

Rosie Kane has a thread on her Facebook on which people have been writing where they were when they heard about the passing of Nelson Mandela. This article started off as a post there.

Read on HERE

Friday, 6 December 2013

Opinion: Angus Clark

Jo lies down with Coalition Tory Bedfellows- Yet again!

(Published in this weeks Bearsden /Milngavie Herald)



Only weeks ago in their autumn party conference in Glasgow the Lib Dems condemned the’ bedroom tax’ for discriminating against the most vulnerable in our society. I was therefore disappointed but not surprised to discover that local MP and Cabinet Member Jo Swinson gave her backing to the bedroom tax at a recent crucial Parliamentary vote. It confirmed my view that when it comes to the crunch, Jo will lay down to her Tory coalition masters – yet again! She has consistently supported Cameron and Clegg and voted for repressive measures that the Coalition has put in place. However this must rank as her greatest betrayal yet as this was a genuine chance to finish off this dreadful measure once and for all. Her path as a career politician is now secure in that she seems to place more loyalty to this neo- conservative led government than she does to the views of her constituents, many of whom are already affected by this attempt to make the most vulnerable make more sacrifice for the bankers’ crisis. Recent modifications to exclude certain categories of recipients do not address the fundamental regressive nature of the measures and Discretionary Housing Benefit will only assist a few for a very limited period of time.  


The imposition of the bedroom tax is just the latest regressive measure to be given her support in her meteoric rise up the greasy political pole to Cabinet level, and she will no doubt be well rewarded. She also supported hiking University tuition fees up to £9000, a part privatised NHS, the dreadful Welfare Bill, War with Syria the lowering of taxes for billionaires and millionaires and Nuclear Weapons. Does she consider that this record fairly reflects the views of her constituents or the general populace-I think not. Some of her Lib Dem colleagues did indeed keep true to their principles and voted to scrap the bedroom tax and their action should be welcomed. Other MPs including Labour, decided that they had better things to do than turn up for this important vote which is very disappointing as this was a vote which could have been won, although I do not doubt that it would have been close.

Let’s be under no illusion, the bedroom tax is not a ‘single issue’ although it may appear so if directly affected. Governments don’t think that way! It is just one part of a concerted ideological plan to radically scale back the Welfare State [which has no democratic mandate].  Unlike the Poll Tax of the late 80’s which was aimed at the whole populace, the bedroom tax is targeted solely at social tenants drawing benefits both unemployed and in work, and by implication, already on or near the ‘breadline’ who are deemed to have an ‘extra room’. It therefore hits the unemployed and those in poverty wages ‘disproportionately’ leaving them hardly anything left over to live on. So much for the ‘Mansion Tax’ which Jo Swinson and the Lib Dems used to push for! Now it’s OK to penalise those at the foot of society, and join in with the Tories and the ‘Cabinet of Millionaires’ in giving the most vulnerable a ‘good kicking’. Who will be next in line?

                                                             
 We all know there is a better and more equitable way to tackle the nation’s housing shortage and overcrowding problems. The bedroom tax will never be a solution but it will and is leading to misery for thousands of adults and children, including ill health and suicide.

At the next Westminster election I am sure that the constituents of East Dunbartonshire are no mugs and will not be taken in by the Governments ‘fostered illusions’ over this and other matters. They should also cast an eye over Jo Swinson’s voting record before casting their vote.


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Opinion: Kevin Hattie

 "School Days - the best days of your life." Really..?


To speak of our education system today, is to speak of a multiverse where the experience of attending school can vastly differ from person to person, even among those who attended the same one. This isn’t totally surprising as people experience many of the same things in different ways. Take for example a work of art, one person may fail to see past the denotation of such a thing but for someone else a world of endless possibilities may be opened up. Unfortunately I don’t buy the idea that the differing experiences of people in education is in anyway related to perception and someone’s own unique way of looking at the world. After some deep thought about my own experiences of school, and discussion with a couple of people who had similar experiences, I have come to wonder if there is a common feature among those who find the experience pleasant and those who perhaps dreaded a weekday for thirteen odd years.

‘School is the best time of your life’. This is a phrase that justifies other phrases such as ‘if I had a penny for every time….’ Due to the sheer number of times a child will probably hear this phrase uttered by a parent or older person trying to encourage them to enjoy the experience. I have no doubt the feeling is genuine among the older generation who remember their school days fondly, perhaps not because they truly enjoyed it at the time, but because they didn’t have the weight of responsibility that adult life has brought them, and also the fact that the whole world lay ahead of them. I for one never accepted this opinion, and have come to place it alongside other myths such as; if you are bad Santa Claus won’t come to you and the Tories favourite: ‘We’re in this together’. It is suffice to say that I consider school to be something rather different from those who romanticise it. 

For me the classroom was not so much a place of learning, but a place of suppression. Maybe I have the wrong idea of what education should be like but I like to think that the school should fit around the pupils and not the other way about. I believe that to give the impression that authoritative figures deserve ‘natural respect’ as opposed to earning it, is a convenient way to teach young people that our politicians deserve the same free ticket to gaining obedience. Maybe again I have the wrong idea but should information given by these authority figures be accepted without questioning out in wider society? No, so why should pupils be expected to accept what a teacher says without questioning them? To challenge a teacher on something was to cross the line in my school. We got the whole ‘I have a degree in this subject’ lecture as if that was enough to squash any possibility of the person being wrong.

Critical thinking and questioning things is for me the most important part of learning. We as people have to be able to make our own minds up about things and to always be true to our values as individuals and as a collective humanity. We can’t allow for the media to have us so indoctrinated with a particular way of thinking that for them it is almost effortless to influence public opinion and to get people to go along with a particular agenda. If you stand back and look at what capitalism has created in this world, you soon realise it is something so unnatural that it has to stop or else we will cease to be. Boris Johnson and David Cameron might celebrate the culture of greed and wish for it to be weaved into the school curriculum somewhere, but if you truly believe that possessions are the defining aspect of a human being then you clearly have sold your soul for short term vices.


‘Work hard and you’ll get a well-paid job’.  Another myth perhaps, given that this so called meritocracy that we live in see’s investment bankers on seven figure salaries while someone genuinely useful, like a nurse or an engineer will be worrying about the rising prices of fuel and food. But put this aside and look at another reason why this phrase should be discouraged. ‘Well paid’, why is this the most important aspect of a career? The government have been quick to encourage people to leave behind the more creative subjects and to look at something which contributes more directly to the economy. Well firstly the creative industries bring a lot of money into to this country, and secondly people should be encouraged to find fulfilment on a spiritual level before they have to worry about ‘keeping up with the Jones’s’.  

School and universities should be places where society develops its thought and its collective consciousness. Not somewhere to go so you become more ‘employable’.  Why should working class people be told to make themselves more useful to the policy makers of society? Education seems to be just that, a place where the workers go to be taught how to be workers. A lack of decision making in the classroom leads to a lack of decision making in the workplace. I would encourage people to study what interests them and to question what they learn. I would encourage people to believe in the power they have in their hands to bring about change in society. It seems however the education system would encourage people to passively accept certain norms and values and to learn through repetition and retention of meaningless information which has not been questioned. It is a sad fact today that the education system of our country encourages a heteronomous society and promotes homogeneity over diversity of the individual, the reasons for this may lie somewhere in the fact that those who have their hands on the levers of power require things to remain as they are and for true human nature and freedom to be oppressed as this is the only way to maintain this pathological ideology of capitalism. If you step outside the rules created to maintain the status quo you will be marginalised and the ‘best time of your life’ may not quite live up to its billing. This is why some of us hated school, not because we are lazy, stupid, hard to motivate or mentally ill, but because we refuse to get in line and conform to the values that would see us willingly participate in a criminal ideology. 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

SCOTTISH SOCIALIST VOICE FORUM ON THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENTS INDEPENDENCE WHITE PAPER

Book for this exclusive event HERE

WHEN:

December 7, 2013 at 10:00 am – 1:00 pm 

WHERE:
The Jury's Inn Hotel,
Jeffrey Street,
Edinburgh,
Midlothian

Speakers - CHAIR: John Finnie, MSP.

Jim Sillars, Isobel Lindsay, Paul Holleran, John McAllion, Maggie Chapman, Prof. Mike Danson and Colin Fox

Download the latest Scottish Socialist Voices FREE here

SsV on Facebook HERE

Saturday, 30 November 2013

New Organiser for Campsie Branch SSP

Photo: Some of the branch on the way to see Rob Roy FC  after today's meeting at which we elected Willie Telfer (back row, left) as Campsie Branch Strathkelvin Organiser. Willie is a founding member of the SSP and an organiser in the PCS union.

Members also expressed solidarity with the Yes campaign and we will be producing local SSP material giving our view on what an independent Scotland can achieve in the coming weeks.

We will be having our annual branch Christmas Curry on 21st December and SSP members old and new are welcome- please contact Organiser Neil Scott or our email address at eastdunbartonshiressp@hotmail.co.uk.

Next meeting Jan 11th, Kirkie Puffer at 11am.

Photo: back row l-r Willie Telfer, Pamela Page, Angus Clark.
Front row l-r Mark Callaghan, Ron Mackay, Sonya Scott.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Scottish Socialist Party initiate Peaceful Protest at Labour Deputy Leader's Shameful Failure to vote for Bedroom Tax Abolition

PRESS RELEASE - for IMMEDIATE use

Scottish Socialist Party initiate Peaceful Protest at Labour Deputy Leader's Shameful Failure to vote for Bedroom Tax Abolition

Friday 15th November 3pm onwards At Anas Sarwar's Office, 9 Scotland St, Glasgow

The Scottish Socialist Party is appealing to all those who detest the Bedroom Tax to join a peaceful protest outside Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar's office, to express their disgust at his failure to attend the debate in Westminster on Tuesday and vote for the abolition of the tax.

The protest has been initiated by SSP candidate in the Glasgow Shettleston Council by-election, TOMMY BALL - a constituent of Mr Sarwar's.

Tommy said:" Anas Sarwar recently made great play of how Labour would abolish the Bedroom Tax if they were elected in two year's time.

But he couldn't even bother to turn up at his extremely well-paid work on Tuesday to vote for the Motion to abolish this vicious attack on the poorest - even though the Motion was proposed by his own Labour party! Since then he has blocked all attempts by constituents - including myself - to contact him for an explanation of why he and 46 other Labour MPs boycotted such a critical vote, whether by phone calls, Twitter or Facebook. So we feel we have no other choice but to demand a face-to-face explanation at his office. And that is even more important after a woman was evicted today in Glasgow - where the Labour council has refused to declare a ban on evictions in the city they rule."

SSP regional organiser, and prominent anti-bedroom tax campaigner RICHIE VENTON added:

"For a year Labour has done absolutely nothing to resist and defeat this obnoxious theft of incomes from the poorest, and in fact said they would retain it under a Labour government. Belatedly, in mid-September, Ed Miliband declared they would scrap it if elected in 2015. I immediately initiated an ePetition demanding Miliband act now, not some time after 2015, and the SSP warmly welcomed the subsequent Motion put by Labour on Tuesday. That makes it all the more shameful that 47 Labour MPs didn't think it important enough to attend and vote for their own Motion - including 10 out of 40 Scottish Labour MPs. We expect spineless treachery and obedience to their Tory masters from the LibDem MPs, who ignored their own party conference wishes and voted to keep the Bedroom Tax. But if anything, the absence of the Treacherous Ten from Scottish Labour was even more reprehensible, since they 'represent' the very people hammered by this vicious measure - as today's Citizens Advice Scotland Report confirms, the poorest, chronically sick, disabled, low-paid workers, single parents. Their treachery cannot pass in silence."

END

For more info Tweet Tommy Ball on @tommy_ball or @the_ssp_

Monday, 11 November 2013

More hypocrisy from @joswinson

Wages For Interns, Workfare For The Poor Says Jo Swinson MP

Little sums up the vile double standards at the heart of Britain’s class ridden society than acampaign against unpaid internships for graduates which ignores the massive expansion of unpaid work for everyone else.

More absolutely appalling hypocrisy by local MP @joswinson READ ON HERE  via @johnnyvoid

Thursday, 7 November 2013

@joswinson part of ANOTHER expenses scandal...

As East Dunbartonshire working people, pensioners, job seekers and families struggle to heat their homes and pay for food, local Tory/Liberal Democrat Westminster coalition Minister MP Jo Swinson has been claiming from the taxpayer to pay her and her husband, MP Duncan Hames, electricity bill.
The SSP have published a pamphlet HERE exposing the extent of fuel poverty in Scotland.

Swinson  and her husband who have, at the lowest estimation, not including the fact they have expenses incuding food paid and subsidised, a joint income of £150,000 a year - claimed £569.72.  This in the face of the calls from coalition members to end the £300 winter fuel allowance pensioners receive.
Politicians and their banker pals gamble and play with our money and caused the financial crisis, but seem to be the only ones not ‘in this together’, with the rest of us suffering wage cuts and hugely increased food and energy bills.
There is a more detailed expose in this weeks Bearsden/Milngavie Herald - "Anger as YOU pay Jo Swinson MP’s electricity bill"

The Scottish Socialist Party have published an 8 point progamme to solve the problem of fuel bills:
-Cap gas and electricity bills immediately with no further rises permitted until fuel poverty is eliminated
-Investigate the big 6 energy companies on charges of profiteering and acting as an industrial cartel
-Double the Winter Fuel Allowance paid to the elderly and extend it to all other vulnerable groups
-Introduce a windfall tax on the big 6 energy companies profits to ensure all their existing 'powercard' customers are moved on to the cheapest tariffs instead of the dearest
-Diversify away from expensive and dirty fossil fuels used in the generation of electricity towards renewables
-Treble the sums spent on Government domestic energy saving schemes such as insulation, double glazing and efficient water boilers
-Build 100,000 new energy efficient new homes for the socially rented sector in Scotland annually to replace the worst of our current 'drafty, leaky and inefficient' stock, and
-Return the energy industry to public ownership to ensure every home has the heating they need and any profits go to the public purse.
Our pamphlet will be available for £3.99 from the Scottish Socialist Party website www.scottishsocialistparty.org

Monday, 21 October 2013

Order your White Poppy...

In the coming months, will the BBC's programming on WW1 show how families were destroyed?

How lives were wrecked?

How this country is still deeply scarred by the aristocratic, money grabbing, land and resource coveting imperialists in the big houses who sent the poor and working class-our Great Grandfathers and Mothers - to die for a penny in the name of the King and God for no gain only pain, sorrow, misery, poverty and annihilation?

How many families struggled in deeper poverty after the loss of a daughter, son, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister?

How many families are decimated today because of the shareholders love of oil profits?

When will the BBC show that?

Buy your White Poppy HERE

Friday, 18 October 2013

Young people at the forefront of the struggle;

Join the Scottish Socialist Party



 by Angus Clark

Young people are at the forefront of today’s struggle for a better way to run society as they are the group who are suffering the deepest from the consequences of the present crisis of the capitalist system. A’ lost generation’ is no cliché but the hard reality for growing numbers of young people who are to be thrown onto the scrapheap at the very start of their working lives. No wonder we see the effects of disillusionment, anger and alienation. A university degree no longer leads on to a well paid secure career, as it once did. In fact the numbers attending further education is on the decrease thanks to the cutbacks in staffing and the economic hardship involved due to ever increasing fees, particularly in England and Wales. It is clear that the capitalist system does not now require large numbers in the workforce to be highly skilled and educated when the economic requirements are for primarily low wage low skilled part time jobs to compete with Asia. For example, in America the vast majority of the recent jobs increase is part time. Many of the jobs in this market have already been outsourced to cheap labour economies and this is now the preferred path for western countries.

This sense of alienation and hopelessness in young people is found expression in destructive activities like the austerity riots in Britain a few years ago but also in more constructive reactions in the form of grass roots revolutionary movements, as witnessed recently in Tunisia and Egypt. This level of working people’s disaffection has not expressed itself to the full as yet, particularly in the more conservative Western European countries with a background of illusory ‘democracy’ such as in Britain and Ireland. Nonetheless beneath the surface there is a pressure building, within the young people in particular, for more radical measures however this tendency for action is devoid of any true political leadership or tactical awareness. This role would normally be provided by the workers union movements however the unions are no longer working for radical change but would prefer to go down the ‘reformist’ path of working within the existing political apparatus to achieve concessions from whichever government is in power.

Young people have therefore been backed into a corner and are under attack from all western governments. In Britain many have no alternative but to accept the prospect of zero hours contracts with no certainty of a secure employment, or with part time work on minimum wage levels with little prospects of career progression. Many face unemployment after years of study. More and more employers are taking advantage of the young unemployed and exploiting them to increase their profit margins.[Soon if the Government has its way young people will be made to work for nothing for their benefits, a modern form of slave labour] . The argument that this provides a flexible labour market which is presently needed is not credible as this is purely and simply a way for the employer to increase profit margins with no benefits to the employee. Higher unemployment always means lower wages for those in work. This situation is remarkably similar to feudal times when the serfs were at the beck and call of the landowner. The sporadic nature of this type of zero hours employment makes it extremely difficult for the young or any worker to organise into unions to defend their interests and also prohibits planning for a stable social or family life.



Young people are constantly fed the lie that the jobs are out there and that they are not trying hard enough. We all know this is a myth and that many young people are now so desperate that it is now commonplace to find the majority of a workforce employed on a part-time basis and that many have to combine a number of part time jobs to pay the bills.

The media also play their part in the demonization process by falsely announcing the end of the recession after barely recognisable decreases in the unemployed rate. If the young can merely wait another ten or fifteen years for the recession to end then all will be fine, however by that it time it will be too late for a lost generation forced to put off having a family or being independent of their parents. Deception is the primary motive here and this is in the form of the financial trickery used by the economists on behalf of their masters in government to delude the general public into thinking that the main economic indicators are better than they actually are. For example, manipulation of the unemployment figures has regularly taken place since Thatcher in the form of the redefinition of unemployment to include only those who claim benefit. Originally this figure included all those who registered and for whatever reason may not have claimed. Those on workfare or disability/ incapacity benefit [ now Personal Independence Payment]also do not count thereby removing nearly a million from the national figures at a stroke.



Overwhelmingly, it is clear that the economic picture for young people is bleak and that the levels of real unemployment is much nearer the level of Spain or France and that regions of the country in the northeast and the west of Scotland are suffering badly.

The question which young people must ask themselves is why should they support and try to mend such an economic system which would assign them to the scrapheap if it could. What have they really got to gain from slogging away  a working lifetime for a zero hours contract job or behind a call centre desk ten hours a day for just enough to merit the basic essentials. Is this the most that they will be allowed to dream of as their future to look forward to? This is probably the first generation to which the answer to this question must be no, it is definitely not worth fighting to support such a system.



What then is the alternative? It is for a more rational, progressive, enlightened, sustainable and democratic social system which plans ahead for the future needs of the society based on a truly democratic workers participation and local control by those that actually produce the wealth of society. Young people must and need to fight for such a system based on these principles for in this way it is perfectly possible to provide adequately for all of societies basic needs in terms of housing, employment, education, health and most importantly the planned economic production controlled by the working people and not for the benefit of the parasitical elite, as presently exists.  The continuation of the present government policies will only see young people become  angrier and alienated which will eventually result in more social unrest as was evident two years ago. However this anger to be effective has to be harnessed and channelled in a positive way, and be informed and focused on achieving political change in the form of a socialist transformation of society. This is not a utopian dream but can be achieved with the involvement of young people being organised and forming part of a wider movement of workers, the unemployed and exploited sections of the population on low pay and zero hours and part time insecure contracts. The traditional mass workers party was the Labour Party however it has unfortunately lost it way and been taken over by the most vocal supporters of the present system. It is full of professional and careerist MP’s who are disconnected from the interests of working people or however well meaning are deluded into thinking that reformist policies are a way out until the next crisis, but having lost a whole young generation to the scrapheap in the process.



No, now is not the time for young people to go down the same mistaken route as those before them, but to join a socialist movement like the Scottish Socialist Party and become part of the struggle to achieve socialism. Young people should seek to become aware of the basic socialist principles as some theoretical understanding obtained from the great socialist thinkers of the past and present form a theoretical foundation which is important for any successful struggle. However young people more importantly need to be involved in whatever way they can through student bodies, workplace groups if union involvement is precluded and forming linkages internationally. The Scottish Socialist Party represents many different strands of left opinion and attempts to provide an organised, cohesive and effective political voice for both workers, the unemployed and young people alike.


We are now entering a new phase of this economic crisis where increasing numbers of working people and young people are becoming aware that the existing capitalist system is working against their interests [but for a small financial elite] and cannot be successfully repaired or reformed without their living standards continuing to fall to an even greater degree as the true extent of the crisis is much greater than many had previously believed. They are aware that even if a new partial economic ‘recovery’ is entered into in the coming years it will be of no benefit to that lost generation of young people thrown on the scrapheap as a sacrifice to the wealthy and privileged few. Increasingly it is clear that the previous gains fought for and achieved by the older generations of workers are being rolled back never to be seen again, that is, unless something radical emerges in the form of a strengthened and confident socialist movement organised with a leadership, strategy and tactics with linkages to other likeminded movements internationally. In this process it will be the young people who will be at the forefront of this struggle for change. The Scottish Socialist Party is that socialist movement to take forward the struggle and reaches out to young people to welcome them to the Party and to join them in this journey.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Monday, 14 October 2013

Campsie SSP Branch AGM

Saturday 26th October 

Special guest speaker TBA.

For details please email eastdunbartonshiressp@hotmail.co.uk

This is our review/planning meeting for year ahead.  

If you are interested in helping/joining/becoming more involved - please come.  This meeting will also help us plan our engagement in the YES campaign locally as well as our own SSP independence campaigning.  

The SSP, like any union and organisation of the working class, only works with your involvement - we are not an organisation like the Labour Party/ Tories/ Lib Dems with huge resources at our disposal.  We can't afford to as these parties do, pay for huge media campaigns; PR firms or leafleting/canvassing teams.  The SSP is Your party - and needs you to commit to something - no matter how small - to ensure our message of fairness and socialism is heard.

At the meeting we will also be looking at how we engage in local issues as well as wider campaigns such as the bedroom tax etc. 

The SSP are one of the three parties who set up Yes Scotland - we are key to the campaign.  

To read our arguments for an independent Socialist Scotland - please buy our new pamphlet which clearly sets out our case. HERE 

And let the world know about us by buying a badge/ poster! - HERE

Yes Scotland: a 16 year old writes...

Saying Yes to Scottish Independence: An opportunity for social justice.

16 year old Michael Scott, who will vote in next year's Independence referendum, writes about why he will vote YES.

Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation - Alasdair Gray[1]

Do you want the chance to create a better Scotland? In the 2014 referendum on independence you’ll get that opportunity. Given the choice, I for one will be saying yes. Too many important matters are still controlled, and I would argue controlled badly, by Westminster. The democratic deficit and the ever-growing chasm between the values of the MPs in London and the people of Scotland are now impossible to ignore. Independence offers the possibility of a different political road; the case for change is strong.


First and foremost there is a lack of democracy for Scottish voters within the current political union. Over the last 30 years we have been governed, more often than not, by a political party which the majority of people didn’t vote for. In the most recent general election, only 11% of those eligible to vote in Scotland voted for the Conservative Party and only 23% voted for the Conservatives and Liberals combined[2]. The House of Commons’ report, on the 2010 general election results, notes the “complete detachment”2(p14) of Scotland from political trends in England and Wales. This political detachment is both determined by and reflected in the different socioeconomic values displayed by Westminster and Holyrood.

A number of important matters of government are already devolved including education and health and where we have had the power to make our own decisions we have chosen radically different policies. A good example of this is the difference between the management of the NHS in Scotland compared with what is happening to the NHS in England following the introduction of the new Health and Social Care Act. While the former Scottish Secretary of State for Health has categorically stated her opposition to private sector involvement in healthcare[3], the new English health act has sown the seeds of privatisation within the NHS in England[4]. Similarly in education there is a distinct difference in attitudes towards undergraduate tuition fees between the two governments. On the one hand, First Minister Alex Salmond has been unequivocal in his opposition to fees stating “The rocks will melt with the sun before I allow tuition fees to be imposed on Scottish students”[5] while on the other hand the Coalition government has allowed universities in the rest of the UK to charge fees of up to £9000 a year.[6]

Unfortunately however, under devolution a number of significant matters are still controlled by Westminster including the economy, welfare, and defence. Although Scotland has a traditional commitment to centre left political parties2, lack of control over these important areas means that substantial parts of our society can be determined by policies that the majority of the population are unlikely to agree with. For example, it is hard to imagine the combination of swingeing cuts to the welfare budget affecting the most vulnerable in our society[7] and reduction of the top rate of tax for high earners[8] being popular with the majority of Scottish voters. Similarly it has been estimated that 73% of Scots are opposed to government plans to renew Trident. And yet, these decisions and other important matters are imposed on us by a government which less than a quarter of the eligible Scottish electorate has voted for.


Finally, I would like to allay some of the main fears surrounding independence. The three main arguments against Scottish Independence seem to consist of us being too small, too stupid and too poor to stand on our own two feet.[9] Let me tackle each of these in turn. First, as to being too small, we don’t have to look too far afield to see many small countries prospering. A prime example of this would be Norway, which, like Scotland, has a population of about 5 million and off shore oil. However, unlike Scotland, Norway has complete control of the revenue of its oil resource and as a result has been able to use the accumulated surplus (approx £368bn) as a pension fund.[10] Another example of a small economy thriving is that of Iceland, which, with a population of just over 300,000, is bucking the European trend in terms of economic recovery from the financial crisis.[11]

 Secondly with respect to being too inexperienced to run our own affairs I’d argue that we already run many important national matters from Holyrood successfully including health, education and justice.

 Thirdly, as to us being too poor, a recent New Statesman article stated “not only does Scotland more than pay its way in the Union, but its overall fiscal position would actually be stronger as a fully sovereign nation”[12] The author of this article goes on to point out that although Scots represent just 8.4% of the UK’s total population they contribute 9.4% to its tax revenues which is equivalent to an extra £1000 for every person in Scotland relative to the contribution of others in the UK.

 An argument against Scottish Independence with which I do have sympathy is that it will ultimately decrease the chance of achieving a more socially democratic society on a UK wide basis. In the short-term I appreciate that the loss of Scottish voters may result in an increased proportion of right wing political representatives in the UK parliament. However, in the longer term I hope that having a neighbouring, flourishing, social democratic society may more powerfully change political attitudes across the rest of the UK than we have been able to do in recent years.

In conclusion, I would argue that fear of change is the only thing holding us back. Some change however, is good; and if we work as if we are in the early days of a better nation then this change will be for the good and the opportunity to create a more socially just society will be realised.




REFERENCES

[1] Gray A. Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation. Herald Scotland. May 5 2007. http://www.heraldscotland.com/work-as-if-you-live-in-the-early-days-of-a-better-nation-1.827519 (accessed 15 September 2012).


[2] Electoral Reform Society. The UK General Election 2010: In depth. House of Commons. 2010.


[3] Torrance D. Scottish Health Secretary: England will end NHS as we know it. The Guardian. March 22 2012 http://www.guardian.co.uk/healthcare-network/2011/mar/22/scottish-health-secretary-england-ending-nhs (accessed 15 September 2012)


[4] Campbell D. BMA's new leader: 'There's no evidence that a part-privatised NHS runs better'. The Guardian. August 31 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/31/bma-leader-nhs-privatisation (accessed 15 September 2012)


[5] BBC News. SNP Conference: Salmond in free education pledge. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-12711509 (accessed 15 September 2012)


[6] BBC News. Students face tuition fees rising to £9000. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11677862 (accessed 15 September 2012)


[7] UN urged to monitor welfare cuts. The HeraldScotland. September 21 2012. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/un-urged-to-monitor-welfare-cuts.18934095 (accessed 21 September 2012)


[8] Stewart H. Budget 2012: 50p tax rate scrapped and allowance raised. The Guardian. March 21 2012 http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/21/budget-2012-50p-tax-rate-scrapped-allowances (accessed 15 September 2012)


[9]Scottish Independence: It’ll Cost You. The Economist. http://www.economist.com/node/21552564 (accessed 21 September 2012)


[10]Wikipedia. The Government Pension Fund of Norway. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Government_Pension_Fund_of_Norway (accessed 21 September 2012)


[11] Lyall S. A Bruised Iceland Heals Amid Europe’s Malaise. New York Times. July 12 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/world/europe/icelands-economy-is-mending-amid-europes-malaise.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 (accessed 21 September 2012).


[12] Maxwell J. Enough of The Scottish subsidy myth. The New Statesman. November 06 2011. http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/11/scotland-12288-union-public (accessed 21 September 2012).

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Happy Birthday Comrade Mackay!

Wishing Comrade Ron Mackay a happy 90th birthday from all his comrades in Campsie branch. You are an inspiration!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Sign the petition...

To Ed Miliband, leader of UK Labour Party:

Present Emergency Motion in Parliament to Abolish the Bedroom Tax - NOW, not after 2015!

Sign HERE via @change

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Jo voted for war - against her Constituents wishes.

by Campsie SSP member, Neil Scott

Far from NOT being a vote for war, as some like our local MP Jo Swinson have billed the recent Syria motion that was defeated in Westminster, a yes vote would have meant that attacking Syria would have very much been on the cards.  The resulting no vote actually stayed the murderous hands of the US military as well as our own for long enough to ensure that Assad was talked round by the Russians and his chemical arsenal is now being destroyed by international experts.


Jo, as I wrote in a blogpiece, here had a dilemma - she says her instinct is to vote against war, but thought that the international community should be able to rain down from sky borne drone and missile, it's moral authority and disregard the wider authority of the United Nations.  She says as much in the blogpiece.


There is a dichotomy - a contradiction actually - in her words and in her actions.  There is definitely a contradiction in her "relief" at a UN "approach"; the fact that the motion did NOT give the UN primacy and the fact she actually feels that the UN is not the place that the final decision would be made.

On the contrary - Swinson felt that an undefined "international community" should be able to act without the consent of the United Nations.


Who are this "international community?"  The proposed action, of course, was proposed by the US.  An action the UK colaition did all they could to support.  Does Jo think that this country and the US have the moral authority to act alone in intervention in civil wars because other countries like China and Russia have "...such scant regard for the human rights of its own citizens?"

I won't defend obvious human rights abuses by China and Russia - but do we wield moral authority like Gods of Gods? Is she implying the moral authority of the UK is without stain?

The US - a country that has jailed Bradley Manning, the Cuban 5 and many without trial in Guantanamo Bay is unquestionably a moral authority above the rest?  Really?

 And our country that has recently carried out human rights abuses such as the police killings of Jean Charles de Menezes, Azelle Rodney and Ian Tomlinson; the torture and the deaths in UK armed forces custody of Iraqis such as Baha Mousa;  historical torture of Northern Irish political prisoners and the shootings and beatings of demonstrators there; the alleged collusion of security forces in the killings of lawyers, Pat Finnucane and Rosemary Nelson; the death in custody of the refugee Jimmy Mubenga and the continued detention of child refugees, despite assurances from the Liberal Democrats that this practise would stop. Or is it just because we are Western English speakers that gives us moral superiority?

I really am at a loss to see why we above the others are purest.  The list of human rights abuses carried out in this country goes on - but you get the picture. Jo believes that our Government, along with the US, have the moral right to police the world. The fact is, Russia nor China are muscling in on the middle East in quite the same militarist, missile laden and murderous drone way we are.

As well as that, Jo, in her letter below, admits that "all [of those constituents who contacted her prior to the vote]were against the UK taking military action in the immediate future..."

Yet, she felt she had the moral authority to 

1. keep the military option live by voting yes and 

2. by open admission in her blogpiece, ignore the UN if China and Russia had blocked a UN motion to take action ("I accept that the doctrine of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ can mean that action to prevent humanitarian calamity is appropriate.  I don’t accept that a country like Russia or China that has such scant regard for the human rights of its own citizens should always be able to stop an otherwise united and outraged international community from acting in extreme circumstances.")

All of the nonsense in the email below about her voting for this motion because it was not a direct call to arms is negated by her want to disregard how the UN security Council would have most likely voted - ie. no to military intervention in Syria.


Nick Clegg's stuttering and obfuscating on the night of the vote, when asked if this motion would mean that their would be a further Parliamentary debate, in my opinion, meant that the House voted no.  Clegg swung the vote through the perception of his dishonesty.  A man few in the UK now trust.  

Of course he couldn't guarantee that such a mealy mouthed motion would stop the PM bringing us to war by, for example the use of the Queen's Prerogative as Blair did in 2003 when he ordered "our boys" in to Iraq (the Queens Prerogative is a power that should have no place in a modern Western democracy; a power that it is used as a smoke-screen by ministers to obfuscate the use of power for which they are insufficiently accountable and a power that has brought us to war despite the democratic wish of the people or its elected representatives, of the UK).


Jo Swinson has, over and over again, been seen to vote against what the people of East Dunbartonshire first voted her in on.  The Liberal Democrats once proudly boasted their record on voting against war. Jo, swung by the ambitious ex-Tory Nick Clegg has voted against the council of her own constituents. From University fees through to the privatisation of the English NHS, her support for the impoverishing and dreadful welfare bill, some of which has been highlighted by the UN as it expressed it's "shock" at how aspects of it were pushing people into poverty; to rely on foodbanks and to suicide 

So much for the coalition adhering to the advice of the UN.  

I have reproduced the email I received from Jo below.  Our original FOI request is at the bottom of this article.  

Her statement that it "was not as straightforward as constituents asking me to vote yes or no," would be laughable if it were actually not so sinister.  This was a vote for or against keeping the military on standby - and in fact more than that - it allowed the military to begin a build up towards intervention - an intervention she knew would happen.

If not, she is self deluded about her responsibility to her constituents.  

She obviously thinks she has the authority to overrule the electoral authority those who voted for the "anti-war, anti-tuition fees, left of Labour" Lib Dems.

Dear Mr Scott,



Thank you for your email.



As an MP handling correspondence from constituents, I am not subject to Freedom of Information legislation (but I will do my best to answer your question nevertheless). If you want to make a Freedom of Information request to my Department (which is subject to FOI), details of how to do so can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-information-request. There is no reason that constituents should attempt to contact me at the Department, however, as I publicise this email address as my constituency address. Personally, I am not aware of any constituents having contacted my via the Department about this.



To answer your question, many of the emails I received where before the motion we were due to vote on was even published, and of those that were sent afterwards hardly any referred to any specifics of the motion itself. Therefore it was not as straightforward as constituents asking me to vote yes or no. In fact from the comments I received I think many people were under the impression that the House of Commons would be voting on military action, which of course as you know, we were not.



You will note, for example, that the motion we were voting on did not permit the UK carrying out military action alone unless a further vote had taken place, and called for the UN weapons inspectors to be allowed to finish their work. Many of those who emailed me argued along similar lines. Whilst all were against the UK taking military action in the immediate future, many people attached conditions in which they felt military action would be justified, whereas others simply stated that there should be no military action at all.



From the end of July until the evening of 29th August (when the vote took place), I received 57 emails from constituents on this issue. This included several from people who emailed more than once. Of those, 22 were sent prior to the motion even being published at 6.55pm on 28th August, and so could not have been specific to the actual motion. Of those sent after, the vast majority continued to comment on the issue generally, rather than the specifics of the motion.



The media so often like to present such matters as ‘for’ and ‘against’. However, these issues are generally more complex than that and I felt I had a responsibility consider what we were actually voting for: a motion condemning the actions of the Syrian regime in using chemical weapons against innocent civilians, noting that the UN weapons inspectors be allowed to finished their work, and noting that no military action would be taken without a further vote. There was nothing I disagreed with in that.



I hope that this answers your question. However, please do let me know if there is anything else I can assist with.



Yours sincerely,



Jo Swinson MP

Monday, 30 September 2013

Ken Loach film in Kirkintilloch

Campsie Socialists invite you to come watch the Ken Loach film "The Spirit of '45" free of charge in Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre this Saturday 5th October.

The film will start at 10.30am. There will be a short open discussion afterwards.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

America; The failed State?

by SSP Campsie Member, Angus Clark.

Angus Clark, right, delivering letter urging local MP, Jo Swinson not to support America's push for war on Syria

The last 300 years of evolutionary progress in the West is coming to an abrupt end with the G20 Summit in Russia exposing the bankruptcy of the neo-conservatives expansionist policy of wars, political corruption, casino capitalism and mass secrecy and spying on populations. The inherent contradiction of the capitalist system in terms of the need for globalisation of markets but within the constraints of the nation state is now exposing itself through massive geo-political fault lines which cannot be repaired.

 It has become increasingly clear that this length of time was needed for the rest of the world to catch on to the fact that western capitalism, and for this read America, is on a downward spiral and is using its military superiority in an attempt to offset its rapidly weakening economy. The impending Syrian ‘intervention’ is the most recent in a long list of wars attempting to establish America’s hegemony of resources and economic influence throughout the world. Various players are involved behind the scenes in this most recent regional campaign, including in particular Saudi Arabia and Israel, whereby the redivision of the middle east for western interests is the principal aim.

It is now evident that the rest of the world’s leaders do not believe Obama‘s lies concerning Syria and they are now prepared to openly display their contempt for his position. Putin has led the way by telling the worlds assembled leaders that the chemical weapons attack was a ‘provocation on behalf of the armed insurgents in hope of the help from outside, from the countries which supported them from day one.’ Putin was supported in this stance by the leaders of China, India, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia and Argentina.   They were heavily implying that this action would be against international law and would be by implication a war crime, if carried out.

What is driving the west and principally America down this path one may ask? This is a somewhat complicated matter however it needs to be seen in the context of this deepening crisis of the capitalist economic system and the dominant nations need to impose a hegemony over the middle east, which is an area of the world crucial to expanding Americas geo-political and hence economic interests. Israel no doubt is exerting a tremendous political pressure on Washington to bolster its position as the dominant military power within the region and historically no political administration within America has been able to stand up to the Israeli lobby and its associated corporate interests.

America is now beginning to be seen as diplomatically weak and marginalised as it is unable to get the full support from its puppet governments in Western Europe. It does not relish the possibility of having to go it alone militarily, but may have backed itself into a corner. Although this may appear extremely unlikely, any future criminal prosecution for illegal war acts would be more realistic and straightforward if only one country was perceived as the criminal party. Obama is therefore taking a  personal risk if he goes it alone.

Cameron has also lost all credibility with his recent inability to gain a yes vote in the British parliament, but he nevertheless may be able to limp along to the next general election. Despite Britain’s no vote the American foreign secretary counts Britain as one of Americas supporters along with some other countries without any diplomatic influence on a world stage, such as Canada, Australia, South Korea and Japan. Japan has enough problems of its own to consider without being involved in a middle east war with the Fukushima disaster, which has resulted in massive radiation leaks which may require the forced relocation of some 40 million people in and around the Tokyo area.

The rest of the minor players in Europe such as Italy and Spain would like to give practical military support to the Americans if only they had the financial resources. They are so indebted to the financial fraudsters and gangsters of the IMF and the corporate elite that they are hoping that if they say nothing in opposition to war then they may get further bailouts. If not then their future is escalating social unrest in the major cities of Italy and Spain. They have enough problems to worry about.

It is clear that what is going on here is the play out of competing and opposing interests within the ruling and corporate elite of the middle east countries at the regional level. Also at the world level there is a need for America to retain and support its puppet states. At the middle east level the Saudi rulers are aware that their power is balancing on a knife edge, as witnessed by the recent Egyptian revolutions. They are having to implement even more repressive measures to control recent social unrest and it is only a question of time before their grip on power is seriously at stake. Ironically, their interests politically are aligned with Israel and Egypt but in a religious sense are in opposition. At all costs, they cannot afford to see a stronger Iran supported by Syria within the region. From America’s part, it is concerned that the balance of power within the middle east may shift away from Saudi and also Israel and that Israel may become politically isolated. This fear is so great that it is even prepared to support, in the short term, the same extreme terrorist forces and right wing religious mercenaries that the fraudulent ‘War on Terror’ was supposedly aimed at. The hypocritical and fraudulent nature of America’s foreign policy is now open for all working people to see, hence the reluctance of their western leaders to back Americas plans due to the lack of public support. However, the thought of losing out on the ‘spoils of war’ is not something which the European ‘puppet states’ would ideally wish to contemplate and there is no doubt that this will happen if America goes it alone. Much deliberation will therefore take place over how to present an acceptable propaganda ‘package’ to mislead and delude working people into backing the warmongers. The hired hacks in the media will be utilised to the full to dutifully put forward their master’s propaganda message, as and when required. This is already in full flow, particularly in America, with the usual standard list of self-serving neo-con pundits on CNN and Fox News.

Let’s be clear that this redivision of the middle east arises from a conflict of opposing and competing ruling elites between these respective countries, and also at the world scale the need to expand American ruling elite interests. The consequent impact is the mass slaughter being borne by ordinary working people. Those who stand to gain the most are the US Corporations, banks and military manufacturers and their hangers on, and to a lesser extent the Saudi and Israeli ruling elite. However, notwithstanding how events unfold in future weeks and months, America’s credibility and standing will never recover. The G20 Summit illustrated how the rest of the world has caught on to the west and its leaders, and are no longer prepared to play a supporting role in further illegal wars.

Russia, China and some emerging South American countries are now in a position to be economically independent from the dollar standard and their economies are built on stronger foundations, thanks to the American export of jobs and expertise to those countries. This now leaves the American economy in an extremely fragile position with major budget deficits, bankruptcies of major cities such as Detroit, once a manufacturing powerhouse, and a lack of social cohesion.

There is no way back for America now, its weakness having been exposed, and it is clear that its aspirations for world hegemony cannot be realised and will not be accepted by other world players. How much longer will it be before America accepts this fact?


ANGUS CLARK