Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The Sheridan Trial

Some people have requested updates on the trial against a former convenor of the SSP, Tommy Sheridan.

The Latest on the trial can be found on the BBC website HERE

or on a blog written by a member of the SWP (a left wing micro group who helped Tommy set up "Solidarity" after it became apparent he would not win back the leadership of the SSP) HERE

Friday, 22 October 2010

What next for those on the STUC march?

by Richie Venton, SSP national workplace organiser

The Demolition Coalition launched the social and economic equivalent of a nuclear attack on workers and communities on Axe Wednesday.

The thousands marching on the STUC demo have a critical part to play in building mass resistance to the slaughter of jobs, services, pay, benefits and pensions. Every marcher can help build united action through their trade union, community, pensioners’ or students’ organizations – and by building local anti-cuts alliances.

Demand No Cuts budgets in Holyrood and local Councils – Defiance budgets that refuse to pass on Westminster’s butchery.
In the wake of Osborne’s declaration of war, the hour has struck for SNP, Labour and other politicians who claim to oppose the Twin Tories’ cuts to take action louder than words.
When Swinney, Salmond et al set Scotland’s budget in a few weeks, they face a stark choice: put up genuine resistance by defying Westminster’s £1.3bn slashing of the block grant to Scotland, or shut up their talk of being ‘Scotland’s champions’, of being anti-cuts. If they are serious about defending Scotland, instead of talking about a 3-year pay freeze for all public sector workers and cuts to so-called ‘back-office’ jobs, the SNP government should set a budget with not a penny cut in pay or services, not a single job loss, and demand the missing £1.3bn back off the Westminster thieves who have stolen it to bail out the bankers and billionaires.

That would act as a clarion call to action by workers and communities in support of their defiance, with rallies, demonstrations, peaceful civil disobedience and industrial action. A nation in rebellion on the scale of the anti-poll tax struggle could be built, to win back the £1.3bn for next year’s Scottish spending plans.

Build a mass lobby of Scottish parliament
Given the record of the SNP so far, they are unlikely to show the spine to do this unless they face a rebellion from below. The STUC should use the Edinburgh demo to call a mass lobby of the Scottish parliament before tartan butchery is carried out next month. If they fail to do so, the public sector unions should take the lead and call it.

Make councillors fight
Councils face the same stark choice: defy or destroy. Union members and community groups should bombard councillors with demands for No Cuts budgets; not as a folded-arms gesture, but as a lever to building massive local resistance, combining councillors, council workers and service users in united action. It’s been done before – successfully – in Poplar and Vale of Leven in the 1920s, Clay Cross in the 1970s, Liverpool in 1984. They should mount a mass campaign to demand the stolen millions back off Holyrood to balance the books, with no cuts.

This stance has already been pushed within West Dunbartonshire council by SSP councilor Jim Bollan. It has been backed by at least two UNISON branches already: North Ayrshire and Glasgow city. More unions should follow suit.

Tax the rich – axe the Council Tax
Alongside such demands, marchers should take up the call for the Scottish parliament to introduce an emergency Bill to scrap the hated, regressive Council Tax, and replace it with an income-based, progressive Scottish Service Tax, which could virtually double the funds currently raised through Council Tax, by making the rich pay. £1.6bn extra raised through this measure alone would negate the savage impact of the £1.3bn cut to Scotland’s budget.

One-day public sector strike
No form of cuts is acceptable – or necessary; neither Coalition cuts, nor lesser, slower cuts by Labour or SNP. To force back the Scottish butchers, united strike action before the council budgets are set in stone could rock and rattle them into retreat. The STUC march is a golden moment for the STUC to call for a united one-day strike of the entire public sector (over 600,000 workers) in early 2011. Failing that, the more left-leaning public sector unions should make the call, name the day, and build the rebellion in the workplaces that would embolden communities too.

Socialism, the ultimate answer
Marchers need to express their political voice too; for taxation of the rich and big business; full and democratic public ownership of the banks’ £850bn assets; an end to Trident, war and other capitalist waste; for an independent socialist Scotland, free of the Westminster butchers. Join like-minded socialists – join the SSP.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Open Letter to Jo Swinson

After discussion on twitter with our local MP, Jo Swinson, an exasperated Yorkshire mum, Lisa Ansell, has sent a letter to her via our blog.

Dear Ms.Swinson,

We were having a conversation on twitter about the treatment of single parents by the Coalition government- and the only answer you had to my questions was that ''fathers should pay child support''.

As a single parent with one child I am now very worried. I have gone through every possibility, and your government have removed the ability to have work meet my basic living costs, unless I am earning way over the national average.

I don't know whether you are aware of what children are. They are people. Once they are born, you are responsible for them 24 hours per day. The hours you spend away from them have to be paid for, and in order to work you need arrange care for them. The average cost of this care where I live, is £110 per week. In Scotland it is nearer to £170 per week.

These are the outgoings I would have as a full time social - they are modest. I will not include food-as you really don’t need to know my eating habits.

Rent £500 per month
Childcare £5-600 per month
Electricity - £50
Gas £60
Council Tax - £80
Water Rates - £ 15
Internet £15
Travel to work £100
Student loan £80

£1500 per month.

Under the Labour government, my income including tax credits, housing benefit and a salary as a 30 hour a week qualified social worker- was £1600 per month. This was after I opted out of my pension.

As you can see this were not easy numbers. £100 per month for food, clothes for an adult and a child, and any other expenses, repairs that arose through day to day life.

Now, I wasn't complaining. Life is tough. At least with the state help I was grateful for, I could work. If you examine your housing benefit figures- you will find that single parents are over represented in housing benefit claims. They continue to work for quite a long time, even though there is little material gain. Working for its own sake is the reason most single parents with young children work, there is little financial gain to be made. If you do not do this, you become quite unattractive to employers. Gaps in employment, out of date skills- mean you earn much less when you do work.

Childcare is an expense that lone parents have to pay out in order to work. I bring this to your attention as it is a fact which is missing from Centre for Social Justice research, your social policy is based on.

Low salaries are generally expected by lone parents, because they have to balance work with responsibility for a child who exists 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. This is clearly evidenced pretty much everywhere.... There is a concentration of mothers in the bottom two tiers of the public sector- mainly because it is low paid but usually manageable around caring responsibilities.

When your government came in- you capped housing benefit to a third of the local average rents. This one move in itself removed the link between working and being able to pay basic living costs for many women. Ironic that the thing which allows women to work, was described by your government as a 'benefit trap'.

Yesterdays spending review placed further caps on council tax benefit, you have reduced the amount payable for childcare through tax credits, you are raising rail fares and bus fares, and increasing VAT. On my income level, as a social worker, I would be unable to continue to work.

In order to live on that salary, I had to spend a great deal of time on the phone to utility providers, given I couldn't afford to pay all of them EVERY month AND feed myself and my daughter. Living at a constant deficit is a very time consuming exercise. It is quite stressful, and takes a great deal of being nice to people, begging people, and generally playing a plate spinning game with your basic living costs. There is a great deal of research which shows that mothers act as ‘shock absorbers’ of poverty- I might suggest starting your reading with the evidence collected by your own government departments. If you can’t find any of the vast amount of evidence of this- I suggest going to an organization like the Joseph Rowntree Foundation or any of our Universities. There is no absence of evidence of this.


The link that was created between working and being able to pay my bills has now been completely broken. I now have no way of working and feeding my child. So has the link between being able to survive when you can’t work, or find work.

In order to earn enough money to have £100 per week disposable income to spend on food, clothes, or the repairs of the things that have broken and stayed broken- I would have to earn £22800 net per annum.

By which time my tax credits would be stopped because I earned more than £25k gross, and I would be sunk way back under that income level.

If I managed to get to the holy grail of £44k a year, I would be considered one of the richest women in the country and have my child benefit withdrawn.

If unemployed, my income would be £127 per week. Housing benefit which would only ever have covered £400 of my £500 rent, was reduced substantially in the June Budget- when the level at which it was calculated dropped to the bottom third of market rents. I would have already had to find this £100 per month out of that level of income- that has now increased by another £60.

If am unemployed for more than 12 months, and my daughter turns 5, I will be turned onto Jobseekers allowance- and if I have not found employment after 12 months, housing benefit would be further reduced by 10%.

Social Housing rents are to be brought up to market rents, so there is no chance that I would be able to get a council house with a more affordable rent.

I do have options.


a) get a job which pays far above the national average. In order to do that, I would have to move to an area where rents were much much higher. The town I live in is about to experience a massive spike in unemployment as we are heavily dependent on the public sector. I would have to retrain, presumably to graduate level- but I lucked out and used my first degree to become a social worker so more education is not an option open to me.
b) get married. Absence of available candidates is a bit of an issue there. Am 32, with a child, and quite frankly my experience of marriage is not overly positive. I had never considered I would have to fuck my way out of poverty.
c) have more children. Increase the level of state support I can receive.
d) (Which is my current preferred option) Set up a company which can employ me, and many others in family friendly work. This is the option I have taken, but as banks are not lending, my credit rating has been severely impacted by two years of living at a deficit- chances of success are not high- although I am meeting possible investors next week.

If this fails I am back to a)-c).

From your tweet I understand that government policy is that I should be getting support from an ex partner.

I appreciate that my ex should support his child. Like many men he, he is a good father. Out of a social worker's salary, he keeps a house fit for his daughter, is fully involved in her care- and buys her clothes. He doesn't have the capability to financially support me, even if he wanted to.

He is also facing unemployment as a result of the cuts your government is making to Childrens Services. Massive cuts.

I have always considered myself lucky that my ex is a good dad. Many of my friends have had to take restraining orders out to deal with theirs, or have been completely abandoned. I think it would be fair to call them deadbeat, and imply they have not met their responsibilities- I am concerned about the effect on my ex of finding out that he is also considered a deadbeat dad. I am concerned that their financial survival is dependent on the men they had the courage to leave. Some of them, very dangerous.

I appreciate this is a rambling letter- but I have a few specific questions for you:
Which social policy research suggests that women benefit from having their financial survival be solely dependent on a man, regardless of circumstances? Have you consulted with Domestic Violence charities about the implications of this?
What economic benefit is there to deliberately removing the ability of lone parents to remain in the labour market? Are these benefits long term, or short term? Are they benefits for the economy? Social benefits?
As the rhetoric used to justify these policies is about ‘scroungers’ and ‘deadbeat’ dads- could you qualify what a scrounger actually is? How long does a woman have to work for nothing to escape being described as such?

Have you read any research about the effects of poverty- what are the social benefits of ensuring that a woman has no way of supporting herself and her child by working?

What effect does ensuring that a woman has no ability to work to support her family have on gender equality?
One additional piece of social policy brought in- is the ‘fairness’ premium. Apparently because my daughter is only likely to hear 600 words a day, the state needs to ensure she has access to someone who will raise her aspirations- and in order for that to happen she needs to go to childcare outside the home.
Can I ask why you are deliberately placing so many women into abject poverty, and then introducing ‘fairness’ measures on the premise that they are inadequate parents? (’Children from poor homes hear 616 words spoken an hour, on average, compared to 2,153 words an hour in richer homes. By the age of three, that amounts to a cumulative gap of 30 million words.’’- Nick Clegg- 15th October 2010).

I would appreciate answers to these questions. I hope you don’t mind it being an open letter on a website in your constituency. I assumed that some of your constituents were women. Mothers- and that some of them might are single. They might want answers too.

Kind Regards

Lisa Ansell

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Demonstrate against the cuts and this vicious Tory and Liberal Democrat government!



Called by the Scottish Trades 
Union Congress
11.00 am: Assemble East Market 
Street Edinburgh
11.30am: March off
  12.30 pm: Rally Ross Bandstand

READ RAPHIE DE SANTOS (LEFTBANKER) on George Osborne's "spending Review" HERE

Monday, 18 October 2010

SSP Campsie Radio Special Podcast

Richie Venton on Defiant Liverpool

SSP Campsie Radio are proud to host Richie Venton who recalls the titanic struggles that took part in the city of Liverpool against the Thatcher Government in the eighties. Richie was part of the Militant Tendency in the Labour Party.

This is a valuable firsthand account of a struggle that can inform today’s battle against an uncaring Tory/ Liberal Democrat coalition.

Podcast in three parts -

Part 1 -

Parts 2 and 3 HERE

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Hugo Blanco - events in Scotland this week

A Word About Hugo Blanco

Hugo Blanco is a historic leader of the Peruvian peasant movement who
has been politically active since the 1950s. In the 1960s he played a
central part in the ‘Land or Death’ peasant uprising in the southern
highlands of Peru. He was captured, and sentenced to 25 years. He
wrote the book “Land or Death: the peasant struggle in Peru” during
one of his many periods in prison. In 1976 he was released and
deported to Sweden. On returning to Peru in 1978, he was elected to
parliament. He was a member of the Peruvian Senate until 1992, when he
was forced to seek political asylum in Mexico following Alberto
Fujimori’s “self-coup”.

Hugo Blanco has been at the forefront of a huge struggle in the
Peruvian Amazon where the government has sold off the rain forests to
the oil corporations and the indigenous people are resisting the
devastation this brings. He is working on the newspaper “Lucha
Indigena” (Indigenous Struggle). The struggle in Latin America today
is an international beacon of hope for all socialists including Eco

The people’s summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010 showed an
alternative to the total failure of the world’s governments –
especially those of the US and the European Union – to meet the
challenge of climate change. In a world where profit is the motor
force rather than human need, it has been an inspiration that social
movements in Latin America have won important victories. Indigenous
peoples have been key to the strength and success of those movements.
Hugo argues that indigenous peoples across the planet are in the
forefront of fighting climate change and conserving the local
environment. This is true of those struggling to preserve the lungs of
the world in the Amazon, to defend the rainforests in Borneo or
against the uranium mine in the Grand Canyon.

This weekend gives you a unique opportunity to hear directly from Hugo
- do not miss the chance!

Public Meeting

Historic Leader of the Peruvian Peasant Movement

Partick Burgh Halls

Friday 15TH October

Organised by the Scottish Socialist Party.

Edinburgh University Socialist Society Presents:

Latin America
The Eco Socialist Alternative
Hugo Blanco

Speakers and Workshops from:
Scottish Socialist Party
Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group
Green Left (England & Wales)
Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign
Cuban Solidarity Campaign
Scottish Socialist Youth

Saturday 16th October 2010
10:30 – 13:00
The Dining Room Teviot House
Bristo Square

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

New Banner?

We are currently updating the look of the Campsie blog.  We want your suggestions as to how to change the banner/ background etc!

A comrade from the SSY has created this banner as an example of what we could do.  If you have any suggestions/ advice, please email us on