Scotland: Socialist challenge to big business parties

This General Election, perhaps more than ever before, will be fought over by politicians who are a million miles removed from the real lives and problems facing the majority of working people.

New Labour have been a massive disapointment to the millions who thought that the defeat of the Tories would mean that ‘things could only get better." Instead Blair and Brown continued the pro-business, anti-working class policies of the Tories. Eight years of New Labour has put the final nail in the coffin of those who still clung to the hope that Labour would stand on the side of the working class. Privatisation, cuts, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, attacks on pensions rights, tuition fees and spiralling debt for students, growing levels of poverty, ill health and inequality, a worsening NHS; that is the real legacy of eight years of New Labour.

This election takes place at a critical time. Whoever leads New Labour in a likely third term, Blair or Brown, they are planning a massive assault on pensions, jobs and working conditions. Any government committed to the rule of capitalism and big business will attempt to unload the growing problems of the economy onto the backs of the working class people and their families. The Tories plan exactly the same.

In Scotland we have seen the Liberal Democrats form a coalition with New Labour that has introduced record levels of privatisation schemes into schools and hospitals; the wholesale sell-off of council housing in Glasgow and other areas; and has presided over an NHS that is falling apart. The SNP offer no alternative to the cosy pro-business consensus of the mainstream political parties.

Scottish Socialist Party

But there is an alternative. The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) is standing in all 59 seats at the general election. The SSP has been the only party in Scotland over the last few years to put the fight against poverty and inequality, privatisation and war centre stage. Moreover, the SSP has raised the possibility that there is an alternative to capitalism, poverty and war.

The International Socialists and the cwi have been part of and worked to build the SSP since its inception. A number of our members are standing for the SSP in this election. (see below)

A big vote for the SSP is important to show that there are tens of thousands of workers and young people looking for a radical, pro-socialist alternative. It will be a boost to those in the trade unions arguing for the unions to make break from New Labour and play a leading role in building a mass party of the working class. Alongside the votes for and campaigning work of the Socialist Party and other genuine forces on the left in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there is the potential to use this election to argue for an alternative to the parties of big business and the millionaires.

But more than ever before, the result of this election will not reflect the mass opposition that is growing across Scotland and Britain to the policies of New Labour.

Whatever the outcome of this election it will be the working class, trade unionists and young people who will decide the future. There is a massive revolt being prepared by the hammer blow of attacks that the logic of capitalism dictates must be reigned down on the heads of the majority of the population. The ongoing struggle against the attacks on public sector pensions is only the start of what can become a tidal wave of opposition. A new movement will emerge to turn the tide against the millionaires and in favour of the millions.

But through these battles the movement will also put onto the agenda the need to fight to overturn the madness of the market and instead build a sane and democratic socialist society based on public ownership and democratic working class control of the economy. Such a society will indeed make poverty and capitalism history.

Members of the Committee for a Workers International are standing for the SSP in a number of areas they include:

Glasgow South: Ronnie Stevenson

Ronnie is a longstanding socialist and trade union activist. He is the UNISON convener for the Glasgow City Council social work services department which represents 4,000 workers.

Edinburgh West: Gary Clark

Gary is a postal worker and is the Communication Workers’ Union rep for 360 workers. He is well known for opposing management attempts to undermine working conditions in the postal service. Gary’s CWU branch is affiliated to the SSP

Dundee West: Jim McFarlane

Jim is the chairperson of Dundee City Council UNISON branch. He is currently playing a prominent role in opposing New Labour’s pensions attacks on public sector workers. He has stood for the SSP in the last three Scottish and Westminster elections.

Dundee East: Harvey Duke

Harvey has been a leading socialist activist in Dundee for many years. From the poll tax campaign, to opposing stock transfer of council housing to building opposition of racism and fascism Harvey has been at the forefront of these and other struggles.

Angus: Alan Manley

Alan Manley is a nurse and UNISON shop steward. He has been to the fore in opposing privatisation schemes in the NHS and has been a unions activist for many years.

The Scottish Socialist Party is standing on a range of policies including:

  • The immediate withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq.
  • For wealth redistribution – Increased tax on the rich and big business. Scrap the council tax.
  • An increase in the minimum wage to £7.60 an hour and the introduction of a 35 hour working week.
  • Bring back into public ownership the industries and services privatised by the Tories and New Labour.
  • For an increase in the pension to £160 minimum for a single pensioner. Restore the link between pensions and earnings
  • No to privatisaiton of public services. Stop the attacks on public sector pensions.
  • For an independent socialist Scotland.

The CWI has proposed amendments to the SSP manifesto that call for a clear commitment to stand for the nationalisation of the major multinationals that control the Scottish and British economies under democratic working class control. This is to ensure that the overwhelming majority of the economy can be democratically controlled and planned in favour of the working class.

We also have important differences with the some of the SSP leadership who have put emphasis on the need to campaign to “Break apart the British state.” They have argued this would lead to an independent Scotland that could begin to solve the economic and social problems facing the working class in Scotland.

The CWI supports the right of people of Scotland to decide their relationship with the rest of Britain. At the same time we believe that an independent Scotland that did not break decisively with capitalism would not be a solution to the problems of poverty, inequality and debt. That’s why we support the SSP’s call for an independent socialist Scotland which would have to be linked to the struggle for socialism internationally.

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