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Review: 'In Place of Fear II: A Socialist Programme for an Independent Scotland'

In Place of Fear II: A Socialist Programme for an Independent Scotland
By Jim Sillars
Vagabond Voices Publishing, 2014

Review by Alex Miller

August 13, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Jim Sillars is a well-known and well-respected figure on the Scottish political scene. He was elected (UK) Labour Party MP for South Ayrshire in 1970 but subsequently shifted away from mainstream Labour Party politics as a result of his commitment to devolution from Westminster and the setting up of a Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. It's worth remembering that the infamous "40% rule" that blocked the narrow majority vote in favour of devolution in the 1979 referendum was the work of UK Labour Party MP George Cunningham (with the support of fellow Labour MPs George Robertson, Robin Cook and Tam Dalyell).

Scotland: Trade unionists debate independence, 'yes' gets the nod

By Richie Venton, Scottish Socialist Party national trade union organiser and Trade Unionists for Independence

For more on Scotland and the independence debate, click HERE.

April 22, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Campaigners for Scottish independence received another boost in March as a Unison trade union branch sided "positively with the Yes side".

Nation-wide branch Skills Development Scotland held a Yes/No debate at their 2014 AGM. Richard Leonard, GMB's political officer represented United for Labour, and went head-to-head with Richie Venton of Trade Unionists for Independence.

Yes emerged the popular choice of the night.

Skills Development Scotland branch secretary, Derek Cheyne, said: "It was a really good debate -- I think a lot of people really engaged and we had a great turn out as well.

"I've got to say, I think that most of the questions from the floor were very pro-yes. We've not canvassed on whether our members are yes or no, but I got the feeling tonight Yes was dominant.

"I hope it has energised our members, that they become more involved whether it's yes or no -- that's entirely up to them, because my union has taken a more neutral stance."

Scotland: Tariq Ali on independence

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On March 14, 2014, renowned Marxist author Tariq Ali presented, as part of Edinburgh University Sociology Department's Independence Lectures series, "Dismantling the British State: Strategy, Tactics and Ideology". It was held in association with Pluto Press and Wordpower Books.

Scotland: 'The English left need to shut up and listen' on independence

Click HERE for more on Scotland and independence.

By Pam Currie

February 20, 2014 -- Morning Star -- Is Scotland, as is often claimed, really more progressive than the rest of Britain? This is an argument traditionally dismissed by the left: the working class of Glasgow have more in common with the working class of Birmingham and Liverpool than they do with the opulent suburbs of their own city, or the tiny aristocratic elite who still own the vast bulk of Scotland's land mass.

This is true -- but it ignores several important arguments, and trotted out by the London-based left it can seem as out of touch and dismissive as Westminster's politicians.

Let's take the seemingly unstoppable rise of the far-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), for a start.

There's a real prospect that the right-wing party will significantly increase its representation in the European elections later this year, and with the Liberal Democrats' vote both north and south of the border in freefall it's conceivable even that they could be coalition partners in Westminster after 2015.

Scottish Socialists respond to government's independence proposals

December 7, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Colin Fox, Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) national co-spokesperson and Yes Scotland advisory board member, presents the SSP's overview of the Scottish government's white paper on independence.

Filmed at the Scottish Socialist Voice forum in Edinburgh. An event bringing the pro-independence left together to respond to the white paper on independence.

Scottish socialists debate trade union links with the Labour Party

November 22, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialst Renewal -- The Scottish Left Review (issue 79) published this roundtable of the relationship of the trade unions and the British Labour Party.

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Gregor Gall reviews Len McCluskey’s Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture and concludes that the Unite leader is perhaps too generous in identifying signs of real change in the Labour Party leader Ed Milliband’s Labour Party.

At the second annual Reid Foundation lecture, Len McCluskey, general secretary of the largest union in Britain, Unite, proclaimed that at the September 2013 British Labour Party conference Ed Miliband had delivered the most radical party conference speech for 30 years. The reason for this, McCluskey argued, was that Miliband had broken with neoliberal dogma of "New" Labour.

Scotland: Socialists discuss building a 'better left'

The Scottish Socialist Party's Colin Fox marching in the Edinburgh May Day, 2013.

Click HERE for more on Scotland.

June 17, 2013 -- Frontline, an independent Marxist magazine is Scotland, hosted a meeting recently which brought together socialists from different backgrounds to look at the question of building left unity in Scotland. In the first article below Frontline editor Alister Black reflects on the challenges ahead. Below are also articles from sections of the Scottish left that discuss the prospects for a better left in Scotland.

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Britain: The 1970s and the movement for workers’ control

[Click for more discussion of workers' control, cooperatives and "green jobs".]

By Andrew Coates

Trade unions have historically bargained for better terms for the sale of labour power; they have not been able to challenge the existence of the labour market itself. Today, however, the relation between "political" and "economic" struggle have changed.” -- Perry Anderson. "The Limits and Possibilities", in The Incompatibles: Trade Union Militancy and the Consensus,1967.

Scotland: Radical Independence Conference unites left

November 25, 2012 -- Counterfire -- More than 800 delegates gathered in central Glasgow, Scotland on November 24 to attend the Radical Independence Conference and launched a campaign for a radical vision of Scottish independence. Speakers from a broad range of campaigns and struggles provided strategies for winning voters to independence whilet calling for a progressive social, economic and environmental transformation of the country in the interests of ordinary people.

A rejection of neoliberalism in a post-independence Scotland was a recurring theme throughout the event, which skilfully mixed packed rallies with wide-ranging breakaway workshops on topics such as "women and independence", "wealth of the commons: a Green economy for a progressive Scotland" and "organising the 99%".

A mass movement

In the opening plenary Peter McColl, rector of Edinburgh University, called for a mass movement against neoliberalism, saying that independence was part of a better future for Scotland. Trade union activist Cat Boyd told how she became radicalised by taking part in the anti-war movement which exposed "the true nature" of the "war obsessed machine" that is the British state.

Review: Tommy Sheridan bio 'essential reading'

Tommy Sheridan: From Hero To Zero? A Political Biography
By Gregor Gall
Welsh Academic Press, 2011, 360 pages

Review by Alex Miller

October 23, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In this book, Gregor Gall seeks to provide the “definitive and authoritative” political biography of Tommy Sheridan, former national convenor of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP).

Like Alan McCombes’ Downfall: The Tommy Sheridan Story (see review at http://links.org.au/node/2521), Gall’s biography goes into great detail on the split within the SSP in 2006, Sheridan’s successful defamation case against News of the World, and his subsequent trial and conviction for perjury in 2010.

Scotland: Why socialists support independence

Scottish Socialist Party spokersperson Colin Fox addresses the Edinburgh rally for independence, September 22, 2012.

By Colin Fox

September 20, 2012 -- Colin Fox's blog -- Tommy Docherty, the legendary wit and manager of Manchester United, once quipped after his team had suffered a humiliating defeat, "We lost 4-0 and frankly we were lucky to get the nil." The Tories [Conservative Party] in Scotland know just how he felt, for they are so hated that out of 56 MPs they have just one, and they were lucky to get that!

And yet, as incredible as it may seem, their coalition partners [in the British government] are despised even more. The Liberal Democrats now have no constituency members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) in mainland Scotland and were "mauled" in last year’s local elections for "joining" the hated Tories at Westminster.

The socialist case for Scottish independence; Galloway wrong to oppose independence

May 31, 2012 -- Socialist Resistance -- The campaign for a yes vote in the referendum on Scottish independence is underway. Britain's Socialist Resistance, which strongly supports Scottish independence, invited Gregor Gall to make the socialist case for an independent Scotland at a public meeting in London. This video is his contribution. Gregor is a member of the Scottish Socialist Party, a member of the editorial board of the Scottish Left Review and author of Tommy Sheridan – From Hero To Zero.

Britain: Coalition government parties battered in local elections

Respect's Alyas Karmani defeated the Labour Party leader on the Bradford council. Respect won five seats.

May 6, 2012 -- Socialist Resistance -- The British Labour Party was clearly the big winner in the May 3 local council elections. Although in London celebrity politics, along with a nasty personalised campaign by the Evening Standard, and divisions within the Labour Party, created a win for Conservative Party's Boris Johnson, both the Conservative (Tory) and the Liberal Democrat (Lib Dems) parties took a drubbing across the country giving the Lib Dems the worst result in its history. This is clearly a part of shift to the left and towards an anti-austerity stance, which is evident elsewhere in Europe. This is the case in Greece, France and Spain in particular – though in Greece there is also the rise of the far right.

One million climate jobs now! The video

May 4, 2012 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group  is organising a Climate Jobs Caravan in England and Scotland in May 2012.

Based on the Million Climate Jobs report, produced with the assistance of Public and Commercial Services Union, the University and College Union, the Communication Workers Union and the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, the caravan will highlight how creating climate jobs can help tackle the twin crises of the ecomony and climate change.

This inspiring video sets out the caravan’s message. The full 33-minute version, along with eight other videos about the struggle for justice, can be purchased on a DVD from Reel News.

You can read the One Million Climate Jobs pamphlet HERE.

Scotland's left on independence referendum: For an 'anti-austerity yes vote'

Statements on the Scottish independence referendum by the Scottish Socialist Youth, the International Socialist Group (Scotland) and the Scottish Greens.

By Andy Bowden

January 10, 2012 -- Scottish Socialist Youth -- After almost a year since the Scottish National Party’s landslide victory we have a  date – autumn 2014 for the most important referendum in Scottish history, on whether or not we stay in a union [the United Kingom] dominated by the right wing, a state that invaded Iraq, imposes nuclear weapons on the Clyde, destroyed Scotland’s industrial base, or whether we become an independent nation with the power to fundamentally change Scotland for the better and which reflects the left of centre political terrain instead of being dominated by the Tory home counties.

Basque Country: ETA declares permanent ceasefire, Basque left set for gains

By Andy Bowden

October 21, 2011 -- Scottish Socialist Youth -- Amid the worldwide media coverage of Gaddafi’s death, a historic development in another conflict went largely unnoticed -- after more than 40 years of a military campaign against the Spanish state, the Basque armed group ETA announced a permanent end to its use of violence in the struggle for an independent and socialist Basque state. This follows previous announcements from the group, declaring a desire to pursue Basque independence through peaceful measures.

Scotland: The politics of integrity versus celebrity

Review by Alex Miller

Downfall: The Tommy Sheridan Story
By Alan McCombes,
Birlinn 2011
326 pages, pb

September 12, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- In the elections to the Scottish parliament in May 2003, the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) polled just under a quarter of a million votes and won six seats. By any stretch of the imagination this was a remarkable achievement for a party well to the left of Labour. It was a beacon of hope and inspiration for socialists the world over.

By 2011, the SSP’s vote had slumped to below 9000. It failed to regain any of the six seats it had lost in 2007. The single biggest factor in the SSP’s electoral demise was almost certainly the civil war and split that followed the scandal surrounding the SSP’s former convenor, Tommy Sheridan.

In this well-written and often gripping book, Alan McCombes — the SSP’s former press and policy coordinator — gives the inside story of the events surrounding the scandal and split.

Scotland: Why the left should back independence

By Alan McCombes

May 19, 2011 -- Scottish Socialist Party -- More than 150 years ago, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels called on the working class of all countries to unite and fight for a socialist world.

At a time when there were no telephones, no cars, no aeroplanes, no TV and no radio, their internationalist vision represented an extraordinary feat of historical imagination.

In today’s world of the internet, satellite TV, high-speed air travel, global capitalism and the World Social Forum, the philosophy of socialist internationalism no longer looks like a utopian flight of fantasy.

But what does socialist internationalism mean in practice?

“Imagine there’s no countries, I wonder if you can; nothing to kill or die for, a brotherhood of man”, sang John Lennon in his celebrated radical anthem.

Scotland: Political climate changes utterly; Voters bring break up of Britain closer?

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond.

By Colin Fox, Scottish Socialist Party spokesperson

May 10, 2011 -- As landslides go the 2011 Holyrood election was huge. Scotland has been shaken to its political foundations as voters again voiced their contempt for the Conservative Party [Tories], its coalition partner the Liberal Democratic Party [Lib Dems], and also the Labour Party. The Scotsman newspaper described the result of the May 5 Scottish election as a "victory of hitherto unthinkable proportions" for the Scottish National Party (SNP). Even The Scotsman can be right some of the time!

For independence and democracy: Scottish Socialist Party election manifesto 2011


Scottish Socialist Party broadcast.

May 2, 2011 --Scotland goes to the polls on May 5. Below is the Scottish Socialist Party's election manifesto. For a PDF version of the party's detailed election platform, click HERE.

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In a devolved Scotland the SSP is committed to implementing the following:

■ For a Yes vote in any independence referendum.

■ The introduction of participatory democracy at community level by establishing local assemblies with the power to make and veto decisions that affect their community.

■ An increase in the maximum number of councillors per ward from 4 to 6, to allow greater proportionality and more representative local government.

We will also campaign for the following measures, which are not within the Scottish Parliament’s powers:

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