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Scotland: Respect votes to split left vote, Galloway opposes independence

On November 13, 2010, the English left-wing organisation Respect’s annual conference voted, 59 to 15, to begin organising in Scotland. The decision was preceded by the most prominent Respect leader and former MP George Galloway floating the idea that he stand for the Scottish Parliament, either as part of a Respect campaign or an independent "George 4 Glasgow" campaign. Below are a number of articles from the Scottish and English left on Respect's move into Scotland.

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Don't do it, George

Writing on Liam MacUaid's blog on November 10, 2010, Raphie de Santos of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) makes a case against George Galloway standing for Respect in Scotland.

Britain: Con-Dem government to roll back social gains won since WWII

Greens MP Caroline Lucas addresses the October 20, 2010, protest against the cuts in London, organised by the Coalition of Resistance.

By Raphie de Santos

October 21, 2010 – Socialist Resistance – The Conservative Party-Liberal Democrat Party (Con-Dem) coalition government has announced the most severe cuts in public spending since the great depression of the 1930s. The £81 billion (bn) of announced cuts and the £30 bn of tax increases for the next four fiscal years starting in April 2011 are on top of the already announced £8bn cuts for this fiscal year. Add in the hidden cuts (the National Health Service) and it all amounts to a rolling back of a large part of the gains that people have fought to establish since the end of the second world war.

Britain: What now for the Green Party?

By Peter Shield

August 17, 2010 -- The Green Party of England and Wales has made some major breakthroughs over the couple of years, the election of Caroline Lucas to the British parliament was one of the few bright points on an otherwise dismal election night on May 6, 2010. At a local level the Green Party now has just over 120 councillors and the two members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The problem however is that the election showed up how patchy and locally concentrated its support base actually is. With the Autumn party conference approaching what are challenges facing the Green Party.

Scotland: The election everyone lost

Colin Fox.

By Colin Fox

May 10, 2010 -- Did you hear the one about the election everyone lost? On May 6, 2010, Labour the party in power lost 100 seats and with it the chance to continue in government after 13 years. The Conservatives lost the victory all the polls had been promising them for the past 18 months. The Liberals suffered perhaps the most devastating humiliation after Cleggmania turned out to be a complete and utter mirage. The man who apparently wowed us so much in the great TV leadership debates actually lost a significant number of seats rather than gaining any.

The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) also lost seats. Instead of going from seven to 20 as SNP leader Alex Salmond confidently predicted they actually went back to six.

`That's capitalism!' Scottish Socialist Party election broadcast: `No cuts, no wars, for an end to corruption'

April 29, 2010 -- The Scottish Socialist Party is standing in 10 seats across Scotland in the UK general election on May 6.The video above was broadcast on BBC TV on April 23.

SSP election manifesto: `For an independent socialist Scotland'

No cuts, no wars, for an end to corruption

Alistair Hulett: `A truly great singer, songwriter, activist and socialist'

January 29, 2010 -- Alistair Hulett died at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow on Thursday evening, January 28, 2010. Alistair's partner Fatima thanks all those who wrote in with messages of support in the past week since news of Alistair's illness became public. The response was overwhelming, and shows just how many people cared about Alistair and his music.

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Alistair, a truly great singer, songwriter, activist and socialist, will be greatly missed by us all.

Alistair Hulett was born in Glasgow and discovered traditional music in his early teens. In 1968 he and his family moved to New Zealand where he established a reputation on the folk circuit with his large repertoire of songs and his interpretation of the big narrative ballads.

Wave of workplace occupations aims to reverse tide of closures; August 5: Thomas Cook workers arrested

Avril Boyne, more than eight months' pregnant, who has nine years' service at Thomas Cook, protesting at the closure of the travel agency and the redundancy package offered to staff at the Thomas Cook office, Grafton Street, Dublin. Thomas Cook is offering five weeks' pay for each year of service but workers are holding out for eight weeks. Photograph by Matt Kavanagh/Irish Times.

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STOP PRESS: Thomas Cook sit-in raided by police, workers arrested!

Send protest/solidarity emails to wendy@thomascook.ie and fennj@tssa.org.uk

Scottish Socialist Party: ‘Little Britain’ politics and the left

By Alan McCombes

April 24, 2009 -- Voters who want an isolationist Britain will be spoiled for choice in the European elections on June 4th. On the far right, the BNP and UKIP both demand an independent Britain. Left of centre parties that want British withdrawal include Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour Parry and the NO2EU Yes To Democracy coalition. While these four parties promote British independence, the Free Scotland Party campaigns for an independent Scotland outside the European Union.

What should be the attitude of Scottish socialists towards Europe? Should the left back British separatism? And does the NO2EU Yes To Democracy campaign represent a progressive step forward?

Scottish Trade Union Congress votes to support boycotts, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel

By the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

April 22, 2009 -- The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), representing every Scottish trade union, voted overwhelmingly to commit to boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. This is the third example of a national trade union federation [including Ireland and South Africa] committing to boycotts, divestment and sanctions and is a clear indication that, while Israel can kill Palestinians with impunity and Western support, it has lost the battle for world public opinion. It is now seen to be a state born out of ethnic cleansing and still expanding through the violent dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Lockerbie, 20 years on: Behind the frame up of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Lockerbie air disaster, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is republishing these important articles. Since their first publication, important new evidence has cast even more doubt on the unjust conviction of  Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi -- see comments section below. 

[Read Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi's legal defence documents HERE.]

By Norm Dixon

February 14, 2001 -- The eminent barrister Horace Rumpole has often noted that the “golden thread running through the history of British justice” is that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty by the prosecution “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Of course, Rumpole is a fictional character created by writer John Mortimer. As the verdict handed down in the Lockerbie bombing trial proves, the “golden thread” is just as fictional.

On January 31, 2001, the three Scottish lords sitting in judgement on the charges against two Libyans accused of planting the bomb that felled Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland on December 21, 1988, found Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi guilty of the murders of the 270 people killed in the disaster. Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah was found not guilty.

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Video: The Carbon Connection -- The human impact of carbon trading

Two communities affected by one new global market – the trade in carbon dioxide. In Scotland, a town has been polluted by oil and chemical companies since the 1940s. In Brazil, local people's water and land is being swallowed up by destructive monoculture eucalyptus tree plantations. Both communities now share a new threat.

As part of the deal to reduce greenhouse gases that cause dangerous climate change, major polluters can now buy carbon credits that allow them to pay someone else to reduce emissions instead of cutting their own pollution. What this means for those living next to the oil industry in Scotland is the continuation of pollution caused by their toxic neighbours. Meanwhile in Brazil, the schemes that generate carbon credits gives an injection of cash for more planting of the damaging eucalyptus plantations.

The two communities are now connected by bearing the brunt of the new trade in carbon credits. The Carbon Connection follows the story of two groups of people from each community who learned to use video cameras and made their own films about living with the impacts of the carbon market.

The Scottish Socialist Party: the biggest small party

By Richie Venton

SSP - For a workers MP on a workers wage

July 26, 2008 -- What a phenomenal result in the July 24 Glasgow East by-election on two parallel levels: the earth-shattering defeat of the Labour Party in Red Clydesider John Wheatley’s seat, Labour’s third-safest seat in Scotland, held by them since 1922; and the tremendous achievement for the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in winning fifth place, the highest position for any of the smaller parties, despite all the apparently insurmountable obstacles we faced.

If we compare the votes with those of the 2005 Westminster election in the identical Glasgow East seat, Labour has gone into freefall from 18,775 to 10,912; the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) rocketed from 5268 to 11,277 -- in a turnout down from 48.2% in 2005 to 42.1% this time.

Scottish Socialist Party: Free public transport for all: travel doesn't have to cost the Earth

 

The Scottish Socialist Party’s campaign for free public transport is an ``audacious, eye-catching idea'' according to Douglas Fraser, political editor of The Herald newspaper.

In the Belgian city of Hasselt, which covers an area double the size of Dundee, congestion was eliminated in the late 1980s after the introduction of a totally free public transport system.

Free public transport would be the biggest single pro-environment policy enacted by any national government anywhere on the planet, dramatically slashing car use and CO2 emissions.

Free fares would represent a major shift of wealth in favour of the many thousands of people who currently pay sky-high fares to subsidise the transport companies.

Review rejects key Lockerbie ‘evidence’

By Norm Dixon 

14 July 2007

The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) ruled on June 28 that the 2001 conviction of Libyan citizen Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi — sentenced to 27 years’ jail for allegedly bombing Pan Am flight 103, which exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie on December 21, 1988, killing 270 people — “may have suffered a miscarriage of justice”. The SCCRC referred al Megrahi’s case to Scotland’s appeal court.

Behind the Lockerbie frame-up

By Norm Dixon

14 February 2001 -- The eminent barrister Horace Rumpole has often noted that the “golden thread running through the history of British justice” is that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty by the prosecution “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Of course, Rumpole is a fictional character created by writer John Mortimer. As the verdict handed down in the Lockerbie bombing trial proves, the “golden thread” is just as fictional.

On January 31, the three Scottish lords sitting in judgement on the charges against two Libyans accused of planting the bomb that felled Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland on December 21, 1988, found Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi guilty of the murders of the 270 people killed in the disaster. Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah was found not guilty.

The nine-month trial was held in the Netherlands and conducted according to Scottish law. It was the result of an agreement between Libya and the US and British governments that finally allowed the trial — which had been stalled for almost five years by London's and Washington's insistence that the case be held in either the United States or Britain — to be heard in a “neutral” third country.

In their 82-page judgement, the three judges found that, despite “uncertainties and qualifications”, “there is nothing in the evidence which leaves us with any reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the first accused [Megrahi]”.

Is the bottle half full or half empty?

Review by Alex Miller

Gregor Gall, The Political Economy of Scotland: Red Scotland? Radical Scotland? University of Wales Press, 2005.

This is not the time for the empty conceits of vainglorious demagogues, but the occasion for well-grounded marxians smartly able to seize the upsurging opportunities to rouse and lead our class to victory. English labour is bound to respond to our call if we in Scotland strike out boldly for political conquest.—John MacLean, 19201

Scottish independence and the struggle for socialism

By Alan McCombes

Alan McCombes is the editor of Scottish Socialist Voice, the newspaper of the Scottish Socialist Party.

For socialists, internationalism has always been a sacred principle. "The workingmen have no country", declared the founders of scientific socialism 150 years ago.

In 1863, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels founded the International Workingmen's Association, the First International. The movement was created in recognition of the fact that the world was not a patchwork quilt of hermetically sealed national states, but a chain of interlinked nations in which major events in a single country could have continent-wide, and even worldwide, repercussions.

This world view was dramatically borne out by the events of 1917-1919, when the successful Bolshevik revolution immediately ignited a forest fire of mass revolutionary movements across Europe.

More recently, in the 1960s, the US ruling class expounded the "domino theory", and attempted to bomb Vietnam into oblivion for fear that "godless communism" would sweep through the whole of east Asia.

The broad party, the revolutionary party and the united front [2]

By Murray Smith

CONTENTS

John Rees' contribution to the debate over what kind of party socialists should be building today deals with fundamental issues [see page 82]. As such it is very welcome, as is the reproduction in International Socialist Journal of the two articles from Frontline by Nick McKerrell and myself. The issues in this debate are also in one form or another being debated internationally. The three main points that I want to take up here are the nature of the Labour Party and similar parties elsewhere, the united front today and the question of broad and/or revolutionary parties, of what kind of party we need today.

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