Jeremy Corbyn – A Great Socialist

Solidarity notes with dismay the recent attempt by Labour MPs to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, a principled, selfless socialist. Yet again his own MPs conspire to weaken their hugely popular leader, elected by the party’s members with a massive majority.

It is a matter of public record that the majority of the British people support Jeremy Corbyn’s Socialism of the 21st Century Policies (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-s-policy-blitz-poll-supported-by-majority-of-british-public-a7685016.html).

While we disagree with Jeremy Corbyn’s current position on the question of Scottish Independence, we find many areas of common ground, including but not limited to:

 

  1. Free school meals for primary school children, (echoing Tommy Sheridan’s 2002 policy for free school meals for all children).
  2. Introducing VAT on children’s school fees (Solidarity would abolish private schools but start by rescinding their charitable status)
  3. £10-an-hour minimum wage – (Solidarity policy also)
  4. Raise top rate of tax to 50p from 45p
  5. Renationalise British railways
  6. Renationalise power companies

 

We are pleased to note also that Jeremy Corbyn is patron of Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Solidarity is an affiliated member of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Jeremy is also a long-standing patron of CND, echoing Solidarity’s unmitigated opposition to nuclear weapons. He was also for many years chair of Stop the War, an organisation Solidarity is proud to support.

In fact, we view Jeremy Corbyn as the most left-wing Labour leader in our lifetime

It is also completely untrue that Jeremy Corbyn is “unelectable”. Far from it: he packed meeting rooms and venues across Britain in his General Election campaign – it reminded us of Tommy Sheridan in his Hope Over Fear tour of Scotland, prior to the Scottish Independence referendum.

 

Statement on Finsbury Park Terrorist Attack

Solidarity condemns as Islamophobic terrorism the murderous attack early this morning in Finsbury Park, London, targeted at Muslims leaving Ramadhan evening prayers, which has left one man dead and ten injured.
We grieve with the bereaved as we hope and pray for a quick recovery for the injured. Our hearts go out to all those affected and their families. We stand in solidarity with you all.
As with all terrorism, the victims were completely innocent.
We note the admirable restraint of the imam, Mohammed Mahmoud and others who protected the terrorist from a lynching by those present until police arrived to take the terrorist into custody.
We call on the government and law enforcement to vigorously prosecute not only those directly responsible, but also anyone seeking to exploit the situation to sow hatred and division.
It is clear that Britain is too tolerant of extremism when we consider the drivel spouted by individuals like Tommy Robinson, formerly of the EDL, who has threatened to set up militias to attack Muslim communities, Katie Hopkins who called for white men to rise up against Muslims to protect their children, Nigel Farage and all of UKIP and Theresa May, our PM, for her counterterrorism policies which labels all Muslims as potential extremists and terrorists. Each of these people should be locked up as extremists inciting racial hatred.
The BBC and other news outlets are now correctly describing the attack as terrorism but Solidarity notes that initial reports were reluctant to name the attack for what it is: racist terrorism.
Solidarity also condemns in the strongest possible terms the irresponsible gutter tabloid press, for inciting Islamophobia prior to today.
Pat Lee, co-convenor of Solidarity, said:
“I would emphasise that the actions of the white terrorist are the result of the increased Islamophobic rhetoric being bandied about by our politicians. Eg, the Prime Minister: “tolerance of Islamic extremism should not be accepted.”
“Statements from our elected representatives should be measured and factual. Where the vast, vast majority of Muslim members of our Communities condemn such acts, it is incumbent upon our politicians not to use rhetoric that inflames the situations our communities find themselves in.
I hope they will now reflect on their contribution to these incidents.”

Statement on Manchester and London Attacks

Solidarity, Scotland’s Socialist Movement, would like to express our deepest sympathy for the families bereaved and those injured by the recent terrorist attacks at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester and London Bridge and Borough Market in London.

We join the Muslim Council of Britain and decent-minded people everywhere to condemn in the strongest terms these barbaric, murderous acts.

While it is certain that there is a link between Britain’s foreign policy and domestic terrorism, this does not diminish the pain of those who loved the people who were murdered nor the suffering of those injured, who were all completely innocent.

We note the selfless acts of those everyday heroes who tried to intervene against the terrorists at Borough Market and indeed those who gave their time by offering shelter and free taxi rides to those affected.

We stand in solidarity with you all.

Ends

Solidarity Statement on the UK General Election, 8 June 2017.

“Solidarity calls for progressive anti-Tory vote in Scotland – Vote for progressive candidate most likely to defeat the reactionary Tories.

Solidarity is an unashamedly socialist party that stands for an irreversible shift in wealth and power from the rich and powerful to the real creators of wealth, the working class.
SOLIDARITY IS ALSO COMMITTED TO AN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND. We believe in and fight for an independent socialist republic.”

This statement was prepared by Tommy Sheridan and reflects the position agreed at a recent meeting of the Executive Committee.

JUNE 8TH GENERAL ELECTION 2017
Solidarity calls for progressive anti-Tory vote in Scotland – Vote for progressive candidate most likely to defeat the reactionary Tories.
Solidarity is an unashamedly socialist party that stands for an irreversible shift in wealth and power from the rich and powerful to the real creators of wealth, the working class.
SOLIDARITY IS ALSO COMMITTED TO AN INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND. We believe in and fight for an independent socialist republic.


Solidarity emerged from the 2015 Scottish General election as the best-supported party of the left in Scotland securing over 14,000 votes for our vision of an independent socialist republic.


At the last UK General Election in 2015 Solidarity democratically debated the issue of our approach to that election and voted to stand aside in every seat and argue for our supporters and other socialists across Scotland to ‘lend’ their vote to the SNP in the interests of maximising the Pro-Independence, Anti-Austerity and Anti-Trident vote. We also believed such a vote would pressure the SNP to place IndyRef2 on the political agenda with a target of 2018 for a new poll. Events have proved us to be correct on this question. This was a controversial decision that attracted criticism from various quarters, including on the left.


However, in the in the context of a Miliband-led Labour Party that had disgracefully campaigned alongside the Tories to seek to crush the independence campaign with a mixture of scare stories, lies and bullying it was appropriate to describe the Labour Party as ‘Red Tories’ and seek to maximise the YES vote behind the SNP and their anti-austerity and anti-Trident commitments. The Labour Party offered nothing different to the working class but further cuts at perhaps a slower rate. They were clearly ‘Red Tories’. We believe it was the right thing to do in 2015 and if others on the left had followed suit the Tories would have been wiped out completely and even the Red Tories could have been dislodged everywhere. 2015 saw the various strands of Tory unionism in the blue, yellow and red corners reduced to an embarrassing one seat apiece. That the SNP won 56 of the 59 available seats was a remarkable and seismic result in Scottish politics. It was the necessary mandate for IndyRef2 and a colossal rejection of Tory austerity cuts and nuclear weapon expenditure.


The political landscape of 2015 demanded Solidarity took the decision we did in the interest of the wider independence movement and in opposition to Tory cuts and nuclear weapons. The landscape in 2017 is different due to the election and re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour leader. Corbyn is a socialist. Corbyn is promoting a radical agenda of wealth redistribution and public investment and ownership. Corbyn is an anti-Austerity leader and his position as the leader of the Labour Party makes any continued references to ‘Red Tories’ politically redundant. Corbyn and John McDonnell are promoting a socialist agenda not a watered down Tory agenda as under Miliband. Solidarity cannot ignore this reality. We face a much more complex situation politically than was the case in 2015.


Faced with an extreme right wing Tory agenda our priority as a socialist party has to be the defence of our class. We have to maximise the anti-Tory vote across Scotland. Promoting a vote for a Corbyn led Labour party across England in Wales is a no-brainer for Solidarity. Corbyn’s policies and political vision is shared by Solidarity. The key difference is his attitude to independence. Corbyn does not support independence for Scotland and we differ from him on this important question. Jeremy Corbyn is fundamentally wrong on this constitutional principle to self-government. However, he has stated publicly that he will not oppose another referendum in Scotland. In other words, he will not block or oppose IndyRef2. That is a very important issue to consider.


Solidarity cannot allow ourselves to be positioned as anything other than an enthusiastic supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and his political programme to transform the UK in favour of ordinary working people across England and Wales. We are first and foremost anti-Tory. Defeating the Tories on June 8th has to be the political priority. Given the fact the SNP currently hold 56 seats in Scotland and that they have already declared for an anti-Tory Progressive Alliance after the election it is difficult to argue for the displacing of any of the 56 and anything other than a vote for SNP in seats they hold or are best positioned to defeat the Tory candidate. In other words, Solidarity in Scotland is calling for our members and supporters to vote for the progressive anti-Tory candidate most likely to beat the Tory. In reality that will almost universally result in a vote for the SNP candidate.


The political landscape in Scotland is different to that in England and Wales and the Scottish Labour Party is sadly a pale reflection of Corbyn’s policies and represents one of the biggest barriers he faces. Scottish Labour is still polluted with former Blairites whose leadership has reduced them to the third force in Scottish Politics.


In the circumstances of 2017 we should concentrate on dislodging the Blue and Yellow Tories in Scotland and enthusiastically endorse a vote for Corbyn’s Labour Party across England and Wales. Instead of a ‘Lend Your Vote’ strategy for the SNP, as in 2015, we should instead advocate strongly a progressive anti-Tory vote, recognising that such a position will almost inevitably mean voting SNP. This is not a comfortable position compared to 2015 as apart from the key question of independence Solidarity is politically closer to Jeremy Corbyn than to Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP. But we are also closer to Corbyn’s political policies than the Scottish Labour party. The Scottish Labour party is still stuck in a Blairite time-warp and tarnished by its pro-British union Better Together role of 2013/14.


We reiterate that Solidarity stands for an independent socialist Scotland as part of a socialist world. If Scottish Labour was for independence and behind Corbyn’s political vision things would be different. But sadly they are not. Independence is at the heart of this election in Scotland. Solidarity supporters should vote accordingly for progressive, anti-Tory, anti-Austerity, pro-Indy, anti-Trident and anti-Fracking candidates.


The note of caution we fraternally send to the SNP is be aware. Meekly accepting and passing on unacceptable and unnecessary Tory austerity cuts at either a Scottish Parliament or Local Authority level is simply not good enough. The people of Scotland deserve committed and combative politicians determined to fight for expanded and well-funded public services, not further cruel cuts. Scotland needs political fighters not cowardly administrators who just do as they are told by Westminster Tory masters. If SNP politicians are not able or willing to fight Tory cuts at a local or Scottish Parliament level they will sow disillusionment and undermine the case for independence. This general election on June 8th must be a pro-independence and anti-Tory austerity election. Securing victory must be the green light for either a new independence referendum or convey authority for a unilateral declaration of independence should the future Westminster Government refuse permission to hold IndyRef2.

Ends

 

Solidarity Councillor Condemns Council Colleagues

Pat Lee at AUOB rallySolidarity co-convenor Pat Lee today denounced his fellow councillors on South Lanarkshire Council for unnecessarily passing a budget involving jobs and service cuts.

Cllr Lee put forward an alternative course of action, based on comprehensively researched advice from the trade union Unison, which would have avoided any cuts whatsoever but kept the council on the right side of the law.

In his speech, he reminded elected members that they made the decisions, not the council officials, whose role was solely to give advice.

Despite his impassioned speech, not one councillor voted against the budget cuts totalling £18 million and involving job losses.

Cllr Lee said: “My suggestion went unsupported by a single councillor, which I consider a dereliction of the duty to protect our Constituents, our employees and our communities from callous and cruel cuts.

“I firmly believe that it is sometimes justified to break an unjust law for the greater good. It is better to break the poor than to break the law. However, the measures I recommended to South Lanarkshire Council today were all completely legitimate. I wasn’t asking members to take any risks: just to exhaust every option available to us before cutting a single job or service.”

Cllr Lee ‘s address to council may be read below, followed by the advice from Unison.

Cllr Pat Lee: Address to South Lanarkshire Council 16/2/17.
So here we are again. Exactly one year on from another assault on our ability to serve our communities.

We are visiting massive cuts on our staff and constituents.

Solidarity asks ALL ELECTED Members to oppose these callous and cruel cuts.

Because that is what these savings are.

We are told by the officers we are unable to set needs-based budgets. With respect to the officers, they don’t set the budget, WE do.

But there are mechanisms we can use to set balanced no-cuts budgets, and stop the attack on our constituents and services to pay for the crisis created by the bankers and super-rich.

More than £3 Billion has been stolen from Public Spending in Scotland since the Tories came to power.

And we can expect many billions more in the future.

I will ask again: when is enough, enough?

We as Councillors and our MSPs and MPs are not powerless to face these cuts head on.

We can refuse to set cuts budgets, by using ALL mechanisms available to us.

Under the rules Councils have a duty to set balanced budgets.

If we have the political will to set a no-cuts balanced budget using reserves, re-negotiating our huge historic PFI/PPP debt repayments, exploiting our budget under-spends and pushing the Scottish Government to use its enhanced tax powers, then these could all be used to set no-cuts budgets.

I understand the actions I put forward are short-term measures, as we cannot continually use reserves and borrowing to mitigate Tory attacks on public service provision and on our employees.

On this basis, I call on all members to take a stand and refuse to make any cuts, I move against accepting this budget.

Advice from Unison:

http://www.glasgowcityunison.co.uk/index.php/news/140-defy-tory-austerity-set-no-cuts-budgets-defend-jobs-and-services

UNISON Glasgow demands of Glasgow City Council-Defy Tory austerity – Set no-cuts budgets   Defend Jobs and Services         

All Scottish councils and the Scottish government are drawing up budgets that threaten devastating cuts to jobs and services over the next two to three years. At least £1 billion is being slashed from council budgets in 2016 and 2017 alone. The consequences will be tens of thousands of job losses, attacks on staff conditions and ruinous attacks on community services. Glasgow City Council have recently produced a ‘budget consultation’ document entitled ‘a world class city, focused on economic growth and tackling poverty and inequality’ which explains Glasgow’s budget and the £133 million of cuts being demanded by Tory and SNP government’. Also contained in the publication is an outline of a cuts plan. In this article the trade union addresses this document and outlines what elected councillors and MSPs should be doing to defend the services in the city rather than carrying-out Tory cuts.

  1. Glasgow Council and Scottish Government politicians claim they can do nothing to stop the cuts as budgets have been slashed by the Tories. Is this true?It’s certainly true that the Tories have stolen more than £3 billion from public spending in Scotland since the austerity offensive began in the summer of 2010. Austerity, we should remember, is an attempt by many politicians to make ordinary people pay for the economic crisis of the bankers and super-rich, particularly acute since the crash of finance capitalism in 2007/2008.

But that does not mean MSPs and councillors are powerless to do anything about it. Collectively, the Scottish parliament and councils have real powers to begin a campaign of defiance and a refusal to implement any more cuts.

  1. So how can councillors and MSPs refuse to make the cuts?Trade unions representing tens of thousands of council workers in Glasgow and Dundee are calling on councillors to refuse to make the cuts and set ‘balanced’ ‘no-cuts’ budgets. As they have explained, “politicians have a choice: make the Tory cuts or stand up and defend local jobs and services. We call on elected politicians to use all available financial mechanisms to hold off further cuts whilst leading a fight to win more money”
  2. What are these “financial mechanisms”?Under the rules and as stated in the GCC document, councils have a legal duty to set a “balanced” budget. The no-cuts budgets would meet those rules. No-cuts budgets can be set by a combination of drawing on council reserves, using the borrowing powers that councils have as well as “creative accountancy”, for example capitalisation. In addition, negotiation over huge historic PFI/PPP debt repayments could also help, albeit temporarily, to allow the setting of a no cuts balanced budget. The Scottish parliament now has borrowing powers, regular under-spends and will also have enhanced tax powers from 2017. These could all be used to set no-cuts budgets.
  3. Would finance officers not refuse to support such a strategy?No-cuts budgets would certainly be described by officers as “unorthodox”, and they would be unlikely to recommend them. However, and this is the crucial point, it is the councillors and MSPs that take the decisions – not the finance officers – as to what budget is passed. All that is required is the political will to use the powers the councils have to refuse to make the cuts.
  4. OK, but this is surely only a short-term tactic. You can’t keep using borrowing powers and reserves to set no-cuts budgets?Yes, that’s true. But the setting of a ‘balanced’ no-cuts budget by a council or the Scottish government would allow time and space for the building of a national campaign to win the money required to fully fund jobs and public services. This would involve mass protests, demonstrations, strike action by councils and other public sector workers in support of a ‘no-cuts’ policy.
  5. But I’ve been told by Glasgow Council and Scottish Government politicians that it’s illegal and that they could be removed from office for setting a no-cuts budget?As explained previously, it is not illegal to set a ‘balanced’ no-cuts budget and there are no sanctions that can be used against those who back such a position. If a council or the Scottish government set a deficit, “unbalanced” budget, then there are potential consequences, but the sanctions no longer involve the threat of jail, nor do they involve the surcharging of councillors.
  6. What do I need to do as a trade union member working for Glasgow City Council?The Glasgow City UNISON branch along with EIS, Unite the Union, GMB, UCATT unions is involved in joint campaigning against the cuts through the ‘Defend Glasgow Services Campaign’ and has produced an alternative ‘balanced no-cuts budget’ strategy as outlined previously. As a union member we need you to engage with UNISON by attending workplace meetings and reading material on this crucial issue produced by the branch. If you do not have a local steward then please consider becoming one. This campaign could ultimately involve members of the council’s trade unions taking industrial action to defend jobs, services and staff conditions of service.

If you are resident in the Glasgow area we urge you to visit the Glasgow City Council website where the Council are consulting the citizens of the city on what services they want cut….see link below. We urge you to select the option that GCC do not do the Tories’ ‘dirty work’, but instead set a legal ‘No Cuts Budget’ for 2016/17 and launch a mass campaign to win more money for our city as outlined previously.

Glasgow citizens can vote for the trade unions “Legal No Cuts Budget” idea by visiting https://glasgowcc.dialogue-app.com/ideas

 

 

 

 

Solidarity Response to Scottish Government Budget

“In contrast, Solidarity’s council tax replacement, the Scottish Service Tax (SST), first tabled by Tommy Sheridan in 2006, was calculated by independent Scottish Parliament civil servants to raise £505 million extra.”

Solidarity congratulates the Scottish Greens on influencing the Scottish Government in a positive fashion, securing £160m extra for Scottish Local Authorities. The money will come from people on the higher tax rate in Scotland, representing the top 13% wage earners (earning over £43,000).

We note that the Scottish Greens themselves “remain critical of many elements of this budget”, with their spokesperson Patrick Harvie saying “in particular it is clear that the SNP’s timid position on tax policy cannot last.”

Solidarity, too, has reservations about the deal that the Greens have reached

The concession extracted by the Scottish Greens claims to free £160 million extra for local authorities but Solidarity notes that the funding gap facing councils is more than double that amount, at £350 million. So, the deal to rescue local authorities only solves half the problem.

There are a lot of claims and counter claims flying around at Holyroodabout how much the new budget will actually, really raise for Scottish Local Governments. To be fair, one analysis reckons that it might raise as much as £240 million.

In contraSGBudget2017NewImproved!st, Solidarity’s council tax replacement, the Scottish Service Tax (SST), first tabled by Tommy Sheridan in 2006, was calculated by independent Scottish Parliament civil servants to raise £505 million extra. This would be achieved by taxing the rich significantly more and the poor nothing at all. In fact, anyone earning £14,432 or less would pay nothing at all, and then only 4% on every pound above that threshold.

Solidarity’s SST would see councils re-employing people they had paid off, bringing back services previously discontinued, services like social care, which look after the most vulnerable in society. We could re-open closed libraries and expand council services.

You can see details of Solidarity’s Scottish Service Tax at Bill Mair‘s : Tommy vs Nicola: The Scottish Service Tax article.

 

Campaign For Clarity – 16+ Candidates

Solidarity, Scotland’s Socialist Party is calling for consistency in policies for the forthcoming local authority elections.

At present, anyone aged 16 and over may vote in Scottish elections but candidates must be over 18. This creates confusion and inequity, according to party spokespeople.

CampaignForClarityBill Mair, the party’s national co-secretary, said:

“I was in a meeting recently with elected politicians from a number of parties and activists when the subject of voting eligibility for Scottish elections came up. There was confusion in the room on the age criterion. If we as politicians are unclear, it’s unsurprising that young people might not be aware that they have a voice.

“We need not only to publicise widely that the voting age is 16 but also to lower the minimum age for candidates correspondingly.”

Clarity for Candidates: Lower the Age

Solidarity, Scotland’s Socialist Party is calling for consistency in policies for the forthcoming local authority elections.

At present, anyone aged 16 and over may vote in Scottish elections but candidates must be over 18. This creates confusion and inequity, according to party spokespeople.

CampaignForClarityBill Mair, the party’s national co-secretary, said:

“I was in a meeting recently with elected politicians from a number of parties and activists when the subject of voting eligibility for Scottish elections came up. There was confusion in the room on the age criterion. If we as politicians are unclear, it’s unsurprising that young people might not be aware that they have a voice.

“We need not only to publicise widely that the voting age is 16 but also to lower the minimum age for candidates correspondingly.”

The White Paper Project version 1.0

The publication of The White Paper Project version 1.0  (http://www.allofusfirst.org/policy/) demonstrates positive moves towards Independence, in time for the re-launch of the Scottish Independence Convention, which Solidarity proudly supports.

This document is a first draft of the suggested tasks that will be required after a positive vote for independence but before Independence day and the election of a separate Scottish Government.

It sets out proposals for necessary institutions and mechanisms for ensuring democratic involvement in the process of setting up a new constitution and deciding on policies.

White Paper Project 1.0 image 1

White Paper Project 1.0 image 1

It also estimates a year-1 budget for an independent Scotland.

This initial draft has been drawn up by a small collective with significant assistance from many others. It is hoped to greatly widen the scope and depth of the analysis over this year.

It has been produced in time for the relaunch of the Scottish Independence Convention next weekend. Solidarity was represented on the executive of the convention until the convention was suspended during the referendum campaign.

Solidarity is amongst the parties supporting the relaunch.