HOLYROOD ELECTION 5th MAY 2016
Solidarity – For Socialism, Independence and Internationalism
Solidarity is a socialist party. We promote and embody socialist ideals and trade union rights in every walk of life. We are for equality and radical redistribution of wealth and power from the elite 1% to the majority 99%. We have built up an extensive body of policies over the 8 years of our existence. We are proud of those policies but this manifesto restricts itself to the main priorities we wish to champion at this particular Holyrood election.
Solidarity is for independence.
We demand the right to control our own destiny and get the governments we actually vote for. We actively promote the break-up of the British state, which we recognise as a real and formidable barrier to social and economic progress. We see our independence as only the start of our journey to transform Scotland into a fairer, more prosperous and nuclear weapon free country that wages war on inequality and poverty, not other nations across the world.
Solidarity is standing 40 candidates in all 8 regions across Scotland. We have 19 female and 21 male candidates. We are seeking your 2nd, or list, vote on the peach-coloured ballot paper in every regional list in Scotland. We encourage our supporters to use their 1st, constituency, vote for a pro-Independence, anti-austerity and anti-nuclear-weapon party and candidate.
Solidarity is for internationalism and human solidarity with peoples and other nations across the globe, fighting against injustice, inequality and economic austerity imposed by the privileged elite. We welcome refugees fleeing war-torn regions and other ordinary families who wish to come and live and work in our country. We seek independence not to build more barriers around our country but to demolish the obstacles of obscene wealth inequality, poverty, ignorance and intolerance which hold us back from social progression. We offer the hand of friendship, not the fist of fury, to human beings who seek to come and live amongst us.
Solidarity will not form the next government of Scotland. We seek only the 2nd vote, the peach ballot paper vote, of Scotland’s electorate. We aim to secure 5-6% of the 2nd votes cast to enable us to secure the election of socialist MSPs in all 8 electoral regions. In the course of the next 5 years Solidarity’s elected MSPs will push and promote the following 8 priorities within Holyrood and across Scotland in the form of Private Members’ Bills and grassroots campaigns.
Within 3 months of election Solidarity will table an IndyRef2 bill to facilitate a 2nd referendum on Scotland’s independence in 2018. Solidarity believes the people of Scotland were subjected to a tsunami of lies, bullying, distortions and dangerously biased media reporting during the 2014 referendum campaign. We refuse to accept the result as the settled will of the people. We view it as a pyrrhic victory for the unionists who won the vote but lost the war for the hearts and minds of the Scottish people. From support for independence starting at the mid- to late-20% mark, the grassroots campaign ended with 45% support. With that base we are absolutely confident that over 60% support can be won for independence by 2018. We believe last year’s general election rout of the unionist parties and this Holyrood election outcome provide the mandate for a 2nd referendum in 2018. All the necessary negotiations could then be completed by 2020 to allow April 6th 2020 to become the day Scotland once again becomes a free and sovereign nation, 700 years to the day from the historic Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.
2) Defy Tory Austerity
Solidarity MSPs will seek to organise coordinated resistance to further Tory austerity cuts across Scotland. Solidarity believes the Tory gang of posh boys and tax evaders has no mandate to impose budget cuts on Scotland. We will call for Holyrood to form an alliance with all of the 32 local authorities, the local government trade unions, community groups and service-user groups to implement a policy of No-Cuts budgets to save jobs and essential services from the Tory butchers. The demand for the resources required to maintain crucial jobs and services in already hard-pressed communities throughout Scotland will unite the nation in defiance of unnecessary, economically illiterate and socially destructive cuts. Holyrood should be prepared to go to war with Westminster to demand back the billions stolen from our budget to feed tax cuts for the billionaires and tax evasion for the corporations. Scotland must stand up as one against Westminster-imposed cuts based on the democratic mandate of May 2015 and the mandate which will be secured this May at the ballot box. For the sake of millions who rely on essential services and jobs Holyrood must take on the millionaires in Westminster. Defiance of Tory Austerity cuts, not compliance, must be the clarion call.
3) Ban Fracking and Nuclear Weapons
Solidarity MSPs will present a bill in Holyrood which outlaws the environmentally unsafe and destructive practice of Fracking. We will insist on concerted and serious investment in publicly-owned wind, wave and solar energy production to lead the world in clean energy technology and production with the consequent creation of thousands of skilled and socially useful jobs in the sector. We will also seek all withdrawal of permission to use our roads, land and waters for the continued storage and presence of the immoral, illegal and economically wasteful Trident nuclear submarine fleet in Helensburgh. We condemn the proposal to expend over £183 billion on renewing this fleet as an aggressive breach of the non-nuclear treaties to which we are signatories. This colossal waste of resources could instead be invested in house building and other public construction jobs to create tens of thousands more jobs than the few hundred that Trident currently sustains. Solidarity is very firmly for Welfare Not Warfare.
4) Creation of a Publicly-Owned Pharmaceutical Company
Solidarity MSPs will present a bill to create a publicly-owned pharmaceutical company in Scotland to supply our publicly-owned National Health Service with the drugs and medicines it requires on a daily basis. Solidarity believes that we are ripped off daily to the tune of tens of millions of pounds by privately-owned pharmaceutical companies who see drugs and medicines as a profit opportunity, not a health requirement. Solidarity believes that Scotland possesses the brains, research facilities and manufacturing capacity to build our own public pharmaceutical company to supply our public NHS at a fraction of the costs imposed by the multi-million big pharma corporations. We currently spend an average of £1.4 billion a year from Scotland’s NHS budget on pharmaceuticals. We believe an investment of several hundred million in our own pharmaceutical company would pay for itself within a 4 – 5 year period and allow us to offer supplies of essential drugs at cost price to poorer nations across the world. Inspired by socialist Cuba, such a policy would place the production of essential drugs and medicines in the hands of the public sector on a public health platform not motivated by private wealth.
5) Replace the Tory Council Tax With the Much Fairer Scottish Service Tax
In the 17 years of the Scottish Parliament’s existence there has only ever been one properly prepared bill presented to replace the regressive council tax. The SNP, Labour, Lib Dems and Greens all say they oppose the council tax but the only bill ever presented to actually replace it was tabled by Solidarity co-convenor Tommy Sheridan, in 2006. Tommy’s Scottish Service Tax proposal was researched by senior economists and scrutinised by the Local Government and Transport Committee of the Parliament. All the parties who said in words they opposed council tax refused to back this radical and redistributive proposal, which would tax the wealthy significantly more and the poor significantly less while still raising much more revenue than the council tax. Solidarity MSPs will re-introduce Tommy’s Scottish Service Tax proposal with updated figures and analysis as an anti-poverty and redistributive measure across Scotland. Solidarity rejects the fear of fiscal flight often parroted by those afraid of taking more from the rich as the determining factor in taxation policy. Fair and income-based taxation should be dictated by the needs of society as a whole, not the rich and privileged minority at the top of society.
6) Democracy Renewal Bill
Solidarity will table a bill that will radically alter the standing orders of the Scottish Parliament and introduce more democracy and accountability. The Democracy Renewal Bill will include a Right of Recall clause that can be triggered if 5% of the registered electorate sign an online petition to force a by-election should any elected member fundamentally renege on a promise given to the electorate prior to election. MSPs must be subject to recall throughout their tenure, not just every 4 or 5 years. Every MSP must sign a job description contract which compels them to hold regular surgeries, reply to correspondence within a reasonable timescale and attend local community council and tenants’ meetings. The Democracy Renewal bill will propose the lowering of MSP salaries to bring them into line with the take-home pay of other skilled workers in Scotland, like firefighters and train drivers, to ensure MSPs stay more in touch with the economic realities faced by their constituents. The Democracy Renewal bill will also introduce an alternative oath for all new MSPs to swear when taking up their places in Parliament. Solidarity believes it is both archaic and profoundly undemocratic to compel MSPs to swear an oath of allegiance to an unelected and outdated monarchy. The new oath of allegiance should be to serve honestly and compassionately the sovereign people of Scotland in recognition of the fact that real sovereignty lies with the people, not an undemocratic institution.
7) Cancel all Private Finance Initiative/ Public Private Partnership Contracts
Solidarity condemns the Tory and New Labour PFI/PPP schemes as criminal in all but name. These ridiculous methods of paying for important public building projects represent a victory for greedy, insane and economically redundant ideologies over rational and progressive traditional public funding methods. The drain on public finances which these abysmally unfair projects represent has been a cost to every man, woman and child in Scotland and is a burden that can longer morally or economically be justified. The Glasgow schools PFI promoted and lauded by New Labour has cost £1.3 billion for a £225 million project to date. The remainder of the contract will parasitically usurp another £783.7 million from a city council set to impose another round of cuts totalling £133 million on its citizens. It is insane and unacceptable. Not another penny should be paid to this contract. The Edinburgh schools project valued at £337 million has already cost the City Council £505 million with a further £1.1 billion to pay. These statistics from the council’s own accounts expose PFI/PPP as daylight robbery. It would be aiding and abetting criminality to continue with these contracts. Solidarity demands the cancellation of all PFI/PPP payments and the saved monies, in the region of £35-40 billion, to be ploughed back in to improve local services and create thousands of new jobs all across Scotland. Solidarity will demand not another penny goes to these latter-day Dick Turpins who have ripped off the public purse with impunity so far and did not even have the decency to wear masks as they robbed us blind.
8) Public Procurement Bill
Solidarity will table a bill insisting that every company bidding for a publicly-funded or part-funded contract must comply with clearly stated Ethical Employment practices which include trade union recognition, payment of a living wage of at least £10 per hour, existence of equal pay structures and available tax returns showing clear payment of all appropriate taxes, including corporation taxes. Any firm unable or unwilling to comply with such Ethical Employment practices will be disqualified from bidding for contracts reliant on public funding.
Other issues Solidarity MSPs will pursue within the next 5 years
European Union – A Big Bosses Club: Vote To Leave
Solidarity believes the European Union is a fundamentally undemocratic and anti-socialist institution. The EU promotes at all times the rigged free market system which serves the interests of the rich and big business and delivers their wealth. Brussels is dominated by unelected Commissioners whose decisions are largely taken in secret and without accountability or transparency. The extremely damaging TTIP is a prime example of how secretive and undemocratic the EU is, and how much it is influenced by big business. Solidarity is for a People’s Europe, a Social Europe which promotes trade, cooperation and human and workers’ solidarity across and between borders. We welcome immigration and promote multi-racial diversity but we reject the over-inflated, bureaucratic and undemocratic EU. Alongside trade unionists and other socialists Solidarity will campaign for a Leave vote in the EU Referendum in June. We will campaign with the @ScottishLeftLeave campaign, the No2EU –YES to Workers Rights campaign and others.
Solidarity Will Campaign For a Radical Overhaul of the Drugs Laws Which Govern Scotland
Solidarity is for the legalisation, regulation, licensing and taxing of cannabis with the revenues raised being devoted to tackling the many health and addiction problems which all drugs have the potential to trigger. Solidarity believes prohibition is a major part of the problem, not part of the solution for drug abuse. Solidarity demands drug use is treated as a social and medical problem, not a crime, with proper education and drugs awareness as an essential part of our approach. All drugs should be legalised, licensed, regulated and taxed but advertising and promotion should be banned. Solidarity believes alcohol and tobacco are much more damaging to health and social welfare than many of the currently illegal drugs. Solidarity believes the so-called ‘war on drugs’ is an expensive con that is counter-productive. Solidarity demands massive investment in drug treatment and rehabilitation programmes, to be funded from the resources diverted from arresting, prosecuting and imprisoning drug users. Solidarity demands society stops criminalising cannabis users for a victimless crime.
Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 (OBFA)
Solidarity demands the repeal of the above Act. We believe sectarianism, racism and sexism are all real and tangible problems which must be confronted and tackled in Scotland. However, the OBFA is entirely inappropriate, largely unintelligible and is being abused to criminalise football supporters for being football supporters. Solidarity believes it is an anti-working class and covertly political Act that requires to be scrapped.
Time for Inclusive Education (TIE)
Solidarity firmly supports the Time for Inclusive Education campaign as an essential aid in confronting, challenging and combatting homophobic bullying in schools and within educational environments. Solidarity believes TIE can play a role in defeating homo/bi/transphobia and create a safer learning environment for all pupils, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
House Building and Management
Solidarity recognises access to a warm, secure and affordable home is a human right which must be delivered across Scotland. We support a public house building programme to deliver a minimum of 20,000 homes a year over the next 5 years to tackle homelessness and overcrowding while creating tens of thousands of new jobs in the construction sector. Solidarity also demands those local authorities who campaigned to give up their tenant management role take back that responsibility to improve accountability, access and tenant involvement. The large-scale stock transfers have failed to deliver the radical housing improvements promised but have allowed councils to wash their hands of serious housing problems. Houses should be built, maintained and managed in the public sector and sales of publicly-built housing stock should be banned.
Education – Smaller Class Sizes, Living Grants and Free Access For All
Solidarity identifies poverty and inequality as the root causes of failure in educational attainment across Scotland. We demand every child is provided with the opportunities to realise their inherent talents regardless of wealth and background. Class sizes should be capped at 20 and the training and recruitment of sufficient teacher numbers to allow this policy to be implemented must be prioritised. While protecting potential students from tuition fees, Solidarity demands the re-introduction of living grants to provide financial support to those students unable to rely on parental support in order to allow them to concentrate more on their academic study and less on economic survival. Solidarity recognises the crucial role the Further Education sector plays in preparing young people for Higher Education courses and essential apprenticeships in vital trades. Solidarity will campaign for the reversal of cuts in funding for colleges, renewed investment in the sector with a return to national bargaining across the sector and the democratisation of college boards based on trade union and student involvement to ensure maximum accountability.
Senior Citizens Minister and Parliament
Solidarity supports the establishment of a Senior Citizens Minister to ensure the important issues which pertain to our rising elderly population are given appropriate attention and respect. Solidarity believes such a Minister is vital to ensure the voice of senior citizens is heard within cabinet. Further, Solidarity supports the establishment of a Pensioner Parliament to identify, discuss and advocate policy proposals on behalf of our growing pensioner community. Solidarity will protect the free bus pass scheme and free prescriptions.
Carers and the Living Wage
Solidarity believes detailed research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The Tax Justice Network, the University of Essex and others justifies a living wage of £10 an hour and that this living wage should be a legal entitlement for all workers, including full-time carers. Such a Living Wage will benefit not just individual workers but society as a whole through increased economic activity and the law of the marginal propensity to consume. Solidarity believes the term ‘working poor’ is economically and morally reprehensible and a real Living Wage will eradicate it from our everyday lexicon.
Named Person Scheme
Solidarity opposes the Named Person Scheme. Solidarity believes it is overly intrusive and fails to address the real problems in relation to child welfare which include underfunded, underpaid and often poorly trained health visitors, nursery teachers and primary teaching support staff.
Solidarity is a small but growing party with ideals and principles that are not for sale at any price. This manifesto is a glimpse of the many radical and sensible policies and campaigns we believe in and promote. When 62 billionaires control more wealth than half of the world’s population, according to Oxfam, then we realise only a social and political revolution will free the world from the prison of poverty which denies so many a decent life. Capitalism is the root cause of the world’s problems. It spawns obscene inequality and encourages greed, social division, racism and insecurity. When 62 human beings can boast more wealth than 3 billion others, people of sane and rational minds must rise up and take control of those resources to share them out more equally. In the UK the amount of money lost to tax evasion from the rich individuals and corporations who live and trade here amounts to £120 billion a year (according to the PCS union and The Tax Justice Network). If instead of rewarding tax evaders with knighthoods we jailed them, confiscated their asset and/or compelled them to pay their bloody taxes we would be living in a society of plenty and all would be guaranteed a decent and high standard of life.
If the ideas, policies and campaigns you have read about in this manifesto have chimed with you and your social values then we ask not just for your 2nd vote but your allegiance. We ask you to join us in Solidarity. Join us in the fight for an independent socialist Scotland and a socialist world.
Sign up at solidarity.scot