Read the election programme of the Scottish communists, 'Jobs and Services must be defended - Scotland needs the freedom to invest for the future'
Scotland faces an onslaught on jobs and public services. Already 40,000 jobs have been lost across the public sector with dire consequences for essential services. Another 20,000 are scheduled to go over the next two years. In oil and gas 60,000 jobs have gone, another 30,000 are threatened and Scottish steel is being sold away. Overall the Scottish economy is falling far behind others in terms of investment, research and productivity.
Communists say that without public sector intervention, restoring public ownership and direct investment in productive industry, education and basic services, Scotland’s whole future is under threat.
This is why Communists call for a Scottish Parliament with the powers to intervene economically on terms set by working people and not big business and why they support leaving the EU with its bans on public ownership and its mandatory austerity cuts.
Communists have always campaigned for progressive federalism – national parliaments within a federal republic in which the united power of the trade union and labour movement can match and beat back the unelected power of big business and the very rich.
A federal British parliament, reflecting this unity, would be responsible for overall economic policy, defence and foreign affairs – and would levy taxes in order to re-distribute wealth according to social need across the nations and regions of Britain. National parliaments in Scotland and Wales and regional assembles across England would have powers to take basic services and strategic industries into public ownership, to invest in research and development, to give local government back the resources to run local transport, housing, construction and local heat and power and to facilitate local community ownership.
This is what Scotland needs. The ‘free market’ can’t and won’t deliver it. Working people – united – can.
Why the SNP is wrong to bank on the EU and big business
The SNP want an independent, prosperous and green Scotland. But they also back membership of the EU and economic growth on the terms set by big business. It’s a combination that can never work.
The EU Treaty places the freedom of the market before all other freedoms. The EU’s Fiscal Compact requires government spending to be cut till budget deficits are eliminated – exactly what George Osborne is doing. As the European Congress of Trades Unions says, it means that economic crises can only be resolved on terms set by big business by cutting wages and consumption. Governments can’t intervene: public ownership and state aid is deemed to interfere with business competition.
Unfortunately SNP policies reflect these free market assumptions. They propose cutting business taxes to attract big firms from elsewhere – not public ownership. They don’t challenge the balanced budget dogma of the EU. Instead of demanding public ownership to rescue North Sea potential, they equivocate on fracking and whether to hand over Scotland’s landmass to a private firm.
TRIDENT – A THREAT TO PEACE AND EMPLOYMENT
The most recent estimate of the cost of the Trident nuclear missile system is £167 billion over its lifetime. Scotland’s annual share of this cost would be roughly £500m – almost exactly the size of the cuts being imposed on local government over the next few years.
The Trident nuclear missile system has no realistic military purpose in terms of the threats currently facing this country. It is simply a symbol of Britain’s status (a subordinate one) in the US alliance and NATO. Its renewal escalates the nuclear stakes and sets back the process of disarmament. It creates danger not peace.
The joint CND-STUC study in 2007 found that the number of jobs sustained by the nuclear-armed submarines in Scotland at Faslane and Coulport is around 500. All these workers could easily be transferred to other functions within the Faslane base or in the local economy. By contrast proceeding with Trident renewal will cost many more jobs – including in the defence sector. Two years ago BAE were budgeting on building 13 Type 26 frigates on the Clyde. Now the number has been cut to 8. How many less jobs will this mean for the Clyde yards over the next two decades ?
Communists call for the establishment of fully-funded Nuclear Arms Conversion Agency within a remit to ensure that alterative work was found for the shipbuilders and engineers at Barrow and Derby and those employed at Faslane. In the United States such redeployment of defence workers is mandatory on the Federal government. In Britain it could supply the skills need for redeveloping industrial capacity and creating a world-beating renewables industry. Trident is dangerous and wasteful. Cancellation would release funds desperately needed elsewhere.
Before Thatcher’s “right to buy” madness, 67 per cent of Scottish households lived in council houses with secure tenancies and controlled rents. Today that has dropped to 30 per cent with an explosion in the private rented sector with short term tenancies and uncontrolled rents which now cost working people up to 40 per cent of their income. Half of Scotland’s housing stock is sub-standard and at current rates will take another 20 years to repair. 150,000 households stagnate on council waiting lists with little or no chance of being adequately housed. The construction of a further 60,000 homes each year is required to satisfy increasing demand.
The Communist Party in Scotland is campaigning for the re-introduction of rent controls in the private sector, the banning of demands for fees and money up front, new council powers for the enforcement of housing repairs and renewals and borrowing permits for the construction of at least 60,000 new council houses each year providing decent living conditions, badly needed construction jobs and training opportunities for our young people.
RESISTING THE CUTS
Scotland’s people and economy have been severely affected by cuts to public services which have been forced on us by all levels of government - European Union, Westminster, Holyrood and Local Authorities - hitting housing, health, education, social work, transport, police and fire and rescue.
The Communist Party in Scotland is active in the People’s Assembly movement, uniting trade unions and communities, in resisting these cuts and nailing the outright lie that budget deficits demand the savaging of our benefits and social wage while tax concessions are offered up to the rich. These cuts in Scottish services will total £4.5 billion by 2018.
Determined efforts to eradicate tax evasion and avoidance and reversal of tax breaks for the wealthy will balance the books. To that end, Communists demand a 60p higher rate of income tax, a financial transaction tax of 0.5 per cent, a wealth tax of 2 per cent on fortunes over £2 million, corporation tax at 40 per cent, capital gains tax at 30 per cent, a bank levy of 5 per cent, a windfall profits tax of 10 per vent, VAT reduced to 15 per cent and a land value tax of 3 per cent to replace council tax.
Whole areas of Scotland are crying out for investment in infrastructure such as water and sewage, digital communications, ports, rail electrification and extension and a re-regulated bus sector, in training for “high-skill-high-wage” employment and in new technologies, especially power generation and distribution. Such extensive capital works, paid for by borrowing when interest rates are low, will re-boot the Scottish economy. But it would also set us against the European Union. When the SNP government sought to develop a public sector vehicle for infrastructure, the “Scottish Futures Trust”, EU rules forced it to take on 90 per cent private cash – something the Scottish Government has kept very quiet about. That’s why we need to leave the EU.
Since 1979 there has been an unprecedented shift in wealth from the poor to the rich with wages as a percentage of GDP falling from 65 per cent to 51 per cent - at today’s prices an average weekly loss of £150 for every worker. We need unfettered trade unions, organised in every workplace to claw those monies back!
In today’s Scotland 430 individuals own half the land, the 100 richest Scots are worth £25 billion, the four richest Scottish families control the same wealth, £6 billion, as the bottom 20 per cent of her population, 100,000 people are on zero hours contracts, 400,000 people are paid below the living wage of £8.25 per hour and 500,000 people including 100,000 children are living in poverty.
IF EVER SOCIALISM WAS NEEDED - IT IS NEEDED IN SCOTLAND RIGHT NOW
To that end we need more readers of the MORNING STAR the labour movement’s only daily paper and more members of the COMMUNIST PARTY.
THE MORNING STAR
The Morning Star is the world’s only English language socialist daily paper. Founded in 1930 as the Daily Worker, it is today run by a co-operative, the People’s Press Printing Society whose management committee includes eight national trade unions. The paper’s Voices of Scotland series, every Tuesday, includes leading figures from the Labour Party, SNP and the trade union movement. It provides day to day coverage of the fight for workplace rights and the struggle against the cuts and the Tory government. Until his election as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was a weekly columnist. The paper is available at all Co-operative Stores and at RS McColls and can be ordered at any newsagent.
It is also available on line at https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/
THE EU: WORKERS RIGHTS, MIGRANTS AND RACISM
Communist economic and social policies are predicated on a planned economy which works for all of society not just an elitist chosen few and includes regulation of employment, a major trade union role, allied with an emigration and immigration policy. The free movement of labour, dictated by the EU, is a policy demanded by employers and their lobbyists to generate a second reserve army of labour, in addition to the unemployed, as a mechanism to bear down on wage rates (as admitted by the academic who advised the Blair government on policy relating to EU accession countries, Romania and Bulgaria, in 2007).
Communists recognise all people as dignified individuals deserving of equal treatment and are implacably opposed to chauvinism, xenophobia and racism and resolutely oppose any use of such to scapegoat “the other” for the failings of capitalism.
A civilised and humane immigration policy caters for refugees fleeing persecution and seeking the protection of political asylum and individuals possessing skills which are in short supply among the indigenous population. Immediately, the Communist Party calls on Labour to commit to the all-round re-establishment of collective bargaining across all sectors to ensure that every worker secures the collectively bargained rate.
The Labour Party
The Communist Party welcomes the Labour Party’s support for public ownership, its call for higher tax rates on the rich, its demand for the cancellation of Trident and its opposition to the cuts in local government.
The movement of support for Jeremy Corbyn reflects the anger felt by working people at the attacks on living standards, the frustration of the young at zero hours contracts and the lack of affordable housing, the fears of the older generation and those with disabilities at the attacks on services. It also reflects a wish to restore our democracy so that it meets the needs of the majority and not the few.
At a time when the Conservative Party is divided as never before, there now exists a real opportunity for a government at British level that can turn the tables on the rich and powerful – sustained, as will be necessary, by a mass movement on the ground. This is why our party is calling for a Labour vote everywhere apart from the North East Scotland List.
COMMUNIST CANDIDATE FOR NORTH EAST SCOTLAND RAYMOND MENNIE
Raymond Mennie is 66 years old and a professional engineer, educated to post-graduate level and has been both a lecturer in engineering and teacher of mathematics. He has been an active trade unionist, socialist and communist for more than four decades and has extensive experience of community campaigning and representing people.
He has variously been a shop steward in Timex, AUEW branch chair, Dundee Trades Union Council chair, AUEW district committee delegate, Communist Party Dundee Area Secretary and Scottish Committee member, local community councillor and Tayside regional councillor for the Whitfield area of Dundee. He is currently active in Unite the Union, the People’s Assembly against Austerity, the Dundee Pensioner’s Forum and the Communist Party of Britain.