Archive for the ‘Scotland’ Category

by Phil Duncan

Last week local government elections were held in many parts of Britain.

As expected Labour did very badly and the Conservatives did pretty well.  In addition, the Welsh nationalists advanced and the Scottish nationalists stalled.  And UKIP was annihilated.  The Liberal Democrats’ ‘resurgence’ failed to emerge.

The Conservatives gained 563 council seats and Labour lost 382.  Plaid Cymru gained 33.

The Conservatives made progress in some traditional Labour heartlands, including the poorest council area in the whole of Britain, which went Tory.  Labour also lost control of Glasgow for the first time in decades.

The Tories displaced Labour as the largest party in terms of council seats in (more…)

This is the first in what will be an ongoing series on militant and revolutionary women

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Working class women played key role in 1915 Glasgow rent strike

by Marianne Kemp

With the partial commodification of state housing – mainly through the imposition of market rents – and the growth of precarious and low-paid work, along with b are existence-level benefits, state house tenants face very hard circumstances.  In the early 1990s Auckland state housing tenants, with the assistance of the Communist Party, formed the State House Action Committee and fought back through rent strikes and occupations.  Both SHAC and the CPNZ  are long gone and, although there have been tenant protests since, there has been no significant tenant movement to carry on the work of SHAC.  It would certainly be a contribution to the struggle if someone produced a reflective history of SHAC – ie an account of its strengths, weaknesses, successes, failures and the lessons for the future.

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Working class women and men organised physical defence against the lackeys of the landlords

It can also be helpful to learn about and reflect on previous struggles by working class tenants in both private and state sector rental housing.  There are some important differences between state-owned and privately-owned housing – for instance, it’s a lot easier to put more pressure on a few private landlords than on the state with all its power but, on the other hand, the state has a lot more tenants who can be mobilised against it.  However the changes in state housing, in particular the imposition of commodification via market rents, means there are now increasingly significant similarities between these two forms of rental housing.  This means state housing tenants today can draw inspiration and lessons from earlier struggles against private landlords as well as against the capitalist state as landlord.

One of the most dramatic and significant struggles by working class tenants, certainly in the English-speaking world, took place in (more…)

download (1)by Tony Norfield

What explains the desperation of British capitalism and Conservative Party in the lead up to the Brexit referendum on 23 June? Opinion polls have shifted in favour of a Leave vote and, while the accuracy of the polls is always in doubt, a shift towards Leave seems evident from widespread vox
pop views in the media, in the panic of the Remain camp and in the financial market setbacks for sterling’s downloadexchange rate. Equity markets have also been hit, and not just in the UK. As a sign of desperation, the Remain camp has even called upon the Labour Party’s lumbering has-been, Gordon Brown, to add his
weight to what looks like a failing balance. Her Majesty has so far been allowed to stay above the dispute, just about. One can imagine that if the polls get any worse for Remain, then Downing Street could try to prompt a Royal appeal to her loyal subjects to do the right thing. Where has this revolt of popular sentiment come from?

download (2)My previous coverage of the Brexit referendum has focused on the situation facing the British ruling class in a world where its economic and political interests are clearly bound up with Europe, but where there has been a minority view that an alternative is possible ‘outside’, especially in a context of European economic crisis. But the significant support for Leave shows that this has underestimated a key point. What might otherwise be considered simply as popular disgruntlement with political elites – ‘vote Leave to teach them a lesson’ – is better explained as a widespread view that these elites have broken their pact with (more…)

by David Dickinson*

1975: Labour government in power with very small parliamentary majority, having been elected a few months earlier with support of 28.5% of eligible voters.

2016: Tory government in power with small majority, having been elected a year earlier with support of 24.5% of eligible voters.

1975: Common Market/European Community referendum, having been called by Labour PM, Harold Wilson, to address split in his party and the country.

2016: EU referendum, having been called by Tory PM, David Cameron, to address split in his party and the country. Many on the left call it nothing more than a Tory Party civil war.

1975: Half of Labour MPs, vast majority of Trade Unions, and most of the radical left urge a ‘No’ vote.

2016: Vast majority of Labour MPs and almost all large Trade Unions urge a ‘Yes’ vote. (more…)

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by Michael Roberts

As I write on Friday morning after the 2015 general election, the incumbent Conservative party is heading for an outright majority in the new parliament.  As I keep saying ad nauseam, this is what I predicted back in 2009 before the Tories (Conservatives) won the 2010 election and formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.  The main reason for the victory , I think, was as I pointed out in a recent post (https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/economic-well-being-and-the-uk-election/), that the economic recovery since the Great Recession has reached a peak in the last year, with UK real GDP growth picking up from near zero in 2012 to 2.5%-plus in 2014 and with real income per head finally turning up.

The exit poll immediately after the close of the vote last night turned up to be very accurate.  It predicted that the Conservatives would be the largest party by some way and there would be a meltdown of the Liberal Democrat vote, while the Scottish Nationalists (SNP) would wipe the floor with Labour in Scotland.  And so it turned out.  It now seems (more…)

indexThe piece below was sent to us by Belfast Marxist veteran John McAnulty.  While it deals with a major employer assault on workers’ pay and conditions at a large industrial workplace in Scotland, the response of the union leadership (UNITE union; no relation to the NZ union of the same name) is one that is common in New Zealand, and the result is equally disastrous.  So this piece neatly complements the piece we put up on Monday by Don Franks on resisting redundancy.  The INEOS referred to is INspec Ethylene Oxide and Specialities, the huge chemicals company which owns the Grangemouth works.

On the one side, careful planning, cool calculation and utter ruthlessness, on the other bluster, moralism and confusion.  At one level it is not hard to understand the outcome of the Grangemouth dispute or how the UNITE bureaucracy, led by Britain’s leading ‘left’ bureaucrat, Len McCluskey, went from giving notice of strike action, to embracing capitulation “warts and all”, to finding themselves in a meeting in a state of unconditional surrender, with the terms dictated worse than they could have imagined.

Pay is pegged for three years, bonuses have been cancelled, a final salary pension scheme has been closed, a no-strike deal rammed through and union structures ripped out of the plant. The workers face a sharp fall in their standard of living with no means to strike back.

UNITE have struck many deals that let down their members and were happy enough to go into negotiation when INEOS laid out a number of these conditions. What has been a body blow to the (more…)