Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/828/19462
Scotland: Workers need a new mass party
SNP won't fight the cuts
Ian Leech, Socialist Party Scotland
Labour's treacherous role in fronting the successful 'No' campaign in the independence referendum has made trade union members eager to hit Labour in the pocket.
Scottish trade union branches have recently had members asking whether they're paying money into the Labour Party via the unions' affiliated political fund. Glasgow Unison branch received many calls from members.
Some insisted they wanted to switch their donation from Labour to the Scottish National Party (SNP) despite Unison rules not allowing this. Others demanded to be able to switch from the Affiliated Fund to the General (Campaigning) Fund, vital to the union's ability to publicly campaign on issues.
The anger at Labour is so great that people are questioning whether Labour will continue for much longer in Scotland! Other unions who backed a no vote reported huge losses in membership including Usdaw, losing 8,000 members in the few days after the referendum.
Glasgow Unison was able to explain to members that despite the national trade union's formal affiliation, Glasgow branch's official policy is to call for disaffiliation from Labour. It believes the party no longer represents the interests of working class people.
To stem the tide of threatened resignations the branch placed this information in a public forum on the website and on Facebook. This seems to have succeeded and appeared as an article in the Herald newspaper.
The SNP, which reportedly gained 75,000 new members, have been the main beneficiaries of the anger expressed by those 1.6 million 'Yes' voters. However the SNP government in Holyrood will now carry through £2 billion cuts in public spending, held back until after the referendum.
This will place the trade unions' struggle against austerity at the centre of events; and with the general election looming it will be vital to put forward an independent working class alternative to the electorate.
No to Poll Tax victimisation
Ronnie Stevenson, secretary, Mount Florida Anti-Poll Tax Union
The Scottish Government has announced it intends to write-off historic Poll Tax debt in Scotland - and not before time.
This final victory for the anti-poll tax movement, 25 years after the hated poll tax was introduced, is welcome. More than £425 million remains uncollected to date.
In the run-up to the referendum hundred of thousands registered to vote, many for the first time since the Poll Tax. And the highest percentage of people in decades actually voted.
Immediately following the referendum many councils and politicians scandalously began to use the new lists of voters to pursue those who did not pay their full Poll Tax bills.
This attempt at collective punishment was the trigger for the SNP government announcement.
After a tremendous campaign of mass non-payment (a tactic led by Militant, the forerunner of Socialist Party Scotland) the hated Poll Tax was withdrawn and Thatcher resigned.
During that campaign councillors of all political parties pursued non-payers using the full variety of the methods the state afforded them, including jailing them in England and Wales.
These same councillors have written off millions of pounds of debt owed by businesses over these years.
They didn't seem to want to do the same for the paltry debts by comparison arising from the Poll Tax.
The Poll Tax non-payment army are remembered with affection, responsible as they were for getting rid of an unfair tax but also Thatcher.
Why it took the SNP seven years of government to propose this legislation is a legitimate question.
Now MSPs and councillors should be taking a lead from the mass movement that defeated the poll tax and start leading a struggle against the austerity programmes being imposed by Westminster.
It's time to stop implementing Tory cuts and refuse to make one penny more of cuts in already decimated local authority services.
The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an electoral alliance that stands candidates against all cuts and privatisation. It involves the RMT transport workers' union, leading members of other trade unions including the PCS, NUT and POA, as well as the Socialist Party and other left and anti-cuts groups and individuals.
In The Socialist 8 October 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns