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Scottish Left Nationalists’ Plans in Ruins as SNP Plans Massive Cuts.

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Book that’s Spawned a Thousand Imaginary Communities. 

Left nationalist supporters of Scottish independence argue that the “breakup of Britain” will be  a major step forward for the left and the labour movement.

The nationalist Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) states,

The Scottish Socialist Party is built on social solidarity and the spirit of resistance to oppression, injustice and nasty con tricks that strangle communities and people’s lives.

Life can be better than this. We have the resources, the know-how, we could be building a world based on people, not profit. We can, and should, be expanding the public sector, because more and more of us need it, and it creates jobs and training, it holds communities together and it supports families.

We should be raising the minimum wage, because we can afford to do this, through cutbacks in the defence budget and the raising of taxes on the rich, and because it helps to build strong, local economies.

….

The Party asserts,

The single biggest obstacle to the Scottish people building a better society is the British State, the Westminster regime, the Crown Powers.

Genuine independence for Scotland can only come from a break up of the British State but until we get to that point the Scottish Socialist Party campaigns for a programme that can be achieved if our society is run for people, not profit.

Other nationalists even celebrate,

“the revolutionary implications of Scotland’s exit. Over three hundred years the Crown, the City of London and the Tories have been the hegemonic power. This will not be surrendered without a fight. But outside the ruling class and Scotland everybody seems pacified by the SNP selling itself as a safe pair of hands, ready to kneel before the Queen and Bank of England. Neither a post-independence SNP government, nor a Tory government in the rest of the country, will stop the impetus for constitutional change waking the sleeping giant in England and Wales.”

This will kick-start an Island (notice no mention of the rest of Europe) revolution, “….working people need more than simply defending themselves. They are hungry for a real democracy which gives them the power to change the future. If Scotland takes one step in that direction it is for us in England and Wales to take two or three.”

Steve Freeman. Republican Communist Network.

The ideas of the SSP and the RCN suffered a hammer blow when this was revealed (last year) from which they have yet to recover.

The SNP government is privately preparing for the prospect of cuts to jobs, welfare benefits and pensions after independence, amid growing concerns that Scotland faces a bleak economic future, a leaked document has shown.

Ministers in Edinburgh have also accepted the Bank of England in London would still have a controlling veto over public spending after independence under the SNP’s plans to keep the pound.

The emergence of the report, which was presented to the ScottishCabinet by finance secretary John Swinney, comes as a former economic adviser to First Minister Alex Salmond warns in today’s Scotsman that such an arrangement would be little different to the existing “block grant” Scotland gets from Westminster.

The Scotsman

The Cabinet paper reveals the Scottish Government anticipates that in four years Scotland will have a “marginally larger net deficit than the UK”.

This means a bigger gap between public spending and the taxes raised to fund them.

Expected North Sea revenues are set to fall in light of recently revised estimates, the report says, and this will hit the nation’s prospects after independence.

“Given the relative importance of North Sea revenues to Scotland’s public finances, these downwards revisions have resulted in a deterioration in the outlook for Scotland’s public finances,” it states.

The country’s expected net deficit has more than doubled from £12 billion to £28bn as a result of these revisions, the paper indicates.

“This high level of volatility creates considerable uncertainty in projecting forward Scotland’s fiscal position,” the paper adds. “This would, on present assumptions about onshore tax revenues, require some downward revision in current spending.”

This is likely to hit services in Scotland, with a warning that “these pressures could reduce the resources available to provide additional public services”.

The paper says Scotland’s armed forces would have a “much lower budget” than its population share and the SNP has said this would not be any more than £2.5bn.

The report accepts that Scotland’s budget after independence would be subject to conditions and any government at Holyrood would “have to ensure that it remained in line with any agreement on monetary union”.

The SNP has attempted to brush this off saying that

that the paper has been “overtaken by events” with oil revenues having surged on the global market to $115 a barrel. Initial estimates from the Office for Budget Responsibility put oil prices at less than $100 in the years ahead, but other forecasters have put it at $130.

They have continued to repeat this message.

But the Better Together campaign has responded by bring up the same topic,

The SNP’s oil fund will put your taxes up

In public the SNP tell us that an independent Scotland could have not one but two oil funds without the need for tax rises, spending cuts or extra borrowing to fund this.

Yet a confidential Scottish Government paper, which we are publishing today, makes clear that in private SNP Ministers are being advised by their own impartial civil servants that our taxes WOULD have to go up, public spending WOULD have to be cut or borrowing WOULD have to rise to pay for an oil fund. In fact, it could mean a combination of all three.

SNP Ministers aren’t just ignoring this impartial advice – they are doing exactly what this advice warns against.

We have also produced a simple document contrasting what SNP Ministers say in public with what they are being advised privately.You can read this here andshare on Facebook and twitter here

Read the Scottish Government’s paper, revealed under FOI law, here.

Looking at how oil money has been needed to pay for public services over the last 20 years SNP’s confidential cabinet paper concludes:

“If the Scottish Government had wished to invest in an oil fund, without having to increase its borrowing, there would have had to have been a corresponding increase in tax receipts or reduced public spending.”

If the SNP are being told this in private why can’t they just be honest with the Scottish people?

Speaking today, the leader of Better Together Alistair Darling said:

“This is the third time in a year that the SNP have been caught out saying one thing in public while knowing the opposite was true in private. The SNP have quite deliberately set out to deceive the Scottish public.

“Scotland doesn’t have to be faced with this choice. Being part of the UK means we have the strength of a bigger economy without the risk of oil volatility.”

By pooling and sharing our resources across the whole of the UK we are best placed to get the benefit from the North Sea.

The basic contours of these problems have not changed since.

So, one thing is clear, the SNP is as much as obstacle to left politics as the trinity of, “British State, the Westminster regime, the Crown Powers”

We hope that the left nationalists will not descend into arguing over the ownership of “their” nation’s oil as a way out of their problems – to avoid addressing the right-wing pro-market nature of any feasible ‘independent’ Scotland. .

But once you’ve gone down the nationalist road it’s hard to know exactly where you will end up.

For a detailed critique of how Scottish left nationalism is far from left politics and far from any form of critical left approach to capitalism and globalisation, See: The Break-Up of Tom Nairn?

Tom Nairn, Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom, Verso, 2002. Hardback, 300pp, £15.99. Reviewed by Andrew Coates. What Next? 

Also see: Paul Tesdale. Yes Means Power to Capital. Chartist May/June 2014.


Chartist AGM: the Pro-European Left.

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“Chartist was a very different animal when I took over as Editor in Spring 1974 .  The banner headline on the tabloid talked of joining a ‘joint command of revolutionary organisations and preparing for dual power’.”

Editor’s Report. 2014.

An exceptional Chartist AGM took place on Saturday the 14th of June.

The meeting began with a session of the Financial Crisis and Worker Democracy.

Prem Sikka from Essex University  gave an overview of the part accountancy, to most people one of the most  boring subjects ever invented, had played in neo-liberalism. He illustrated his case by showing how the rules of accountancy underpinned the banking crises, and the ‘outsourcing’ of state functions. This did not mean that the state, viewed in terms of spending public money, had shrunk. It has been “restructured” – to give ever greater subsidies to the private firms who now carry out many of its functions. The present privatising regime had created widespread poverty, not only for the unemployed, but for those working under ‘flexible’ zero hours contracts.  Sikka set out a list of reforms that would bring the banking and financial sector under greater public control, increase transparency,  and end widespread fraud and short-term profiteering.

Janet Williamson, Senior Policy Officer of the TUC, made the case for looking again at the proposals for worker representation in companies, last brought up by the 1970s the Bullock Report. She argued that having a voice for workers in firms decisions was essential, not just for justice, but for better wealth production and long-term stability.

In the discussion that followed  the issues of socialising the banks, the disciplining of the reserve army of the workless by workfare, and whether ‘voice’ was sufficient for socialists who wish employees to have fuller control over their working lives. The ‘shrinking’ of the state was questioned when the transfer of its functions to private companies living off tax-raised funds  had real effects on accountability and workers’ conditions.

After lunch John Palmer (former European Editor – the Guardian) spoke of What now for the left after the European elections? Palmer began by talking about the rise of the xenophobic right, particularly in the UK (UKIP) and France (the Front National). They were joined by other hard and far-right parties in Greece (Golden Dawn) and Hungary. Social Democracy, above all in france, had done very badly. Their left competitors, the Front de Gauche, had stagnated. The British Labour Party had got solid results, but had lost the lead to UKIP.  Palmer, however, pointed to the good results for the left in Southern Europe, notably Greece (Syriza), Spain (Podemos and the Izquierda Unida). From the floor Italy was added, where the centre-left Democratic Party (Partito Democratico), did well and the further left alliance (L’Altra Europa con Tsiprasre-entered the European Parliament.

Palmer explained very clearly that it was up to the Left to promote a federalist agenda as the only way to unite Europe’s left into an effective force that could shape the European Union in a different, social, direction. We need to change the terms of debate.  He cited Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century as a milestone on this journey.It had brought back inequality onto the agenda, showing how rewards to capital has grown at the expense of wage. The left’s agenda needed to centre on the European Parliament. He finished by pointed out how far Britain was isolated in its opposition to Jean-Claude Juncker. By contrast to the British Labour Party, which shares this hostility with the Liberal-Conservative Coalition, the left should be building alliances to fight austerity across the continent.

Chartist has long stood for a pro-European left. Debate and questions raised the problematic stand of some (including Palmer) who back the break-up of Britain yet want a federalist Europe. It was also noted that Picketty’s book came at a time when France’s centre-left was rediscovering the important of fighting inequality. (see The society of equals: Pierre Rosanvallon 2004.  French Edition: La Société des égaux, Le Seuil, 2011). Whether Europe, and the EU,  had played a negative role in backing US-interference the Ukrainian crisis and interventions in the Middle East and Libya was discussed.

Reports indicated that Chartist has continued to attract a wide-range of democratic socialist contributors. The Editor Mike Davis, stated that the journal is supportive of the Labour Party and progressive forces within it, and the majority do not see the way forward in independent electoral left initiatives. But the publication  also attracts Greens, the Left Unity Party,  and independent socialists. The magazine backs the People’s Assembly and has played a significant role in the Labour Assembly Against Austerity.

There were two resolutions. One called for support for the Yes campaign for Scottish Independence, and the other for Chartist backing for a London rally calling for Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom.

From the audience concern was expressed at moves to separate people on national grounds. It was also pointed out by another Chartist supporter that the mover of the resolution’s own party, Left Unity, did not endorse these views, that Chartist is not a directly campaigning group with a ‘line’ and that it was said that Alex Salmond was so vain that he drank his own bath water. We might guess who made the latter comments.

The resolution fell, supported only by its two movers.

The Chartist Magazine is now fully on-line.

The new site is up and running.You can access it here.

It is seriously worth reading.

There was a great get-together in the pub afterwards and an excellent meal in a Greek Taverna.

The New European Politics of National Resentment

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http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/64376000/jpg/_64376304_nzq4jitf.jpg

The New European Politics of National Resentment

Europe is in the throes of a major economic and political crisis. The later, overused, word barely covers the depths of despair felt by those facing mass unemployment, wage cuts and the devastation and privatisation of public services. Protests against austerity have united radical lefts, trade unions and the peoples. They have yet to succeed.

In the absence of any substantial – ‘actually existing’ – alternative to the austerity consensus of Christian and Social Democracy, reactionary currents have gained ground. Nationalists, such as the UK Independence Party, UKIP, the weevils of British politics, have had a strong echo, encouraging popular anger against the European Union. Overtly xenophobic parties, the Front National in France (17,9% in the first round the 2012 French presidential elections) and a host of others in Western and Eastern Europe, have gained ground. The Greek Golden Dawn has gone backwards so far that it has revived the far right’s tradition of bullying private militias.

But it is another reaction that has caught attention today. The victory of the right-of- centre party of  Artur Mas, Convergència i Unió  (CiU) in the Catalonian regional elections opens the way to a referendum on national independence. In Belgium the New Flemish Alliance (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, N-VA) of Bart Wever appears on the way to complete Flemish autonomy, if not the dissolution of the kingdom. The Scottish Parliament has decided to hold a popular vote about the country’s future that could lead to the ‘break up of Britain’. In Italy the Lega Nord, Northern League, stands for the rights of North Italy’s ‘Padania’ against the South. It has lost momentum in recent years following its collaboration with Berlusconi, but may well revive.

Are these different populist protests against Europe’s oligarchs? That is, part of broader demands for “localism”. Tory Ferdinand Mount is a critic of “centralisation and top-down control” He calls for, “giving power back to the people” on the “human scale”(The New Few 2012). Are these movements in any way aimed at the “distribution of power to the many, the taming of the oligarchs, and the opening of opportunities to the worst off.”? (Page 219) It can be quickly seen, that some on the left, notably the Catalan left, Esquerra Republicana which looks set to work with the victorious CiU, and the warring factions of Scottish socialism, do indeed consider the push for independence in their lands as opportunities for such moves.

Most of these movements are however not principally concerned with reviving an idealised municipal government past or the voluntary associations that made up David Cameron’s vision of the Big Society. The route they take, from hard-right to apparently ‘social democratic’ Scottish nationalists, is towards what Mount described elsewhere as the “”visible symbols of national community and unity” (Mind the Gap. 2005) But as Mount would recognise, all these movements are intensely concerned with control over money. From UKIP’s jibes about Brussels to the Catalan, Flemish and Northern Italian regionalists, they are preoccupied not just with bureaucratic waste, but the feckless use of public funds by their improvident – Southern – neighbours. Scottish nationalists, for reasons which are all too obvious, show less interest in this, but continue to rail against the UK-wide distribution of revenues taken from ‘their’ oil and gas,

Resentment

If there is any common thread between these, often very different, parties and the tides of opinion that bolster their position, it is resentment. They are not movements of national liberation, comparable to Irish republicanism, the fight for Norwegian independence from Denmark, or the forces that created national states following the break up of the Hapsburg Empire, the “prison of the nations”. Perhaps the Flemish nationalists are unique in holding an annual trek around francophone Brussels, pissing on every lamppost to mark out Dutch speaking territory (okay, I made the urine bit up). But the impulse to define and protect ‘their’ people, our ain folk is widely shared. Read the rest of this entry »

Scottish ‘Socialists’ Back £7 Pint and Capitalist Independence.

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Scots Left Say he’s a Diamond Geezer.

My Scottish grandparents were  Chair and Branch Sec. of a Branch of the ILP in Springburn Glasgow.

Comrades will no need no reminder that this was, and is, a poor district and the heart of Labour Movement.

It is with some distress that we read that the so-called ‘socialist’ party the SSP, has backed the Murdoch supported SNP in its  demand for ‘independence’.

Going to the length of appearing on public platforms with – I like my bath-water so much I drink it Salmond.

And not saying a dicky bird about the SNP’s plans to raise the price of a pint to (rough estimation) seven quid a pint.

The cost of a bottle of me gramps daily tot (0r six) of whisky must be pretty stiff as well..

Written by Andrew Coates

May 28, 2012 at 11:17 am

The Zeitgeist Movement and Occupy UK: An Anti-Globalisation Cult.

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The Zeitgeist Future: Yuk!

Occupy Glasgow’s inability deal with an incident of sexual assault,  has created a serious controversy. From the City itself Mhairi from the Scottish Socialist Party, has described this on her Blog, and her report has yet to be properly answered. (Full post Here.)

The gravity of this incident is illustrated by this commentator’s observation, “This horrendous rape has just shown how so many people, supposedly on the side of the underprivileged, actually see women as objects and fucktoys, incapable of independent thought.” 

We will not comment on this further.

But one concern has come up which relates to a wider problem about the ‘Occupy Movement’ – its tolerance towards a conspiracy cult with dodgy ideas that parallel a strain of thought  on the extreme right.

This, the Zeitgeist Movement UK  (ZMUK),  appears to be involved in Glasgow (as they claim here and in the rest of the UK here).

The Scottish Socialist Party’s Youth group offers this account TZM (full story Here.)

Zeitgeist got started when a man called Peter Joseph (this apparently isn’t his real or full name, as he conceals his real identity) released a documentary called, amazingly enough, Zeitgeist (which is German for Spirit of the Times) in 2007. This film was stuck up on Google video, and quickly got loads of views. This was then followed by a sequel, Zeitgeist Addendum, the following year.

The first film is an amalgamation of conspiracy theories: first of all, about religion, making all kinds of claims about the origins of Christianity; then a large middle section about 9/11, asserting that there were no terror attacks and they were in fact carried out by the US government. The final section is probably the most important for us to examine as socialists, because it’s about money and finance. It argues that the world is dominated by a small elite who operate through control of international finance, the media and education. This elite deliberately enslaves the rest of the world by keeping us permanently in debt to the banks by the way they operate the money system.

The SSP then turns to the Second Film and the present ideology of this cult,

If you try and engage Zeitgeist activists about these issues, in all likelihood they will say something along the lines of “Well, we don’t promote the first film any more, we’ve moved on to new things.” Sometime between the making of the first and second films, Peter Joseph came into contact with Jacques Fresco, a designer and engineer who has a series of plans for improving society which he calls the Venus Project. Zeitgeist now describes itself as “the activist wing of the Venus Project.” Privately, some are trying to distance themselves from some of the material in the first film, but officially it is still promoted on the main page when you google Zeitgeist, and remains most people’s introduction to the movement.

The Venus Project advocates what it calls a “resource based economy”, arguing that there are enough resources in the world to provide everyone with a decent standard of living. The problem they argue is that capitalism deliberately makes resources scarce in order to make a profit. So far this is definitely something socialists could agree with. The project goes on to present a whole series of exciting looking sci-fi style drawings of what the high-tech future they propose will look like, which are strangely retro and remind you of concept art for 60s sci fi shows.

Anybody looking for two minutes at the Zeitgeist US site (yes, funnily enough it’s from there!) and reading more about this “global sustainability movement” can see that it’s a culthere.

There are some serious attacks on them by the Zeitgeist Movement Exposed  here.

I never liked that cretin Buckminister Fuller anyway.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2011 at 11:46 am

Galloway Whinges on Syria and Iran.

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In moments of A.C. Grayling-like kindness I consider George Galloway to be like a wire-worm trying to wriggle its way out of a pile of manure.

Take this in response to a lashing he received this week on the Daily Politics Show - here.

Despite his political views and occasional lapses in taste I like Andrew Neil, my fellow countryman, indeed fellow broadcaster. I’ve known him a long time, at least 25 years. That’s the answer to those of you encouraging me to make an official complaint about his behaviour towards me on the Daily Politics show on June 21 2011 – about which more later – I won’t, though I could and probably should.

Amongst the gems Galloway says,

Syria. The bloody events there have had too little analysis (as opposed to hack reporting from neighbouring countries and spoon-fed propaganda from opposition groups and hostile intelligence agencies) and I was looking forward to the opportunity to provide some, from the perspective of a friend of Syria and early believer that President Bashar would be a “breath of fresh air”.

Or this, charged with supporting the Iranian regime,

By expressing my “support” for the “outcome” of the election I became, overnight, the target of death threats, harrassment (even in parliament) and had to have assistance from the police to protect me from elements of the Iranian opposition.

People were rude to Galloway in Parliament.

Heaven forfend!

Gallloway’s main charge against Andrew Neil is that he was nasty to a  “fellow countryman“.

This reminds me of this.

Asked of the difference between the Scots and the Irish Doctor Johnson observed that,

“The Irish are not in a conspiracy to cheat the world by false representations of the merits of their countrymen. No, Sir; the Irish are a fair people; — they never speak well of one another.

Andrew Neil broke the code of the Galloway Scots.

But the parcel of a rouge in the nation does not care.

Neil “enjoyed” the spat – here.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 25, 2011 at 11:43 am

June Elections: No2EU struggles, BNP Nous voilà!

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Crow and Friends: Move the Masses!

The June elections loom. County and European – not exactly key institutions for the popular masses. Held in an atmosphere of absolute political pissdoffnessness they will be  the occasion for a lot of cock-snooting. Probably the BNP’s first Euro Parliament seats. A wipe-out for Labour. One hopes the mildly reform-minded Green Party will hold onto their positions. So far not even a blip for No2E (and I’m acquainted with some pretty unblippy blips). Still, they are standing everywhere, including in the vast Eastern Region. That includes here, East Anglia. Seething with resentment at MPs expenses – like anywhere else. Who knows if a couple of voters might cast their ballot papers in Bob Crow’s direction in protest.

David Semple expresses scepticism about this domed venture. Rightly he targets No2EU’s sovereigntist programme (British Democracy first), the process by which the RMT came to launch it,  the Socialist Party’s participation, and its laughable presence on the ground. Yet he sees a potential lurking somewhere. That is in possible further union disaffiliations from the Labour Party. The basis for a future launch of a left political alternative. Or maybe not. To Dave Craig in the latest Weekly Worker the initiative is a “temporary workers’ party”. That is despite, as he acknowledges, its flawed platform. How anyone can see a space for Dave’s project of a European Republic (a social republic that the left can build for socialism) is hard to grasp. No2EU is pretty clear on its opposite: the existing nation-state (the UK) as the prime site for socialism. Well, at least this is a  better position than the nationalist left. One (how long for this world) faction, Sheridan’s Solidarity, is behind the campaign. The other, Scottish Socialist Party claims to be pro-European. It criticises Union Jack waving opponents of the EU. But wishes for the day when the Scots will be waving the Saltire. Or rather, believes that “Scotland out of Britain” is a progressive demand (here)  Tacitly aligned with the business leaders of, say, the SNP, that is. As for No2EU’s  appeal to the electorate the same Weekly Worker has a letter by Chris Straffrod. He reports 8 people at the No2EU Manchester launch. Half of them were left-wing critics. Some mass interest.

No2EU’s previous promotion of a public meeting involving a German far-right M.P. first exposed here,  led to a  public  climb down in the Morning Star. Are supporters  up to these tricks again? Communist Student (Weekly Worker)  Chris Strafford alleges a No2EU supporter is promoting the List on British extreme-right and xenophobic Facebook sites (here).

So much for an alternative to Brown, the Tories and the rest. Here we have more pressing concerns. In Ipswich the BNP are standing for the first time in the County elections. In two wards, Bridge and Chantry (here). Both working class. The first, Bridge, covers Stoke, a classic largely white poor and workers’ and area. Its Labour Branch  is practically dead. The candidate, Bryony Rudkin, politely described by a world-celebrated  left activist sometime back as ‘Blairite yuppie scum’ replaces Harold Manga a well-respected black Councillor. Harold was removed by New Labour equal opportunities. The principle that well-off former Islington Council leader PAs and County Council leaders should remove working class types from Guyana. It did not need the cunning of a skulk of foxes to see a weak point there. Nor that Chantry, a vast estate, has in many areas the same make-up. Though with some Labour life left. Maybe enough to fight back the BNP’s ambitions to stir up  in-fighting amongst the less well-off and panic the worried middle class. So that Griffin’s cronies can prance around with their Union Flags in elected positions.

This is a  threat we will be concentrating on.

 

Note: Nick Griffin was educated at a minor public school in near-by Woodbridge. The first time he stood for election (some decades ago) was in Ipswich, for the Council. Didn’t win.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 9, 2009 at 9:56 am