Dundee SSP

Scottish Socialist Party branches from Dundee

Archive for the 'Maryfield by-election' Category

Drama in Dundee City Council

Posted by alangdundee on 30th March 2009

Following the Maryfield by election the make-up of Dundee City Council changed. Made up of 29 councillors, the SNP now had 14, one short of a majority and with an even stronger democratic mandate to take power. One independent councillor, Depute Lord Provost Ian Borthwick had previously stated that it was undemocratic for Labour (now 9) the Lib Dems (2) and Tories (3) to exclude the SNP from the convenership roles and being in charge.

The rumour mill was in full force and all eyes were on Borthwick to see if he would walk the walk having talked the talk. Distracted Dundonians didn’t expect the resignation of Lord Provost John Letford from the Labour councillors group and the party. This reduced the Labour group of councillors to 8 causing their spokesmen to go into a mud slinging rage.

According to Jim McGovern, Letford has overnight lost all his principles. Ironically he mocks him for previously stating what was at his core – Labour and the Trade Union Movement. He falsely concludes that because he left Labour this can no longer be true. It may be no longer true, but it is also possible that if he still has this at his core that’s the very reason he can no longer stay in the Labour Party. Twenty Four hours later his vitriolic attack had changed into the Labour losing an argument position of Draw the line under it and move on

Kevin Keenan, leader of the Labour group of councillors flip flopped all week long. From publicly requesting Letfords return to the Labour group (now unprincipled or not) to in desperation trying to hold an olive branch to the SNP by pledging to support one of their councillors to be made Lord Provost. Whether both these plans could be carried out at the same time was irrelevant, they were pure spin from the Labour group.

Other local Labour members from former councillors Jill Shimi, Chic Farquhar and former rent a quote MP Ernie Ross were wheeled out to sling mud too.

What’s interesting about those slinging the mud is only one of them is a Labour councillor. The other seven councillors have been strangely silent on the proposed change in administration.

The last twist in the saga before the council meeting to redraw up power was some claims about an OBE. Letford insists Kevin Keenan had urged him to stand down and he would arrange for him to have an OBE. A series of denials from those involved make it unclear what actually happened, but this would have been a large carrot to someone Keenan described as the biggest unionist I know. That Letford sees his best chance to be the Queens representative in the city has more chance by supporting the SNP than it does Labour says something about both of those parties. For Labour it is the final signpost in their demise in the city. For the SNP it shows how their politics lie on both independence and republicanism if they are making deals with the biggest unionist known to the leader of the Labour Party in order to keep the chains of office.

Ernie Ross had also made the bizarre claim that Labour are a democratic socialist party. Wrong on both counts Mr Ross! Why are the Labour Party fighting over the chains of office rather than trying to break them when in power if either of these propositions were true?

The two independents, Borthwick and Letford were expected to vote with the SNP, keeping their Depute/Lord Provost roles.

At the council meeting Ian Borthwick proposed to delay the meeting to try and have a majority administration of everyone. Apparently the recession means this is necessary. The issue that flagged up this change was not the economy going in to recession but the Lord Provost resigning from his former party. Seconded by the Tories it was lost to the votes of the SNP and John Letford.

The SNP had put forward this idea in 2003 and 2007, as had John Letford in private. Now it looked like the SNP would be in power, the undemocratic coalition who had kept them out of power and looked like losing it suddenly warmed to the idea.

The SNP then proposed John Letford and Ian Borthwick for Lord Provost and Depute as expected. Labour countered with a proposal for one of their councillors to be Lord Provost. Their third preference for the position in a week.

The SNP proposal won through with the support on John Letford with The Tories and Ian Borthwick abstaining.

Immediately all the Labour councillors raised their dissent at the decision. They subsequently opposed the decision to label committees as X Opposition instead of Labour, Lib Democrat etc. It should be pointed out that 20 minutes previously they had demanded the council choose from across the board for the best people for positions but were having trouble with doing that amongst the opposition – showing how unworkable their proposal was in the first place.

What does this mean for the people of Dundee. Well we have finally removed Labour from office, although at what cost? Look next door to Angus to see the actions of the SNP in power. They were one of the longest to hold out to the Nursery Nurses and gave one of the worst offers.

More recently they are attempting to claw back half a days wages from teachers. These teachers left school on an in service day due to the heavy snow. Buses were stopping and schools were closing across Dundee and the surrounding area. People were being advised left and right to get home safely whilst they could. The Council were holding a meeting in Forfar and decided to abandon it and go home as it was too dangerous for them to stay in the town. The teachers in Forfar apparently were in no danger of being stranded and should not have. (see comment below)

Or in other words, as happened in transition nationally between Tories and Labour in 1997, expect no noticeable positive difference.

Posted in Accountability, Council, Dundee, Election, Labour, Lib Dem, Maryfield by-election, Meetings, Public Services, Scotland, SNP, Tories | 3 Comments »

SNP now run Dundee City Council!

Posted by alangdundee on 30th March 2009

Beating both the BBC and SNP to the news – the Lord Provost and Depute Lord Provost are staying as John Letford and Ian Borthwick. Borthwick did not vote for himself as Depute!

The proposal from SNP for Borthwick and Letford to stay in their roles and the SNP to take convenership roles won 15 votes, the SNP and John Letford. The Labour proposal with Richard McCready as Lord Provost won 10 votes, Labour and The Liberal Democrats. The Tories and Ian Borthwick abstained.

The people of Dundee can now look forward to an even more anti-trade union administration than the discredited former regime.

Posted in Accountability, Council, Dundee, Election, Labour, Lib Dem, Maryfield by-election, Meetings, Public Services, Scotland, SNP, Tories | No Comments »

14th March Roundup

Posted by alangdundee on 14th March 2009

A number of important event have happened locally yesterday.

On Friday it was announced that manufacturing was to close down at NCR. This will also lead to a number of job losses at related companies including Taylor Group Diecastings Limited.

Texol also announced their closure.

The Evening Telegraph has a depressing list of the major job losses which have hit Dundee in the last two years: 1539 jobs in total. This does not include the recent announcements just in time for the end of the financial year and the big bonus payments to the bosses.

It is yet to be seen if these workers will fight back having seen the Prisme workers do so.

There is now a Prisme workers fund, send cheques with payment to: TUC Lobby Fund, to
Prisme Workers Solidarity,
c/o Mike Arnott,
Dundee TUC,
141 Yarrow Terrace,
DD2 4DY.

The other event overshadowed by these depressing reports was the election results in the Maryfield by election. As expected the SNP walked it, although surprisingly not in the first round. The SSP had a disappointing result but it was as we expected. In a two horse race like a by election the votes get squeezed for smaller parties. It is unknown how many second votes were given to the SSP after giving a first vote to Labour or the SNP. In a normal council election with multiple councillors being elected these may be passed to us, in this case there was no chance of them ever being passed to us.

The people of Dundee have resoundingly said they want an SNP council. They were the largest party returned at the council elections and at the two subsequent by elections won them both comfortably. It is yet to be seen if the anti-democratic coalition of Labour/Tories/Liberal Democrats. Ian Borthwick got off the fence last time and sided with the will of the voters in Dundee, it is to be seen if he will do so again.

Not that an SNP council will be an improvement for the working class of Dundee. Just ask teachers or nursery nurses in nearby Angus Council how an SNP council treats it’s employees.

Posted in Campaign, Council, Dundee, Election, Maryfield by-election, Occupation, Public Services, Scotland, Trade Unions | No Comments »

12th March – vote SSP 1 in Maryfield by election

Posted by alangdundee on 11th March 2009

Tomorrow is the day of the by election. The last leaflet group have just returned from pounding the pavements of Maryfield having covered around 90% of the ward. Around 10 stalls have been held in the outlying areas of the ward (we have a stall in the city centre almost every weekend and 1 in the outlying areas once every few weeks).

Last night was the one and only hustings – see the report in the Courier, where a number of people congratulated Angela Gorrie as being an excellent candidate. The Lib Dem Candidate also showed support for the SSP‘s ground breaking Free Public Transport policy, which was surprising and welcome. This was in answer to a question about the best way to get people out of their cars.

So tomorrow if you would have normally supported someone who won’t win or will win by a landslide, consider giving the SSP your first vote. You will increase our vote and if and when we are eliminated, your vote carries to your second choice – it isn’t wasted!

Posted in Council, Election, Maryfield by-election | No Comments »

Maryfield By Election

Posted by alangdundee on 10th March 2009

It’s been a frantic few weeks of campaigning in the Maryfield by election and the result will be known on Friday. Before you cast your vote remember this is an election using a Transferable Vote, not just a cross in a box.

You can vote SSP 1, Labour 2 or SNP 1, SSP 2 or whatever way you want. You can’t waste your vote. Vote in order of your preference.

You can still vote tactically.

If you normally vote Labour but want them to care more about working class people then mark SSP 1 and Labour 2. Labour will then get transferred the vote if and when the SSP are eliminated. It sends a message to them about what their voters other priorities are. If one party sees their votes coming to them as a second choice behind the SSP it sends them a clear message that their supporters think they are too right wing or authoritarian.

Vote for what you want not against what you don’t want.

See where you are politically at the Political Compass. For reference the SSP would be left wing and liberal (the same square as Gandhi). Labour would be right wing and authoritarian (the same square as the Tories and the Italian Fascists). You can also see the drift to be both right wing and authoritarian by Labour.

Unfortunately there is no Scotland wide table. On this graphic the SSP would be about the same place as the Greens, with the SNP being a bit to the left of the Liberal Democrats.

Take the test, see where you are and vote for the party or parties who most match your views.

Posted in Accountability, Campaign, Council, Dundee, Election, Maryfield by-election, Scotland | 1 Comment »

Hustings Tuesday 10th March!

Posted by alangdundee on 9th March 2009

The Stobswell Forum are hosting a hustings meeting on Tuesday 10th March at 7pm in the Boomerang Hall (110 Albert Street).

This is the first and only hustings to have taken place in the by-election. If you live in the ward pop along to quiz the candidates.

Posted in Council, Dundee, Election, Maryfield by-election, Scotland | 1 Comment »

Viva La Revolution St Andrews

Posted by alangdundee on 4th March 2009

Below is a short article written by Colin Fox about the occupation of St Andrews Uni. Come along to our open branch meeting tomorrow night to hear Colin Fox speaking about the Council Tax and Angela Gorrie speak about the Maryfield by election. (see meetings page for details)

Viva La Revolution St Andrews

Students at St Andrews University were in the headlines last week for occupying their College Halls in support of the Gaza Palestinians and in particular against the University’s links with Israeli defence contractors. Last Wednesday as their week long occupation drew to a successful conclusion they asked me to come up and address them. Many of the 200 or so protesters had organised my election campaign to become Rector of the University last October.

These are my remarks to them

I am very proud indeed to be back here at St Andrews tonight. I am especially proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with you at the end of this remarkable occupation. I am proud to see so many of the students who led the campaign ‘Fox for Rector’ in October involved in furthering the cause of the Palestinian people.

I am sure Kevin Dunnion [the successful Rector candidate] is delighted to see you take this action and demonstrate the strength of feeling on campus. – Kevin Dunion was, unbeknown to me, sitting in the meeting as I spoke!

I wish to congratulate you all on behalf of the people of Scotland and indeed the vast majority of the peoples of the world who like you share the view that a terrible injustice has befallen the people of Gaza in recent weeks. You have done both them and yourselves immense credit by the principled and dignified way you have conducted your protest.

You are a credit indeed to us all, to the people who have gone before you at this University and the spirit of learning which this place exists to promote. You have learned that it is right to stand up to tyranny and abuse. It is right to resist injustice and to rebel against exploitation. Read Shelley, read Oscar Wilde, read Malcolm X.

In my experience over 30 years now as an active participant in the international class struggle your actions do matter, they do affect change, you will give huge encouragement to the Palestinian people by this action this past week. News of your protest will have given great encouragement to hundreds of millions of people throughout the world who support the Palestinian cause.

Furthermore your action will have severely irked those who wish you hadn’t done it; the UK Government, the US Government and of course the warmongering Israeli propaganda machine.

They would have rather you hadn’t had this occupation. They would rather you had stayed in the bar drinking and mind your own business or stayed in your halls with a joint getting stoned. In fact they would have far rather you were protesting on their side in favour of BAe’s links to the Israeli military.

I see the Palestinians in 2009 as the black South Africans of the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s – facing down the barrel of a gun and overwhelming military intimidation for their basic democratic and human rights.

The struggle for justice for the Palestinians today is every bit as important as the anti Apartheid campaign. The treatment of Palestinians is no less brutal that that meted out to the black majority in South Africa. The injustice is rife, the military odds stacked against them virtually insurmountable. Yet the international support is as it was for Nelson Mandela and the ANC.

And lets not forget they won and so will the Palestinains.

Your occupation this week has played its small part in bringing the day the Palestinians achieve the rights the rest of us already take for granted that bit closer. I salute you , you should be proud of yourselves and each other. Thank you.’

Posted in anti-war, Campaign, Colin Fox, Council, Council Tax, Dundee, Election, International, Maryfield by-election, Meetings, Occupation, Palestine, Scotland, St. Andrews | No Comments »

Scrap the Unfair Council Tax

Posted by alangdundee on 27th February 2009

The Scottish Socialist Party has for years campaigned to abolish the council tax, which hits the poorest hardest, and replace it with the Scottish Service Tax, which is based on income and ability to pay.

Open Branch Meeting
All welcome
10 Constitution Road
Thursday 5 MARCH, 7.30 p.m.
Speakers—Colin Fox, SSP Co-Convenor,
Angela Gorrie, SSP candidate for the Maryfield by-election

Come along to the meeting and find out about the radical alternative to the council tax.

Posted in Campaign, Council, Council Tax, Dundee, Election, Maryfield by-election, Meetings, Scotland | No Comments »

Labour Government Show Hypocrisy Over Royal Mail

Posted by alangdundee on 24th February 2009

Recently, if you have been watching the news or reading any newspaper you will have noticed the complete failure of whole sections of the private sector. Basing their business plans on profits they were expecting to make, the profits never arrived, but massive debts and write offs came instead. You will also have noticed that Labour threw hundreds of billions of pounds at the failed companies, some of which is being syphoned off by their greedy directors as bonuses, clearly not related to performance.

Now the Labour Party are planning to privatise 30% of Royal Mail. Twice disgraced Business Secretary Peter Mandelson claims that Royal Mail is in danger of running out of money and that the taxpayer could not be expected to fund potential liabilities in the region of £8bn in the companies pension fund. Part of the reason the pension fund is in deficit is that the return on the investment for them is based on Labours glorious Free Market which has just failed, spectacularly, again. The main part though, and this is good, is because Labour allowed the bosses to take a pension holiday for thirteen years!

They encouraged the bosses to not pay money into the pension fund, then use the fact it’s now, obviously, in deficit to attack the service.

Billy Hayes, leader of the Communication Workers’ Union hit the nail on the head:

The government is saying they want a foreign company to run the post office, which is ridiculous. We could be faced with a situation where the Royal Bank of Scotland is nationalised and the Royal Mail is privatised.

This is not an isolated incident, Labour and the Tories freed up the most profitable parts of the Royal Mail to competition, and more recently Labour have been attacking whole swathes of the service. This included disgracefully closing four post offices in Dundee, one of which was in the area they are now trying to convince voters to elect them in. Dundee SSP were out campaigning constantly getting people to sign petitions and write letters objecting to the closures and taking part in the Consultation.

The outcome of privatising the most profitable parts of the service is that Labours demands that the company turn a larger profit is harder than ever, because of Labour gutting the service in the first place.

New Labour for consultation is clearly English for proclamation and farce. The objections of hundreds were ignored. A handful of Post Offices have been saved from closure, only for others to take their place. Showing clearly they were not closing based on popularity or local need but purely because they wanted to close X number. The act of removing one from that list resulted in the adding of another.

There are two petitions on the issue, and the least you can do is sign them. After that write to your MP. There will no doubt be other protests and actions taking place over this issue so pledge to take part in any that do.

CWU petition

Petition on Number 10 site

Posted in Accountability, anti-war, Campaign, Demo, Dundee, Election, Maryfield by-election, Post Office, Public Services, Scotland | 1 Comment »

Dundee Maryfield By-Election

Posted by alangdundee on 24th February 2009

Short article by Dundee SSP candidate in the Maryfield by election, Angela Gorrie also on the SSP site

Dundee SSP announced our candidate in the Maryfield by election Angela Gorrie.

The by-election in the Maryfield ward of Dundee City Council, scheduled for Thursday March 12th, will be the first local authority contest since the SNP’s u-turn on Council Tax. In an area where Council Tax rates are among the highest in Scotland, this will not go unnoticed.

Although a win in the poll, triggered by the resignation of Labour’s Joe Morrow, will not be enough to give the SNP a majority, it will leave them just one seat away. The 29 member council is currently finely balanced with 13 SNP members, 10 Labour; 3 Conservatives; 2 Liberals and an Independent.

The ward, one of the largest within Dundee, ranges from the docks of the Tay, through the City Centre to the north edge of the City.

Unusually, it also straddles the boundaries of the Dundee East/West Scottish and Westminster parliamentary seats. Unfortunately for activists however, much of the area lies on a steep slope!
The SSP have consistently held stalls in this area over the past few years, something which many passers by certainly seem to appreciate.

Along with weekly City Centre stalls we try to hold earlier activities in the outlying areas of the city. Stobswell Junction, which sits at the top end of the ward, has always been a popular location.

While the early days of the campaign have so far focused on the SSP’s commitment to replace the hated Council Tax with our Scottish Service Tax, based on income and ability to pay, our other policies have also been well received.

The area has a large student population, so our message of abolish all fees and loans; bring back grants has been well received. Due to the location there are also a high number of council workers in the area. Dundee SSP members were highly active around the last Local Authority workers’ strikes last year, spending many mornings, before and after, leafleting workplaces and showing solidarity with workers.

This has not been forgotten, and we have received many positive comments on the streets about our support.

While the ward boasts enviable public transport links – Dundee Bus Station is within the area, and the Railway Station is just to the West – the costs continue to rise. When I first moved to Dundee four years ago, the standard fare was £1.10. This has now spiralled to £1.45. The cheapest fare increased to 80p earlier this year.

At a time when many local facilities are closing, this has put additional financial pressure on many who live in the area. The SSP’s Free Public Transport policy is recognised as a way to combat this, while going some way to save the environment at the same time.

Dundee, as a city twinned with Nablus, has always taken the fight of the Palestinian people to its heart. This was clear at the recent demonstration, one of the largest the City has witnessed in recent years. Dundee SSP is proud to be a part of this movement.

Posted in Angela Gorrie, Campaign, Council, Council Tax, Dundee, Election, Free School Meals, Maryfield by-election, Palestine, Public Services, Scotland | No Comments »


Promoted by Kevin McVey on behalf of the Scottish Socialist Party, Suite 370, 4th Floor Central Chambers 93 Hope St, Glasgow G2 6LD.