Dundee SSP

Scottish Socialist Party branches from Dundee

Unite with other unions against the cuts

Posted by alangdundee on 10th June 2010

Main parts of our leaflet for EIS conference at the Caird Hall in Dundee.

The election of the Tories – the Twin Tories, with the treacherous Lib Dems joining forces with the Tory Butchers – marks a new threat to education workers, education services and communities. We all face a level of carnage to jobs, conditions and services not experienced since Thatcher at her most rampant.

Cameron and Clegg have lost no time in pronouncing their top priority is to cut public spending.

These upper class butchers want to wield the axe to jobs, pay, pensions, benefits, public services – to enrich their own class even further.

Cameron’s claims that we all face pain for years to come is false to the core.

The bankers who enjoyed a bountiful handout from public funds don’t face ‘pain’ – for instance, 100 of them at the RBS recently awarded themselves a £1m bonus each!

The richest 1,000 fat-cats whose incomes rocketed by 30% last year, to £353billion! – do not face ‘hard choices’ or ‘painful decisions’.

It’s Scotland’s 630,000 public sector workers, alongside workers in the private sector, our families, our communities, who face a massacre – unless a united, determined, militant campaign of resistance is built, starting now!

In resisting the cuts, EIS and other unions need two central guiding principles: unity in action is our best defence – and a convincing set of policies to explode the myth that cuts are unavoidable.

Teachers, civil servants, council and NHS workers have marched and taken strike action against cuts.

It would be fatal if these fights were kept separate and apart, or if any union adopted the notion that cuts are inevitable – but ‘not in our service’. That would weaken the resistance and guarantee cuts to all services.

So SSP members in the EIS (and in all other unions) strongly advocate united action – across all public sector unions and alongside community groups, anti-cuts campaigns, Save Our Schools campaigns…

EIS and other unions should build a united public rally on Saturday 26th June, after new levels of carnage are announced in the 22nd June Butchers’ Budget – as a springboard for building a mass march in the autumn, when even more cuts will be announced in the government’s Spending Review.

Such events would help build the fighting morale of tens of thousands who right now are terrified of what the future holds.

Equally important in building a rebellion against cuts from a government that has no mandate in Scotland – with 85% voting against the Tories – is a convincing set of policies that exposes the lie that cuts are necessary and unavoidable – a monstrous lie peddled not only by the Tories and Lib Dems, but also New Labour and the SNP! Otherwise many people will fall for the argument that there’s not enough money to defend jobs and services, that cuts are a necessary evil – and then fall out amongst themselves over where the cuts should occur.

That divide-and-conquer trickery lies behind the Tory plan to consult people over what to cut! There is no need for any cuts! There are oceans of wealth swilling around – but in the hands of the bankers. billionaires and boardrooms of oil companies – not in the hands of the public.

The SSP fights for alternatives that would create jobs, improve services, protect conditions. Commit EIS to action against the cuts – alongside other unions – and argue for socialist policies that would fund the expansion of jobs and services. And join the SSP – for an independent socialist Scotland.

Twenty’s Plenty in a class

The Scottish Socialist Party has an unrivalled track record of standing up for kids, communities and education. We have consistently fought school closures that lead to larger classes, job losses, increased stress for staff, worse education.

We have led several Save Our Schools campaigns, uniting parents, communities and trade unionists – demanding smaller classes and investment in community-based schools within easy, safe reach of children’s homes.

We led the mass opposition to Labour’s school closures in Glasgow last year. During that campaign we popularised the slogan Twenty’s Plenty in any class, and lobbied the SNP government to pass legislation to limit classes to 20 for all age groups.

At the recent STUC Congress, SSP members pushed this policy and won the backing of the conference for a campaign for classes of 20 maximum for all.

In East Dunbartonshire, when the Labour-Tory Coalition announced closure of 8 primaries last week,the SSP called a protest demo and public meeting to set up a Save Our Schools campaign.

150 local people joined the demo, the councillors took fright, and shelved their butchery – for now!

EIS shares the SSP’s policy of 20 max in a class. The time is rotten-ripe for the EIS leadership to lead action in support of this policy – including industrial action.

Posted in Dundee, Education, Free School Meals, Leaflet, Public Services, Richie Venton, Save Our Schools, Schools, Trade Unions | No Comments »

As one right wing authoritarian government falls

Posted by alangdundee on 11th May 2010

Another is formed. The misnamed Liberal Democrats appear to be propping up the Tories. Given that Nick Clegg recently praised Thatcher it should come as no surprise. No doubt the 4 key policies of the Lib Dems will be abandoned for a few ministerial seats.

The initial David Cameron speech made it plain that any Lib Dem/Tory pact would be like the old Spitting Image sketch.

We share these policies so come and support us in implementing them (paraphrasing)

Who we should feel sorry for are those tens of thousands of people who believed the media hyped Cleggmania and thought they were voting for a radical liberal alternative to the two main Tory parties.

There is a radical liberal alternative to these three parties, it’s called the SSP. Join us and help make a difference.

Posted in Accountability, Election, Westminster | No Comments »

Tories, Lib Dem, Labour, what’s the difference

Posted by alangdundee on 2nd February 2010

If you have discussed politics in the last 12 years and you will have undoubtably heard a comparison to Labour and the Tories that resulted in someone saying they are just the same.

You may have even heard it go one step further and a description of Labour as Blue Labour instead of New Labour.

Well the Lib Dems have went one further and re-branded themselves in blue.

If you’ve been saying for years that Labour, Tories and Lib Dems are all the same – it’s good to see one of those parties agree with you.

The SSP of course are a bit different. We don’t get donations from millionaire businessmen – so aren’t in their pocket. Our elected representatives take a reduced wage and as far as we know none ever had the public purse pay for building work on their castle.

In Dundee West we are of course aware of the cost of a DVD player and that computer desks shouldn’t cost you £800.

Posted in Humour, Labour, Lib Dem, Other Parties, Tories | No Comments »

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 »

Lib Dem Right Hand Doesn’t Know What Left Hand Is Doing

Posted by alangdundee on 28th February 2009

According to the Herald the Lib Dems have failed to meet the deadline for a commission at Holyrood.

Fair enough you might think.

Except it was a commission they were architects of.

The excuse is of course that they need some more time to think of what to submit.

The topic of the commission is a federal UK, which the Liberal Democrats have been in favour of for decades!

So they set up a commission to investigate of of their flagship policies but haven’t thought about it enough to submit something to the group.

No wonder they do things like claim they support scrapping the Council Tax, then vote against SSP bills to scrap the council tax.

Posted in Campaign, Council Tax, Lib Dem, Scotland | No Comments »

Scrap the Council Tax

Posted by alangdundee on 17th February 2009

Unlike the SNP and Lib Dems the Scottish Socialist Party say we are against the Council Tax and do something about it. We launched two bills in Holyrood to scrap the unfair tax.

More details on our proposals to scrap the council tax are here

If you have the inclination the full paper explaining our proposed replacement is here

Reprinted below is an article from 2003 giving a brief explanation of the proposed replacement. If you want to express your anger at the Lib Dem and SNP u-turn over scrapping the despised tax you have the opportunity to vote SSP on March the 12th in Maryfield in Dundee.

Scrap the unfair Council Tax

This week the Scottish Socialist Party launched its campaign for the 2003 Scottish Parliament elections, with the fight to scrap the cruelly unfair Council Tax at the heart of its manifesto.

Countless numbers of ordinary Scots get into huge debts every year as they struggle to pay enormous Council Tax bills. Here Alan McCombes looks at how the SSP‘s proposed new Scottish Service Tax would shift the burden of local taxation onto the shoulders of the rich rather than Scotland’s lowest paid workers.

Why the Council Tax is unfair

John and Anne live in a modest semi-detached home in Glasgow with their three young children.

Anne stays at home to look after their three-month-old son. John works as a porter in a local hospital where he is paid £5 an hour.

John has to work for six weeks to pay his annual Council Tax bill of £1,141.

Jack and Bridget live in a detached home with their two children. Bridget is a high-flying council executive earning £90,000 a year. Jack is the First Minister of the Scottish Parliament with a salary of £118,000 a year.

Jack has to work five days to pay his Council Tax bill of £1,545.

Then there is Ian who lives in a mansion in Aberdeenshire. Ian – or Sir Ian as he is now known – was Scotland’s top earner last year, raking in £600 million in salary, bonuses and stock market wheeling and dealing.

Ian has to work for 50 seconds to pay his Council Tax bill of £1,838.

The Council Tax is a blatantly unfair Tory tax, which reinforces Scotland’s grotesque divide between rich and poor.

It was concocted by the last Tory government as a fallback for the hated Poll Tax, which was destroyed by people power in the early 1990s.

It was like mugging an old woman, then giving her back a few coins for her bus fare home. Under the Council Tax, the maximum differential is three to one.

Someone living in a mansion in Pollokshields or Murrayfield will pay just three times more than someone living in a rundown flat in Possil or Craigmillar.

Beaufort Castle near Inverness is one of the most lavish private homes in Europe. Set in 180 acres of beautiful countryside, the 24-bedroom baronial castle is stuffed full of priceless paintings, ornate furniture and exquisite tapestries.

The castle used to be the family seat of one of Scotland’s most powerful clans, the Frasers. Now it is owned by Scotland’s richest woman, Ann Gloag, whose personal wealth runs to hundreds of millions of pounds.

In 1995, Ann Gloag bought Beaufort for £1.5 million. Today, it’s valued at £3 million.

Ann Gloag’s total Council Tax bill is £1,878.

It’s hard to imagine a more startling contrast between Beaufort Castle and the Scaraway flats in Glasgow. Here hundreds of families are packed into a few tower blocks.

Helena Duffy lives in the flats with her teenage daughter, who is a student. Helena earns £170 a week for 45 weeks as an ancillary worker in Stobhill Hospital. For her two-bedroom flat, 14 floors up, Helena pays £761 a year in Council Tax.

Ann Gloag’s home is worth 150 times more than Helena Duffy’s home. Ann Gloag earns 100 times more than Helena Duffy. Yet Ann Gloag pays just two and a half times more in Council Tax.

As well as discriminating directly against the poor, the Council Tax also discriminates against people who live in the poorest towns and cities.

For example, Council Tax for a Band D property in Glasgow is £1,141. In prosperous Wandsworth Council in London, Council Tax for a Band D property is just £402.

That means that a Glasgow family living in identical accommodation are forced to pay almost £15 a week more.

Even within Scotland, there are variations. People in the poorest urban areas such as Glasgow, Dundee, Inverclyde and West Dunbartonshire can pay hundreds of pounds a year more than those living in similar properties in more prosperous rural areas.

These variations lead to some extraordinary absurdities. For example, even though the Council Tax is supposed to be based on property values, some three-bedroom semi-detached homes in Glasgow are liable for higher Council Tax than the 100 apartment Balmoral Castle, set in 50,000 acres of prime land.

A radical alternative

The Scottish Socialist Party has launched a radical new alternative to the Council Tax.

The Scottish Service tax developed by Paisley University economists, Geoff Whittam and Mike Danson would be based on income.

It would redistribute wealth from high income households to low and average income households.

The Scottish Service Tax would be set at a uniform rate across Scotland, with the revenues allocated to local councils on the basis of need.

Over 77 per cent of Scottish homes would be better off. Many low income households would stand to save between £20 and £30 a week from the change.

At the other end of the scale, the wealthiest 16 per cent of households would pay more.

Many of these households have benefited from a cash windfall totalling tens of thousands per household since the abolition of the old rates system.

The bill for that windfall was picked up by low paid workers.

There are a a small number of households – around 7 per cent – who would neither gain nor lose from the Scottish Service Tax.

There are six compelling arguments for replacing the Council Tax with the Scottish Service Tax.

  • It would redistribute wealth and income by shifting tens of millions of pounds from the rich to the poor.
  • It would automatically exempt the lowest income households without a degrading and complicated means test.
  • It would generate some extra, desperately needed cash to improve local services.
  • It would be uniform throughout Scotland, which means that people who earn the same would pay the same, irrespective of where they live.
  • It would be easy to collect and administer, in contrast to the bureaucratic minefield of the Council Tax.
  • It is based on income rather than property, which means it does not discriminate against larger families.

How the Scottish Service Tax would work

The Scottish Service Tax would be levied on individuals according to their income. Each individual in the household would be assessed.

There would be five ascending rates of SST based on income.

  • Rate 1) Nil. All income under £10,000 is exempt from Scottish Service Tax.
  • Rate 2) 4.5 per cent. All income between £10,000 and £30,000 will be taxed at a rate of 4.5 per cent.
  • Rate 3) 15 per cent. All income between £;30,000 and £50,000 will be taxed at a rate of 15 per cent.
  • Rate 4) l8 per cent. All income between £50,000 and £90,000 will be taxed at a rate of 18 per cent.
  • Rate 5) 20 per cent. All income above £90,000 will be taxed at a rate of 20 per cent.

To calculate your – or anyone else’s – Scottish Service Tax:

  • Step 1: deduct the first £10,000 of income. (If you earn below £10,000 you will be automatically exempt without having to deal with complicated red tape or form filling.) If you are on £10,000 you will pay NIL.
  • Step 2: divide all additional income from £10,000 to £30,000 by 100 and multiply by 4.5. Thus, if you are on £15,000 you will pay £225 (4.5 per cent of £5,000 = £225). If you are on £30,000 you will pay £900.
  • Step 3: divide all further income from £30,000 to £50,000 by 100 then multiply by 15. Add on £900, the amount you will pay up to £30,000. Thus, if you are on £50,000 you will pay £3,900 (£900 plus 15 per cent of £20,000).
  • Step 4: divide all income from £50,000 to £90,000 by 100 then multiply by 18. Add on £3,900, the amount you pay up to £50,000. Thus, if you are on £90,000 you will pay £11,100 (£3,900 plus 18 per cent of £40,000).
  • Step 5: divide all income over £90,000 by 100 then multiply by 20. Add on £11,100, the amount you pay up to £90,000. Thus, if you are on £120,000 you will pay £17,100 (£11,100 plus 20 per cent of £30,000).

Scottish Service Tax as a proportion of total income

Percentage of income paid in Service Tax within each income range. (The figures are an average within each range. Those at the lower end of each range will pay less; those at the higher end will pay more; those in the middle will pay the figure cited.)

  • Under £10,000: 0.0%
  • £10,000-£15,000: 0.9%
  • £15,000-£20,000: 1.9%
  • £20,000-£30,000: 2.6%
  • £30,000-£40,000: 4.4%
  • £40,000-£45,000: 6.6%
  • £45,000-£50,000: 7.2%
  • £50,000-£70,000: 9.2%
  • £70,000-£90,000: 11.8%
  • Over £90,000: 16.1%

Winners and losers

Those who would gain:

Laurie, a self-employed actor, lives with her teenage son in a Band C tenement property in Edinburgh. Last year, she earned just under £10,000. Her Council Tax bill, including a 25 per cent single person’s discount is £667.50. Under the Scottish Service Tax she would pay NOTHING.
Saving: £55 a month.

Sarah and Ken live in an owner-occupied Band E property in Glasgow. Sarah earns £15,000 and Ken earns £17,000. Their Council Tax bill is £1,395. Under the Scottish Service Tax they would pay £540.
Saving: £71 a month.

Wullie is a call centre worker in Glasgow who earns £11,000 a year. His partner Jackie earns £8,000 a year. They live in a Band B flat and currently pay £887 a year in Council Tax. Under the Scottish Service Tax, they would pay £45.
Saving: £70 a month.

Dave is a firefighter in Dundee who lives in a Band D property with his partner Angela and their three children. Dave earns £21,500 and the household Council Tax bill is £1,079. Under the Scottish Service Tax they would pay £517.50.
Saving: £47 a month.

Those who would lose:

John and Fiona live in a Band G property in the Highlands. John is a GP who earns £62,000. Fiona is a part-time teacher who earns £13,000 a year. Their Council Tax bill is £1,565. Under the Scottish Service Tax they would pay £6,195.
Loss: £386 a month.

Nicola is a high-flying lawyer who lives on her own in a Band H property in Edinburgh. Last year she earned £143,000. Her Council Tax bill, including single person’s discount came to £1,500. Under the Scottish Service Tax she would pay £21,700. Loss: £1,683 a month.

Frederick is one of Scotland highest paid chief executives, earning £1,200,000 last year. He lives in a Band H property in Edinburgh with his partner and their children. Their current Council Tax bill is £2,002. Under the Scottish Service Tax they would pay £233,100 a year.
Loss: £19,258 a month.

Posted in Accountability, Alan McCombes, Campaign, Council Tax, Public Services | 1 Comment »

 

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