Scottish National Party – outdoing 'I, Daniel Blake'

snp cuts

Recent successful court judgments against the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) have drawn attention to the onerous process of mandatory reconsideration before a claimant who has received a benefit sanction can go to a Social Security Tribunal. Mandatory reconsideration applies to any DWP decision not just to sanction those on Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment Support Allowance, but also to decisions on Personal Independence Payments. Introduced in 2013, the purpose of mandatory reconsideration is to make life as difficult as possible for a claimant. The decision under appeal remains until the mandatory reconsideration process is complete; it may take weeks and the target is to uphold 80% of original decisions. Social Security Tribunals, on the other hand, grant more than 50% of appeals. Some welfare powers are now being devolved to Scotland, and it is apparent that despite many declarations to the contrary, the SNP government is determined to retain the same two-stage system.

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Scotland: Fighting Labour and the SNP

Glasgow Stand Up Demo

The urgency of the fight for socialism has become apparent with the result of the general election in Scotland. A reshuffle of seats between the parties implementing austerity, racism and war saw the Scottish National Party (SNP) lose 21 seats, the Scottish Tories gain 12 and Scottish Labour gain six. In affluent rural constituencies, leading SNP MPs including deputy leader Angus Robertson lost to Conservative candidates while Labour regained some of its old territory in working class constituencies in and around Glasgow.

In the weeks before the election Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! comrades urged people to break from this parliamentary sham, arguing ‘Don’t vote – fight for socialism!’ On 27 May, we confronted the local Labour Party in Govanhill. Its supporters abandoned their stall after they failed to stop us exposing their record of cuts, racism and war to the passing public. We said that Labour and the SNP should be treated as class enemies, and many people agreed.

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Scotland: No vote for SNP or Labour!

scotland frfi glasgow

As the general election campaign gets underway, sections of the left are calling either for a vote for Corbyn’s Labour Party, or for the Scottish National Party (SNP) on the grounds that one or the other is the only ‘progressive’ alternative to the Tories. Both, however, are completely reactionary, and the only progressive alternative is a boycott of this election sham and a fight for socialism.

No to the SNP!

The SNP is a reactionary, bourgeois party. Scotland currently has around 43,000 millionaires while also being home to some of the worst inequality and poverty in Western Europe. But the decade-old SNP Scottish Government has repeatedly refused to raise taxes on the wealthy in Scotland to alleviate the worst of these problems while decrying the lack of money from Westminster. It pays lip service to social justice but in education, health and child care, policing, courts and prisons it oversees inequality and injustice daily while implementing further cuts to legal aid, schools, colleges, jobs and services across the country. Its push for a second independence referendum is to dampen any resistance to its austerity programme and does not reflect anything progressive for the working class.

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From the cradle to the grave - Inequality and poverty in Scottish education

The first months of 2017 have been dominated by headlines of an attainment gap in education between the richest and poorest children in Scotland. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged education is her top priority amidst concern at falling standards in education overall. While elitist academics and politicians eagerly discuss the riddle of inequality in education, they cannot accept that the answer is rooted in poverty itself.

According to Scottish government statistics, children from wealthier areas outperform children from poorer areas from the moment they begin primary school (The Herald 14 December 2016). Around 90% of children from richer postcodes achieved the standards of reading, writing and numeracy expected of them by teachers. This compares to around 74% of children from the poorest areas. By Primary Seven, around 80% of children from the 20% wealthiest areas achieved the expected Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) standards of writing and numeracy, while almost half of children from the 20% most deprived areas failed to meet these levels.

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SNP pushes for Scottish Referendum 2

On 13 March Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon publicly announced the intention of the Scottish government to prepare for a second independence referendum. The timescale she proposed, between August 2018 and Spring 2019, is aimed to lessen the complications of Scotland’s re-entry into EU membership as an independent state. British Conservative Prime Minister May responded by ruling out another referendum on that timetable, fearing it will undermine the government’s position during the Brexit negotiations. Dominic Mulgrew reports.

While the Scottish government demands its ‘democratic right’ to a referendum, this dispute has nothing to do with democracy. Behind this ‘constitutional crisis’ lies a crisis of the British ruling class and its imperialist position worldwide; whether to side with US or EU imperialism. Moves towards a second independence referendum express the concerns and aspirations of a section of the British ruling class based in Scotland, as Britain heads towards a ‘hard’ Brexit. Masquerading behind nationalism and the interests of ‘the people’, their solutions will come at the expense of the working class and oppressed.

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