SNP and Labour unite to impose austerity

sturgeon dugdale

The Scottish National Party and the Labour Party both say they are against austerity without any evidence to support such claims. On the contrary, both parties are putting legality before supporting social services. As an SNP councillor in Angus rural council stated: 'At this stage the only assurance I can give...is that we will deliver a legally balanced budget. I can give no further assurances about services.'

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Scotland – fighting austerity still the key!

dundee against welfare

As Scotland’s poor face another desperate winter forced to choose between heating or eating in order to live, the Scottish National Party (SNP) government’s promises of social justice are wearing thin.

Severe poverty is defined as those living with household income below 50% of UK median income. In 2014/15 this equated to £237 per week before housing costs (£12,358 per year) and £202 per week after housing costs (£10,533 per year). According to the latest statistics for 2014/15 the rates of severe poverty in Scotland stand at 12% of the population (630,000 people) after housing costs (Severe Poverty in Scotland: Communities Analysis report, August 2016). This includes 130,000 children, 10,000 more than the previous year.

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Scotland: Who owns the land?

mipim

Scotland has the ‘most concentrated, most inequitable, most unreformed and most undemocratic land ownership system in the entire developed world’ (Professor James Hunter, The Guardian, 2013). Around 432 families own half the land in Scotland. The Global Justice Now report, Scotland’s land barons and their connections to global capitalism published in August 2016, has shown Scotland’s land system is not simply a ‘feudal relic’ but very much part of a global parasitic capitalism (imperialism) with ‘billionaire oilmen and Emirati princes, mineral conglomerates, London property speculators, online clothing retailers, Swiss bankers, and financiers of every sort’ claiming a stake alongside the Dukes of Buccleuch and Argyll.

Landowners in Scotland are notoriously hard to identify, with almost 750,000 acres of land held through a series of opaque offshore companies. The SNP government has been criticised by land campaigners for giving carte blanche to rich industrialists buying up vast swathes of Scotland’s countryside. Under pressure it has set a target of publicly registering all landowners by 2024. Some landowners have already been exposed by Global Justice Now as having links to colonial style racism through land grabs, exploitation, human rights abuses and environmental destruction:

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Victory against prison brutality in Scotland

JB pic

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters were present at Greenock Sheriff Court on 24 June to see the fabricated assault charges against John Bowden finally abandoned. A not proven verdict was given by the judge after a roughly two hour trial. The case had been dragging on since 6 March 2015. 

Since his imprisonment over 30 years ago, John has been a regular contributor to FRFI’s Prisoners Fightback page, as well as to other progressive publications, and has been a consistent organiser for prisoners’ rights. Eager to get their own back and silence John, the prison authorities in England and Scotland have repeatedly targeted him with brutality and isolation. This was but the latest attempt to pin fresh charges on John in order to delay his long overdue release. However, due to John’s uncompromising stand and the bravery of another prisoner who witnessed the incident and gave evidence in court, a further injustice was not allowed to happen.

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Thugs in suits and ties, Glasgow council budget 2016

On 10 March, Glasgow’s Labour council passed its budgets for the next two years 2016/17 and 2017/18. A further £130n is to be cut from jobs and services throughout the city. Headline cuts include

- The loss of 1,500 jobs

- Changing job conditions of Cordia care workers, who are responsible for home visits to old and vulnerable people throughout the city, with six public holidays cut, less flexible working hours and apparently restricting overtime hours too. This comes on top of controversial changes to shift patterns which were implemented last year, forcing some care workers to work seven days in a row. The overwhelming majority of care workers are women with caring responsibilities in their own families.

- More cuts in grants to third sector charities and community funds

- a lower standard of cleaning in schools, museums, libraries and offices with janitor posts to be cut from one per school to four in every five schools. This comes despite recent janitor strikes against low pay.

- School children’s breakfast clubs to increase from £1.00 to £2.00. This means an extra £40 a month for 2-child families. School teachers reporting hungry pupils will become more numerous as families struggle to make ends meet.

The overwhelming majority of the cuts have so far not been made public. Glasgow Labour Council is determined to continue austerity, even if it means cementing their defeat to the SNP at the next council elections in 2017. For all their posturing, neither the SNP nor the trade unions are willing to effectively oppose cuts. The SNP, like the Labour Party, are determined to make the working class pay for the crisis.

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