Scottish Communists - website of the Communist Party
Raymond Mennie, Communist Party Scottish Committee
Recorded in Dundee 2016
The organised labour & trade union movement has a strong history in Scotland. Class politics was what gave the movement that strength, and class politics remains the key to rebuilding an effective fightback against Austerity, whether is comes from the government in Westminster, Holyrood or the powerful pro-business EU.
In 2016, Raymond Mennie from the Scottish CP leadership committee, stood in the elections as a Communist candidate. This is a talk which he delivered in Dundee, which exposes the extent to which neoliberal austerity politics has become the mantra for almost every Party in power.
Neo-liberal policies: done "at a Price to us, and a Profit to them"
Raymond gives a clear analysis of where the real power lies in Scotland and Britain, and where ordinary people are in this economically & politically. He then addresses what needs to be done by our movement to combat those who seek to retain the power of Capital in the hands of the few, who do so at the expense of the many. Raymond gives a blistering critique of the lack of talk in Westminster or Holyrood of "public ownership" or "wealth redistribution" - both fundamental tenets of socialism. He also shows how the European Union political project is a club for big business, and fundamentally against the interests of working people at it's core.
There is a left-wing, progressive case for leaving the EU.
The choice is not between two wings of the Tory party.
For workers’ rights
Across Europe the EU is dismantling trade union collective bargaining, often as a condition of bailouts, as in Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
Our national minimum wage was won by our own labour movement.
Our equal pay legislation came from the struggle of the Ford Dagenham
women in 1968. We don’t owe our rights to the EU.
The EU’s European Court of Justice has outlawed trade union and government action for equal pay and equal rights for imported (‘posted’) workers, like those working for £2.50 an hour on the ferries.
Filmed on Glasgow May Day 2016
This year was the centenary of the Easter Rising in Ireland, so the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) agreed to co-host a Centenary Celebration with the Communist Party in Scotland (CPB) at our Glasgow offices. It was followed by a great annual Red Bloc May Day Social, where much political discussion followed!
Joe Law from the CPI spoke of some of the recent history in Ireland, and what forces have shaped Ireland to the present day. He also shared his own experiences growing up in Ireland, and what it means to be an effective trade unionist and a Communist working in communities divided by many factors such as religious background & national identity. Communists like himself and James Connolly knew that it was in the interests of the ruling class to play worker off against worker on the basis of these factors, whereas the way to win was and still is uniting around class politics as fellow workers.
Keith Stoddart from the Communist Party (CPB) gives an introduction showing how a Marxist from Edinburgh - James Connolly - played a huge role not just in Scotland, but in the States & is especially remembered for his part in the Irish Easter Rising.
In the run-up to the British EU Referendum in 2016, the media reports almost exclusively on virulently rightwing voices & their "trigger issues" that they seek to bring up on the EU debate. The Communist Party believes that we must clearly make Left arguments against the European Union and for leaving the EU. We believe that it is at it's very core an unreformable anti-working class & anti-socialist club for big business & the control of workers by Capital. Of course, the EU is a political body that is not to be confused in any way with the "continent of Europe" - as it is racism, anti-immigration, petty nationalism & xenophobia that fuel much of the rightwing rhetoric and outlook, and these have no place whatsoever in a socialist analysis!
Prof John Foster here takes on some common myths about the EU:
1. Leaving the EU means the end to human rights & European Court of Human Rights
2. The EU has kept Peace in Europe
3. We'll loose 3 million jobs if we leave the EU
4. We need the EU to protect us from TTIP
5. Austerity only comes from Tories or Westminster?
Then the the Broad bigger picture is looked at: "What actually IS the EU, what is it's core nature"?
From the Scottish Venezuela Solidarity Campaign http://scottishvenezuelasolidarity.org.uk/
We are forwarding here a statement from the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign with the request that you support it and circulate it further. After that we give you links to three articles which give up-to-date insights into the situation in Venezuela
Tony Burke, Unite the Union,
Dr. Francisco Dominguez, Venezuela Solidarity Campaig
Colin Burgon, Labour Friends of Venezuela
We, the undersigned, note the growing concern across progressive movements and governments across Latin America that elements of the Right Wing within Venezuela have called again for the 'ousting' of the elected President Nicolas Maduro before the constitutional end of his term.
The success of such a campaign would mean the implementation of a hardline neo-liberal programme in Venezuela, which could only further exacerbate the country's economic problems and overturn the advances in social programmes and labour rights of recent years.
Announcements from the right-wing this week follow the decision of the US to renew sanctions against Venezuela, which have been condemned by the Union of South American nations.Agreeing with the Latin American community of nations, we call for respect for Venezuela's national sovereignty and ongoing solidarity with the social achievements Venezuela has made in recent years.
THREE RECENT ARTICLES FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST
1. Venezuela’s Right Wing Confesses to 17 years of Political Delinquency: The Amnesty Bill - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-francisco-dominguez/venezuelas-right-wing-con_b_9401644.html?utm_hp_ref=venezuela
2. Right Wing Majority in Venezuela’s National Assembly: The Constitutional and Political Stakes - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-francisco-dominguez/right-wing-majority-in-ve_b_9069350.html?utm_hp_ref=venezuela
3. Fixing the Venezuelan Economy - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-weisbrot/fixing-the-venezuelan-eco_b_9318760.html?utm_hp_ref=venezuela
Prof John Foster, Communist Party International Secretary, explains what is going on in the Ukraine. Ukraine is a country divided by a civil war that has already killed thousands. The country is also in economic chaos. Inflation is running at over 40 per cent. Average wages for those lucky enough to be employed are around £25 a week. Over half the population is living below the UN-determined poverty level.
Recorded September 2015, this event was originally to have had Eddie Dempsy give a report on the International solidarity visit to the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. Although Eddie couldn't make it, Prof Foster stood in and gave tremendously useful insights into this potentially complex subject.
Prof Foster & others Left authors continue to give this sharp analysis in the Morning Star daily Leftwing newspaper - like this article:
Communism Ban signals Reign of Terror in Ukraine from Tuesday 19th January 2016.
Only the Morning Star in Britain really carries the news and analysis on Ukraine and many other subjects & issues which Western media can often obscure.
Carolyn Jones, Director of the Institute of Employment Rights
Taken from Morning Star Scotland website: http://morningstarscotland.org/video/111-video-challenges-to-politics-of-working-class
Part of the "Redeveloping Class Politics" Autumn 2015 Conference held in Glasgow's STUC organised by the Morning Star.
Carolyn Jones, Director of the Institute of Employment Rights, opened this successful Conference with her insights & analysis of the "Challenges to Politics of Working Class", and what we can do to further the cause of ordinary people in the face of a mass Tory & Ruling class onslaught.
IER: A think tank for the labour movement http://www.ier.org.uk/
Also includeds a short tribute to the late Dr Alan MacKinnon, former Chair of CND and Morning Star supporter and columnist.
ROBERT GRIFFITHS asks who should govern Britain? Monopoly corporations through the EU, the Bank of England, Nato and the Pentagon — or the people, through their mass movements and elected representatives?
Poor Oliver Letwin. Like Jim Carrey in the US comedy film Liar, Liar, he can’t help blurting out inconvenient and embarrassing truths.
In the case of Carrey’s screen character, his son had cast a spell on him to halt the torrent of lies.
In Letwin’s case, his wealthy Eton and Oxbridge background have given him such a colossal sense of superiority and entitlement that he imagines himself to be bullet-proof.
His views of black people and the “lower classes” from above provide further insights into the mind of a ruling-class politician who is currently a senior policy adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron.
This, after all, is the Tory MP who was seen dumping piles of constituents’ correspondence into five different bins in a public park near Downing Street, so little did their problems concern him.
In the past, Letwin has voiced his willingness to beg rather than allow his offspring to attend a state school like 93 per cent of other children.
He once admitted that the NHS would not survive five years of Conservative government cuts, reorganisation and privatisation — a prediction now on course to be realised.
Soon after Chancellor George Osborne made the first of many doomed announcements that austerity policies would ensure a rosy future for the British economy, Letwin declared that it faced an “immediate national crisis.”
That certainly turned out to be the case in 2012, when VAT increases and deeper public spending cuts choked off the economic recovery begun under the outgoing Labour government.
Since then, the Tories have dumped their little Lib Dem helpers to step up the ruling class offensive against public services and the welfare state, against the poor and disabled including children, and against trade union and democratic rights.
Only fresh increases in property values and household borrowing have so far maintained economic demand, although recent growth figures have been revised downwards towards near-zero.
Even after the cuts in social and welfare spending, tax relief for the rich and big business would be driving Britain’s public finances into the ditch were it not for record fire-sales of public-sector assets.
In 2015, Osborne collected £20bn from flogging off cut-price bank, building society and Royal Mail shares to his party’s paymasters in the City. He’s counting on another £41bn between now and 2020.
He and Cameron must be praying that Letwin doesn’t blurt out the truth about their “long-term economic plan” and “northern powerhouse” — that they don’t really exist.
These are fictions to fool the people with the aid of the right-wing media.
What is real, however, is a ruling class strategy to boost the corporate profit base through tax reductions, international tax dodging and extensive privatisation of the health, education and criminal justice systems. Organised labour is to be weakened by new laws in a deregulated market.
Big business will want to keep Britain in the pro-austerity, anti-democratic European Union, while seeking to escape even the mildest regulation of the financial sector.
British imperialism will continue to regard EU and Nato membership as vital to serving its economic and financial interests around the world, not least in the important greater Middle East region.
As British capital continues to draw vast profit from its global operations, foreign states and private monopolies will be bribed to invest in Britain’s backward energy and transport infrastructure.
The price will be paid, literally, by workers and consumers here for generations to come.
This is the scenario facing the peoples of Britain and our labour and progressive movements today.
We cannot allow this Tory government to wage class war on every front without responding with equal and greater force.
Every socialist and communist should play whatever part they can in their local trade union, student, tenant, People’s Assembly, CND or Stop the War organisation and its activities.
We must march, demonstrate, lobby and strike against Tory government policies on an even bigger scale than before. But we also need to do so around a popular left-wing alternative programme. This should include:
- New powers to enforce equal pay and the national minimum wage.
- An end to statutory pay discrimination against young workers.
- A wealth tax on the super-rich and higher taxes on big business profits.
- A “Robin Hood” tax on financial speculation.
- An end to all PFI and privatisation schemes.
- Public ownership of gas, electricity, water, mail and the railways.
- Massive public sector low-interest investment in energy and transport.
- A huge council house building programme.
- Reversal of all benefit cuts and the reintroduction of student maintenance grants.
- Devolution of substantial economic and financial powers to local government.
- Powerful Scottish and Welsh parliaments and elected English regional assemblies in a federal Britain.
- No more nuclear weapons.
In Jeremy Corbyn, we now have a Labour Party leader who is closer to these kinds of policies than anyone since Keir Hardie.
But the left still has to win the battle of ideas inside the labour movement, especially in the Labour Party. This is particularly so in four areas.
First, the case must be clearly made for democratic, British public ownership of our electricity, gas, water, nuclear and railway industries in place of French, German, Dutch, Belgian and Chinese public ownership.
This would also end the grim farce of feeble regulators conducting frequent inquiries into rip-off practices.
Second, the only consistently democratic alternative to reactionary nationalism and the Tory devolution “tax trap” is a fully federal Britain.
Scottish separation under current conditions would weaken the labour movement and strengthen the forces of reaction on both sides of the border.
Labour should come out clearly for Scottish and Welsh parliaments with wide-ranging economic, financial and legislative powers; for English regional assemblies where popular support exists; for replacing the House of Lords with an English or federal chamber; and for equal status between the nations of Britain.
This should be accompanied if not preceded by a radical process of wealth redistribution across Britain from the City and the south-east to workers and families in every region and nation.
As new figures show the wealth gap getting bigger again, a modest 2 per cent assets tax on the richest one-tenth of the population would wipe out Britain’s annual public spending deficit at a stroke.
Third, with Trident renewal set to cost at least £167bn over 40 years, the labour movement must wholeheartedly embrace the campaign to scrap Britain’s weapons of mass murder.
The money saved could redeploy all armaments workers in socially useful research, development and production in such varied spheres as marine technology, civil defence and Third World development.
Finally, the labour movement needs to end its infatuation with the European Union.
It is absurd to imagine that as the world’s fifth biggest economy, Britain could not trade with the rest of Europe and the world to mutual advantage, while also safeguarding jobs by having the freedom to protect vital industries and enterprises.
As workers and their organisations are coming to understand across Europe, the basic treaties and organisations of the EU have been designed in favour of big business and are intentionally unreformable.
It will be hard enough winning a Labour government that will challenge monopoly and state power in Britain.
Why wear additional shackles that bind us to the EU Commission, the European Central Bank, monetarism, a super-exploited labour market and pro-big business trade deals such as TTIP?
Already, EU laws and treaties ban large-scale borrowing for public-sector investment — as the SNP government has discovered — and make it unlawful for states to legislate for equal treatment for guest workers (hence the Luxembourg ruling at the European Court of Justice). They effectively outlaw the non-commercial use of public ownership for social or environmental purposes.
Who should govern Britain?
Monopoly corporations through the EU, the Bank of England, Nato and the Pentagon — or the people, through their mass movements and elected representatives?
Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party.
Bliadhna Math Ur bho'n Phàrtaidh Chomannach ann an Alba!
This coming year will one of enormous challenges and opportunities for the Communist Party, its members and supporters.
We face a ruling class offensive – spearheaded by a very right-wing Tory government – which aims to privatise health and education, dismantle the Welfare State, incapacitate the trade unions, restrict our rights to protest, keep Britain shackled to the EU and acquire a new generation of weapons of mass destruction.
This places a duty on every Communist Party member and organisation to do their utmost in the trade union movement, the People’s Assembly, the National Assembly of Women, CND, Stop the War and campaigning bodies to ensure that 2016 is a year of heightened mass and class struggle.
All CP branches must draw up their plans for the coming twelve months if they have not already done so. These should include not only key campaigning activities, but also initiatives on the Morning Star and political education fronts.
A new pack of materials to launch and enhance study of our programme, Britain’s Road to Socialism, has been prepared and will be issued before the end of January.
We need a significant increase in the number of Communist Party candidates and campaigns in the May 2016 Scottish, Welsh and English local elections.
We need good Labour votes where we are not standing ourselves, in order to strengthen the position of Jeremy Corbyn and the left inside the Labour Party.
We need a big turnout at the Ukrainian embassy in London on Tuesday, January 19 (at 12.30 for 1 pm) to protest against the banning of that country’s Communist Party.
We need a huge mobilisation for the anti-fascist, anti-racist march and rally in east London on Sunday, October 9, to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street. Our party will be playing a leading role in this event.
We need a successful Red Star Festival on July 23 and a vibrant 54th party congress on November 19-20.
But more than anything else, the working class and oppressed peoples around the world need a stronger, more influential Communist Party and international communist movement.
Build the Communist Party in 2016!
Throw back the ruling class offensive!
Strengthen working class and left unity!
General Secretary, Communist Party of Britain
"FOR CLASS POLITICS AND A FEDERAL REPUBLIC" - Political Statement of the Scottish Communist Party Congress 2015
Capitalism is a system of exploitation that generates crisis, inequality, corruption, environmental degradation and war; and is innately incapable of solving most fundamental problems of humanity. "The capitalist monopoly corporations and the state apparatus which serves their interests are the main obstacles to progress on every front: economic, social, cultural and political.
This is the opening of the Political Statement "FOR CLASS POLITICS AND A FEDERAL REPUBLIC" produced by the Communist Party's biennial Scottish Congress, held recently in December 2015. Read the complete Political Statement for yourself by clicking here:
Democratically arrived at & agreed upon by delegates from across Scotland, this Political Statement is a lively & incisive analysis of the political situation facing our class in Scotland - that for redevelopment of Class politics & for a Federal Republic, and the role of the Communist Party in working to bring this about with the whole labour and progressive movement. As such we hope this can be shared and read widely:
the Scottish Committee of the Communist Party commends the Party's Scottish Congress Discussion Statement for consideration by the whole labour and progressive movement. In addition, we invite all comrades, in and outside our Party, to study our programme for socialist revolution, 'Britain's Road to Socialism'.
The outline of the Political Statement of the Scottish Communist Party Congress 2015 is as follows:
- THE PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY
- TRADE UNION WORK
- MARXIST EDUCATION
- Youth and Students
- PEACE, INTERNATIONALISM, SOLIDARITY
- LITERATURE AND PROPAGANDA
- MORNING STAR
- INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
- UNITY BOOKS
- PENSIONS, SENIOR CITIZENS & INTER-GENERATIONAL SOLIDARITY
Download a PDF of the Political Statement by clicking here: http://www.scottishcommunists.org.uk/attachments/article/501/2015%20Communist%20Party%20Scottish%20Congress%20Political%20Statement.pdf
For decades, bazaars have been one of the main fundraising activities for the Daily Worker and now the Morning Star. Each city would have neighbourhood events throughout the year. The highlight though would be a grand city centre Christmas bazaar.
In Glasgow, we’re revived the tradition in a way which combines both the earlier formats. For the last 15 years, Morning Star supporters have been holding Christmas bazaars in a many of the city’s neighbourhoods. This year’s was held in Partick on 12 December and netted £1,100 for the people’s paper. As well as fundraising the event was an opportunity to promote the paper widely through door to door leafleting, posters and street sales.
JEREMY CORBYN remembers his friend and fellow peace activist Alan Mackinnon
(from the Morning Star daily newspaper of the Left)
LABOUR Party conference opens tomorrow in Brighton. The issue of Trident and nuclear weapons is one of intense discussion, both on the conference floor and around the conference hall.
Last week all of us heard the tragic news of the death of Alan Mackinnon who had been a friend to many of us.
I don’t recall our first meeting but I was always impressed by his presence, knowledge, politeness and contribution to CND meetings in London and at our annual conferences and in Scotland.
Alan combined an enormous knowledge of peace and disarmament issues with his work as a doctor, and was committed to good-quality healthcare free for all as a human right.
I last met Alan in Glasgow when we held the last of our Scottish rallies as part of my election campaign.
It was a huge affair with over 200 people present and concluded with the singing of Bandiera Rossa.
I was proud to start my speech by recognising Alan and his wife Karin’s presence on the front row.
I was able to thank him and Karin for all the work they’d done for the peace movement over many years. Alan seemed embarrassed by this attention. That was exactly my intention.
After the rally I took the opportunity of going to a bar with our supporters and later went to Alan’s house in order to have some supper with him and talk about issues facing the peace movement.
It was clear he was very ill but was coping well after the amputation of his left leg. The following morning he drove me to the station, wished us well on the journey and assured me that we were going to win the election because of the support of so many young people and so many coming back to Labour politics after having been driven away by New Labour and the war in Iraq.
He assured me that he would give me any help I needed and I took up this offer with alacrity.
A couple of days later I phoned him and asked if he would be good enough to draft me an outline for the establishment of a defence diversification agency to cope with the job security problems of those who work on the Trident nuclear missile system and the submarines designed to carry them.
His document was timely, excellent and very valuable and in all the work I am putting forward for this agency I will always think of Alan’s crucial contribution.
His life was one of principle, decency and success because he inspired many more to think differently about the way we look at the world, to think of the human consequences of war, and the inequality of disease and healthcare around the world.
Apart from working in Glasgow as an iconic GP, he also volunteered to work in west Africa to help with the training of doctors and medical staff.
Cancer took Alan far too soon and far too young but we are all the richer for having known him and many thanks to him.
The world is the better for having had him in it. Deepest sympathies to Karin, Maeve and Ian and all his wider family and friends.
Jeremy Corbyn is Labour MP for Islington North and leader of the Labour Party.
From the Morning Star http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-c390-A-life-of-principle-and-decency
Remembering the life of CND activist, Communist Party Scottish Committee member, Morning Star supporter and columnist Alan Mackinnon
ALAN MACKINNON was born in Glasgow on August 4 1946. His father Duncan was a pharmacist, originally from Hussabost on Skye, with whose Gaelic culture the family retained close links.
Alan attended Hillhead High School and then Glasgow University as a medical student from 1965, graduated in 1971 with a MBChB and worked for 35 years as a family doctor in a practice in Baillieston.
At university he became a member of the Communist Party and was deeply influenced by its commitment to anti-imperialism and to peaceful coexistence for the rest of his life.
In 1973 he married Karin, an artist and teacher. The same year they moved to Tanzania, where Alan worked as a doctor and Karin taught. Back in Glasgow from 1974, Alan took up his work as a general practitioner and became an active campaigner for better health services for Glasgow’s East End.
Alan played a key role in the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) over several decades. He was chair of the organisation between 1989 and 1992. During this period he worked with a wide range of groups to co-ordinate vigils and protests against the Gulf war.
He resumed the position of chair of Scottish CND in 2000 and continued in the post until 2011.
Shortly after the attack on the twin towers in New York in September 2001, Alan established the Scottish Coalition for Justice not War.
Through the coalition, he brought together representatives of political parties, trade unions, religious organisations and peace groups to mobilise public opposition to military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He played an important role in the campaign against Trident and Trident renewal in Scotland and across Britain. He co-ordinated protests, emphasising the breadth of opposition to nuclear weapons, and he presented powerful arguments against Trident through his writing.
He represented CND at international conferences including at the United Nations in New York in 2012.
As well as being an effective political organiser, Alan was always willing to quietly help fellow peace activists whenever they were in need of support.
He assumed a central role in analysing the consequences of Trident cancellation for employment in Scotland and in producing the authoritative report, co-sponsored by the STUC in 2007, which demonstrated that very few, if any, jobs would be lost and that an active policy of arms conversion would open major opportunities for new areas of employment and industry.
With backing from leading figures in the SNP and the Labour Party, this became the basis for policy discussion at Scottish government level. In subsequent years he co-authored further studies on Trident and arms diversification for British CND.
At the same time as bringing up a family — daughter Maeve and son Ian — Alan found time for involvement in the many political campaigns of the 1980s and ’90s, from support for the miners’ strike to refusal to pay the poll tax, and maintained a weekly delivery of the Morning Star across Partick where the family lived.
He served for two terms on the executive of the Communist Party of Britain and helped lead its work on peace and disarmament.
In the difficult years of the ’80s he was among those who defended the Morning Star and was a central figure in the re-establishment of the party in Scotland in ’88.
After being diagnosed with cancer in 2009 he retired as a GP but trained in tropical medicine at Liverpool University and then worked as a doctor in Sierra Leone with Medicins Sans Frontiers.
This experience stimulated him to begin writing features and pamphlets for the Morning Star, the Communist Party and CND, on modern imperialism and the links to the arms race and the expanded remit of Nato across Asia and Africa.
He contributed to the Red Paper on Scotland in 2005 and again in 2014 and was a leading figure in bringing together a left-wing alliance during the referendum to campaign for a federal Britain that would maintain the principles of solidarity and redistribution together with a Scottish parliament with real powers of economic democracy and public ownership.
He freely contributed his skills as graphic designer to many causes and campaigns — including, most recently, to the People’s Assembly against Austerity.
Karin taught him all she knew about graphic design, which she had studied at Glasgow School of Art. He then went on to surpass her — especially when the age of the computer arrived.
A talented musician, Alan played the drums in the House of Lords band in the early 1970s. His daughter Maeve went on to become a celebrated Gaelic singer.
In his final years, despite the ravages of cancer and the amputation of a leg, Alan maintained his output of articles and his production of Scottish CND’s Nuclear-Free Scotland.
During this year’s election campaign he played an active role in CND’s “Vote out Trident” roadshow and continued to help at street stalls over the summer.
He lived to welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s election to the leadership of the Labour Party, a family friend and co-campaigner equally committed to the end of Trident and nuclear weapons.
“ If you want the strongest, clearest position on any issue of peace or war – from Trident and jobs, to Nato and global politics, Western intervention and illegal war – just ask Alan Mackinnon ”
– CND general secretary KATE HUDSON