What Challenges and Opportunities Should the City of Edinburgh Council be Aware of?

The Lothians Branch of the Scottish Socialist Party is submitting to the consultation because we believe that the economic strategy of the City of Edinburgh Council is resulting in a deterioration of the conditions of working people in our capital. The current and previous Labour/SNP/Lib Dem administrations have implemented ruthless and widespread cuts that leave our public services in crisis and a chronic shortage of affordable housing. Instead of perpetuating the low wage, high bills attacks on working people, the council should consider the changes we propose to raise funds and better the conditions of workers in Edinburgh.

Replacing the Council Tax

We call for the immediate replacement of the Council Tax with a means based alternative, the Scottish Service Tax. The Council Tax is an outdated and unjust tax that disproportionately targets low income families. Government freezes and Council plans to tweak the payments will not address the fundamental flaw – it does not assess the person’s ability to pay.

Instead, the Council Tax crudely demands payment based on your address using bands set in 1991. The difference in payment from the highest to lowest band is 3:1, yet the wealthiest residents in Edinburgh are far more than three times richer than the workers we petition on behalf of.

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Indyref2 strategy was based on “Wrong Issue, Wrong Time”

Responding to the First Minister’s statement today, retreating from her previous timetable for indyref2, Scottish Socialist Party joint national spokesperson Colin Fox said:

“Behind the First Minister’s much-anticipated climbdown over indyref2 is an acceptance of the Scottish Socialist Party’s warning that the strategy she announced on March 13th was a serious error of judgement.

“We warned then that reducing independence to a tactic in the Brexit negotiations was a very serious mistake. She has been forced into this retreat today because she chose to go for a second referendum when we were behind in the polls and over Scotland’s EU membership.

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Rebuff to May makes a Second Election likely

Commenting on the general election SSP joint National Spokesperson Colin Fox said:

“The over-riding fact in this General election is that Prime Minister Theresa May’s bid for an increased mandate has failed and her credibility is now in tatters.”

“The gains made by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour shows that despite years of denunciation socialist ideas such as public ownership, workers rights and a publicly-owned NHS are highly popular and this must be welcomed.”

“Given the parliamentary arithmetic a second general election must now be a strong prospect.”

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Independence offers our only escape from a Zombie Government

“A campaign is underway in the Scottish media to portray Ruth Davidson’s Tories as the ‘real’ winners of this General Election north of the Border despite them being again comprehensively rejected here” warns SSP national spokesman Colin Fox.

He continued: “All the polls suggest the Tories will win this General Election at UK level with a big majority. But they also conclude this will occur despite being rejected in 90% of Scottish seats.”

“This ‘zombie election’ threatens Scotland with another nightmare – 5 more years of a right-wing Tory government with no mandate north of the Border. We didn’t vote for them last time or the time before that, we will not vote for them on June 8th either and yet we are set to be lumbered with them yet again.”

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Corbyn echoes Tory rhetoric on Independence

Scottish Socialist Party National spokesman Colin Fox described Jeremy Corbyn’s anti independence manifesto as “Deeply disappointing and underlining why Labour is in such deep crisis in Scotland.”

“Pro independence socialists have a great deal of sympathy with the many progressive and forward thinking policies Jeremy Corbyn advocates in the Labour manifesto.”

“However his failure to understand the National Question in Scotland is glaringly obvious. He is left sounding exactly like Ruth Davidson and Theresa May. Nor does he appreciate that the same political forces supporting him in England are largely in the ‘Yes’ camp here.

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SSP demand public ownership of Caledonian MacBrayne

Today’s meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party national executive committee unanimously agreed the following statement on the issue of CalMac ferries.

“This meeting of the SSP national executive committee – on behalf of the entire SSP membership – demands that the new Scottish Government reject Serco’s bid to take over CalMac ferries, and instead keep the service under public ownership and control through CalMac.

CalMac and Carry OnWe demand they do so on the basis of no loss of jobs, pensions, terms or working conditions for the workforce, and no reduction in services to the communities dependent on the ferries. We further demand that if necessary, the Scottish Government defy any interference on the part of EU bureaucrats or others, in order to carry out the overwhelming desire of the Scottish people to keep CalMac ferries public.

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“SIGN OR BE SACKED” say the capitalist gannets!

richieby Richie Venton

‘Sign or be sacked’ is the dictatorial motto of many employers right now, as they issue workers an ultimatum to accept slashed wages and conditions or be sacked. That’s the approach of B&Q bosses recently as they hacked thousands of pounds off many workers wages to compensate for the miserly 50p premium on the minimum wage for the over-25s.

Now Newsquest, owners of a string of 29 Scottish newspapers – including the Greenock Telegraph, Dunfermline Press, Alloa Advertiser, Dumbarton Reporter, Carrick Herald – have applied the same dictatorial methods. They’ve demanded staff sign up to new contracts that include loss of a day’s annual holiday; longer contractual hours of work from 35 to 37.5 hours a week, with no increase in pay; reduced pension contributions, and sick pay slashed by up to half.

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SSP Response to Osborne’s 8th Budget

Tax cuts for the rich, benefit cuts for the poor. George Osborne’s 8th Budget as Chancellor was just like the other seven. Only the dates and details differ.

colin_foxIn response to what could have been Scotland’s shortest and final UK Budget, SSP national spokesperson Colin Fox said: “With UK National Debt at record levels George Osborne cut UK corporation tax, already one of the lowest in Europe, to just 17%. You would have thought there had been no public outcry recently over his failure to get Google, Starbucks, Amazon and other multinational companies to pay any tax at all.

Even under the ghastly Thatcher Government corporation tax was three times higher (52%). These Tories continue to shower neo-liberal finance capitalists with rich rewards. Osborne has also cut business rates and raised the level at which people pay the 45p top rate of income tax – the single biggest and broadest handout to the top 10% since Nigel Lawson in 1988.

His way to pay down the UK’s record breaking debt of £1.6trillion involves reducing taxes for the wealthy and reducing the income of the poor. He announced £3.5bn of public spending cuts including a £1.3bn cut in benefits to the disabled.

Dark clouds are gathering for Osborne however. The faltering world economy and anaemic growth rates throughout Europe imperil his financial prospects. Britain’s economic growth is weak as water and weakening. It may be higher than most other EU nations but it is based in finance capitalism, not the wider productive economy.

For millions of working class people toiling to make ends meet in minimum wage jobs, zero hour contracts and carrying their own record levels of personal debt Osborne’s 2016 budget is merely the latest slap in the face. The best of them will face up to the need to resist this political assault, get active and join the struggle against this neo-liberal nightmare.”

Renfrewshire SSP’s Sandra Webster adds:

sandra_webster“Today was a budget for big-business and unreconstituted Thatcherism. There was little detail where the £3.5bn of public spending cuts will be found apart from a pledge to carry on with cuts to disability spending. In the cold statistics, there was no mention of the impact of the reassessment of PIP (Personal Independence Payment) which will mean many disabled people and their carers will find their incomes slashed.

A sugar tax on fizzy drink was announced (although fruit juice will be exempt). In a manner like a teacher addressing an unruly class. he said he expected the costs would be passed onto the buyers. There was no mention of hidden sugars present in fruit juice or that which is used to flavour cheaper, low quality highly processed food which is all many can afford to eat.

I have never been so glad to live in Scotland where education is devolved as English schools are set to transform as academies. Which groups will make a financial killing from children’s education?

The question I still ponder is ‘Why are we still paying for the actions of the bankers?’

This was a budget for the pals and cronies of the Tory party not one for working class people who will pay for tax breaks for business. Cuts will continue at national and local levels. After all we are only economic units, not human beings.”

Lead photo: CC BY-SA 2.0 (Flickr)

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