Starbucks: An Extra Shot of Profiteering!

by Richie Venton

Our SSP street stall and street meeting outside Starbucks in Glasgow’s Sauchiehall St today gained a really warm reception from shoppers.

As we blasted out the message – over the din of the howling wind! – about multinationals like Starbucks and KFC robbing workers of their rightful wages by calling them apprentices, people stopped to sign for £10 now.

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Free public transport can bring social justice and slash pollution

Roz Patersonby Roz Paterson

Whether or not Margaret Thatcher ever actually stated that a 26 year old man riding on a bus should consider himself a failure, taking the bus in UK plc has long since ceased to be a feel-good activity.

Not only is it staggeringly expensive and inconvenient, it is also unreliable, the routes are restricted almost to a vanishing point in some rural areas, and the bus itself is probably old, poorly maintained, and needin’ a wash. Need I go on?

A recent survey by the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux (CAB) is enough to give you travel sickness. Public transport, says CAB, is not just another commuter option, but a ‘social justice issue’, in that poor provision hits the poor hardest, diminishing choices, restricting access to essential services, increasing social isolation and reducing job opportunities.

Some 64 per cent were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the frequency of scheduled services, 56 per cent dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with punctuality, and 58 per cent with the spiralling cost of tickets, which outstrip the cost of living by a country mile.

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Redistributive Taxation – making the most of Devolution

by Calum Martin, SSP National Co-Chair

The Scottish Parliament was supposed to provide the ways and means to bring forward a new Scotland. Ours is a wealthy, productive nation, but it becomes more unequal daily. Workers create that wealth, yet it is skewed by a system rigged for the rich.

Inflation bites deep into workers wages, but every city in Scotland boasts more millionaires than ever before and corporate profits soar. Devolution can help us halt these problems – and with a bit of vision, put it in reverse. We have the wealth, the talents and ability to build ourselves a society and an economy which works well for all of us, not just a precious wealthy few.

Successive Labour and SNP governments have fallen far short of using Scotland’s devolved powers to do so. Independence will win back more levers to greatly improve our economy – that is for certain. Yet Holyrood is not powerless – we can start, piece by piece to transform it into that better Scotland.

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SSP Welcomes Football Act Repeal

The Scottish Socialist Party both welcomes and commends todays vote in Parliament to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football & Threatening Communications Act (2012). Commenting, party executive committee member and long standing Fans Against Criminalisation supporter Liam McLaughlan said:

“Today was the culmination of a 7-year, working class fan led movement which showed us all the power of sustained and committed community organising in affecting statute change.

“In the face of outright hostility in parts and ridicule in others, campaigners have continued to shine a light on this unworkable, illiberal legislation too the point where not even the SNP could muster an attempt to defend its effectiveness or use. Perhaps now we can have the sensible and reasoned debate on how to tackle the root causes of sectarianism and anti-Irish racism that still sadly scars Scotland, that we should have had in 2011.

“A debate which we believe will arrive at community and classroom based initiatives, not poorly drafted illiberal legislation which cast ordinary football fans as criminals.”

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Free school meals: penny keeps dropping after 17 years

Roz Patersonby Roz Paterson

Seventy-five years ago, Finland decided to start feeding its children, irrespective of background, family situation or socio-economic status.

In other words, this beleaguered nation, at the time being hammered by Stalin, chose to invest in its upcoming generation, through providing free, nutritious meals for all, to support their learning, well-being and development.

Nothing fancy, you understand. Porridge, bread, milk. But every day, to everyone.

Here in Scotland, the penny has nearly dropped. North Lanarkshire Council, surveying the ruins of a failing neoliberal economy and its austere flip-side, has come to the conclusion that leaving children to go hungry for days on end, to the detriment of their health and education, is actually not good enough.

Starting this Easter, they have committed, if the pilot programme goes well, to providing free lunches to all those children currently in receipt of free school meals, throughout the holidays, amounting to an extra 175 days a year.

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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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Open Letter to Labour’s new Scottish leader Richard Leonard MSP

Dear Richard,

Congratulations on your election as Scottish Labour leader. We hope your victory heralds a new age in Scottish politics. Whilst we disagree with Labour on many things – Independence, failure to repeal anti union laws , sending in Sheriff officers to humiliate working people during the poll tax struggle, the war in Iraq, the use of PFI contracts in privatising our NHS and education services, attacking the benefits of single parents – in recognition of the fact that your election represents a break with past policies we would like to suggest we work together to tackle the poverty pay, insecure work, soaring housing costs and falling living standards working class people suffer every day.

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Clarity Needed to Reverse Indy Retreat

by Hugh Cullen

Opinion polls taken since the 2014 Referendum paint a picture of support for a second referendum on independence slowly trickling away. Polls don’t tell the whole story but they correlate with what we are seeing on the ground; formerly active and vibrant Yes groups have either folded, become social gatherings or are dominated by nationalism detached from reality.

Comparing the SNP of late 2014/15, buoyed by 100,000 new members and electoral domination, to today seems like day and night. The Nationalists have paid a huge price for not making the case for Independence at any election since the referendum – and allowing themselves to be chased away from the issue by the Unionists.

The 2014 Yes campaign found strength in its diversity. A majority of Yes supporters weren’t SNP and the non-tribal Yes coalition helped reach a diverse audience.

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