The Scottish Socialist Party
INTRODUCING THE SSP
The Scottish Socialist Party is Scotland’s newest and fastest growing political party. Launched in November 1998, the SSP now has over 2000 members organised in a network of over 50 branches stretching from the Northern Isles to the Solway Firth, from the Hebrides to Hadrian’s Wall. Already, the SSP commands the support of around one in 20 voters across Scotland, as measured in a series of opinion polls conducted monthly by the System Three polling organisation.
The SSP is represented in the Scottish Parliament by Tommy Sheridan, one of Scotland s highest profile MSPs. It is also represented in several local councils, and includes within its membership some of Scotland’s most respected trade union, environmental and community activists.
The SSP is the only political party in Scotland which produces its weekly own newspaper, the Scottish Socialist Voice.
Politically, the SSP is:
- A pro-independence party which fights for a Scottish socialist republic whose resources are owned and controlled by the people of Scotland.
- An internationalist party which seeks to build solidarity links with all those resisting inequality and injustice across the world.
- A democratic party which is controlled from the bottom upwards by the grassroots members rather than from the top down by an elite hierarchy.
- A pluralist party which seeks to unite socialists from all traditions while allowing platforms and groupings the right to organise within the party.
- A progressive party which opposes racism, sectarianism, sexism and homophobia.
- A campaigning party which fights for immediate reforms and improvements in the lives of ordinary people.
- A visionary party which challenges the conventional idea that capitalism is permanent or invincible and which advocates the socialist transformation of society
- An environmentalist party which stands for a halt to the plunder and destruction of our natural environment by global big business.
- A diverse party that encourages the full participation of women, elderly people, young people under voting age, disabled people, people from Scotland’s ethnic communities, and people from Scotland s gay community.
The SSP will contest every seat in Scotland in this general election. For a brand new political party, this is a monumental achievement; the SNP, for example, was unable to achieve such a goal for the first four decades of its existence.
Our purpose in mounting an all-Scotland challenge in the coming general election can be summarised in five points:
- To drag onto the centre stage of politics key issues such as poverty, inequality and public ownership which will be generally ignored by the four main parties.
- To provide every adult in Scotland with the opportunity to vote for a party which offers an alternative to the free market and capitalism.
- To clearly establish the SSP as the fifth political party nationally, and the third party in urban, working class Scotland.
- To attract thousands of new members into active involvement in the fight for a socialist Scotland.
- To continue the momentum that is propelling the SSP forward and to prepare the ground for a spectacular socialist breakthrough in the next Holyrood elections, scheduled for May 2003.
AIMS AND PRINCIPLES
The SSP bases itself upon the triple pillars of independence, socialism and internationalism. Here we briefly summarise the importance of these three component parts of our political philosophy.
Repeated opinion polls have shown a majority of Scots in favour of redistribution of wealth; greater spending on public services; higher pensions and benefits; an improved national minimum wage; the scrapping of anti-trade union legislation; and the removal of nuclear weapons from the Clyde. Yet under the UK political system, all of these powers are in the hands of the Westminster government. Although devolution marked a modest democratic advance, the powers of Holyrood are strictly limited. Even the overall budget of the Scottish Parliament is determined in London.
The Scottish Socialist Party believes that Scotland is a nation and has the right to control its own economy, its own welfare system and its own defence policy. We stand for a fully independent government in Scotland which has powers over the economy; the welfare state; taxation; employment and company law; overseas trade; interest rates; exchange rates; and defence.
As well as political freedom from Westminster rule, we want to build a Scotland which is free from poverty, free from inequality, free from exploitation, free from social injustice, free from homelessness, free from discrimination, free from insecurity.
We believe the only to achieve genuine freedom for the Scottish people is by building a socialist Scotland which harnesses our wealth and natural resources for the benefit of the people of Scotland. We repudiate the idea that nothing can be done in the teeth of global capitalism: that we are too small, too weak, too poor or too powerless to make a stand.
Scotland has an abundance of resources including thousands of miles of coastline; vast expanses of uninhabited land; an endless supply of clean water; colossal reserves of oil; a highly skilled and well-educated workforce; a rich cultural heritage; and a talented artistic community which includes some of Europe s top writers, musicians and film-makers.
The raw material exists to build a radical new Scotland which will stand up to the forces of globalisation, capitalism and become an international symbol of resistance to free market exploitatation
The Scottish Socialist Party strives to forge close links with socialists, trade unionists and environmentalists across the world. We recognise that especially in this age of global communications and transnational capitalism, the battle for socialism cannot be confined within the borders of a single country. Our long term goal is to replace global capitalism with global socialism via the establishment of a world-wide confederation of socialist states, co-operating harmoniously to end poverty, starvation, disease, war and the threat of environmental catastrophe. We believe the most important contribution we can make to the movement for socialism internationally is to build the beginnings of a socialist society here in Scotland.
POLICIES AND PRIORITIES
The SSP does not pretend that we are on the verge of forming a government. We do believe that our day will eventually come, when the majority of the people of Scotland decide that socialism is the best road forward. In the meantime, the SSP will fight for the following immediate changes:
Over the past 20 years, the gap between rich and poor in Scotland and across the UK has widened into a gaping chasm. In Britain 32 per cent of children live in poverty. This is the highest figure in the European Union, and compares with just 5 per cent in Denmark, which has the lowest figure.
The UK government spends just 13 per cent of its GDP (total wealth produced) on social welfare benefits. Along with Ireland (which also spends 13 per cent of its GDP on welfare) this is by far the lowest figure in Europe. Eight countries spend over 20 per cent of GDP on benefits; while Belgium and the Netherlands spend 25 per cent.
At the same UK has become a tax haven for the rich. As a recent article in the Spectator magazine pointed, there are an estimated 200,000 wealthy tax exiles from France now living in the UK, attracted by the low rates of taxation of the rich. Meanwhile, the wealthiest 1000 people in the UK own assets worth £158 billion – ten times as much as the total annual spending in Scotland on the NHS, education, social services, housing, transport and emergency services combined.
New Labour has aggravated the economic and social divisions in society by emphasising indirect taxation rather than direct taxation – a policy which punishes the poor and rewards the rich. In the last year alone, the number of millionaires in Britain rose by an unprecedented 17 per cent to 74,000.
Meanwhile, the proportion of the population who are so poverty-stricken that they are unable to afford at least three essential items is steadily rising – from 20 per cent in 1990, to 24 per cent at the start of 1999, to 26 per cent at the end of 1999.
The Scottish Socialist Party stands for an all-out war against economic and social inequality.
As a start, we will fight for a shift from indirect to direct taxation, increased taxes on the rich, and increased resources to end poverty. Our immediate priorities are to fight for:
- A national minimum wage of at least £7 an hour. This would bring Scotland into line with the European Decency Threshold.
- A basic state pension of £150 a week and the restoration of the link between pensions and earnings.
- A thorough overhaul of the whole pensions system, with the private pensions industry brought into the public sector and run on a completely democratic and transparent basis.
- The abolition of the Council Tax and its replacement by a Scottish Service Tax which would shift the burden for local taxation onto the wealthy. The SSP has already drawn up detailed proposals explaining how this new system could be implemented by the Scottish Parliament. Under these proposals, 800,000 workers and pensioners in Scotland who have an income of less than £10,000 a year will be automatically exempt.
- A reversal of the cuts in top rate taxation and Corporation Tax carried out by the last Tory Government. From 1979 until 1988, the top rate of taxation in the UK was 63 per cent. Under New Labour, it is just 40 per cent. Corporation Tax on big business has also been steadily reduced, from 52 per cent to 30 per cent today. Restoring Corporation Tax back to its 1979 level would generate £25 billion across the UK. Restoring the top rate of taxation would raise billions more.
- The scrapping of the ceiling on National Insurance contributions, which means that no NI is paid on earnings over £575 a week. Removing this ceiling would raise an extra £300 million in Scotland and £3.2 billion across the UK. The use of the money raised by the scrapping the NI ceiling to increase the starting tax rate limit from £4385 a year to £7115 a year, thus increasing the disposable income of the lowest paid workers.
- An end to discrimination against young people on benefit entitlements and levels, including the return of benefits stolen from 16 and 17 year olds by the Tories and the restoration of income support and housing benefit to students
- The restoration of lone parent benefits slashed by successive governments
- An overhaul of disability benefits to remove means testing.
- The immediate uprating of all benefits by £25 a week.and – further annual uprating of all benefits at least in line with the rise in annual earnings.
- The replacement of the Social Fund with a grant system to cover emergency and essential expenditure.
- The immediate abolition of poundings and warrant sales.
- An end to the system of summary warrants for debt recovery.
- An expansion of locallly-based independent money/debt advice services.
- The introduction of a two tier VAT system with luxury goods that are purchased solely by the rich taxed at 20 per cent, with VAT on all other goods slashed from 17.5 per cent to its 1979 level of 8 per cent. Twice as much money is now raised by the UK exchequer from VAT than from Corporation Tax on business. The SSP will campaign for this balance to be reversed.
- An end to high fuel taxes at the petrol pump which have proven ineffective in reducing car use. The reintroduction of the special taxes on North Sea oil scrapped by the last Tory government, which would mean Petroleum Revenue Tax and royalties levied on every barrel of oil produced. Ultimately the SSP stands for complete social ownership of North Sea oil in an independent socialist Scotland.
According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, there has been a long-term downward trend in the proportion of the GDP spent on public services. In the mid-1970s, the UK government ploughed over 50 per cent of all wealth produced into public services. Today that figure is stuck below 40 per cent. During each of its four years in power, the New Labour has invested even less in public infrastructure such as transport, hospitals and schools than the last Tory government spent in its final year in office. Although health, education and local government services are administered by the Scottish Parliament, they are dependent upon the block grant allocated by Westminster. The SSP will campaign for an end to the block grant system and for the Scottish Parliament to take control of all taxation raised in Scotland, including income tax, VAT and corporation tax. This would allow a Scottish government to determine its own budget in line with the needs of the people of Scotland.
We condemn wholeheartedly the Chancellor’s decision to use £34 billion of his £40 billion surplus to pay the national debt to international bankers while the UK has the largest number of children in Europe living in poverty, the largest proportion of its pensioners living in poverty, and the highest number of low paid workers. We will fight to reverse that decision and for the £40.7 billion to be invested in fighting poverty and improving health, housing, transport and education.
In specific areas of the public sector, we will campaign for:
- Annual increases in health spending in Scotland of at least 10 per cent a year to bring the health service up to the spending level of the top European countries.
- The abolition of NHS Trusts and the creation of a democratic NHS involving representatives of the medical professions, other health care workers, and local communities in the planning of healthcare.
- The bringing of all GP services into the public sector and their expansion as part of a major investment in primary care.
- A halt to PFI, PPP and other privatisation schemes, and the bringing back into the public sector those parts of the NHS that have already been privatised.
- The abolition of prescription charges, eye test charges and dental check-up charges.
- An end to all private medicine and the incorporation of private medical facilities and resources into the NHS.
- A ban on tobacco and alcohol advertising.
- The replacement of Invalid Care Allowance which works out at barely £1 an hour with a new carer’s allowance equivalent to the national minimum wage.
- The option of separate vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella, as an alternative to the MMR vaccine, backed up with a high profile education and publicity programme to maximise uptake.
- The establishment of a publicly-owned pharmaceutical industry in Scotland linked to the NHS to put Scotland at the cutting edge of medical research.
- An alternative to water fluoridation based on education in dental hygiene and free toothpaste and toothbrushes for all children.
- Proper funding of further and higher education. Spending per student is now just 60 per cent of its 1976 level in real terms. We will campaign for a return back to the mid-1970s level of funding, taking into account inflation.
- The complete abolition of all fees in the Higher and Further Education sectors.
- The abolition of the student loans system and its replacement with a universal student grant set at 1979 levels, adjusted for inflation.
- Maximum class sizes of 20 in all primary and secondary schools.
- An expansion of physical education from primary schools onwards, backed by increased teaching staff and investment in resources and facilities.
- Reversal of all privatisation and part-privatisation of schools and colleges and the unification of Scotland’s colleges into a co-operative network of institutions working together, rather than in competition with one another.
- An end to streaming and other forms of selective education.
- Schools to be turned into wider community facilities, providing adult education and cultural activities in the evenings and at weekends.
- A national forum to be set up in Scotland representing parents, teachers, students and schools to help shape the school curriculum and to ensure its relevance to the needs of pupils and students in the 21st century.
- The provision of universal free school meals for all pupils in state schools to raise nutritional standards. This would cost £1.68 per pupil, or £240 million in total for the whole of Scotland.
Every year in the UK, £5 billion is spent on cars, representing 15 per cent of household expenditure, compared to 10 per cent in the 1960s. Road traffic is due to double by 2025, further increasing congestion and pollution. In contrast, the number of bus passengers has fallen by 36 per cent since 1989.
- We will campaign for the creation of a top quality integrated transport network capable of carrying passengers to any destination in Scotland in less than one hour. Although the initial capital cost of such a project will be high, it will mean faster journeys, fewer cars on the road and reduced pollution.
- The setting of a maximum fare of ten pence a mile for all rail journeys and five pence a mile for all bus journeys.
- We will also campaign for free internal public transport within each local authority boundary to slash traffic congestion.
- Free travel for all pensioners, children and disabled people.
- The bringing back into public ownership of all rail, bus, ferry and airline companies privatised by the Tories.
- The scrapping of plans to privatise air traffic control.
- Defiance of European Union directives on tendering which could lead to the privatisation of Caledonian MacBrayne ferry services.
- Substantial public investment in lifeline ferry services to Scottish islands to bring down prices and increase the frequency of services.
- The abolition of road tolls and the bringing of PFI projects such as the Skye Bridge back into the public sector.
- A halt to all new motorway construction, including the M74 extension which will cost at least £250 million or £50 million a mile.
- The introduction of special subsidies to encourage transfer of heavy freight from road to rail. All fuel revenues to be ring-fenced for public transport, and a shift in the burden of fuel taxation from the motorist at the petrol pump to the oil companies.
- The reopening of Scotland’s networks of old rail links and stations.
- The building of a central Scotland rapid transport network – with 50 new rail lines and 360 miles of upgraded lines – at cost of £500 million – just double the amount that will be spent on the five mile M74 extension.
- The introduction of light rail systems in Scotland’s four main cities, delivering trams every 5-10 minutes.
- The cancellation of Scotlands £4 billion housing debt.
- The launch of a major new renovation and house-building programme to rid Scotland of all sub-standard housing, with a target of 50,000 new homes in four years.
- A new minimum standard to define whether a home is fit for human habitation.This would take into account the tenants income and would ensure that no tenant pays more than 10 per cent of their household disposable income to heat each room to a minimum of 25 degrees Celsius.
- The reduction of all council rents by 25 per cent.
- An end to all council house sales and the introduction of a rent bonus scheme based on length of tenancy.
- An end to large scale housing stock transfers into the private and semi-private sectors.
- The abolition of assured tenancies and the right of all tenants, including those in private rented accommodation, to a secure tenancy agreement.
- A public inquiry to establish how much in real terms has been removed from local councils by central government since the mid 1970s, when the assault on local spending first began.
- The restoration of local government finance to at least the levels of the mid-1970s.
- A general amnesty to wipe all outstanding poll tax debts.
- The abolition of the council tax and its replacement with a Scottish Service Tax, based on ability to pay.
- An end to the ‘best value’ regime whose main purpose is to slash staff and reduce services.
- The abolition of the Uniform Business Rate and the return of this power to local government. This measure to be accompanied by special measures to shift the burden of local taxation from small to large businesses.
- The reassessment of local government boundaries to redress the balance between cities like Glasgow and Dundee – which have suffered financial hardship since reorganization – and the wealthy suburbs which have benefited from the changes.
- The introduction of PR for local council elections.
The SSP stands against the phoney consensus that asserts that the free market and private ownership of the economy equals competence and efficiency. There is widespread public contempt towards the private fatcats who measure success by the size of their profit margins and the value of their shares. There is also growing realization that the privatization programme implemented by Thatcher – and now accepted by New Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP – has been a gigantic rip off. British Telecom was sold off for a bargain basement £4 billion; yet in the past five years alone the company has raked in four times that amount in profit.
Railtrack was sold off for £1.8 billion in 1996; three years later, shares had soared by 350 per cent and the company was valued at £5 billion. Last year, Scotland s biggest privatized company, ScottishPower made almost £1 billion profit, enough to give every pensioner in Scotland over £20 a week towards their fuel bills.
For most of the past decade, the Scottish economy has grown, as part of a more general economic upswing across Europe and America. This has meant falling unemployment and rising revenues for the government. But when the present growth spurt comes to an end and boom turns to bust, it will be manual and low grade clerical workers, public service workers, pensioners and lone parents who will pay the heaviest price.
Even now, with the economy surging forward, the trend is towards an unskilled, sweatshop economy with low wages, long hours and oppressive working conditions.
The hype surrounding the New Economy glosses over the real world of Silicon Glen, the call centres and the dot.com companies, where low pay, intolerably long hours and prison camp conditions are rampant. Even these jobs are precarious; and many economists expect the wholesale of millions of jobs in banking, insurance, packaging, retail and assembly-line work as a consequence of technological progress. The SSP believes that the case for a socially-planned economy is more clear than ever before. Technological progress under capitalism might mean more millionaires – but it also means more misery for the millions. Under socialism, technology will be used to slash the length of the working week and pave the way for a spectacular explosion of culture, sport, leisure and education.
The SSP is comitted to building a new, democratic socialist Scotland which will stand up the forces of globalisation, privatization and capitalism. In the meantime we will fight for:
- The bringing back into public ownership – under democratic workers’ and community control and management – those industries, services and utilities privatised over the past 20 years.
- The extension of public ownership to include other key sectors of the economy including North Sea oil, the big banks and financial institutions, and the major construction, transport, and manufacturing companies.
- Confiscation of the assets of any company that pulls out of Scotland in search of more profitable environments; and legislation to force these companies to provide redundancy payments equivalent to two years salary to allow a reasonable time frame for retraining and redeployment.
- The replacement of unelected boards of directors with democratically elected boards, made up of representatives of the workforce and the wider public.
The SSP is an environmentalist party which fights for the right of people to live in a clean, safe and healthy environment.
We will link up with other socialists and environmentalists internationally to campaign for world-wide action to protect the planet and its natural resources.
Here in Scotland, we will back any appropriate direct action to resist pollution and environmental destruction. As our contribution to the global fight for a clean, green planet we will fight for the following policies:
- The removal of Trident, and all nuclear weapons from Scotland.
- The decommissioning of nuclear power plants and the establishment of a diversification agency to guarantee the livelihoods of all workers whose jobs are dependent on nuclear weapons and nuclear power.
- An end to all nuclear dumping in Scotland and a ban on the dumping of chemicals and explosives at sea.
- Intensified research and development of alternative energy with a target of 40 per cent electricity generation from wind and wave power by 2020 – in line with the target set by Denmark, which employs 15,000 workers in the wind power industry.
- Legislation forcing businesses to use renewable materials for packaging.
- More stringent controls to restrict pollution caused by industry.
- Democratic social ownership of energy, including oil, gas, coal and electricity.
- An end to opencast mining in Scotland.
- The closure and sealing off of all toxic waste sites.
- Properly funded investigation into the link between the incidence of childhood cancers and the proximity of electricity pylons and mobile phone masts. Full consultation with local communities and proper planning permission be sought before any mobile phone masts are erected. Communities should have the right to prevent the erection of phone masts in high density areas and near schools unless danger is disproven (based on the ‘precautionary principle’).
We will oppose any attempt to privatise Scottish water, and will resist the European Union Competition Act which will allow backdoor privatisation of our most vital natural resource.
We will campaign for:
- A major programme of investment in Scottish water.
- A substantial shift in the burden of water charges from domestic households to big business, with the aim of drastically reducing household water bills.
AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND FISHING
Rural Scotland is in deep crisis. Even before the foot and mouth outbreak, thousands of small farmers were already teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Farmers today receive barely ten per cent of the retail price of their products, compared to 50 per cent 50 years ago. Much of the balance is ripped off by supermarket giants such as Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury and Safeway. These retail giants are pile up record profits while their suppliers in rural areas plunge deeper into depression. The farming crisis is also linked to the crazy globalisation merry-go-round, which means that the UK exports around 200,000 tonnes of pork, 100,000 tonnes of lamb and 300 million litres of milk while simultaneously importing similar quantities of pork, lamb and milk back into the country. There is also plummeting public confidence in food safety and hygiene, fuelled by fears over BSE and growing public concern over the treatment of farm animals.
Under-investment and neglect by both absentee and local landowners has heightened the crisis of rural Scotland. The SSP stands for a radical new approach to land and agriculture which shifts the balance of power away from agri-business, the supermarkets and the landowners into the hands of small farmers, rural communities and consumers. We stand for a major shift away from intensive farming, geared towards export markets, to sustainable agriculture – including small scale organic farming – geared towards local markets. In the long term we stand for a publically owned, democratically controlled and totally transparent food industry which will produce and supply cheap,safe nutritious food while ending exploitation of labour and cruelty to aniomals.
In the short term, we will fight for the following:
- An end to the policy of culling and a wholesale programme of vaccination of all cattle, sheep and pigs to ensure there is no repeat of the foot-and-mouth debacle, which has resulted in needless slaughter of healthy animals, business bankruptcies, and the decimation of jobs in rural communities.
- The reopening of local abattoirs and cattle markets under local democratic control.
- A compensation package for small farmers unable to sell livestock which would have been exported, and to those which have been forced to cull herds.To qualify for compensation, farmers would be required to switch from intensive farming for export to more sustainable and humane production for the home market.
- The extension of any compensation package to included those small rural businesses which have been adversely effected by the impact of the crisis.
- Greater regulation and enforcement of hygiene sandards to rebuild public confidence in agriculture.
- Special subsidies to encourage small and medium sized farmers to switch to organic farming.and to assist them establish direct markets in towns and cities.
- A system of price controls to be imposed on the big supermarkets to bring prices in the shops more closely into line with the prices paid to the farmers.
- A five year ban on GM crops to enable further research to take place.
- The transfer into public and community ownership of all unoccupied and under-utilised land, including sporting estates and feudally owned land.
- The setting of a maximum landholding acreage, varying from region to region depending on geography and fertility. The introduction of a land valuation tax whereby landowners would pay a fixed per centage of the value of their land in taxation. This would generate income to be ploughed back into local communities income and would discourage land speculation.
- An immediate tie up scheme to preserve fish stocks. The compensation under this scheme to be allocated on the basis of need, between skippers, their crews and onshore processing staff and associated industries.
- The creation of a body to oversee a decommissioning scheme, comprising of representatives of the fishing industry, environmentalists, local communities and the Scottish Parliament.The implementation of such a scheme should not be restricted to Scottish fishermen alone. Any decommissioning scheme to include a comprehensive package of compensation for fishermen and onshore employees, and a retraining and job creation programme to allow them to find alternative employment.
- The establishment of a democratic Scottish Fishing Board – also comprising of represenatives of the fishing industry, environmentalists, local communities and the Scottish Parliament. This board would seek to draw up an agreed fishing policy which protected the livelihoods of those dependent on the industry while ensuring conservation of fish stocks.
Britain now has the most draconian anti-trade union laws in Europe. The UK has become a mecca for anti-union employers from all over the world. Disgracefully, most of the Tory anti-union laws remain intact under Labour, even though the Labour Party was set up by the trade union movement and is still largely financed by trade unionists through the political levy. The SSP defends the rights and conditions of working people. We campaign in the unions, workplaces and communities for the restoration and extension of workers’ rights and will fight for:
- A minimum wage of at least £7 per hour, bringing us into line with the European Decency Threshold.
- A 35 hour maximum working week, with no loss of pay.
- The scrapping of all anti-union laws introduced by the last Tory government, including laws restricting the right to picket and to take unofficial and solidarity action.
- Automatic union recognition where one or more worker joins a union.
- Workers control over health, safety and other aspects of working conditions.
- An end to ‘Social Partnership’ to safeguard the independence of trade unions from employers.
- An end to New Labour’s monopoly over the unions’ political levy, allowing workers the choice of paying a political levy to socialists and others who are closer to their aspirations than New Labour.
Britain has some of the most repressive laws in the world, including anti-trade union laws, secrecy laws, and laws which restrict the right to protest.
The SSP will campaign for:
- The repeal of the Criminal Justice Act 1994.
- The scrapping of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) legislation which allows the state to conduct intensive electronic surveillance of innocent individuals.
- The repeal of so-called anti-terrorist legislation such as the Terrorism Act and the Emergency Powers Act.
- Democratic, community control over the police, and the disbandment of the secret intelligence services.
- A major shift in emphasis away from imprisonment to community service, especially for those convicted of non-violent crime. As a general rule, we would oppose women with young children being imprisoned except in extreme cases.
In our society, most of the key decisions that affect our everyday lives – our work, our children, our environment, our health, our food, our education, our public transport, our housing – are taken behind closed doors by bureaucrats and business moguls. The SSP stands for a root and branch reorganisation of society to transfer real power to the ordinary people of Scotland.
The type of socialism we are fighting for has nothing in common either with Eastern European-style Stalinism or with Old Labour-style bureaucratic corporatism.
Instead, we stand for the dismantling of the hierarchies and bureaucracies which run capitalism and the maximum decentralisation of decision-making right down to communities and workplaces.
In the meantime, we will campaign for the following policies:
- Abolition of the monarchy, the House of Lords and all other remnants of feudalism.
- A bonfire of the quangos – and the replacement of these unelected, unaccountable institutions with elected, accountable and transparent new bodies.
- The introduction of genuine proportional representation for all public elections, to ensure that if, for for example, if a party achieves 10 per cent of the vote, it should have 10 per cent of the seats.
- The lowering of the voting age to 16 and the right of everyone who is entitled to vote to stand for public office.
- Maximum decentralisation of power over local decision-making right down to community councils.
- The reorganisation of socially-owned enterprises to ensure that strategic planning is under the control of the workforce and the wider community.
EQUALITY AND DISCRIMINATION
The SSP is striving to build a tolerant socialist society in which racism, sectarianism, homophobia, ageism and discrimination against women disabled people have no place. We envisage a society in which diversity is a strength and where each individual s contribution is valued.
The SSP was among those organizations which campaigned for the repeal of Section 28/2a. We will participate in any genuine campaign to defend and improve the position of minorities and to ensure that women, who form a majority of the population, achieve full social, economic and political equality.
We will fight for the following changes:
- Equal representation for women at all levels of government.
- Full employment rights for all workers including part time and temporary staff. This would include the right to job-share from the first day at work.
- A statutory one year’s paid maternity/paternity leave, the balance of that leave to be decided by the parents themselves.
- Free nursery provision for all pre-school children and the establishment of after-school and holiday clubs in every locality for school-age children.
- Full funding for refuges for women attempting to escape violent relationships, and for services that support women who have experienced violence, rape and child sexual abuse.
- The provision of suitable for women and children fleeing domestic violence.
- The right to safe, legal, free abortion for all women, regardless of geography, age, culture or family circumstances.
- Full funding for family planning clinics, with free contraception on request.
- The scrapping of all racist immigration and asylum legislation
- The welcoming of asylum seekers into Scotland, and the scrapping of the humiliating voucher system.
- Action to counter discrimination against minorities in housing, employment and the legal system.
- Full support and assistance to those forced to defend themselves against racist attacks.
- Increased funding to provide public information in ethnic languages.
- An end to discrimination against gays and lesbians in parenting and adoption.
- The recognition of same sex partners in pension and insurance schemes.
- Full support and assistance to those resisting homophobic violence and intimidation.
- An end to all discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS.
- The repeal of the Disability Discrimination Act and its replacement with new legislation outlawing discrimination against disabled people in all spheres of society.
- A fully accessible public transport system.
- The adaption of housing, where it is requested, to meet the needs of disabled occupants.
- All new public housing to be barrier-free.
- The conversion of public buildings to facilitate access for disabled people.
- The right of disabled people to participate fully in all aspects of society.
- Full funding of community care to meet the needs of disabled people, their carers and other who support them.
- Free domestic fuel, home insulation, phone installation and TV licenses for all pensioners.
- Equalisation of the retirement age at 60, to be reduced to 55 within a five year period.
- Continuing employment and educational opportunities beyond retirement.
- An end to discrimination by employers against older workers
THE UK AND IRELAND
The SSP stands united with working people across the UK in the battle to defend jobs, public services and the environment. We welcome the decision by the Socialist Alliances in England and Wales to stand almost 100 candidates in the coming general election.
We will co-operate closely with the Socialist Alliances in England and Wales and welcome their commitment to defend the right of the peoples of Scotland and Wales to self-determination.
We will also seek to assist those forces in Ireland, North and South, who are attempting to build an alternative to the assortment of free market capitalist parties.
Specifically we will campaign for:
- A peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
- Opposition to sectarianism.
- Support for any steps towards a united socialist challenge to the pro-big business policies of the Westminster, Stormont and Dublin Governments.
- The demilitarisation of Northern Ireland.
- A socialist Ireland built with the consent of the people of Ireland, on both sides of the community divide and on both sides of the border.
EUROPE AND THE WORLD
The SSP rejects totally the frenzied British nationalism of the Tory Party and organisations such as the UK Independence Party. In the age of the Internet, satellite TV and high speed air travel, there can be no room for Little Englander or Little Scotlander politics which pretend we can cut ourselves adrift from the rest of Europe.
The SSP stands for co-operation and solidarity among the peoples and nations of the European continent. At the same time we recognise that many of the institutions of the European Union have been constructed to promote free market capitalism and to boost the profits of big business at the expense of the working class and the poor.
How we respond to any future refendum on the Euro will be determined first and foremost by the interests of the working class and the poor. We will oppose any attempt to dismantle public services or attack the conditions and living standards of working people.
Within the European Union, political power is concentrated into the hands of unelected commissioners and national government ministers who take decisions without being held accountable to their own national parliaments. We promote an alternative vision of a united socialist Europe where all the key institutions are democratically elected and accountable to the people of Europe.
In the meantime we will campaign for:
- Resistance to all attempts by the European Union to pressurise member states into carrying out spending cuts, privatisation and deregulation.
- Co-operation among socialists and trade unionists across Europe to fight for a continental-wide four day week and £7 an hour minimum wage.
- United action across Europe against racism and fascism and an end to the policy of Fortress Europe.
- Withdrawal from NATO.
- The closure of the nuclear submarine bases on the Clyde and an worldwide campaign for international nuclear disarmament.
- The cancellation of the £32 billion Eurofighter project with guaranteed employment for those workers across Europe involved in producing the jets.
- The abolition of powerful international quangos such as the World Trade Organisation whose goal is to turn the planet into a free marketeers paradise where transnationals can pile up sky high profits at the expense of living standards, working conditions and public services.
- The cancellation of all Third World debt.
The SSP believes that drug prohibition and the criminalisation of drug users has failed to make any serious impact upon illicit drug use. The ‘war against drugs’ rhetoric is counter-productive. The real war that has to be waged is a war against poverty and hypocrisy. Problem drug use is primarily a social and medical problem, rather than a criminal problem.
Since the 1970s, the number of drug convictions and the number of drug seizures have multiplied ten times over. Tens of thousands of young people have been harassed and criminalised for the use of relatively harmless drugs such as cannabis, while the grim toll of heroin deaths continues to grow ever longer. Meanwhile, criminal drugs grow richer, more powerful and more violent creating an atmosphere of terror and mayhem in many working class communities.
We will campaign to:
- License the sale and production of cannabis for medical and personal use to break the link between soft drugs and potentially lethal drugs such as heroin.
- Earmark major resources to help addicts break their heroin addiction, including an expansion of detox, rehabilitation and counselling services staffed by trained drugs workers.
- Break the stranglehold of the criminal drugs gangs by providing clean pharmaceutical heroin on prescription in a clinical environment to those addicts who are not yet ready to come off the drug.
- Introduce a radical social programme to tackle the roots of hard drug abuse including a huge expansion of cultural and sporting facilities at community level.
- Shift responsibility for drugs policy from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament.
Over the past decade, a mini-cultural revolution has swept Scotland. The surge of new talent in literature, film, music and other branches of the arts has added colour and vitality to Scotland’s once prison grey cultural landscape.
It is notable that much of that talent has emerged from the working class, and has exhibited a healthy contempt of elitism and traditionalism. At the same time, the growing ethnic diversity of Scotland has contributed significantly to the progressive evolution of Scottish national identity. Nonetheless, in the unequal profit-crazed society in which we live, millions remain socially excluded from cultural life. The SSP is in favour of encouraging talent, while broadening participation in all aspects of the arts, sport and recreation.
The SSP will fight for:
- Free access to all public recreational and cultural centers, including art galleries, sports centers and museums.
- The provision of Gaelic language lessons for all children and adults in Scotland who wish to learn the language.
- Gaelic and Scots to be given equal legal status with English.
- Special resources to be allocated to assist the development of the various ethnic cultures that have enriched Scotland over the past 40 years.
- Support for those football supporters fighting to regain control of their clubs from big business.
- A proportion of tickets at football grounds theatres and cinemas to be set aside for free entry to pensioners and other on benefits and distributed through community councils.
- Public funding to establish a national film studio in Scotland to develop the outstanding acting, writing, directing and film-making talent that has emerged over the past decade.
- Public funding to establish local recording studios across Scotland to encourage musical talent to flourish among Scotland s young people.
- The replacement of elitist quangos such as the Scottish Arts Council with more representative institutions involving people from all spheres of the arts, including popular theatre, popular music, film and comedy.
- The establishment of a Scottish Six o’ Clock national news, and responsibility for broadcasting to be transferred immediately to the Scottish Parliament.
The SSP will is committed to ending the cruelties systematically inflicted on millions of animals in the name of cheap food and free trade.
The SSP will oppose:
- Live animal exports.
- Foxhunting and other forms of hunting with hounds.
- The use of animal testing in cosmetic and military research.
- The unnecessary use of animal testing in medical research.
- Basic standards of animal welfare to be rigidly enforced in agriculture and food production.
A NEW TYPE OF PARTY
We do not pretend that the manifesto could be implemented in full without a major political battle with the London and Edinburgh political and business establishment.
But make no mistake about it: the Scottish Socialist Party is prepared to engage in such a battle. A group of Scottish Socialist Party MPs would wage a political guerilla war of defiance and extra-parliamentary action on behalf of the working class and the poor of Scotland to reclaim the rights and conditions that have been robbed by the rich over the past 20 years.
At the same time, they will use their public positions – as Tommy Sheridan MSP has done – to build popular support for the idea of overturning capitalism and beginning building of a new democratic socialist society.
STANDARDS AND CONDUCT
The Scottish Socialist Party will insist on basic standards of conduct from its elected representatives. Specifically we pledge that all Scottish Socialist MPs will :
- Live on no more than the average wage of a skilled Scottish worker, to ensure they remain truly representative of the people who elect them.
- Publish details of all their expenses and how these expenses have been spent.
- Publish details of any outside activities for which payment has been made – for example TV appearance fees, or payments for journalism.
- Provide a monthly report of their activities which will be published in the party newspaper, the Scottish Socialist Voice and in local bulletins to constituents.
- Open at least one publicly accessible office or shop to provide advice and assistance to constituents.
- Call regular surgeries and open meetings to which the general public are invited to ask questions and offer advice.
- Be prepared to actively support workers struggles in defence of jobs and living standards, and community struggles in defence of facilities and the environment.
- Be prepared to support and participate in non-violent acts of civil disobedience to oppose nuclear weapons, warrant sales and other instances of injustice.
The Scottish Socialist Party is unique in Scottish politics. It is the only party that stands unequivocably on the side of the working class and the poor against big business and the rich.
If you are poor, if you are a lone parent, if you are a pensioner, if you are a student, if you are a low paid worker, if you are disabled, if you are a council tenant, if you are a trade unionist, if you are a slave labour trainee on a government scheme, if you are unemployed, if you are homeless, if you are an asylum seeker, the Scottish Socialist Party is your party.
The SSP also welcomes into its ranks professional workers, home owners, others who may not personally suffer poverty and insecurity but who are dismayed by a government and a society that can spend billions on nuclear weapons and Eurofighter aeroplanes, yet can scarcely find pennies to wage war against poverty at home.
In the first elections to the Scottish parliament the people of Glasgow defied the opinion pollsters and the media commentators elected a socialist MSP, Tommy Sheridan. Since then, the sole Scottish Socialist MSP has made a profound impact. A century ago, the newly formed Labour Party pledged to rid Scotland of warrant sales. One century and seven Labour governments later, poindings and warrant sales were still being carried out every day across Scotland.
But then a single Scottish Socialist Party member was elected to the Scottish Parliament – and legislation was swiftly introduced, in defiance of the ruling executive, to this humiliating ritual.
If that is the impact that one Scottish Socialist MSP can make, imagine the effect of a group of SSP MPs elected to Westminster. Even if the SSP does not win any seats in Westminster this time around, we are on course to achieve the biggest socialist vote ever in Scotland. If we succeed in winning 100,000 votes, that would send shock waves reverberating through the Scottish political establishment.
It would signal the end of the pro-big business consensus and would force onto the political agenda those subjects that are now taboo for the big parties, including wealth redistribution, public ownership and workplace and community democracy.
We would appeal to all socialists and all who want to see radical political change: Don’t waste your vote by sending yet another grey politician to London. Instead, make your vote count – by voting for the party that will shake things up and make things happen.