Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Fox claims big four parties 'failing voters' on Afghanistan

Press release sent on 19 April.

Scottish Socialist Party leader Colin Fox will tell a public meeting in Wester Hailes on Thursday that the four main parties in Scotland are now 'completely out of touch with public opinion on Afghanistan.'
His remarks come after an opinion poll published at the weekend showed 77% of people want British troops to be brought home and believe their presence in Afghanistan makes UK streets less safe from terrorist attack.*
The former Lothians MSP believes the four main parties in Scotland are failing to represent voters wishes on the matter.
'This poll in the Independent on Sunday simply confirms what we already know, namely that Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and SNP MPs who support the continued military occupation of Afghanistan do not speak for the people of this country. They are completely out of touch with public opinion on Afghanistan. The vast majority of voters simply reject the view of our elected politicians on this issue as with so many others. People are sick of the warmongering of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. They see this as an unwinnable and senseless war that involves Britain occupying another country. Moreover we are occupying a country that has seen 50,000 innocent Afghan civilians killed as well as 281 young British soldiers.
'The Scottish Socialist Party supports the immediate withdrawal of our troops because we believe it is time to give Afghanistan back to the Afghans and we clearly have the backing of 77% of voters.'

*The poll referred to was published in the Independent on Sunday 18/04/2010
**Public meeting details: 'Bring Home he troops from Afghanistan', Murray Suite, The Westsider, Westside Plaza, Wester Hailes, Edinburgh. Thursday 22 April, 7.30pm.
Speakers: Colin Fox, National Spokesman, SSP and John McAllion, Former Labour MP and now SSP

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Darling rich on rhetoric, poor on performance

Press Release sent on Sunday 18 April 2010.

SSP leader Colin Fox used World Poverty Day to slam Alistair Darling for failing to keep promises he made to the world's poor.
Campaigning in the Wester Hailes district of the Chancellor's Edinburgh South West constituency, Mr Fox told us 'Here in one of the poorest areas of Britain's second richest city the evidence of Alistair Darling's failure to keep his promises to children and pensioners in need is all around us.
In June 2005 as the huge 'Make Poverty History' protest snaked through this city the eyes of the world were on Edinburgh. Alistair Darling made grand rhetorical promises that day about combating primary deprivation and lifting the burden of debt. Today on 'World Poverty Day' our attention is drawn to how little he has made on what were in fact very modest promises made at the G8 in Gleneagles. Gordon Brown admits the shortfall in the aid actually delivered to the world's poor was £13.5billion. Oxfam tell us that money could have saved the lives of 2million women in the developing world who have died in childbirth since 2005 or sent another 72,000 children to school.
For his part Alistair Darling provided the City of London with £200bn in 'quantitative easing' in 2009. This money could have wiped out the entire debt of the developing world in one fell swoop. Choices like these tells us everything about New Labour's priorities. They are not my priorities, not those of the 250,000 who joined me on that march through Edinburgh back in June 2005.
Labour clearly has no intention of combating poverty in West Africa or Wester Hailes. They prefer to bail out bloated, blackmailing bankers. The malnourished and impoverished women and children of the 3rd world and here at home they abandon to the markets.
On World Poverty Day I ask people to think carefully about who is to be trusted to help lift the world's poor and deprived out of hell because Alistair Darling and New Labour have made it eminently clear they are not.'

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Protecting the right to provide safe asylum and sanctuary

Dr Keith Baker and Cindy Courtillier are members of an organisation Citizens for Sanctuary and they approached me as the SSP's Parliamentary candidate for their constituency Edinburgh South West to sign the organisation's Pledge which seeks to protect the right to asylum in Britain for those fleeing persecution.
I offered my support and that of the SSP for the Pledge seeking to safeguard the right of a safe haven for people seeking such sanctuary.
More information on Citizens for Sanctuary can be found at www.citizensforsanctuary.org.uk.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

SSPeaking up for working people

Press launch for 2010 General Election campaign - 13 April 2010

If the polls are to be believed we are three weeks away from a Tory Government. Even after 13 years of New Labour the thought still sends a shiver up the spine.
Politics in Scotland is about to be turned upside down.
And let's be clear from the outset the blame for the Tories return will lie with the failure of New Labour. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown exploited working people for 13 years with the poorest and most vulnerable worse hit. As the political outriders of a corporate elite they pandered to the culture of greed at the heart of finance capital, the City traders, the billionaire tax dodgers and the profit crazed industrialists who chased cheap labour and expensive pleasures.
Blair is remembered for one thing alone - his warmongering lies on Iraq.
Brown for the worst economic collapse in 80 years and for foolishly predicting 'There will be no return to boom and bust.'
They privatised our NHS with their infamous PFI contracts, they privatised our schools, they even privatised our prisons and they finally tried to sell off the Royal Mail to Deutsche Post.
They redistributed wealth TO the rich FROM the poor and left one in three children in poverty - even more children in absolute poverty than they started with 13 years ago - all this despite the longest period of economic growth in history.
New Labour, good riddance.
But let's speak frankly to the people of Scotland today.
The Scottish Socialist Party believes working people need to gird their loins for there is stress ahead. There is an economic and social tsunami on the way. The Tories intend to make working people pay for the economic collapse and you should expect the attacks to be as bad as the Thatcher years.

Four key issues then dominate this election.
Who caused this economic crisis? The corporate elite in Government and the banking sector.
Britain's debt now at unprecedented levels - £870 billion = 13% of GDP goes on repaying that debt. Tories intend to make working people / the most vulnerable pay the biggest price.
In the so called 'free market' working people are thrown crumbs from the rich man's table in booms. In bad times the full weight of the collapse falls on them.
So where is the 'social justice' now?
What is 'fair' about a future where the poor bail out the rich, where the innocent bail out the guilty, where the frugal bail out the financially reckless?
To Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats such phrases as 'social justice', 'fairness' and 'democracy' are a sham!

What would the SSP do to get out of the crisis? PUT PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT
Working people and the poor rely on those services. Furthermore they are not good enough as things stand we need far greater investment in housing, social care provision, transport infrastructure, environmental improvement, healthcare and education.
RBS, HBOS, Northern Rock, Bradford and Bingley between them they have more than £1 trillion in assets - that is £1000 billion. The profits they make could go towards helping those most in need. The 4 bankers parties talk of various 'levies' on bank profits. This is the banks talking, and it is nowhere near enough. Our proposal reflects the people of this country telling the banks what is to be done for a change.
3. Scrap TRIDENT and save £100 billion.
4. Scrap ID cards and save £billions.
5. Scrap the European Fighter Aircraft project
6. TAX the rich, including the Scottish Service tax - our income based alternative to the Council tax.
7. Recover £130 billions per year tax 'AVOIDED' by the wealthy via the British tax havens.
8. Bring home the troops from Afghanistan.

70% of voters want to see Britain end our occupation of Afghanistan and bring home the troops.
For them and us this is a senseless war, one that see Britain occupying another country, moreover we are occupying a country guilty of no crime, a country that has seen 50,000 innocent Afghan civilians killed, a country that does not want us to be there.
We reject the view that we are there to protect our national security.
This is the second poorest country in the world. Afghanistan has never threatened us. We on the other hand have invaded and occupied their country three times now.
Neither do we accept that we are making the world a safer place by occupying Afghanistan. Quite the reverse in fact, we do enormous damage to Britain's international reputation and increase the likelihood of attacks here by our unwarranted aggression.
We want to see British troops brought home because we believe this is a 'dishonorable' war.
We have a duty to those in our armed services not to deploy them where they ought not to be. We need to protect the lions in the battlefield from the donkeys in the High Command.
Our soldiers are there to serve the interests of the people and the people of this country have made it repeatedly clear they do not want our troops to be in Afghanistan.
The SSP campaigns day in day out throughout Scotland to bring the troops home.

They say that Guy Fawkes was the only man who went to Parliament 'with honourable intentions'. The Westminster Parliament has never been held in such low regard. And no wonder. The greed and embezzlement exposed there in recent times is the last straw for millions.
Worse than the blatant corruption has been the contemptible attitude many MPs have shown to the public disgust. Their shameful attempts to try and defend the situation has made things worse. It has all highlighted how completely out of touch they all are with the people they were supposed to be 'representing'. This institutionalised corruption poses some profound questions for politics in Britain. What kind of 'representatives' do we now have in this so called 'representative democracy'? Just who is it our MPs represent? Why are they all so motivated by naked self interest and money? Why is it that rich, middle class lawyers, accountants, bankers and businessmen are so over represented and that working people; nurses, firefighters, carers, railwaymen, engineers, office workers and home helps not at all?
The answer of course lies in the identikit politicians, identikit political parties and the greed they defend elsewhere in society and their identikit overriding ambition just to make money out of politics.
That is why they are all in it, pure and simple.
People often say 'Huh! They are all the same.' Well the SSP certainly is not. All our 'representatives' stand as 'Workers MPs on a Workers Wage'.
We heed the advice James Connolly, that great socialist from this quarter of the city, gave 100 years ago to those who sought to represent working people 'Rise with your class, not out of it'.
When everyone is on £66,000 a year MPs can get that too as elected 'representatives'. Until then they should live on the same wages as those they represent.
This example was on the SSP set in Holyrood. It helps MPs remain in touch with those who elected them. It also helps them keep the fire burning deep inside them, impatient to see the improvements working people need now not later.

How do we make sure we elect a truly 'representative Parliament'?
1. We start with the wages. MPs receiving the average wage of working men and women would soon get rid of the lawyers and moneygrabbers.
2. Parliament should provide MPs with a flat they can rent for the period they serve at Westminster.
3. All expenses must be backed up by a receipt and strictly necessary for the job.
4. MPs should be obliged to publish their accounts every 6 months for all their constituents to see - in The Big Issue perhaps.

The Scottish Socialist Party stands for independence, for an independent socialist Scotland.
We reiterate this point here again in this election because we believe Independence is about to climb back up the political agenda.
If the Tories do indeed win the election, without a mandate to govern Scotland, the infamous 'democratic deficit' that led to the creation of the devolved Holyrood Parliament resurfaces. This is not now nor has it ever been a dry constitutional issue for the SSP.
We are clear that working people in Scotland will be economically, socially, culturally and politically better off if we are to determine our own future free from the interference of the British state.
Scotland would be free from nuclear weapons, would not have its soldiers occupying other countries on behalf of British Imperialism. We also believe it would be a modern democratic republic with an elected head of state, no monarchy and no House of Lords wither because that is what Scots want.

The election of an 'alien' Tory Government at Westminster without a mandate to govern in Scotland carrying out savage attacks on public services will put these issues into sharp focus.
That is the forward looking progressive vision for Scotland which we put in front of the Scottish people today.

Monday, 5 April 2010

BBC suggests 'Afghanistan deal in the pipeline?'

Letter sent to The Herald on 3rd of April 2010.

As the joint national spokesman of the Scottish Socialist Party campaigning across the country every week against Britain's military occupation of Afghanistan, I often meet people under the impression 'we are there to stop the evil Taliban returning to power'. This belief is entirely understandable as Labour MPs repeatedly make this claim.
Leaving aside the violation of international law such actions implies - as the Chilcott enquiry most recently made clear 'regime change' is an unlawful motive for military invasion - the BBC's 'Analysis' programme on Radio Four last week provided substantial 'inside' information debunking this myth. Presenter Edward Stourton interviewed senior diplomats, government advisers and informed academics - who pointed out that British Government officials are open to negotiations with Taliban leaders over their phased return to power. Indeed the prospect of Taliban leader Mullah Omar emerging as the next President of Afghanistan was the strong conclusion of Stourton's programme.
Despite the claims of Labour MPs who really ought to know better, Britain and the US are not in Afghanistan to stop 'the evil Taliban' and never have been. Bill Clinton for example was more than happy to entertain his Taliban guests in Washington between 1992 and 2000 as negotiations took place over US oil giant UNOCOL's plan for a lucrative gas pipeline across Afghanistan. The invasion in 2001 was both naked revenge for 9/11 [despite the fact not a single Afghan was involved] and about staking a claim on an area of huge strategic significance bordering Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Iran. Now that the Taliban have popular support again and are embedded militarily in the countryside talks have taken place about returning them to the presidential palaces of Kabul in return for certain assurances. Top of those assurances is a promise to hand over Osama Bin Laden to the US for trial on charges that he masterminded 9/11. Since the Taliban have made this offer three times before it is not considered a 'deal breaker'.
The question plainly arises then why should any more innocent Afghan civilians [50,000 killed since 2001] or British soldiers [280] perish with such a deal in the pipeline? Could it be that, as is often the case, the lives of ordinary citizens and junior soldiers are lesser considerations to securing oil and gas supplies for multinationals and political/military advantages for Western imperialism?

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Labour, SNP and Liberals vie for cuts 'Badge of Dishonour' as SSP challenge grows

I am looking forward Thursday evening's SSP public meeting in Gorgie. 'Bring Home the Troops, Say No to Cuts in Public Services' will see me sharing a platform again with Joan Humphreys from Military Families Against the War and with Aidan Murphy from the Save Gorgie Memorial Hall campaign.
Many people in Gorgie and Dalry noticed the glaring contrast in Alastair Darling's Budget statement last week where he announced another £4 billion to pay for Britain's senseless military occupation of Afghanistan whilst at the same time cutting £100 billion from frontline public services.
Darling's Labour Party colleagues have been turning up at public meetings in his Edinburgh South West constituency these last three weeks to condemn the SNP / Lib Dem Council for making 'irresponsible' cuts in community facilities throughout the seat. Whereas they are quite right to condemn the 'Nats and Libs' for making these disgraceful cuts what they are not so honest about is Labour's own shameful record. Since they are so reluctantly to admit it I should point out that not only will Labour make cuts the likes of which we have never seen before in this country if they win the General election, in Edinburgh they cut more services that any other party in the past 20 years.
If you want to stop spending on wars and start spending on public services, then there is only one party to vote for in Edinburgh South West and indeed across Scotland, and that is the SSP.