Scotland

Scottish Labour’s fortunes

Author: 

Ann Field

In the 2015 general election Labour lost 40 of the 41 seats it held in Scotland. In this May’s Holyrood elections it lost 14 of its 38 seats. Four months later, Labour remains in decline.

Scottish Labour will not revive as an effective political force by trying to forge a suicidal “progressive alliance” with a non-progressive narrow-nationalist party committed to its destruction. Instead, it needs to grasp the opportunity opened up by Corbyn’s victory in 2015, by reasserting the centrality of class politics and mobilising around a radical socialist alternative to SNP nationalism.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Gerry Bates, Simon Nelson and Ollie Moore

On 7 July the International Dockworkers’ Council (IDC), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) called a one-hour world-wide strike, from 8 a.m. local time.

Under the slogan “Defend Dockers Rights,” the Global Day of Union Action was organised to call for: Improved health and safety in the workplace, an end to job deregulation, respect for bargaining rights and collective agreements, the need for universal labor standards in GNTs, the concerns over automation processes in terminals, and social justice.

Global strike in the ports; Minnesota nurses strike for control; progress for left at Unison conference; driver-only operation fight continues; ISS must investigate chemicals.

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Labour movement unity, not nationalist separatism!

Author: 

Dale Street

Will there be another referendum on independence for Scotland after the EU referendum? That is now a central focus of mainstream political debate in Scotland. And that spells bad news for socialists and the broader Labour and trade union movement.

At a UK level the EU referendum saw a 51.9% majority in favour of “Leave” on a 72% turnout. In England 53.4% backed “Leave” on a 73% turnout. But in Scotland 62% backed “Remain” on a 67% turnout.

Socialists can play an irreplaceable role in helping rebuild and transform the movement into one capable of beating back the new nationalist offensive, counterposing a campaign which brings together workers of all national identities to the toxic separatism of another referendum on Scottish independence.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Gemma Short, Luke Hardy, Peggy Carter, Ollie Moore, Charlotte Zalens and Neil Laker

Workers at Pennine Foods in Sheffield have suspended their strikes after negotiations meant bosses agreed not to implement changes to their contracts. Negotiations also got bosses to agree to all employees receiving a lump sum for their 2015 pay rise. Negotiations will continue on the contract and further strikes are not ruled out. The contract changes at Pennine Foods were in order for bosses to try to recoup some of the money from implementing the government′s new ″living wage″.

Bosses dodge “living wage”; Camden teachers striking to stop job cuts; bosses make £11m profit, workers get 16p; cleaners fight back against sackings; ScotRail guards vote for strikes; Durham County Council sacks all teaching assistants; Capita workers strike over pay cuts.

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Reinstate Rhea Wolfson’s candidacy for NEC!

The right of the Labour Party is seeking to block left candidate Rhea Wolfson (who replaced Ken Livingstone on the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance slate following his suspension on charges of anti-semitism) from standing for Labour’s National Executive Committee.

Party rules say that candidates must receive nominations from three different regions – no problem, Rhea has dozens of nominations – and from their own CLP. But Eastwood CLP voted not to nominate Rhea.

The right of the Labour Party is seeking to block left candidate Rhea Wolfson (who replaced Ken Livingstone on the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance slate following his suspension on charges of anti-semitism) from standing for Labour’s National Executive Committee.

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Compass loses its bearings in Scotland

Author: 

Dale Street

Well, it probably seemed a good idea at the time.

On 31 May Neal Lawson – chairperson of the “influential left-wing think tank” Compass – penned an open letter to the SNP calling for a “progressive alliance” with the Labour Party.

The letter might best be described as obsequious (synonyms: servile, ingratiating, unctuous, toadying, oily, greasy, grovelling and oleaginous). Its tone evokes that of someone fallen on hard times trying to tap a loan:

Labour think tank calls for SNP-Labour alliance.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Neil Laker, Peggy Carter, Ollie Moore, Darren Bedford and Charlotte Zalens

In March, the University of Manchester announced plans to restructure its subsidiary company, UMC, making 46 redundancies in catering while moving the remaining staff on to “term-time only” contracts.

This latter move would have meant cuts of about one third to their total pay. But now, as a result of solid negotiating by Unison, and agitation, occupations and disruption by students, management have backed down. There will be no compulsory redundancies, no loss of hours and no pay cuts.

Manchester University catering staff win; lecturers strike; rail workers’ disputes spread; CalMac ferries stay public; Glen Hart reinstated; left makes gains in PCS.

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Bolder than you’d guess

Author: 

Colin Foster

“Solidarity. Socialism. Equality. Against Austerity. For Workers’ Rights”. A bolder message than we expect from the Labour Party, even under Jeremy Corbyn’s new leadership.

Yet that was a leaflet, printed in bright red too, issued before the 5 May election by the Scottish Labour Party under Kezia Dugdale, who was initially voted into leadership on a slate with ultra-Blairite Jim Murphy.

The leaflet did not sway the election. Not many copies seem to have been produced and distributed. It came out only shortly before polling day.

We should demand that Labour and its new leadership set themselves to campaigning for socialism, not just on detail demands.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Kelly Rogers, Dale Street, Darren Bedford, Ollie Moore and Gemma Short

On Saturday 14 May the BMA held a junior doctors′ conference, followed by a meeting of the junior doctors′ committee on the next day. It was hoped that these meetings would have heard the outcome of renewed negotiations held between the government and the BMA between 9-13 May. However a last minute agreement (brokered by Brendan Barber of all people!) to extend the talks for another week meant that junior doctors did not get a chance to give judgement on any proposed deal.

Junior doctors; BECTU votes for right-wing merger; school janitors step up strike; Topshop cleaners protest across country; strikes in Sheffield against job losses and pay cuts; Southern strikes continue.

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Scottish left banging the nationalist drum

Author: 

Dale Street

In elections for the Scottish Parliament the SNP triumphed (although with six seats less than in 2011, and two seats short of an absolute majority). The Tory vote was up by 9%, doubling its number of seats. And Labour slumped down by 8%, costing it 13 seats and pushing it into third place.

Labour and trade union activists need to organise to block any attempt to push Scottish Labour to the right. And what passes itself off as the far left needs to wake up from its nationalist daydreaming, now manifesting itself in pro-Brexit campaigning, and return to a focus on class politics.

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