The Point
Last updated: 24 April 2018.

...red sky thinking for an open and diverse left

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Recent Articles

In Praise of Beethoven

Arthur C Clarke - A Very Modern Odyssey

Tackling Private Landlords

Investigating the Value Form

The Eternal Dark Heart of Empire

If You Build Them, They Will Come

No to the Bedroom Tax

 

Tommy Sheridan calls for a massive campaign to put the Con-Dem bedroom tax in the scrap bin of history

Would you trust a motor mechanic to perform heart surgery on you? A bricklayer to apply a spray-tan? No, of course you wouldn’t. So why on earth would anyone trust the millionaire toffs in the ConDem government to devise social housing policy? These political space cadets wouldn’t know a council or housing association house if it fell on their swollen heads. Their cruel and economically illiterate bedroom tax proposal proves just out of touch with ordinary lives they really are. With 23 members of the 29 member cabinet being millionaires what else do you expect? It is one of the most unrepresentative governments in history.

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The Jimmy Reid Foundation

Robin McAlpine reflects on the first year of The Jimmy Reid Foundation

 


 

Something happened towards the end of last year that might seem pretty insignificant to you but really made me smile. It was a simple thing; the launch of our report on why we need to defend universal public services was reported under a headline in The Herald which said “Reid Foundation...”. See, I can't even remember the rest of the headline. I'm just chuffed to get a straight name-check.

Let me explain why this matters. A number of us on the Board of the Scottish Left Review had been talking about the need for some sort of left-wing think tank of some sort in Scotland. In fact, we've been discussing this or something like it for much of the time since the SLR was launched in 2000. In its original conception the SLR would have been more than just a magazine; Jimmy himself saw it as the seed of a bigger, wider, non-party left movement in Scotland. The problem was a simple one – we had little or no money and coming by the kind of money needed to maintain a properly-operating think tank is not easy.

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Scrap Trident

 

 

Ben Wray and Kezia Kinder of Radical Independence, Glasgow, on...

 

5 reasons why you have to be on the Scrap Trident mobilisations 13-15th April

 

The Scrap Trident mobilisations over three days in April are the most important anti-nuclear demonstrations in Britain in many years, especially if you believe Scottish independence can be a vehicle to take us towards radical social change. Below are the top five reasons why you have to be there in April.

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Lives on the Line

- How the Gambling Industry Targets the Poor

 

Graeme McIver looks at the gambling industry in the UK and how it has targeted the poorest and most deprived areas of our towns and cities.

  

 

  

'In gambling the many must lose in order that the few may win'

George Bernard Shaw

 

The Changing Face of Our High Street

The news that the credit ratings agency Moody’s has decided to downgrade Britain’s triple A credit rating will not have come as a surprise to anyone who cares to take more than a cursory glance at economic performance of the UK. As the ConDems swing the axe even deeper into living standards, the knock on effect on retail sales and High Street performance further highlights that the crisis in 21st century capitalism continues apace.

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Independence and the National Game

Here we go, here we go, here we go!

Sean Robertson examines the plethora of football fan groups for independence being set up, and the potential for building a Yes vote on the terraces

 

              

 

Scottish Football and its links to politics, have, in recent times, been presented as negative by the mainstream media and political parties, mainly due to the connections of the Old Firm to Irish culture and history.

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Corporate Tax Avoidance - Will the real scroungers please stand up?

Ana Dreyfuss-Quillon looks at the companies that don't pay tax...and what could be done about them.

 

Indignity heaped on pain may be the last tax pound straw that breaks the corporate camel’s back.

Widespread revulsion over revelations of the huge levels of tax avoidance in the UK over the last six months have forced Coalition Chancellor Gideon ‘George’ Osborne to rush to the media ramparts, fulminating with manufactured outrage, over the fact that multiple billions of pounds per annum are being lost to the exchequer by companies exploiting legal loopholes to avoid paying tax on their profits.

Osborne has said – and we must presume that he was blissfully unaware of this state of affairs until the story broke in the media (lol) – that it’s terrible his City chums are behaving like such rogues when ‘we are all in it together’, and he’ll jolly well sort it out by seeking ‘international agreement’.

This is a typical Tory tactic of kicking the ball into the long grass.

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Eco Socialism - a personal perspective

or

Why I am a member of the Green Left

 

 

Will Duckworth - Deputy Leader of the Green Party in England and Wales

Some Green Party members start from a belief that we need to save the planet from human activity but in truth the race will survive even with a 5 degree increase in global temperatures, melting of the ice caps and loss of huge areas of land mass under the rising seas.  It would mean the end of civilisation as we know it, the death of most of the human race, and a return to a pre-industrial society. 

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Sexual Abuse Time Bomb...still Ticking

 

Since the eruption of the Jimmy Saville case last year the Con/Dem government have been thankful for some brief respite from the glare of publicity alluding to direct links between organised sexual abuse of children and leading British politicians.

Now the scandal is threatening to blow up around Operation Fernbridge,  a police investigation into activities at the Elm Guesthouse in London during the 1980’s, where children from nearby local authority care homes were serially sexually abused.

The developing scandal  is related to Labour MP Tom Watson’s original allegations about the existence of a Tory sex abuse ring with links straight to number 10.

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To be Bold?

 Alex Salmond’s speech to the Jimmy Reid Foundation

 a personal view by Gary Fraser

 

                   

 

I was looking forward to hearing Alex Salmond’s inaugural address to the Jimmy Reid Foundation. I’m a supporter of the Foundation whose intellectual presence is much needed in Scottish politics. The subject of the lecture, ‘Addressing Alienation: the opportunity of independence’, sounded interesting, unconventional even, and an opportunity for the speaker to make an intellectual case for independence, a chance to demonstrate how an abstract political concept like independence can connect with people’s everyday lives and generally improve our psychological well being. But in all honesty I came away from his speech feeling disappointed.

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Radical Independence Conference

 Editorial


 Radical Independence Conference: the beginning of something new in Scottish politics?

 

This is an exciting time to be living in Scotland.

Something is happening and change is in the air, and we say this as a magazine not normally prone to hyperbole.

The Radical Independence Conference on Saturday 24th November may well turn out to be the most important gathering of the Scottish left in recent years. Since the debilitating split of the SSP in 2006 the Scottish left has been in the doldrums, but the RIC offers evidence that it is now at last emerging from the political swamp it’s been wading through these last few years. With even the normally cynical media estimating around 800-900 people in attendance, turnout at Saturday’s event was impressive. But high numbers were not the only thing of note. The event was well organised and the marketing slick and professional, something unusual for the left. There was a genuine coming together of diverse voices around a broad platform, and a palpable enthusiasm both to help win the independence referendum and to present a radical and progressive vision for an independent Scotland. This was a genuine ‘big tent’ – which may not have suited some – but the International Socialist Group, who initiated the RIC, should be congratulated for their role in putting this together.

It was also good to see more than just the ‘usual suspects’ in attendance. Many young people attended the event and it was encouraging to see fresh faces and a new generation coming through not tainted by the past.  Socialists of all major tendencies and types were there, alongside Greens, issue campaigners, trade unionists in number, and radicalised students. We were particularly pleased to see SNP activists in attendance, including some councillors.  The Point was reminded of the 300, 000 people who voted for the Socialists and the Greens in the 2003 Scottish Parliament elections.  That represents a potentially huge block of voters that could sway the outcome of the independence referendum in 2014.

The RIC demonstrates that the Scottish left has not gone away, and that if it steps up to the plate then it still has a serious role to play in Scottish politics. The question now is: where do we go from here?

The Point believes that the RIC should not stand outside of the Yes Scotland Campaign, or in counter position to it, but work in tandem with it while retaining its organisational independence and its socialist message of ‘another Scotland is possible’. We believe that was the ‘sense’ of Saturday’s gathering, and we welcome the statements of Yes Scotland and Alex Salmond noting the contribution of the RIC and its commitment to securing a Yes vote. It was heartening to see many RIC delegates lining up at the Yes Scotland stall to sign up to that campaign.  There is no contradiction in being part of both.

The YES Campaign is where we need to be, not simply standing on the sidelines yelling ‘no to cuts’ or counter-posing socialism in the abstract to independence.  We are all opposed to austerity.  We all support working people struggling internationally against it.  But the Scottish Government currently receives an ever reducing block grant from Westminster and has no borrowing powers.  The most direct route to protecting Scottish working class people from Coalition cuts and austerity for the rest of this decade and beyond is through independence. Independence opens up the possibility of serious economic and social change - because Scotland’s natural political gravity tends to the left.  To fail to understand this is simply…to fail.

In the past sections of the left have been too self obsessed with their own signature issues and sometimes lost sight of the bigger picture, speaking in a language few ordinary folk relate to.  Whilst the tragedy of Gaza, or the role of American imperialism in the world, or the nature of the Cuban state are critically important issues, they are not the primary concerns of most people in Scotland right now. Instead of talking at people we must engage with the broad sweep of humanity in Scotland, highlighting how independence can address their concerns and priorities. This means engaging with people on the issues that matter, including decent, long term jobs on proper wages, secure and affordable homes, cheaper energy bills, health and education that is world class and free at the point of need, a Scotland where our young people have a future and where all of our people feel safe and enabled in their communities. We need to be able to explain how public ownership, participatory democracy and a redistributive and progressive taxation system can help achieve these things and more, and why full independence for Scotland could help deliver them.

The independence debate can appear complex, yet the referendum will simplify matters. You either vote yes or you vote no. No in betweens; none of this business of yes, but only if we abolish capitalism, or increase corporation tax, or leave the EU the next day and abolish the monarchy the day after that. For most progressives and socialists who support both socialism and independence we have always known that they are a process more than an outcome.

The Scottish left needs to be part of that process.

The inaugural Radical Independence Conference was a massive step in a new direction. Of course, even a flock of swallows does not a summer make, but the road is open, and a whiff of political spring is in the air.

Once again we say thanks to all of those who helped organise what could – potentially - be a landmark day in the history of the Scottish left

External links:

Bella Caledonia

Bright Green

George Monbiot

Green Left

Greenpeace

The Jimmy Reid Foundation

Laurie Penny

New Left Project

Newsnet Scotland

Richard Dawkins

Scottish Left Review

Socialist Unity

UK Uncut

Viridis Lumen

Wings Over Scotland

Word Power Books