Mar 26 2020

FIGHTING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Trade unionists, health workers, independence supporters and community activists demand radical action from the Scottish government to fight the pandemic

(To add your name and group or position (if any), email: covidscotresponse@gmail.com)

This statement was first published on 19th March. This version contains additions and revisions in the light of recent developments. There is a list of signatories at the end of this statement – as more are added the list will be updated at https://tinyurl.com/t6s5csz

The Covid-19 outbreak poses a real and significant threat to the people of Scotland, a country with a large elderly population, massive health inequalities and rural communities who will have difficulties accessing the health service when they need it most.

The Tory Governments “herd immunity” strategy is a catastrophe. The Westminster government itself predicted over a quarter of a million UK dead following this approach. Boris Johnson has now declared that “herd immunity” isn’t their strategy anymore because the science had changed! However, according to the editor of the Lancet in a tweet,” it took a study from Imperial to understand the likely burden of COVID-19 on the NHS. But read the first paper we published on COVID-19 on Jan 24. 32% admitted to ITU with 15% mortality. We have wasted 7 weeks. This crisis was entirely preventable.”

The government knew as early as January 24th that their strategy would lead to hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths. Confirming this horrific assessment, the Sunday Times claims: “At a private engagement at the end of February, Cummings outlined the government’s strategy. Those present say it was “herd immunity, protect the economy and if that means some pensioners die, too bad”.

Throughout this crisis the Tories have put the needs of the economy before saving lives. Until now they have ignored all of the expert opinion, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the experiences of China, South Korea, Taiwan and other countries that have been successful in reducing the rate of infection.

While Johnson has finally moved in the right direction by closing schools and leisure facilities, and launching an economic package of support for affected workers and businesses, it comes more than seven weeks late. These positive changes for workers have come about with pressure from the labour movement.

The Tories disastrous strategy means that we have lost seven weeks which could have been used to order and make ventilators, testing kits and protective gear for medical and care staff. This time should have been used to retrain staff and build health care capacity. The government has allowed the Coronavirus to spread for seven weeks when they could have held it back. The cost in lost lives is as yet unknown. However, in Italy where deaths are now spiralling, they introduced testing and social isolation far earlier than Britain. The later you begin social isolation, the worse the destination. It is likely that deaths in the UK will eventually outstrip Italy unless drastic action is taken.

As well as introducing measures to protect the incomes of some workers, the government bill will give them the power to detain and isolate members of the public, including children for potentially indefinite periods; the prohibition of public gatherings without the standard protections for strikes and industrial action that exist in the Civil Contingencies Act; and the weakening of safeguards on mass surveillance powers. These powers would be on the statute for at least 2 years this is despite Boris Johnson’s claim that he can beat the pandemic in 12 weeks!

However, the kind of drastic action we need must increase the available health and social care workforce; to ease the burden on frontline staff; containing and slowing the virus; and supporting working people.

After years of austerity the NHS and local authorities do not have the capacity and resilience to manage the current crisis unless more immediate decisive measures are taken. The NHS 111 service is already overrun and will be unable to cope with a large upswing in demand. Stories of health professionals lacking even the most basic protective and testing equipment are all over the news. Our front-line health professionals are calling for support. A letter signed by 229 scientists from UK universities on 14th March said the government’s approach would put the NHS under huge stress and “risk many more lives than necessary.”

The UK is the fifth richest country in the world, which means we are in a strong position to implement the bold, structural changes this crisis requires. Individual and community action is essential in tackling this crisis. But we also will require centralised support in order to be effective. Thus, where powers are devolved, the Scottish Government must be prepared to step in and change the direction being taken by the UK government.

The Tories are guilty of criminal negligence. Their attitude to Covid 19 mirrors their approach to Grenfell. We call on the Scottish administration to publicly break from this disastrous approach. We insist that the Scottish government focuses on saving lives and protecting vulnerable people above the needs of the markets and finance. They should reject the authoritarian attack on civil liberties from the Tories.

We therefore call on the Scottish government to:

1. Invoke effective measures to stop the virus spreading as well as introducing a programme of aggressive testing and contact tracing, as called for by the head of the World Health Organisation.

2. Call upon the UK government to release immediate funds to build emergency health care facilities and provisions as have been done in China and Italy. Stop the handover of £2.4M per day to private health for necessary hospital beds. We demand the immediate requisition of private hospital and hotel beds to meet the soaring need (as has happened in Spain) and hire thousands of extra care and health workers.

3. We welcome the decision to close all schools and educational institutions – this is an example of how the Scottish Government can shift the UK agenda when it takes action that puts people before profit; however, resources must be made available to local authorities to ensure that free childcare is provided for those parents who are required to work, that support is available for the most vulnerable children and free school meals provided for all those in need.

4. Put immediate arrangements in place for childcare for all health and social care frontline workers.

5. Work with the Scotland Community Planning Partnerships that coordinate LG, NHS, Fire and Police in each LG area to establish a register of volunteering. This register must include tasks and skills that individuals can volunteer for and tasks that need volunteers.

6. Seek full trade union engagement to ensure that workers’ interests are at the heart of any strategy.

7. Use its power and representation at Westminster to amend the bill attacking civil liberties.

8. Close down all non-essential workplaces.

In addition to the measures announced to support working people, we are calling for:

· Full universal sick pay for everyone, including workers on zero hours contracts.
· Offer the same protection to those recently laid off and self-employed workers
· A ban on tenant evictions and utility ‘cut offs’.
· Rent and mortgage freezes.
· Emergency grants for those in serious poverty; the expansion of meals on wheels to feed the hungry; price controls on essential goods and other measures to help those most vulnerable.
· No unwarranted clampdowns on civil liberties.
· Opposition to any racist scapegoating of Chinese, Asian, Italian or minority communities.

The economy was fundamentally re-organised in the Second World War and we must do the same again now to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

To fund such a programme, we require:

1. Sweeping measures such as a 20% windfall tax on the top 1% of earners

2. An arms conversion program from military spending on arms, towards the manufacture of ventilators and other necessary military equipment to give our emergency services the tools and facilities they need to deal with this crisis.

The health service, not banks, should be bailed out. Protecting billionaires and offshore tax accounts while the rest of us take our chances with limited intensive care beds and oxygen therapy is unconscionable. Tax the corporations and divert resources from arms to health now!

Let’s fight to save every life. This is a group set up with the sole purpose of advocating these demands in relation to the Coronavirus epidemic. An initial list of signatories to this statement includes:

Signatures (as of 12pm on 26th March 2020)

Poppy Gerrard Abbott, PhD sociology candidate & tutor, University of Edinburgh
Jim Aitken
Jamie Allinson – UCU
Allan Armstrong – EIS (life member), RIC
Shereen Benjamin – UCU
Sara Bennett – Unite, Edinburgh
Willie Black – Unite, Edinburgh
Pauline Bradley
Angus Brown – Unite, Edinburgh
George S Bruce – Branch President HW UCU
Grant Buttars – Branch President, UCU University of Edinburgh
Cait Ni Cadlaig – Unite Community
Councillor Graham Campbell – SNP Socialists, Musicians Union Scotland NI Committee (pc)
Kevin Campbell – ex president SSTA
Pete Cannell – UCU, Edinburgh
Jane Carnall – local activist (@EyeEdinburgh)
Jim Cassidy – Trade Unionists for Independence / Airdrie for Independence. RMT member
Graham Checkley
Nicholas Cimini – (Ex-President EIS/ULA)
Gary Clark – Branch Secretary CWU Scotland No.2
Ramsay Clark – UNISON Edinburgh
Eileen Cook – EIS/ULA
Sylvia Crick – Unison, Edinburgh
Muireann Crowley – University of Edinburgh
Leslie Cunningham – Unite, Edinburgh
Neil Davidson – UCU, University of Glasgow
John Devine – Glasgow South SSP
Emma Donovan, Edinburgh University
Mike Downham
Derek Durkin – Trade Unions for Independence, Edinburgh
Craig Ewing, Unison, Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh
Kevin Ferguson, GMB & IWW
Dr James Foley UCU
Ross Gibson – Strathclyde UCU
Donny Gluckstein – EIS Council and FELA National Executive
Nick Gotts – Scottish Green Party, Edinburgh RIC
Bob Goupillot – UCU, Edinburgh RIC, RCN
Penny Gower – EIS-FELA national executive, EIS Council, Edinburgh College EIS branch secretary
Ishbel Griffiths – EIS
Richard Haley – SACC
Luke Henderson – Unison, Edinburgh
Mick Hogg – RMT – Regional Organiser, Aberdeen
Tallash Kantai
Victor Lera – Extinction Rebellion
Kenny Logan – CWU
George MacDougall
Tommy Martin – Unite/ United Colours of Leith
Mike McCaig RMT Org Unit – (In A Personal Capacity)
Chris McCusker – Membership Secretary SNP Trade Unionists, VC SNP Socialists
Helen McFarlane – Unite executive council election candidate for Scotland
Campbell McGregor – Scottish Socialist Party
Dr. Danny McGregor UCU
Tracy Anne Miller – Branch Secretary of UNISON Lothian Health Branch
Peter Moonie
Ann Morgan
Raymond Morell – Unite Branch Chair, Edinburgh
Professor Elisa Morgera – University of Strathclyde
Duncan Neill, on behalf of the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network.
Katie Nicoll Baines – University of Edinburgh
Rob Paterson – Midlothian Trades Council
Muslim Womens Association of Edinburgh
Lynn Paterson – Secretary, Edinburgh and Lothians May Day Committee
James Richards – Vice President UCU Branch Committee at Heriot-Watt University
Neil Rothnie – Extinction Rebellion/ScotE3
Francesco Sindico – Co-Director, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance
Pat Smith – Edinburgh RIC
SNP Trade Union Group
Ann Swinney – Dundee UCU Branch President and UCU Scotland Honorary Secretary
Dr. Mark Taylor – EIS ULA Edinburgh Napier University Branch Co-convener
UCU Branch Committee at Heriot-Watt University
Ungagged editorial team
Colin Vetters – EIS, Glasgow
Lena Wånggren – UCU Scotland Vice President and UCU Edinburgh Vice President
Cathy Watkins – PCS, Edinburgh

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Feb 27 2020

COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE

Allan Armstrong has added an addendum to his book From Pre-Brit to Ex-Brit  (https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/from-pre-brit-to-ex-brit-1.pdffollowing the December 12th UK and February 8th Irish general elections.

 

COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A  SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE

 

 

 

 

Although Johnson gained an overall Right Populist electoral victory in the UK on December 12th, this disguises the fact that in Scotland the constitutional nationalist SNP emerged as the electoral victor, pushing the Tories and Scottish Labour into retreat. In Wales, the still largely liberal unionist, Welsh Labour and the constitutional nationalist, Plaid Cymru retained an overall majority, but the Tories made substantial gains. In Northern Ireland, the reactionary unionist DUP lost its overall majority, giving a tentative constitutional nationalist (Sinn Fein and SDLP) and liberal unionist (APNI) alliance a majority. Furthermore, there are wider national democratic movements in Scotland, Wales and Ireland/Northern Ireland, which will be prepared to challenge Johnson’s reactionary unionist clampdown. This is a recipe for continued constitutional crisis, with Scotland in the front line at present. Continue reading “COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Feb 12 2020

CONCERTED CLASS STRUGGLES IN FRANCE

This article on the ongoing class struggles in France was first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland)

 

CONCERTED CLASS STRUGGLES IN FRANCE

 

 

Following months of Yellow Vest protests last year against fuel tax rises during which President Macron had to partially retreat he then switched his attentions to the public sector, launching his long planned pension reforms. These planned cuts are no piecemeal tinkering around the edges. The so called ‘reforms’, ostensibly to make the French pension system more ‘fair’, are in reality designed to squeeze more profit from public sector workers in response to the global capitalist crisis. Continue reading “CONCERTED CLASS STRUGGLES IN FRANCE”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Feb 09 2020

TWO SCOTTISH RESPONSES TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION

We are posting two responses to the results of the December 12th general election, the first from activists within the Scottish Labour Party and the second form Gavin Lundy, National Convenor of Young Scots for Independence.

_______________

1. Open Letter: Scottish Labour for Radical Democracy

(this was first posted at:-  https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2019/12/15/open-letter-scottish-labour-for-radical-democracy)

We demand radical self-determination for Scotland. The Scottish people have, in successive elections to both Holyrood and Westminster, elected majorities in favour of a new referendum on independence. Setting aside the arguments for and against independence, we must not allow a hardline Tory government – which has no mandate here – to override Scotland’s democratic will.

Should all attempts to secure a second referendum by legal and constitutional means be obstructed by the UK government, we support an escalating strategy of non-cooperation and civil disobedience against that government, pursued at all possible levels: from the Scottish Government legislating on, or refusing to cooperate with, matters ‘reserved’ to Westminster, to grassroots non-violent direct action within and outwith Scotland. Continue reading “TWO SCOTTISH RESPONSES TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Feb 04 2020

FROM ILLUSIONS IN A LEXIT BREXIT TO A DISILLUSIONED LEXIT FROM BREXIT POLITICS – THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION AND INDEPENDENT SOCIALISTS ACROSS THESE ISLANDS

Allan Armstrong has published an article entitled From Illusions in a Lexit Brexit to a Disillusioned Lexit from Brexit Politics (https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/socialists-and-december-12th-election-5.pdf) The contents of this book are shown below, followed by the last two chapters and conclusion. This  article follows The Impact of the December 12th General Election across the Constituent Parts of the UK. (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/01/24/the-impact-of-the-december-12th-general-election-across-the-constituent-parts-of-the-uk/)

__________________

FROM ILLUSIONS IN A LEXIT BREXIT TO A DISILLUSIONED LEXIT FROM BREXIT POLITICS 

Telegraph backs Lexiters’ ‘revolution’ and ‘Peoples Brexit!

 

Contents

a)  The 2015 general election provided a warning

b)  After 2015 – an increasingly floundering Left

c)  Northern Ireland – a different pattern

d)  Reactionary unionism and Europhobic opposition to the EU

e)  The largest independent Socialist parties walk into the Brexit trap

f)  The official Remain and Leave campaigns – two wings of the British ruling class

g)  The Lexiters’ false arguments

h)  The political options open in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum

i)  From 23rd May, 2016 to 8th June, 2017 – A victory for the Left or the Right?

j)  ‘Independent’ Socialists and ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’!

k)  Corbyn and the ‘independent’ Socialists unwittingly help Boris Johnson to victory

l)  Independent socialists after the December 12th general election

m) Independent socialists in Scotland and Northern Ireland/Ireland

n) Conclusion

______________________

 

THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION AND INDEPENDENT SOCIALISTS ACROSS THESE ISLANDS

 

1. Independent socialists after the December 12th general election

On December 12th, Labour’s vote share fell by 7.8% and its number of MPs decreased from 262 to 202. The Tories’ vote share rose 1.2%, but its number of MPs increased from 317 to 365. The gap in the vote share was 11.4%, 32.2% for Labour and 43.6% for the Tories.[1] Not surprisingly a shattered Jeremy Corbyn offered his resignation, opening up the prospect of a new leadership campaign. Continue reading “FROM ILLUSIONS IN A LEXIT BREXIT TO A DISILLUSIONED LEXIT FROM BREXIT POLITICS – THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION AND INDEPENDENT SOCIALISTS ACROSS THESE ISLANDS”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Jan 26 2020

UKRAINIAN UNIONS URGENT APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY

We are posting two pieces form the Ukrainian Solidarity Committee

The first is statement following the Honchurak government’s attack on labour and social rights. The second is a report on the demonstrations held in Kyiv on January 15th .

 

1. UKRAINIAN UNIONS URGENT APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY

Ukrainian unions urgent appeal for solidarity

On 28 December 2019, on the eve of the New Year holidays, without any warning and agreement with social partners, without timely publication and wide discussion, Honcharuk’s Government attacked labour and social rights of Ukrainians!

Continue reading “UKRAINIAN UNIONS URGENT APPEAL FOR SOLIDARITY”

Tags: , , , , , ,


Jan 23 2020

THE CREATIVE ECONOMY? – TOWARDS A CULTURE OF POSSIBILITY

Emancipation & Liberation has viewed cultural creativity as a significant arena in which to challenge the alienation associated with the the exploitation and oppression found under capitalism. We are reposting an article by Mairi McFadyen, first posted on bella caledonia, which provides evidence from the rural areas of Scotland.

 

THE CREATIVE ECONOMY? – TOWARDS A CULTURE OF POSSIBILITY

Cultural engagement on the banks of the River Nith in Dumfries

 

This month I have been on a journey from Shetland to Dumfries reflecting on creativity, community and cultural commons. In the last of the summer sun I sailed north across the whale road to a conference organised by the Centre for Rural Creativity, University of the Highlands and Islands, in partnership with Shetland Arts at the Mareel. Invoking the old Norn dialect word for where the shore meets the sea, the event was called Shoormal – an invitation to explore issues of creative practice, collaboration and the ‘shifting sands in the creative economy’. Continue reading “THE CREATIVE ECONOMY? – TOWARDS A CULTURE OF POSSIBILITY”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Dec 19 2019

THE HEALTH WORKERS’ STRIKE WORKERS’ STRIKE, THE IRISH CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS AND STORMONT

This article about the healthworkers’ strike in Northern Ireland was first posted by Socialist  Democracy (Ireland)

THE HEALTHWORKERS’ STRIKE, THE IRISH CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS AND STORMONT

 

 

Around 25,000 health care workers including nurses, social care staff and support services are taking industrial action to defend a health service which is widely accepted to be on the verge of collapse and to demand an increase in the currently ‘unsafe’ levels of staffing, investment and a long overdue pay increase for hard pushed health workers. To give a taste of the degree of under-investment in local health care, over 94,000 people are waiting more than a year for a specialist’s appointment compared to 3,364 in England with a population around 28 times greater. Continue reading “THE HEALTH WORKERS’ STRIKE WORKERS’ STRIKE, THE IRISH CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS AND STORMONT”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Dec 09 2019

THE RISE OF NATIONAL POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN THE RUN UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION

In the lead-up to the December 12th general election Allan Armstrong updates  his analysis of the drift to the Right populist and reactionary unionist politics in the UK and what this possibly means for the future of the Union.

This is followed by an article by  statement from  the Radical Independence Campaign in Scotland on the general election.

Finally we are posting an article by  Tony Greenstein, expelled Labour Party member from Brighton. He predicted the unexpected rise in support for Jeremy Corbyn in 2017, but thinks that Labour’s chances have declined in the run up to the December general election.

___________

  1. THE CONTINUED RISE OF RIGHT POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM 

IN THE LEAD-UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION

 

(A fuller explanation of what is meant by Right national populism can be found in the article:- https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2019/12/right-national-populism-16.3.19.pdf

Neither the UK nor Great Britain have ever been unitary states. All forms of unionism are based upon the unionist nature of the UK state, which has recognised England, Scotland, Ireland (later Northern Ireland)  and Wales as constituent units. This has led to the adoption of various forms of hybrid Britishness.

Three key terms used in this article  are:-

Conservative unionism – This acknowledges the unionist nature of the UK state through administrative devolution (or later acceptance of liberal unionist devolutionary measures  which it once opposed, but have become part of the status quo)

Liberal unionism – This also accepts the unionist nature of the UK state but promotes political devolution as a better method of holding the state together

Reactionary unionism – This upholds the UK state and openly celebrates  its most repressive aspects. e.g. the crown powers, the armed forces and judiciary. It is also prepared to mobilise extra-constitutional force to prevent national self-determination, greater measures of political devolution, and reverse political devolution and even some administrative devolutionary measures that have already been accepted.) Continue reading “THE RISE OF NATIONAL POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN THE RUN UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Dec 02 2019

MOBILISATIONS AGAINST THE CATALAN VERDICT AND THE SPANISH GENERAL ELECTION

 

We are posting this article from Popular Unity Candidacy in Catalunya. It describes the situation in Catalunya, Euskadi and Spain in the aftermath of the draconian prison sentences imposed on those the Spanish state deemed responsible for the  the Catalan Republic referendum. It also describes the situation after Spanish general election held on November 10th.

 

 MOBILISATIONS AGAINST THE CATALAN VERDICT AND

THE SPANISH GENERAL ELECTION

 

 

The popular response against the verdict of the trials, and the state response of this popular mobilization has shown the problem again: the state, the government and the courts. . Continue reading “MOBILISATIONS AGAINST THE CATALAN VERDICT AND THE SPANISH GENERAL ELECTION”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Next Page »