Scotland

For the love of Irn Bru

Here I am in the fabled land of England knocking back Irn Bru, which has absolutely no sugar in it just girders, lots and lots of girders. It has so many girders in it that you can build bridges with Irn Bru to get you all the way to Scotland, but at the moment no one is allowed to leave London except for essential travel. However, it is of course essential that Irn Bru reach us, otherwise we’d be back in the dark old days when you had to smuggle it across the Scottish border in Whiskey kegs. As everyone knows Scottish money is all in Irn Bru, it is their only export. The English can get on...

Spread vaccines world-wide

First figures from Scotland and Israel show vaccination working well. It is urgent to spread it to the world’s poorest countries. Africa has had only 2 vaccinations per 1000 people, and many countries have no vaccine supplies at all any time soon. Money from the rich countries into the World Health Organisation Covax project, much less than spent on bailing out businesses, and requisitioning of Big Pharma to get maximum spread of technology and maximum production, can fix that. Saving lives should be the driver, not just the current anxiety of France, for example, that China and Russia will...

Scotland, separation and socialism

According to a Panelbase opinion poll recently published by the Sunday Times, support for Scottish independence now stands at 49%, with 44% against and 7% undecided. Subtract the undecided, and it's 52% for and 48% against. Attitudes towards the holding of a second referendum on Scottish independence at some point in the next five years are virtually identical: 50% for, 43% against, and 7% undecided. The poll’s findings were not a blip. Prior to the 2014 referendum, support for independence had consistently hovered between 20% and 25%. But by the day of the referendum itself, support for...

Left back Lennon

The 30 January Emergency General Meeting of the Campaign for Socialism (CfS — Scottish Momentum) agreed to support Monica Lennon for elected leader of the Scottish Labour Party. The ballot runs from 9 to 26 February. Lennon is not a member of the CfS and has not sought its support. Nor is Lennon overly left-wing. Lennon was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2016, having previously been a councillor in South Lanarkshire. She backed Richard Leonard in the 2017 leadership contest and led the campaign against period poverty which led to Holyrood legislating for free period products. In...

Right-winger Coyne declares for Unite election

This year, 2021, will see an election for the replacement of Len McCluskey as General Secretary of the big cross-sector union Unite. And now union right-winger Gerard Coyne, the runner-up in the last general secretary election, in 2017, has declared his wish to stand. We don't yet know the detailed schedule. Sadly, jockeying for position, armtwisting, backroom deals, backstabbing, slanders and the outright lies are already in full flow. McCluskey’s favoured successor is Howard Beckett. In his capacity as head of the union’s Legal Department he has squandered vast amounts of members’ money on...

Another setback for Labour in Scotland

Richard Leonard resigned as Scottish Labour Party leader on 14 January, only four months after surviving a vote of no-confidence, and just four months before the next Holyrood (Scottish Parliament) election. There are three (overlapping) versions of why he resigned. Version one (The Times): Labour Party donors, including William Haughey (West of Scotland businessman) and Robert Latham (who donated £100,000 to Starmer’s leadership campaign) threatened to withold funding unless Leonard stepped down. Version two (LabourList): The "balance of power" shifted on the Scottish Labour Executive...

Scotrail dispute: a view from the shop floor

This is a "shopfloor" view of the ongoing dispute between Abellio Scotrail and its employees. It should be noted, though, that the majority of RMT members did not want to take this action, especially at this time. However, like most dealings with private, for-profit companies, nothing is ever that...

No to the "Swedish model"

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on sex work legislation, closing on 10 December. It follows a battle spearheaded by MSP Ash Denham, the government’s community safety minister, to introduce the criminalisation of the purchase of sex work (the “Nordic model”, or “Swedish model”, also implemented in France and Ireland). Currently in the UK, the purchase and selling of sex is legal, though various associated activities such as street work and workers operating from the same premises are not. National Ugly Mugs (an organisation that provides support and representation for...

Reinstate Richie Venton

The campaign to overturn the dismissal of Richie Venton — USDAW shop steward, USDAW convenor, and member of USDAW National Executive Council — continues, despite the lack of support from the leaders of his own union. Richie was sacked by his employer, IKEA, at the end of August. Richie had worked in the IKEA store in Braehead on the outskirts of Glasgow for twelve years, during which time he had built an effective trade union organisation in the store and achieved major improvements in working conditions. In the midst of the first lockdown IKEA informed union representatives of plans for major...

Scottish students set rent strikes

Student tenants across Scotland have begun to act after the botched return to Scottish universities. Despite the clear signs of a second wave, many universities have made students sign in to crowded rental accommodation. Predictably, this has led to outbreaks at universities, which are being dealt with by lockdowns and punitive measures against students. Aberdeen Student Tenants Union (@AberdeenTenant), Stirling Students Tenants Union (@StirlingTenant), and Glasgow Uni Rent Strike (@UofGRentStrike) have started to organise for student action. On Thursday 1 October at 5:30pm the National Union...

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