A new coalition is being formed this weekend in Scotland to fight Westminster cuts. The launch conference of Unite the Resistance in Scotland (URS) will be held on Saturday 9 March in Renfield St Stephen’s Church at 260 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4JP from 12noon till 5pm. Registration is free but donations requested from those who can afford it. The event starts at 11.30am and runs till 5pm. See www. facebook.com/events/429398707130759/?fref=ts).
Trade union leaders, trade union activists, leading disability rights groups and anti-poverty campaigners will set out their strategy.
Said a spokesperson: ‘The ConDem government’s austerity spending cuts continue and from April the Tories plan to make it even easier to sack workers. Also, millions of people, both in and out of work, face savage welfare and housing benefit cuts. As a result of the so-called bedroom tax, 600,000 people with “too many” rooms in their home will lose money. Unite the Resistance believes an urgent co-ordinated response from our trade unions is required. In particular we need to debate and discuss how we can defeat the bedroom tax and turn words of a general strike into action.’
by Steven Dinnie
Two sets of protesters targeted Alistair Darling during his appearance at Edinburgh International Book Festival on Friday 24 August.
Citizens United Against Cuts made their stand within earshot of ex-Chancellor Darling while he was in public conversation with journalist James Naughtie about his latest book. The other protest, by pro-Scottish national campaigners was staged outside the venue in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh.
Police and site security were jumpy, but did not intervene in either case. Alistair Darling’s new book describes his time as Labour Chancellor during the financial meltdown. He is also the face of the Better Together pro-union campaign.
In a politically-charged evening, Citizens United Against Cuts, who have previously occupied various banks, including RBS and Band of England’s offices in Glasgow, disrupted the second half of Alistair Darling’s question and answer session. While the group’s leader, Sean Clerkin, loudly stated their case in the festival’s main courtyard, other members of the group held banners with slogans saying: “Close tax avoidance loopholes” and “Banksters must be prosecuted”.
Citizens United were thwarted in their original plan to gain entry to the session to challenge Alistair Darling directly. However, people exiting the event said the noise could be heard by Mr Darling inside. Despite repeated invitations to talk with the protestors, Mr. Darling did not do so. Bemused members of the public watched the protest, some cheering encouragement. others shouting retorts.
The other protest group had an ‘Abominable NO man’, as well as a very long banner. Mr. Darling declined to comment on either protest.
Members of Citizens United Against the Cuts said they were fighting for justice for ordinary people, who have been wronged by the bankers. They commented that “a casino banking culture is being propagated with a loss of benefits for working class people and bonuses only to rich bankers and politicians.” Members claimed they wanted to bring banks to justice by being charged with fraud.
Alistair Darling was at Festival to promote his book ‘Back From the Brink – 1,000 days at Number 11.’ The discussion with James Naughtie was in the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) sponsored tent. Several high-profile political guests were in attendance, including ministers of the Scottish Parliament. Sean Clerkin criticised the event for being sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland. He pointed out that RBS is likely to be taken to court in the US in a continuation of the Libor interest fixing scandal. He also lambasted Alistair Darling’s book in which the former Chancellor describes saving Britain from economic collapse. The protesters wanted to alert Mr. Darling to the suffering of citizens because of cuts implemented on his watch in government and continued by the current Coalition administration.
The sitting tenant in Glasgow South-West is the Labour and Co-operative Party’s Ian Davidson. He took 60% of the vote in 2005 with a handsome majority of 13,896 and looks set to retain his place in the House of Commons through some very active campaigning in the area. He did not come out unscathed from the MP expenses scandal. It emerged that he paid a friend £5,000 to renovate his flat, and had £1,500 worth of furniture delivered to his Glasgow home. He claimed that this was later driven to his London flat. He also claimed £6,000 in fees to help him to find a flat.
Chris Stephens is the SNP candidate for Glasgow South West. He is a Unison trade union activist. The SNP have an uphill struggle, having only polled 15% of the votes in the 2005 election. However, with Nicola Sturgeon as the SNP’s Glasgow talisman, there just may be a bounce effect for the party on May 6.
Maya Forrest is the Conservative candidate for Glasgow South West. The original candidate, Heather MacLeod, stood down at a late stage in the process.
Standing for the newly formed Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is the one and only Tommy Sheridan.
Love him or loath him, it’s hard to ignore him. The veteran Poll Tax fighter is due to stand trial for perjury in September 2010, in relation to the infamous News of the World defamation case. However, STUSC aim to unite the left vote and have links to the Public and Commercial Services union.
Isabel Nelson is standing for the Liberal Democrats. She came second to Mohammed Sarwar in Glasgow Central in 2005. She works as an IT consultant and has four children and six grandchildren. She has campaigned against damp housing and given evidence to Glasgow City Council and to two House of Commons Select Committees investigating the extent of fuel poverty in the UK.