By Seneiya Kamotho
With Sandra White, the Scottish National Party MSP determinedly leading the way, a 15,000-strong procession of people resolutely marched through the streets of Glasgow on Saturday 1 October in solidarity against the UK Government’s cuts to public spending and campaigning for the protection of those hardest hit by them.
The march from Glasgow Green to Kelvingrove Park was part of a campaign spearheaded by the Scottish Trades Union Congress in partnership with equality, campaign, faith and anti-poverty organisations.
A sample of views revealed the deep despair of the marchers and their collective hope that the Government would reconsider its draconian job and services cuts.
Said Lorraine Leed: ‘I have been a teacher for over 30 years and it is heart-wrenching to witness the callous way in which such long-serving, conscientious members of society are being unsympathetically discarded as a result of this policy. It is an ultimate betrayal by Government of the people it is meant to serve.’
Kenneth Kilbride of the Prison Service agreed: ‘These cuts mean that prisoners will only receive basic services and not the much-needed specialist mental and psychological care.’
Said Charles Atangana from Cameroon: ‘New comers are also badly affected. English classes and interpretation options for asylum seekers and refugees, whose first language is not English, will be scrapped if public spending is cut. Black and ethnic minority people will suffer the most; how do they read their official letters; interact with banking and other public service institutions; how do their children learn the English they need for school; how do asylum seekers interact with their English-speaking lawyers and judges? The cuts work against the Government’s integration policies.’
The passion of the marchers against the cuts was palpable. The event culminated peacefully but poignantly with a speech by Tony Benn, Labour politician and former MP and Cabinet Minister.
Because of the continuous rain on the day, many people planning to speak, did not do so. One of them was Rev. Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland who is minister at Gorbals Parish Church.
In his blog he details the speech he would have made.
‘When the rich go on getting richer, and the poor go on getting poorer, and nothing – nothing – in government policy is designed to change that – it’s time for people from churches to stand beside people from unions, to stand beside people from disability groups, to stand beside people from right across Scotland and say that this is an offence against the kind of society and that we want to be part of.
‘Of course,’ said Ian Galloway: ‘Some people think they come first because of their wealth, their status, their position, or their antecedents. Their deep desire is to stay first. That’s why we have millionaires making up the Cabinet, trying to get their own taxes cut and telling us that we can’t afford poor people. The Bible says that when there are resources to be shared out, everyone should get enough. And everyone can get enough.
‘By this march we exercise our choice to say no to the same old business as usual. It is time to make other choices. It is time to put some other people first. Scotland has a proud record of caring for all of its people. We should not cease in our efforts to put people first and the ideology of market forces last.’
Westminster MP Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central) is the latest to bid for Labour Party leadership in Scotland. He’s set his sights on the deputy leader post and joins Westminster senior colleague Tom Harris (Glasgow South) and MSPs Johann Lamont (Pollok) and Ken Mackintosh (Eastwood) who had earlier declared their interest in being leader.
Sarwar, who has been a constant supporter of the Glasgow inspired campaign for human rights in the Gambia, put his hat into the ring this weekend in time for the Labour Party conference in Liverpool (Sat 24/Sun 25 September) when the Scottish rule changes will be debated. He said: ‘I want to work with the Party leader to make sure we are an electable force again, working for the whole of Scotland.’ He pledged to travel throughout the whole of Scotland to listen to people ‘from all walks of life’. He said the vision had to be one of confidence in the future of Scotland. With ‘honest analysis’ of where Labour is in Scotland and what its message is and how it project it, he said: ‘I want to make sure we are an electable force again, working for the whole of Scotland.’
Labour Party rule changes allowed Westminster MP Tom Harris to declare his interest in the campaign which had previously been restricted to MSPs. Aiming to replace present Scottish Labour Party leader Iain Gray - who sought refuge in a sandwich shop when confronted with pensioners asking him to challenge the Tory tax cuts – Tom Harris was clear about his strategy. ‘We need to appeal to people beyond the Labour Party. The battle to win votes will be won in the workplace, the high street, the tv studio, the council chamber, the board room and in the home, not just in a single debating chamber. As a Party we need to have a strong vision and a positive outlook to appeal to new voters.’ A constant Twitter contributor, has already taken his campaign out and is meeting groups of young people unconnected with politics, who use the social media networks he is already familiar with.
At Holyrood, Johann Lamont has been a noteable fighter for the Labour Party cause. And locally in Pollok, she has been an active elected representative. She said: ‘First, we have to re-build confidence and trust across Scotland. It can’t be a case of Labour telling others what to do. It has to be Labour listening. These are tough times and there are lots of challenges. We have to pull together and we need a strong Labour voice to protect the young and the vulnerable and to hold the Government to account.’
Ken MacIntosh was born in Inverness of a Gaelic speaking father from Skye and a mother from Peebles in the Borders. Early in September he led a campaign against a waste incinerator in Newton Mearns.
He said a new, positive, vision for a strong Scotland is needed. ‘Devolution is the reason I got into politics. I believe the Scottish Parliament is there to build a stronger Scotland, but our Party needs to do more to harness the potential of devolution to improve the lives of the Scottish people – this is my priority if elected leader.’
He added: ‘It’s time to change the Scottish Labour Party. We need to be less top-down, have a strong positive vision and we must use the new young talent we now have. This contest is not just about leading the Scottish Labour Party. I want to win the hearts and minds of Scots to win the next election and become the next First Minister.’
A special Scottish Labour Party conference will be held on 29 October when the formal campaigns will be launched. The new Leader of the Scottish Labour Party will be announced by 17 December.
Hyndland Secondary was the only Glasgow school in the mock court room trial competition run by the Citizenship Foundation and held on Saturday 15 January at Glasgow High Court.
‘I was very proud of the team,’ said English teacher, Douglas Brown. ‘ It is a fantastic opportunity for young people. It enables them to learn about the police and the legal system. It also incorporates drama, English language and many other areas of the curriculum.’
‘The pupils themselves have to apply for the competition so I and my colleague Mags Pollock, support their work.’
The 24-strong team had to present all facets of two cases – a car theft and an assault. They had to be the advocates, the witnesses, the jurors, the court staff and act out the scenes in front of a real judge. A volunteer, real advocate assisted the team throughout last term to prepare their trials.
While the competition was won by Aberdeen school, Mackie Academy, Hyndland were pleased with winning three of their four heats. ‘We got within one point of winning last year. And while we’ve not done quite so well this year, the experience of taking part is wonderful,’ said Mr Brown.
The Hyndland team comprised: Finn Aschavir, 17; Megan Abbott, 17; Kirsten Ainslie, 17; Elliot Alford, 17; Hollie Anderson, 16; Charlotte Bell, 16; Struan Boase, 17; Alexander Cloudsley, 17; Jack Cunningham, 17; Keir Gallagher, 17; Josh Hale, 16; Charlie Irvine, 16; Callum Kennedy, 17; Michael Kennedy, 17; Freya Lindsay, 16; Gary McArthur, 16; Lauren McMillan, 16; Jordan Skrynka, 17; Alison Tully, 17; Stephen Wallace, 16; Pierre Hyman,15; Georgia McShane, 15; Jack Mullin, 16; Miram Rodero, 15.
Every year more than 2,000 students and 300 barristers, advocates and judges are involved in the competition across the UK. The Bar National Mock Trial Competition is aimed at 15 to 18 year olds and has been running for 20 years.
For more information see website: www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk/bmt for details.
Words by Stuart Maxwell
In anticipation of World Food Day, Labour MP Anas Sarwar tucked into a portion of ‘liknui phala’- the porridge meal that Scottish charity Mary’s Meals delivers to over 400,000 impoverished children around the world, every day!
Anas scrapped the dish with vigour and it can’t have done him any harm. Liknui Phala is made from maize flour, beans, milk powder, vitamins, minerals and a dollop of sugar and is designed by nutritionists to combat chronic undernourishment.
Wiping his chin, Anas said: ‘By giving thousands of children in developing countries a great start to their day, Mary’s Meals is offering them a great start in life. I’m delighted to mark the fantastic work that Mary’s Meals does.’ Although he cleary wanted too, the Glasgow Central politician was too polite to ask for more!
World Food Day is just around the corner on Saturday 16 October – the day in 1945, when the UN founded the Food and Agriculture Organization. The aim is to further global solidarity in the fight against hunger and poverty.
Mary’s Meals is now an international charity that strives to feed and educate inpoverished children across the globe.
Want to help or know more? Visit: www.marysmeals.org
That’s it! The General Election will be on Thursday 6 May. So check your name is on the voters’ roll as there is still time to add it before polling day.
The APRIL issue of the LOCAL NEWS GLASGOW contains a constituency-by-constituency brief on who is standing for each of the Glasgow seats at Westminster.
Here is a summary:
Sitting MP John Robertson, Labour; Margaret Park, SNP; Natalie McKee, Lib Dem; Richard Sullivan, Conservative; Moira Crawford, Green Party; Mark Livingston, Communist.
Sitting MP Ann McKechin, Labour; Katy Gordon, Lib Dem; Patrick Grady, SNP; Martin Bartos, Green Party; Erin Boyle, Conservative; Angela McCormick, Scottish Trade Union and Socialist Coalition.
Sitting MP, Willie Bain, Labour; Billy McAllister, SNP, Ruth Davidson, Conservative; Eileen Baxendale, Lib Dem; Charlie Bailie, BNP; Graham Campbell, STUSC; Kevin McVey, SSP.
Sitting MP, John Mason, SNP; Margaret Curran, Labour; Hamira Khan, Conservative; Kevin Ward, Lib Dem; Joe Finnie, BNP.
Sitting MP Mohammad Sarwar, Labour, is retiring. His son Anas Sarwar, Labour, will carry the torch. Osama Saeed, SNP; Alistair Whitelaw, Green Party; John Bradley, Conservative; Chris Young, Lib Dem; James Nesbitt, SSP.
Sitting MP Tom Harris, Labour; Malcolm Fleming, SNP; Marie Campbell, Green Party; Davina Rankin, Conservative; Shabnum Mustapha, Lib Dem; Brian Smith, STUSC.
Sitting MP Ian Davidson, Labour; Chris Stephens, SNP; Maya Forrest, Conservative; Isabel Nelson, Lib Dem; Tommy Sheridan, STUSC;