The fifth Govan by-election candidate to respond to the invitation from this website to set out their stall, is Ryan Boyle of the Communist Party of Britain.
A graduate in Social Science and Politics, Ryan and his supporters have held hustings in various schools across Ward 5 with, generally, a very poor public response. But he’s not deflated. And as this is his first time being involved in an election, the 23-year-old - who currently works in a supermarket – sees it as a learning experience.
Ryan BOYLE, Communist Party of Britain
‘If I were to become a councillor for Govan ward, the first thing I would do is oppose the harsh cuts imposed on the most vulnerable – cuts to public services, welfare and the closure of vital day centres. All are the result of an austerity programme which unfairly targets working people.
‘The big parties all offer differing degrees of it, but it is austerity all the same. I would push an alternative which supports the needs of working people.
‘How is it, in harsh economic times, Glasgow City Council can afford to plough money into the Commonwealth Games project when there are people on its doorstep in poverty? Vanity projects should be a distant second to ensuring the welfare of the people.
‘I’m under no illusion as to the magnitude of offering and implementing an alternative. But becoming a councillor is the first step in effecting genuine and progressive change.’
18 September 2013
The Yes, No and Not Yet Decided debates have one year to go before the people of Scotland have to make up their minds and cast a vote in the Referendum.
History will be made on 18 September 2014 when the people of Scotland have to answer the question: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’
In the interests of the 5000 unique visitors Google Analytical says visit this website each month, the www.localnewsglasgow.co.uk reporter has been to a Yes and a No campaign meeting.
To be strictly accurate, the No people operate under the official banner of ‘Better Together.’
And while both had the regular format of chairperson introducing four speakers, the mood and tenor of each occasion was very different.
Sounding positive and aspirational was a recent gathering in Maryhill Burgh Halls where Bob Doris, an SNP MSP, chaired for Yes Scotland with an audience of around 200. The line up was John Paul Tonner from the Labour for Independence group; Carolyn Leckie from the Women for Independence group; retired politician Dennis Canavan, Chair of the Yes Scotland campaign and Cat Boyd from the Trade Unions for Independence group.
At the Mitchell Library some days earlier, the ‘Better Together’ campaign fielded former Chancellor Alistair Darling along with Scottish Labour Party Leader Johann Lamont, Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie and Ruth Davidson Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. The audience of around 300 saw a professional, big screen video. It had a variety of Scottish people of varied age speaking in a variety of regional accents, all saying why they will vote ‘No’: because they believe the nations would be ‘Better Together.’
It was unfortunate for the speakers that they were seated directly in front of the screen on the stage. They would have had a very sore neck if they’d turned round and watched the show. But to the audience watching and listening, the speakers were clearly visible. Both Alistair Darling and Johann Lamont busied themselves with reading their notes during the screening while Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie made attempts to watch and listen.
Setting the tone for the speakers, Johann Lamont said she was delighted to be at the event. ‘I’m a proud Scot. I love Scotland and its people and dearly believe we will stay stronger in the United Kingdom.’ She said Scotland deserved better and was currently ‘on pause’ because Alex Salmond wouldn’t address the issues around the referendum. ‘I believe there is more that binds us than divides us. Alex Salmond believes he is a Tartan Messiah who, uniquely, speaks for Scotland. He does NOT!’ she emphasised. ‘This is not a fight between Scotland and England. It is a fight between Scotland and Salmond and Scotland is going to win.’ Speaking of the ‘shared vision’ within the UK rather than a political ‘shouting’ match, she concluded: ‘I enthusiastically embrace the opportunities to work in partnership to make Scotland a place that is better than the past.’
Lib Dem Scottish Leader Willie Rennie said that as part of the UK, Scotland had the ‘best of both worlds. It is up to us to keep it that way.’ He insisted that while the Scottish Nationalists were right about the success of the Scottish Parliament they were wrong to believe the only way to protect that was apart. ‘With Johann and Ruth we have achieved change in Scotland by coming together.’
Ruth Davidson, Scottish Conservative Leader said she was talking personally and reflected on her three years as a Territorial Army reserve. ‘I was so proud we stopped the slaughter in Kosova. Our armed forces are truly inseparable as is our NHS.’ She highlighted the job opportunities for young people and the value of exports to ‘our partners across the way.’ Control of health, Police and Parliament gave the ‘best of both worlds.’ She added: ‘Security with our armed forces and our NHS means we get the best of both worlds and stand up better together.’
Alistair Darling who is Chairman of the Better Together Campaign said plainly: ‘The stakes are high. Even if we win by only one vote we will have won.’ He urged his audience to help: ‘Point out the case for the UK. Our opportunities come through being a part of a larger country. That applies to jobs, health and education. We are part of a larger economy and of a UK we helped build. It has such a good influence in the world.’ He added: ‘I am a proud Scot and a proud Brit. I don’t see why I have to choose one or the other. I want to be both.’ As Chancellor of the Exchequer who handled the economic crisis when the banks collapsed, he said: ‘Panama uses the US dollar so their currency rate is set by a foreign government. They allow another country to decide how much they can spend and borrow. I used to run the Treasury. If you use a foreign treasury you have no democratic control of your finances. When the RBS ran out of money I asked them – how long can you last? – the answer was three hours. I was able to save the situation and stop that happening only because the UK had the strength behind it. An independent Scotland could never have done that.’
He said: Whether it is currency security or eavesdropping on the BBC – which Scotland would as a foreign country – we can’t walk away from that kind of co-operation. We have strength as the UK We are bigger, better and stronger together.’
Two members of the audience were united with the speakers. ‘I’m not political,’ said Dorothy Kelly from Dunblane, who recently retired as a secretary from Stirling University. ‘But I really believe in the UK together. Separation would cause problems. I’ll be voting ‘No’ to protect the union.’
Hamish McArthur is studying social science and politics at Stirling. He said: ‘I’ve got my own NO Campaign on facebook and will be voting No to Scottish independence.’ Originally from Hagshill, Glasgow, he said: ‘There is so much on line. There is a real public forum and a big lot of information. We’ve five or six students involved from all political parties. It’s good and gets everyone engaged.’
The member of the public who took most attention at the Maryhill and Springburn ‘Yes’ Campaign meeting in Maryhill Burgh Halls a few days later, was Julie Hyslop who runs the local food bank. She said: ‘The Food Bank is not there to do the job of the benefits agency. But it is clear that if we didn’t feed people they’d starve. It is a disgrace. Working class people have been misrepresented and abandoned. I hope for change.’
Chairman Bob Doris said: ‘The Referendum decision is not a party political one. It is too important to leave it to the politicians. If we leave it to them we’ll lose. The best way is to bring the discussion back to the community. That’s what it is all about.’
First speaker, Cat Boyd of Trade Unions for Independence, said: ‘I work in a low paid area and conditions are getting worse. The 1% cap on wages is effectively a wage cut. There is not a 7% wages hike. Instead, there is a constant attack on jobs, pay and pensions. The Westminster government refuses to negotiate.’ She said she was ‘gobsmacked’ to hear Ed Miliband proposed to cap winter fuel allowance. ‘That, along with the Falkirk Labour candidate scandal gives enough reason to vote YES!’
Coming from a strong trade union background she said trade unions were the largest democratic bodies around. They were fighting to stop the NHS from being decimated and challenging the Victorian style poverty of today. ‘Economic justice, equality and solidarity are core trade union values. ‘We’re in our fifth recession of recent times yet there is a record number of billionaires. Solidarity is collective power. We should be demanding that the anti-trade union laws in Scotland be abolished,’ said Cat to loud applause. She went on: ‘The British thirst for war in Ireland and Iraq is an attack on ordinary people. Let Scotland break away from that. It is so long since I had any cause to hope. Now 18 September 2014 opens the possibility for radical change for us.’
She was followed by John Paul Tonner, youth officer for Labour for Independence. A modern studies teacher he said people in Scotland should ask themselves the question: ‘What kind of society do I want to live in?’
‘Some think there is nothing wrong with the society we live in. But do you want to have 74% of the government being millionaires? Do you want the welfare state to be equated to a parasite? Do you want institutions to be sold off? I don’t.’
He said his heart sinks when he hears students and colleagues saying Scotland is too poor or too wee and daft a country to go it alone. ‘Is child poverty all we can hope for from a Parliament we didn’t vote for, hundreds of miles away?’ He added: ‘We are only one pen stroke away from being the change we want in the world. It will not be a tartan Utopia with whisky drinking, bagpipe playing people. It can be a 21st century nation we can be proud of and we can be part of its just dynamics.’
Castigating the ‘imposters’ who are the Labour Party today, he said to loud applause: We must reclaim the Labour Party. We, the people, are labour.’
He continued: ‘If we want equality, fairness and social justice we have got to reclaim labour from London. The YES campaign provides the needed social conscience and a positive alternative. We can make a difference by using our energy and getting involved to make things better. We can listen, inspire and have a society we are proud of – have a Labour party we can be proud of.’
Added Chairman Bob Doris: ‘Just as independence doesn’t belong to the SNP, so the labour movement does belong to the Labour Party.’
Former MSP Carolyn Leckie then took the floor to speak on behalf of Women for Independence, a feminist collective. ‘The majority of women are unlikely to be inspired by men in suits,’ she started. ‘The fact is that 52% of the population is female. We need to persuade women. But first we need to listen to women.’ She said she believed in a pluralistic, autonomous, inclusive society. ‘Opinion polls say more people will vote for independence if they believe it will make them £500 better off. But my family – along with thousands of others – has lost an awful lot more in the past five years.’
She said that people in crisis had to wait 15 days for a social work crisis grant and were referred to a website and a food bank for help. ‘This does not match our aspirations,’ she said. ‘There is no guaranteed destination. But we have to take a risk. What are the odds on Miliband becoming Prime Minister? We have to weigh up the risks and opportunities and take responsibility for our own decision.’
She likened it to the process of deciding to borrow money to buy a car. ‘We take a risk going for a loan. We take a risk buying a car. Every day we take risks. The NHS, privatisation of the Royal Mail and the Post Office are all at risk. Break the rules and some people are jailed for ten years yet the bankers get bonuses and rewards for defrauding the rest of us,’ she said angrily to a supportive audience. ‘The biggest risk of all is that we are governed by a Westminster government in whatever guise it might be.’
She went on: ‘We have a right to make an arse of it. It’s our right and our arse. The Referendum is the one and only chance for the people of Scotland to say what they want. We must take that risk. And it is only a wee risk. We are not risking life and limb as some people in other countries do. Simply, we must stand up and be counted and put a cross on a ballot paper.’ She reflected: ‘Think about looking back afterwards and knowing if we did, or did not do that one, simple thing.’
Concluding she said: ‘If everyone who thinks like I do, can go out and persuade one more person we’d have a landslide vote for Yes! Go out and do it!’
The final speaker was Dennis Canavan, Chair of the Vote Yes Campaign who outlined his ‘political journey to independence.’
‘ I didn’t always believe in the cause of independence,’ said the former Falkirk MP who served at Westminster for 26 years followed by 8 years as an independent MSP. ”I’ve been retired for six years and had time to reflect and think. I’ve come to the conclusion that Westminster is completely out of touch with the people of Scotland. The Scottish Parliament is not perfect but judging by its track record over 14 years it has been positively responsive, by and large, to the wishes, needs and aspirations of the people.’
Quoting the Bible in Scots he said: ‘By their deeds shall ye ken them.’ He went on to weigh government in the balance and said. ‘Students are far better off at a Scottish university than south of the border. I went to university in the 1960s when it was the best funded and supported education system of any in the world. Even Maggie Thatcher never abolished student grants. But I was appalled when Tony Blair abolished them and brought in tuition fees. The Labour cabinet of John Reid – Lord Reid now – Gordon Brown and David Blunkett had all been beneficiaries of free education. They had the chance to stop this. But I couldn’t believe it when they kicked away the ladder of opportunity.’
He went on: ‘Senior citizens have free personal care in Scotland. In England they pay for it. The Scottish Parliament fully implemented a fairer system of help including free prescriptions. Frankly, I’m appalled to hear the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party castigating these benefits. She calls them ‘something for nothing.’ Nye Bevin and Keir Hardie must be birlin’ in their graves. Is free education or free NHS care, ‘just a ‘sweetie’, as she puts it? These were the two great pillars of the founders of the Labour Party.’
There is nothing like a funeral to bring out the best in people. Folk from a wide spectrum of politics and from across the country, paid genuine tributes to the late Allison Hunter, SNP National Organiser for many years and latterly Councillor for Glasgow Govan. Simply by coming together and sitting side by side in a religious setting many would be unfamiliar with, they were showing common cause. For the hour or less of the service and the time drinking tea afterwards, they were able to meet and chat in an empathic way and show respect for the loss of a much loved lady.
Differences were set aside as irrelevant at that moment in time. Scoring points over adversaries was unnecessary. Instead, happy and humourous stories of times spent during campaigns, long election nights and in the corridors of power were shared and chuckled over.
It would be naïve to think this bonhomie could be sustained for much longer than the public farewell required.
But one has to live in hope that it IS possible!
The ability to win over opposition can be revealed in unexpected, human, ways. Politicians of different hues can be excited by the challenge of strongly voiced opinions different from their own. While that might end in the same plight as the moth attracted to the flame, it is possible it could lead to a strong alliance. Only time will tell and frequent gatherings of all kinds – even sad ones – can explore the options.
The University of Glasgow omitted to mention in its ‘reshaping’ announcement yesterday (Wednesday 22 June) that the University Court has decided to close in 2012, the Slavonic Studies programme within the School of Modern Languages and Cultures.
’The Slavonic Studies cultural and inter-cultural programme deals with the cultures of Central and Eastern Europe. It is unique in Scotland. Slavonic Studies have been in existence at the University of Glasgow for sixty years, Russian Studies for more than one hundred years,’ said Senior Lecturer Dr Jan Culik.
Earlier this month, Glasgow University Senate has expressed the view that the Slavonic Studies programme should not be closed down, however, University Court has now decided otherwise.
At the students’ rally during the start of the University Court meeting, Dr Culik said: ‘This University would become the laughing stock of the world if the unique cultural programme we provide about Eastern Europe is discontinued. ‘ He added: ‘We provide strategically important knowledge about the significant areas in Europe and Scotland will be much poorer if this provision is no longer available.’
At least 26 senior academics across Scotland have raised a e-petition on the Scottish Government website, requesting ‘targeted funding for lesser taught language and cultural studies’ such as the East European languages and cultures at Glasgow University. Such funding exists in England and used to exist in Scotland. It is felt that without the Scottish government making a commitment to this important strategic resource, cultural and language studies of Central and Eastern Europe in Scotland will be lost. See websie: http://epetitions.scottish.parliament.uk/view_petition.asp?PetitionID=455
Along with a detailed commentary on what the Court decided on each of the proposed cuts, retiring Students’ Representative Council (SRC) President, Tommy Gore, said: ‘I’m pleased that all the hard work put in by students has shown the University why their plans to cut and merge courses were wrong. Generally the outcomes of the Court meeting are proof of that. But there are still concerns over DACE, Nursing and Slavonic Studies, so we need to ensure students stay engaged and continue to argue the case for these subject areas which contribute hugely to the student experience at Glasgow.’
He added: ‘With the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, we’ve got a year to show the University how crucial Slavonic Studies is to other courses – such as Comparative Literature, Politics and History – across the University. We need to demonstrate the detrimental effect closing down Slavonic Studies will have on the student experience in these areas.’
Across the campus – at all levels – there is an atmosphere of discontent. As one academic said: “I think the University only wants to do highly lucrative courses primarily for foreign students and has adopted a ‘pile them high, teach them cheap,’ mentality.”
At the time of posting this story, the University of Glasgow had not responded to the localnewsglasgow query about the omission of Slavonic studies cuts in their release. The University was also asked for details of the savings expected through the re-alignment.
Lib Dem candidate Shabnum Mustapha felt that the party had got a good reaction while campaigning. Shabnum said: “I got many messages of support from voters at the polling station. There is everything to play for, especially with the Clegg factor nationwide.”
Green Candidate Martin Bartos noted that there was no Tory canvasser at Hyndland High School all day. Speaking about the voter reaction, Martin said: ‘I was surprised that so many voters were determined who they were going to vote for. There was a strange feel to the day.’
The chief executive of Strathclyde Passenger Transport, Ron Culley, has resigned amid an expenses scandal which has also led to the resignation of chairman Alistair Watson. Watson, also the Labour councillor for Glasgow Craigton ward, resigned from his post citing health reasons. He will remain a councillor. The resignations follow allegations about the SPT’s board’s misuse of expenses and a large number of foreign trips. The allegations state that 11 SPT directors spent more than £110,000 on trips to the USA, China and Italy.
Audit Scotland are set to investigate SPT ‘s activities to probe for evidence of wrongdoing. In a statement, Mr Culley said: ‘I am entirely confident that the investigation being undertaken under the auspices of Audit Scotland will exonerate officers of SPT as all delegations over the past four years were approved in advance by an authority comprising members of every major political party.’
As previously reported in Local News Glasgow, SPT recently announced the withdrawal of the historic Renfrew Ferry service between Yoker and Renfrew, saying that it was no longer financially viable.
Glasgow Fair Monday was a holiday of a different kind for LOCAL NEWS journalists and friends who took part in a vigil in Buchanan Street. They were showing solidarity with six journalists in The Gambia who have been imprisoned on charges of sedition and whose trial was due to start that day.
Held ‘in camera’ – privately without any public or press being present – the trial continues. All plead not guilty.
Said LOCAL NEWS editor Grace Franklin: ‘When a refugee from Gambia told me about the plight of these journalists I was shocked. I didn’t know the situation in that country was so bad. If I’d be a journalist there instead of here in Scotland, I could well be in jail with them.’
In the course of the day more than 30 people signed postcards which have been sent to the notorious Two Mile prison where there can be 15 in a cell 5.3m x 3.3m and some of the 140+ prisoners held on remand, have not had their cases heard in court for as long as eight years.
Among the people who took part in the vigil were:- James Doherty, President of the National Union of Journalists and a leading public relations officer in Glasgow: Anas Sarwar, the Labour Party candidate for the Glasgow Central constituency seat held by his father Mohammad Sarwar and Austin Sheridan the 16-year-old, newly elected member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for the Govan constituency. A member of the Scottish National Party, Austin stayed the whole day and said it was a ‘learning experience’ for him.
UPDATE – The journalists were all found guilty, sentenced to two years in jail and fined 250,000 dalasi (about £6,000) each. Average annual income in the Gambia is about £200 per annum. The following story from Reporters without Borders gives the latest on the plight of the journalists. http://www.rsf.org/spip.php?page=article&id_article=34183
Save Our Schools campaigners took their case to the Scottish Parliament in an attempt to overturn Glasgow City Council’s decision to close 11 primary and nine nursery schools.
The LOCAL NEWS joined parents from affected schools on their trip to Edinburgh on 14 May to seek support for their cause from MSPs.
There was a party atmosphere on the train, with parents singing songs and chatting to commuters about the closures.
On arrival at Waverley station, it was a quick march down to the Parliament with banners flying. The group was met by Robert Brown MSP who had booked a committee room. Other MSPs in attendance were Patricia Ferguson, Sandra White, Paul Martin, Bob Doris, Anne McLaughlin, Ron McWilliam and Bill Kidd. Frank McAveety also attended, but did not participate. At the meeting, Bob Doris stated that he would ask the Parliament’s education committee to examine the issue. Paul Martin said that a petition on the matter would be heard on 16 June. Bill Kidd considered that a judicial review would be the best way to reverse the decision, specifically a legal challenge on aspects of the consultation process, such as the erroneous information in the documents and the failure to provide the consultation documents in languages other than English.
One of the parents pointed out that Bellahouston Primary school was 75% multi racial, so the accessibility issue was particularly important for parents with children there.
After the meeting, MSPs went to the chamber for the regular Thursday session on First Minister’s Questions.
Parents and supporters gathered outside the Parliament building, where they cheered, waved banners and chanted to show their continued determination to fight the school closures.