|Pictures: JESS HURD|
|PROTESTS in Scotland (above) and Wales (below) reflect the mood of bitterness with New Labour|
PEOPLE ARE crying out for change, real change. It is time to put socialism back on the agenda. That is why Socialist Workers Party candidates are standing in the 6 May elections for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. Every Socialist Worker candidate will be arguing against NATO's bombing in the Balkans. We are against a war for US power which has not brought any benefits for the people of Kosovo.
More and more people are dismayed at Labour's refusal to reverse Tory polices. Indeed Tony Blair's government has gone even further than the Tories dared. Labour hands out billions to the generals while squeezing councils and hospitals. Labour has abolished free university education and taken grants away. It hounds people on benefits while letting the rich keep their obscene wealth. But many who are disgusted by Labour's policies are also uneasy about supporting the nationaliststhe Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru. These parties claim all Scots or Welsh are united, ignoring the reality of rich and poor.
Genuinely socialist candidates cannot expect to win hundreds of thousands of votes. But we will offer a socialist alternative to New Labour and the nationalists. Poverty stalks Scotland. Life expectancy in working class Drumchapel in Glasgow is eight years lower than in middle class Bearsden little more than a mile away. There are 40,000 homes in Wales without a bath or shower. Average household income in Wales is 14 percent below the British average.
But low wages, insecurity and bad working conditions do not affect everybody. As chief executive of the engineering giant GEC, Lord Simpson of Dunkeld "earns" £600,000 a year, £289.74 an hour, 33 times the average wage. Terry Matthews, Wales's richest man, is worth over £1,000 million. We need to confront these people. This means class politics which go beyond the borders of Scotland or Wales.
Socialists campaigned for and welcomed the creation of a Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. People in Scotland and Wales have a right to decide their own futures. But in the last 200 years Scottish, English and Welsh workers have fought together, won together or faced defeat together. Our cities have desperate pockets of poverty, but these exist in Merseyside and east London too. Class, not nation, is the key divide. The biggest possible socialist vote on 6 May will show that there is opposition to the policies of New Labour and the nationalists.
But real change needs more than voting, and much more than small alterations to the present system. Real change will only come through the struggles of ordinary people. Vote for us on 6 May. Better still, join us in building a socialist alternative.
WE NEED money to fund the candidates' deposits and the campaign. Will you help? Please rush your donations to:
WALES: 6-7 Duke St, Cardiff CF1 2AY.
SCOTLAND: Mailbox No 1, 220 Argyle St, Glasgow G2 8HA.
SUPPORT FOR the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru has grown because they put forward policies to the left of New Labour. But both agree that the way forward is for Scotland and Wales to compete with Ireland, Spain and Portugal to get multinationals to invest here on the basis of low wages and bad conditions. The SNP and Plaid hold up the "Celtic Tiger" in the Irish Republic as a model. Ireland has the lowest spending on welfare in Europe. The closer it gets to the chance of power, the more the SNP follows New Labour in loving up to the rich and powerful.
SOCIALIST Worker candidates for the Scottish Parliament are:
Socialist Worker also urges a vote for the candidates of the Scottish Socialist Party.
SOCIALIST Worker candidates for the Welsh Assembly are:
Socialist Worker urges a vote for all the candidates on the United Socialists list.
ALL SOCIALIST Worker candidates will be putting forward the Action Programme launched last year. It calls for a complete break with market policies and for the interests of the vast majority to be put before the interests of bosses and companies. The Scottish Parliament is limited in its powers. It has no control over finance and the economy, trade and industry, social security, defence and much more. The Welsh Assembly is even more limited. We need to campaign to extend these powers. But in the meantime we demand that the leaders of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly confront the government to demand real resources. It is time to confront the crazy priorities of the market system.
Our Action Programme would do a great deal to improve our lives.
But we know that the pressure of a growing world recession would still bear heavily on workers. Further, these measures would face a furious backlash from those who wield power and the rich. In order to protect our jobs, our communities and our families working people need to challenge their power. That means taking over control of the factories and offices and imposing detailed control on managers. In the longer term we have to change the whole basis of society. Our message is that, if capitalism cannot deal with the problems it has created itself, then let capitalism perish.
But it will not simply go away. It will take a revolution. In a genuinely socialist society workers would plan production on the basis of what is needed, not for the greed of a few. When the vast majority themselves decide how to use resources the priority will go to adequate food, housing, health services and education for all. Production of useful goods will soar. Not only would unemployment be abolished, but we would switch production from things like Trident nuclear missiles to hospitals, school books and the like. Capitalism means poverty, insecurity and violence. It is the one thing we should sacrifice.