Scottish and Welsh elections

Socialists find an audience

HAZEL CROFT reports from Glasgow and Edinburgh

Picture: JESS HURD

SOCIALIST WORKER candidate Roddy Slorach (right) finds people are willing to listen to socialist arguments in Glasgow’s Cathcart constituency

SOCIALISTS standing in the 6 May elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly were out putting their message across last week. Socialists are standing to show there is an alternative to New Labour's Tory policies and the pro-business policies of the nationalist parties—the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru in Wales. All Socialist Worker candidates are speaking out against NATO's war, which has brought catastrophe to the people of Kosovo and Serbia. Socialists aim to give a voice to the sense of betrayal many feel at the Labour government and to argue it is ordinary working people who collectively have the power to change things.

Wherever Socialist Worker campaigners go they are finding that people are willing to listen to socialist arguments. Electrician Willie Black is standing in the Edinburgh South constituency, which includes some of the poorest housing estates in Britain. Socialists out door to door canvassing for Willie last week found many people were fed up with all mainstream politicians and parties. On a housing estate in the constituency one unemployed woman was struggling to bring four children up on her own. "Life under New Labour is like a repeat of the Tory years," she said. "I expected better. They won't get my vote again."

Socialists in Glasgow are finding a similar response. Socialist candidate Roddy Slorach and supporters petitioned against the closure of the Kvaerner Govan shipyard last Friday lunchtime in a small shopping parade in Battlefield in the Cathcart constituency. Everyone who stopped to sign the petition was angry at the way job losses are mounting up, just like in the Tory years. Liz Muir used to live in Govan. She says the area will be devastated if the shipyard closes. She adds, "The government should definitely do more to save these jobs."

Many people also agreed with Socialist Worker's demand for "Welfare not Warfare". A nurse from the nearby Royal Victoria Infirmary said, "They could spend the money on hospital beds and facilities." Local worker Yvonne said she had been arguing with her sister about who to vote for in the elections: "My sister persuaded me that it was better to be principled and show a stand for socialist policies."


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 the candidates on the United Socialists list.

Which model for Wales?

IN WALES New Labour is attacking nationalist party Plaid Cymru for merely being "concerned" about NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia. Many Plaid Cymru members are involved in the anti-war movement and have spoken at meetings alongside socialists. Unfortunately, faced with the attacks from New Labour, Plaid's leaders have tried to play down its opposition and say they reluctantly support the bombing.

Over 40 people attended an election meeting last week in Blackwood for Ian Thomas, the socialist candidate for the Islwyn constituency. Plaid Cymru members, including the Plaid Cymru candidate for Islwyn, also turned up and joined in the lively debate. Members of Plaid Cymru argued that the Irish Republic should be a model for Wales. But, as speakers from the floor argued, Ireland has the lowest levels of taxation of the rich in Europe, the second lowest wages in Europe, and there is no NHS or free education. But the Plaid candidate stated that this model was the only option for the communities in the Welsh valleys: "If we have to kowtow [to private companies], then so be it."