Phil McGarry on prospects for People's Assembly in Scotland
PHIL McGARRY outlines the battle plan of the Scottish People’s Assembly in the run-up to May’s general election.
AS Scotland braces itself for another round of deep and destructive cuts in local authority budgets, the Scottish People’s Assembly is stepping up its drive to mobilise opposition to austerity policies. It is our intention to take this issue to the heart of the election campaign.
Our plan is to target all the parliamentary candidates irrespective of the colour of their rosette to ask them where they stand over the £28 billion of austerity cuts and to name and shame those who will not oppose it.
A petition will also be approved for wider distribution and we will be seeking support from unions and other sympathetic groups to set up a series of hustings.
People’s Assembly Scotland did not take a position over the referendum.
However we will be watching with avid interest to see what develops over the position of additional powers for the Scottish Parliament in accordance with Lord Smith’s recommendations.
We will also, as usual, be tabling motions for the STUC Congress in April and arranging a fringe meeting with supporting organisations and/or trade unions affiliates. Our committee will also be involved and supporting those affiliates, especially the PCS, over their campaign for tax justice to expose evaders and avoiders such as Amazon, Google, Starbucks and others.
Equally we’ll continue to support those workers who have been dismissed for being trade unionists, and to condemn the actions of those spivs and speculators who continually preside over the cuts, closures and massive job losses.
Other initiatives in the pipeline include establishing a supporting group of “Artists Against Austerity” involving playwrights, musicians, actors and writers. Detailed plans are well underway and we expect to launch a series of events in order to raise awareness of the effects of these austerity measures amongst the general public.
The arts have a key role in presenting the voices of ordinary working-class people to challenge the mainstream political parties and the media.
Over the last year we have produced our own campaign booklet, held public meetings, attended local branches and regional committees, set up street stalls to combat the much-hated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), lobbied and leafleted the political party conferences, held fringe meetings at the STUC and leafleted many rail stations over public ownership of our railways.
We held seminars and advised welfare claimants who have suffered sanctions on how to appeal the process, campaigned against the bedroom tax and supported those who are the working poor and the unemployed to access foodbanks.
We’ll carry on highlighting the injustices of zero-hours contracts, non-compliance with the minimum wage, support for the living wage, an end to private finance initiatives and public-private partnerships and defending our essential public services.
Above all, we’ll fight on for a just economy, more and better jobs, good quality homes for all, protected and improved public services, the repealing of anti-union laws and a secure and sustainable future.
Since our launch in January 2014 we have enlisted the support of many trade unions and campaigning groups affiliated to the STUC and TUC.
We therefore invite readers and supporters of the paper and beyond to affiliate with us.
Phil McGarry is Scotland political adviser for RMT union and Scotland chair of the People’s Assembly.