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Showing posts from October, 2018

Cancer and the poor

People in deprived areas of Scotland are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer and more likely to die from it than their wealthier peers, according to NHS figures released yesterday.

 Diagnosis rates for 2017 were more than a third higher in the most deprived areas when compared to the least deprived, while mortality rates are 76 per cent higher, according to Information Service Division (ISD) statistics.

 The inequalities increased for diagnosis and death by almost ten per cent since 2016.

 In total 16,105 deaths were caused by cancer in Scotland in 2017, up from 15,813 the previous year and the highest number in 25 years.

Protect the kelp forests

An Ayr-based company called Marine Biopolymers (MBL) is now seeking a licence from Marine Scotland to take kelp from the Scottish seabed using a large mechanical arm. MBL commercially extracts polymers from seaweed for use in industries including food and pharmaceuticals. Their dredging method would harvest seaweed using a mechanical comb, measuring between three and four metres to trawl the seabed. This method removes entire kelp plants, with the idea that juvenile plants are left to promote more rapid recovery. MBL claims that over five years it will start harvesting 30,000 tonnes per year of the seaweed Laminaria hyperborea, a large, leathery brown kelp. Researchers in Norway have investigated the effects of kelp dredging on commercially important species, and found 90% fewer young fish in harvested areas. Scottish Natural Heritage suggests that Scottish kelp holdfasts typically house between 30 and 70 different species, including worms, molluscs and anemones. In turn, these anima…

If we don’t abolish capitalism, capitalism will abolish us.

People have been talking about overpopulation for a very, very long time. Overpopulation is a prominent myth that remains largely unchallenged. Liberals, environmentalists, and xenophobes alike assert that the human population is out-growing the “carrying capacity” of the Earth who attribute global warming, mass migration, pollution to the growth of the global human population. However, such claims are emblematic of capitalist attitudes.  Earth is not overpopulated and given current demographic trends never will be. All of the problems that are blamed on 'overpopulation' are not population problems but social problems caused by the nature of our economic system. The idea of 'overpopulation' is rooted in racism and nationalism which targets the poor and people of colour. Africa is poor, not overpopulated. If anything, Africa struggles from UNDER-population. It doesn’t have enough people to effectively exploit its own resources. Africans suffer not because of their own u…

Shit on the Tracks

A railway union has called for urgent action to prevent train operator ScotRail from breaking an agreement not to dump human faeces on Scotland’s railways. A deal between unions and the Scottish government scrapped the practice by December 2017 but a shake-up in the ScotRail fleet will lead to its return.

The RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, said a senior ScotRail staff member has confirmed of the 10 high-speed trains expected to be in service by December, only one will be fitted with a tank for human waste. He has written to the company’s managing director, Alex Hynes, and the Scottish government transport secretary, Michael Matheson, calling for urgent action on the issue and highlighting the “serious health risks” posed.

Cash said: “Our members are rightly appalled that ScotRail have sought to rip up a clear agreement to end the filthy and disgusting practice of dumping human excrement on Scotland’s railways. This disgraceful and retrograde step must be halted now and the union wil…

If we are to survive

What has the world to offer the child born into it? We might be tempted to answer, "Not very much at all,"

The world is and will remain, a mass of trouble as long as capitalism lasts because capitalism with its privileged and unprivileged, its class cleavage, and its hunt for profit for the privileged contains the seeds of trouble. No sooner does one sore appear to be healed than another breaks out. There is only one solution to the misery and insecurity of the mass of the world’s population and that solution requires that its workers of the world realise that they perform all the functions necessary to feed, clothe and house everybody. That the reason so many go short is because the means of production are owned by a relatively small proportion of the population who reap the benefits of the worker’s toil without the need to work themselves. In other words, that the workers carry parasites on their shoulders. When the workers achieve this knowledge they will realise that the …

The Socialist Party, a party of revolution

Mainly the workers live on wages and any changes that occur in the amount of wages have a definite bearing on their conditions of life. The wages which they receive represent a portion of the wealth they produce. This portion takes the form of money and is given to them by the owners of the places where they work in return for the use by the owners of their ability to work for specified periods of time. This is a condition of existence common to all workers, not less to those who wear white collars than to those who wear overalls.

Over the years working people throughout the world have employed a variety of methods in the hope of improving their living conditions. They have petitioned parliament, supported candidates for office, organised political parties. They have paraded in the streets, erected barricades and fought against police. But most important, they have organised in trade unions, which have provided them with their most effective weapon, the strike.

The trade union exists…

Penny-pinching employers

THOUSANDS of Scottish workers are being paid by the minute in pennies, The Herald on Sunday can reveal. The details have emerged as part of a wider investigation into the gig economy, and precarious and insecure employment in Scotland.  At least 10 per cent of the total Scottish workforce – some 259,000 people – deemed to be in insecure employment.      • Concerns that some social enterprises – firms meant to provide a social good and often in receipt of support from the taxpayer – are engaged in questionable employment practices. The rise of "bogus self-employment" where firms bring staff onboard, including waitresses and baristas, under self-employed terms – thereby not paying tax, national insurance, holiday pay, sick pay, or pension contributions – but treat them on the same terms as if they were staff
     • Evidence of cash-in-hand payments used routinely in the gig economy, raising questions about losses to the exchequer. Trade union activists have described some of the wor…

Popular Capitalism

Under capitalism, democracy can have only the most limited of meanings and is usually given a meaning and justification that is completely opposed to its theoretical principles. The principles of majority rule and the recognition of the rights of minorities can only really achieve practical fruition in a world free from economic and social domination. It is only with the establishment of socialism that people will be able consciously to effect their wishes through democratic practice. Only then will today’s empty and hollow cry of “democracy" bear a meaning worthy of human organisation. To talk of “freedom" today, in a world of social and economic class domination, is as absurd as talking of the “democracy" of the capitalist countries, all of whom practice in one form or another the suppression of minorities and the flouting of majority wishes.

Capitalism is a social system in which all the things which are necessary to make and distribute the world's wealth —such as…

When sachet of sauce is a meal

Child poverty campaigners and politicians in Glasgow have urged UK ministers to seize a “golden opportunity” to ease the financial burden on struggling families in Monday’s budget. It comes after an 8-year-old Glasgow boy was forced to eat tomato sauce sachets because he didn’t have enough to eat.

A community group, which runs a foodbank on the South Side of the city, told how the child was referred by a concerned teacher who caught him stealing from the school canteen.

Crookston Community Group warned politicians at Holyrood that the rise in demand for the services of foodbanks was reaching “crisis point”.

John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, said: “That any child, any family, has to rely on food banks in 21st century Scotland is an absolute disgrace."

The Capitalocene Age

According to environment scientists, the Earth has entered a new geological epoch that will be less stable and less hospitable to human life. Because the change is driven by human activity, it is called Anthropocene – from the Greek anthropos, human being, which blames humanity as a whole for climate change. We’re told that people are the problem and only population reduction can prevent disaster.

The so-called population explosion actually doesn’t exist. Family size has fallen to a global average of 2.45 children and is projected to fall to two or less in the next few decades. The main reason why global population is projected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, and possibly 10 billion by 2100 (a high projection that is disputed by many demographers), is that currently, a large percentage of young people are entering their reproductive years. High fertility persists in only a few countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, because of deep class and gender inequalities and the failure to in…


Teachers from across Scotland are due to march in Glasgow later in support of their calls for a 10% pay rise. Marchers will assemble at Kelvingrove Park at 11:00 BST before heading into the city centre. As well as EIS leaders, the speakers are due to include STUC president Lynn Henderson, NUS president Liam McCabe, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer, SNP MP Chris Stephens and Carole Ford for the Scottish Lib Dems. The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said it expected thousands of teachers to attend the national march and rally in George Square. EIS president Alison Thornton said: "All indications are that many thousands of teachers, together with other supporters of Scottish education, will be travelling from the length and breadth of Scotland in support of the campaign. Buses to the event from all parts of the country have been filling up as soon as they are available, and we know that many other marchers will make their own way to the…

Who owns Scotland, again?

Memories of the evictions of poor tenant farmers by wealthy landowners during the 18th and 19th centuries remain strong in the Highlands and Isles of Scotland. Thousands of people had to emigrate to avoid starvation in the wake of the Highland clearances and some of the worst abuses have been blamed on the then Duke of Sutherland.

When the residents of Garbh Allt in the Scottish Highlands were offered the chance to buy their land from the wealthy family behind the brutal eviction of their ancestors, many were initially hesitant. But years of underdevelopment under the Sutherland Estate - one of Scotland's biggest landowners - and the prospect of shaping their own future convinced them to take the leap, and in June the land was sold into community ownership.

"People were saying, oh I'm not really sure if we should take it on or not. And I was thinking to myself, my father would be spinning in his grave if we didn't take up this opportunity," said Anne Fraser, head o…

Our Aspiration - Socialism

We want to abolish wage labour, but what do we propose to replace it with? The abolition of wage labour can only be conceived as a process of emancipation that will affect every aspect of our lives. It means a total transformation of social relations. The Socialist Party conceives of a society that abolishes exploitation and we expose those proponents of various “socialisms” which is merely the replacement of private property by state property while preserving the foundations of capitalism: wage labour and the commodity. Nothing will belong to anybody anymore. Socialismas we understand it, is above all a human community where there is no property, no State that oppresses, no classes that separates and which confers distinction. Socialism is not a platform of reforms must be led to victory by the number of votes or by violence. The Socialist Party does not aspire to conquer State power and replace the unjust and perverse power of the ruling class with its own power. Our electoral polic…

Declining NHS

The NHS in Scotland is not financially sustainable and its performance has continued to decline, the public spending watchdog, Audit Scotland, said. Health boards were "struggling to break even,... relying increasingly on Scottish government loans and one-off savings". and none had met all of the key national targets - with NHS Lothian not meeting any. The report said pressure is building in several areas - including the recruitment and retention of staff, rising drug costs, Brexit and a significant maintenance backlog. The "declining performance against national standards indicates the stress NHS boards are under" The Scottish government invested £13.1bn in NHS services last year, but Audit Scotland said when inflation was taken into account there was a 0.2% real terms drop in cash. Auditor General Caroline Gardner said: "The performance of the NHS continues to decline, while demands on the service from Scotland's ageing population are growing." Dr …

Stagnating Scotland

Progress on making Scotland a fairer and more equal society has stagnated, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The report highlighted differences in educational attainment, health, work opportunities and living standards among social groups. 
The report said women were less likely to be in work and they continued to earn less than men on average. It said those women who were in work continued to experience sexual harassment as well as discrimination related to pregnancy. Meanwhile, disabled people were twice are likely to be unemployed and more likely to live in poverty, according to the review. It also said differences in school attainment were evident as early as Primary 1, especially for children living in the most deprived areas. The EHRC's Scotland Commissioner Lesley Sawers said: "Fairness should be at the heart of Scottish society. This review suggests that there is still some way to go... However, the evidence in this review suggests a general stagn…