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'Successful' Reforms

 Given the apparent futility of reform campaigning to remove the social problems and economic difficulties capitalism creates, socialists know that a revolutionary change in the basis of society is necessary. However, does this mean that all reforms are doomed to failure and do not really make a difference to workers' lives? Of course not - there are many examples of 'successful' reforms in such fields as education, housing, child employment, conditions of work and social security. Indeed, the Socialist Party does not oppose all reforms as such, only the futile and dangerous attempt to seek power to administer capitalism on the basis of a reform programme - reformism.

 Any socialist elected to Parliament or to local councils would be delegated by the Socialist Party to treat individual reforms that came to their attention on their merits, principally as to whether they would benefit the working class at large, or indeed, the movement for socialism in particul…

The Failure of Reformism Admitted

The NHS cannot tackle the health gap between rich and poor by itself and can only provide a "sticking plaster" for such inequalities, according to the convener of Holyrood's Health Committee. MSPs on the Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee found that while there had been "many well-intended initiatives" aimed at reducing the differences in health between affluent communities and those in deprived areas "none has made any significant difference". The committee concluded most causes of health inequalities are "rooted in wider social and income inequalities"
Committee convener Duncan McNeil said: "That your income, your education and where you live contribute to how healthy you are is an issue that as a society should bring us significant shame. Since devolution, successive governments have made this a political priority and invested significant amounts of public money in tackling this complex issue. But sadly none have m…

Hard Lessons

The EIS teaching union has claimed that cuts in staff are making it harder to deal with bad behaviour in schools. The union blames falling teacher numbers, support staff cuts and falling numbers of educational psychologists. One particular concern is that pupils who might be better suited to special schools are remaining in mainstream schools without appropriate support.
In 2007 the SNP made a manifesto commitment to cut class sizes between Primary 1 and 3 to 18 or less. The average class in Primary 1, 2 and 3 has 23.3 pupils.

The latest government statistics also showed that the number of teachers in Scotland's schools fell in 2014 while the number of pupils increased. Full-time equivalent teacher (FTE) numbers stand at 50,824 which is 254 fewer than 2013 although the number of pupils in Scotland's schools is up 3,425 on the previous year to 676,955.

Real Eco-Socialism or Green Reformism

“It’s blindingly obvious that our economic system is failing us,” said economist Tim Jackson, a professor of sustainable development at the University of Surrey in the UK. “It is a travesty of what economy should be. It has absolutely failed to create social well being and has hurt people and communities around the world.”

Jackson and number of ecological economists say the current self-destructive economy must be transformed into one that delivers a shared and lasting prosperity. This kind of Green Economy is far beyond business as usual with some clean technology thrown in. It is what Jackson calls a “fit-for-purpose economy” that is stable, based on equity and provides decent, satisfying livelihoods while treading lightly on the earth. The current growth-worshiping consumption economy is “perverse” and at odds with human nature and our real needs, he said. “Prosperity isn’t just about having more stuff,” he said. “Prosperity is the art of living well on a finite planet.”

With powe…

From Rags to Riches

Socialists don’t hanker after the “increasing misery” for the working class. We don’t look forward to the attacks on the workers’ standard of living in the hope that we may attract more members.  But what we do is recognise economic facts.

Capitalism is an economic system based on three things: wage labour (working for a wage), private ownership or control of the means of production (things like factories and farms), and production for exchange and profit. Capitalism is based on a simple process – money is invested to generate more money. When money functions like this, it functions as capital. For instance, when a company uses its profits to hire more staff or open new premises, and so make more profit, the money here is functioning as capital. As the amount of capital increases (or in the bigger picture, the economy expands), this is called 'capital accumulation', and it's the driving force of the economy.

The class struggle varies over time and place, depending on soci…

Your Choice - Mending or Ending Capitalism

In America Obamacare, reforms to the health system of that coutry has been called “creeping socialism” by the free-marketeers and the American public has been barraged by propaganda against any form of “socialized medicine”. The problem of medical costs for people in the United States is a severe and often tragic one. In the UK we possess the much acclaimed National Health Service. The NHS is very far from perfect, but it works far better than the health system in the US, where almost all care is bought and sold in the market place. The NHS is the centrepiece of the welfare state. For over 90 percent of the population it provides their only access to health care. It is immensely popular, despite its inadequacies. The well being of workers concerns the ruling class and, for sure,  this is reflected in the priorities of the NHS. Acute medicine for the able bodied of working age is better funded and includes the most prestigious areas of medicine. Those caring for the elderly and the ph…

Reform Without the Revolution

Within the Left there has arose a number of misconceptions about the Socialist Party of Great Britain, one being that we oppose reforms that can improve the lot of workers. The economic system don’t operate by immutable “laws” like gravity. Economics is not like physics. Human beings work together and make decisions that shape our economic destiny. No worker gives up the struggle for immediate reforms, and for as many reforms as possible.

If the Socialist Party had nothing to offer to the suffering people but the consolatory hope that socialism will bring help at some future time, while the conditions are nearly unbearable now, this consolation would be pretty poor and we would be little better than preachers. Often enough a future state of bliss has been held out to suffering mankind, in which they would be rewarded for all the wants and sufferings and pains of this world, and most people have lost confidence in such empty promises. They demand amelioration: not words, not promises,…

The ILP Poodle

The Independent Labour Party in 1922 returned several MPs, among them James Maxton, David Kirkwood, John Wheatley and John McGovern, who had provided Clydeside with the nick-name “Red Clydeside”. They were sent to Westminster in a wave of left-wing enthusiasm. Some had been imprisoned either, like Maxton, for sedition (interfering with army recruitment in wartime) or for involvement what became known as “The Battle of George’s Square”. They had taken part in some of the most bitter class struggles experienced by Britain in the early20th century and they had garnered a credible working class following.


However, they were dominated by ideas of the reform of capitalism rather than by the determination to destroy capitalism. We need not accept Engels overly enthusiastic optimism of the founding of the ILP that it was “the very party which the old members of the International desired to see formed” (Workmans Times, 25 March 1893)

The I.L.P. may have used the language of radicals but inste…

Reformism - On the right track?

The immediate goal of reformists is legislative palliatives . The immediate goal of the Socialist Party is the social revolution. We rebel against capitalist society not in the name of abstract principles of justice or equality but for the effective emancipation of humanity where workers will take possession of the means of life without paying tribute and without serving anyone. We believe that the organisation of society should be from the bottom up and that workers must organise it themselves. The workers have no need of chiefs and are quite capable of delegating one of their own with a particular task.


Reformism is the politics of here and now, of concessions and compromise, of collaboration and accommodation. As the politics of here and now, reformism shapes those who pursue it, it shapes their organisations, and shapes their relations with the working class. People place their hope in their representatives in Parliament. They believe that hoped-for successes require only their …

Reforms and the Labour Party

Capitalism only continues to exist because people put up with it. Most people don’t see any alternative to working for wages, producing for profit and using money. They believe that it is capitalists, not workers by hand and by brain, who create wealth and that capitalists are doing us a favour by providing us with jobs. They believe that the world has always been divided into rich and poor, leaders and followers, rulers and ruled and that it always will be. These attitudes both reflect and sustain capitalism. And every time people get a chance to vote, most people support politicians who are committed to maintaining the capitalist system. So capitalism continues.
The ruling class are not a monolithic entity, all having exactly the same opinions. They do not all have the same ideas as to the best way of running the system from day to day, or year to year. All capitalists want to get the most out of their workers, obviously. But what is the best way of doing that? Some think they shou…

There is enough food

Almost one billion children will be trapped in poverty by hunger and malnutrition by 2025 unless action is taken, a new campaign has warned.

 Kathy Galloway, a spokeswoman for the campaign, said: "In a world where there is enough food for everyone, the fact that not everyone has enough to eat is nothing short of a scandal.

Actor John Michie, is supporting the campaign. He said: "We need to solve the underlying issues which create global hunger once and for all. People are denied access to land that could produce food. Parents work tirelessly, but still can't afford to feed their children. It's unfair, it's unjust and the truth is it's totally preventable. If we get enough Scots behind this campaign we can make world leaders listen."

Did the politicians listen in 2005 when hundreds of thousands of charities churches and celebrities marched in Edinburgh to "make poverty history"? Did they listen when tens of thousands besieged Bush, Blair a…

reforms fail to reform

On the 40th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act figures have been released to show that women in Scotland will have to wait another 33 years before they are paid the same as men. Male managers earned on average £9,841 more than female colleagues.Even at junior management level, the pay gap still existed, with men being paid £797 more than female executives in Scotland.

Concerning the UK stats generally a spokesman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: "Forty years after the Equal Pay Act, women can still expect to earn less than 85 pence for every £1their male colleagues earn. In some sectors the pay gap is far worse."

Socialist Courier can only comment that it once more demonstrates the failure of those that advocate reformism.

40 years of Shelter

Shelter , the campaign organisation which was formed to combat homelessness commemerates its 40th anniversary . 40 years on and still they concede that homelessness is a problem thats not been solved by reforms and legislation .

"I think it would be fair to say this: there was a housing crisis in 1966-1968 when Shelter Scotland was founded and we have today, sadly, a housing crisisof a different nature, but one which impacts on people's lives in really quite harmful ways...." Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland conceded .

As William Morris once wrote "The palliatives over which many worthy people are busying themselves now are useless because they are but unorganised partial revolts against a vast, wide-spreading, grasping organisation which will, with the unconscious instinct of a plant, meet every attempt at bettering the conditions of the people with an attack on a fresh side."

According to the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which said 11,054 homes…

yet another reform failure

The gender pay gap is still growing despite more than 30 years of equal pay and sex discrimination legislation, a Scottish Government report has found.

Men in full-time employment are now paid 15% more than their female equivalents and 34% more than women in part-time work according to the annual report into the Gender Equality Scheme.The report also found wide variations between the gender pay gap in different sectors. The gap ranges from 2% in sales and customer service occupations to as high as 28.1% for managers and senior officials.

Chris Benson, a solicitor who works with the UK-wide Support Equal Pay campaign group, said of the findings: "It is really disappointing that, despite government efforts, the pay gap is still growing..."

Edukashun

Fewer pupils from deprived backgrounds are going to university in Scotland despite a raft of initiatives to widen participation, according to a new report.

In 2006-07, just 14% of school-leavers from secondaries in the lowest participation areas for higher education went to university compared to 19% in 2002-03. Over the same period, the proportion of pupils from the schools which enjoy the highest rates of progression to higher education has fallen only slightly, from 31% to 29%.

One of the aspirations of the government expansion of higher education in the mid-1980s, and then again in 1992, was to allow wider participation, but the main beneficiaries have been the "middle" classes.

John McClelland, chairman of the Scottish Funding Council said more should be done to address inequalities of opportunity.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "It is unacceptable that an educational gap between advantaged and disadvantaged people opens up early in a child's life and contin…

The working poor

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says 1.4 million children in Britain live in poverty despite having at least one working parent.

Government efforts to tackle child poverty have "forgotten" to help poor parents who work.

Kate Stanley, head of social policy at the IPPR, said the challenge now was "to ensure that work really is a route out of poverty...Tax credits and the minimum wage have 'made work pay' relative to being on benefits, but these don't yet go far enough to ensure more children are lifted out of poverty. More action is needed to combine financial support and measures to boost parental employment with action to deliver fairness on pay and opportunities for progression at work."

Socialist Courier has news for this highly prestigious research institute - the slogan 'a fair days work for a fair days pay' is as old as the hills and for the working class it is a demand that is never fulfilled .

Poverty will end when the wages …

Bankrupt Solutions

Scotland's poorest and most vulnerable debtors were yesterday offered their cheapest escape from creditors.
The Scottish Government said it would allow so-called "Ninas" - people with no income and no assets - to declare themselves bankrupt for a fee of just £100.
The new "cheapie" bankruptcy will be available only to people who earn less than £220 a week, the equivalent of 40 hours on the minimum wage, and have less than £1000 in assets.

A capital(ist) solution to the problem of poverty !!

Meanwhile the Independent reports the accountancy firm Grant Thornton predicts the total number of personal insolvencies nationally will jump to at least 120,000 this year, almost triple the equivalent figure in 2004. As many as one third of bankruptcies in the first three months of the year will be caused by "excessive Christmas spending".

Steady increases in the cost of living are expected to tighten the screw. In only 12 months, the cost of filling up a vehicle with …

Poverty Reported

The Government's strategy for tackling poverty will be heavily criticised in two separate reports .

The New Policy Institute, an independent think tank, said moves to tackle poverty and social exclusion which have been pursued since the late 1990s had lost momentum . The most serious setback in the anti-poverty campaign had been an increase of 200,000 children living in poverty during 2005/2006, its report claimed. It added that this brought the total number of children living in poverty to 3.8 million for that year, and meant there had been no sustained progress on the issue in three years. since the Government first made its pledge to end child poverty in 1999, it was still 500,000 short of the target it should have reached in 2004/2005.

Half of all children living in poverty were part of a working family, a similar level to a decade ago, suggesting low wages continued to be an issue.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found that out of 50 indicators of poverty and social exclusion, …

Reforming Child Poverty

Child poverty in Scotland once again is in the news .

A charity has launched a campaign aimed at eradicating child poverty in Scotland. Save the Children said almost one in every 10 children in Scotland was living in "severe poverty" and that the problem was a "national disgrace "

Save the Children classes the worst deprivation as that which forces families to live on £19 a day, after paying housing costs. Previous research by Save the Children revealed that 90,000 children in Scotland live in severe poverty.

"Parents are being forced to make impossible decisions between such basic provisions as providing an adequate meal or putting on the heating..." said Save the Children's programme director for Scotland .

Yet , as always and as before , the solutions offered by the charity are aimed at only alleviating child poverty through tinkering with the system - more government money (£4 billion) , helping parents back to work, and a new scheme to give poorer…

Prison Blues

In a recent Scotsman article it is estimated that the Scottish prison population will reach American-type proportions . Prof Coyle, head of prison studies at Kings College in London, said Britain was "ten to 15 years behind the US", which he said was already using prisons as a quasi-welfare state. America has a prisoner rate of 738 per 100,000 head of population, nearly six times more than Scotland's rate of 139 per 100,000.
Presently standing at around 7,200 people prison service estimates that the number could hit 10,000 within the next decade but Professor Andrew Coyle, a former governor of Peterhead and Shotts prisons, yesterday said that if courts keep sending mentally ill people, along with offenders whose crimes arise from drug and alcohol addictions, to prison, Scotland could end up with a prison population as high as 35,000.

He notes that seven out of ten prisoners in Scotland have mental health problems, with seven per cent displaying "psychotic elements&qu…