Dundee campaign against SNP school closure – Save Menzieshill High!

'THIS FEELS LIKE A POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE …'

SNP FACES WORKING CLASS CHALLENGE

'WE DID NOT VOTE YES FOR THE SNP TO CLOSE SCHOOLS!’

Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party Stewart Hosie wrote a column in 'The National' on Tuesday 3 February. He was cheerily noting the recent polls portending a wipe-out for the Labour Party in Scotland at the General Election. Hosie's headline was 'This feels like a political earthquake...'. As MP for Dundee East he is certainly close enough to know that there is indeed a political earthquake going on in the city but it is against the SNP! At a 100 strong meeting to oppose the closure of secondary school Menzieshill High there was a clear cry for militant opposition. An SNP councillor present was roasted by his own party members and Yes voters: 'We did not vote Yes for the SNP to close schools!'

RCG member Michael MacGregor spoke from the Save Menzieshill High platform and recalled the battle of Community Against School Closure 18 years ago to save another secondary school closed then by the Labour council. He urged the meeting to fight in every possible way to stop the closure and that they should not be held back by an SNP which thinks it cannot be criticised and opposed because of its association with the YES vote. He told the SNP councillor Jimmie Black that he had better get on the phone 'moy pronto'- awfy fest- and let Nicola Sturgeon know that the is an eruption taking place in Menzieshill and that the closure should stop right now!

Dundee is the only full majority SNP council in Scotland and have lined up cuts worth £7 million this year. 19 SNP councillors recently voted to approve consideration of school closures. There is a protest rally in Dundee City Square next 2pm Thursday 12 February when the council votes to approve its budget. The opposition in Menzieshill from parents, pupils, school workers, the churches and local community centre has been joined by RCG/ FRFI, Scottish Socialist Party and Socialist Party, Scotland and other activists. We are all determined that the SNP are forced to halt the closure and the cuts or stand exposed as no different from parties like the Tories and the Labour Party.

SAVE MENZIESHILL HIGH!

NO TO SNP CUTS!

Michael MacGregor

Police Hands Off Protest! Welfare activists challenge Abroath arrest

On Thursday 5 February 40 protestors converged on Arbroath's Job Centre to challenge the arrest of Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony Cox. Tony had been supporting a vulnerable client in the Job Centre who was having difficulty in using computers to meet her Job Search target. Official Department of Work and Pensions guidelines state that reasonable support must be given to claimants in this position and reasonable adjustments made to Job Search targets.

Tony accompanied the claimant to say that Job Centre staff had not followed these guidelines and tried to advocate for a review of the case. It was feared that a welfare sanction might result from any perceived failure to meet arbitrary targets. Staff terminated the interview claiming intimidation and a new appointment was scheduled. Leaving the building Tony was approached by the police  investigating alleged 'threatening behaviour'. He refused to give his name and address and was suddenly cuffed and arrested. Bail conditions forbid him to enter the Job Centre  in Arbroath.

Defying this outrageous criminalisation of welfare advocates and activists, a protest was publicly announced for the following Thursday and an SUWN defence formed at a meeting. Tony explained at the meeting that he had been visited at home by police to warn him that he risked arrest for any breach of bail. He was determined to attend the protest and publicly announced this step which was taken up by local media.

40 people from Dundee, Edinburgh, Arbroath, Forfar and Kirriemuir stood united in solidarity outside Arbroath Job Centre and through placards, banners, speeches and chants the arrest was condemned and the right to support vulnerable claimants proclaimed. The abusive use of welfare sanctions was highlighted and speakers expressed defiance at any attempt to limit and criminalise protest. See footage of the lively march here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU_JLQUpV1A#t=41

The protest was supported by Scottish Unemployed Workers Network campaigners, Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions, Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, Class War and many other activists. Tony Cox spoke and Michael MacGregor of the Revolutionary Communist Group/ Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! chaired the lively street event. Such was the confident mood of the protest that it was decided we should march into the town centre. The three cops were then made to earn their wages by assisting in crossing roads as we marched up Arbroath High Street for a militant and popular street rally in the main shopping area. 

We are determined to resist criminalisation of protest and demand the immediate dropping of all charges.

POLICE HANDS OFF PROTEST!

END WELFARE SANCTIONS NOW!      

Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions Fights On!

 

Cover Welfare Sanctions Now!

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!/ Revolutionary Communist Group is a founder organisation of Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions (DAWS). Along with local campaigners against Atos, DAWS was launched on 1 April 2014. Basing itself on regular weekly work and monthly protests at the Dundee burroo - old Scottish parlance for the Employment Bureaux of the 1930's - it has collected thousands of signatures from those going in to sign on at the Wellgate Job Centre. Dundee's holds the record in Scotland for the highest number of sanctions issued there. There were 5,551 JSA sanctions over the period from 2012 to 2014. Those sanctions which can reduce an individual's income to £30 a week, have driven the massive uptake in foodbank usage. It is not an exaggeration therefore to say that bankers are taking the food out of hungry children's mouths - that is the reality. The popular movements against unemployment of the 1920's and 30's called the governments of the day 'baby starvers'.

DAWS stood with Scottish independence campaigners outside the burroo in the summer heading up to the referendum. Alex Salmond was shamed by our intervention into joining the protest for a photo there and pledged to end the sanctions. He remarked on radio that he had noted the queues forming in Dundee at DAWS stalls to register to vote. Dundee's working class gained due recognition as the force behind the highest Yes vote amongst Scottish cities at 57.35%. After the failed vote the Scottish National Party tested the acceptability of its Home Rule position at a national demo in Dundee under the demands 'No to Austerity. Yes to Home Rule'. DAWS campaigners at an organising committee meeting objected to this position, describing Home Rule as a retreat. Some SNP members agreed that it was but accepted it as a necessary retreat. DAWS formally withdrew its support for the demonstration. On the demo itself Home Rule slogans were noticeably absent with the loud and lively chants of 'What do we want? Independence!' and 'End Welfare Sanctions' pre-dominating.

At its first monthly protest of the New Year DAWS launched a new petition targeted at the SNP government in Edinburgh. Just as Salmond had said he was going to hold Westminster's feet to the fire over promised powers for Scotland, DAWS aims to hold the SNP's feet to the fire also. DAWS demands that the Scottish government cover all sanctions losses in the same way as it covered money lost through the Bedroom Tax. The SNP's newly professed commitment to social justice - new leader Nicola Sturgeon has declared it her mission to eradicate poverty - must be acted upon immediately.  As James Connolly - who joined the socialist movement in Dundee - recognised, this is the real politics of the stomach. Hungry bairns cannot wait!

Contact DAWS

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Facebook.Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions

 

By Michael MacGregor

 

DAWS Statement January 2015

On Friday 9 January campaigners against welfare sanctions gathered outside Dundee's Wellgate Job Centre. Our first monthly protest of the year saw Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions launch a new petition calling on the SNP government to cover the financial losses of those sanctioned, just as those who suffered losses from the Bedroom Tax were supported by the Discretionary Housing Payment fund.


The new petition was well received by the crowds of folk who came over to sign and who shared their continuing direct experience of sanctions. The battle is on!

Campaigners later sat down to plan future work, arrangements and structure:


1) Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions is open, active and democratic. The monthly meetings are open to all who contribute £1 per month to the campaigning work and who contribute to the regular work against sanctions. This active membership will determine and guide our work. Join Us!


2) Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions will also support campaigning work in Perth, Arbroath, Blairgowrie and elsewhere and will co- operate with other campaigning groups like Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty and others, to take forward the fight against sanctions, workfare and other attacks on welfare. Join Us!'

 

Obituaries

JEN SPARK

'I have been asked to write something about our comrade Jen Spark who passed away this Xmas. She was dedicated to standing up for those who had the least in society. From being part of the Bin the Bedroom Tax Campaign, then the campaigns against Atos and the Work Capability Assessments, she went on to set up Perth Against Welfare Sanctions- PAWS. She done all this despite having to struggle with her own mental health issues which sadly ended her life. We will never forget our Jen as she played such a big part in our lives. RIP Jen.'  

By Ronnie Swinton.

 

ALBERT MITCHELL

Albert joined us on the regular pickets organised by Dundee Against Atos at the medical examination centre at the Greenmarket. His cheery face can still be seen on the DAA facebook page. He was pleased at the beginnings of protest against the attacks on the poor and disabled and was always urging unity of all campaigners and campaigns. He recognised the obstacles too as he shouted lustily at the supremacist orange walk which was holding up our coach after we tried to leave Glasgow after a march against the Bedroom Tax. We will miss his irreverence and bad jokes and will miss a working class man who stood up with others against injustice.

Forwards ever! Backwards never! No to welfare sanctions! Yes to independence!

Campaigners against welfare sanctions from Perth, Forfar, Montrose and Dundee gathered in front of Dundee's Job Centre Plus on Friday 5 December. An academic, Dr David Webster from Glasgow University who has been studying the use of sanctions and disallowances since 1911, has confirmed that Dundee sits at the top of the league for the number of sanctions handed out in Scotland's cities. It is estimated that 6,400 sanctions have been issued since October 2012 up until to March 31 2014. Doctor David stated: 'I am concerned by the growing evidence of widespread official abuse of sanctions in the UK and of resulting damage to individuals and society.'

 

 

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SHOWTIME IN GLASGOW: The Radical Independence Campaign Conference and Funeral of the Labour Party

Meeting London’s Focus E15 Campaign off the midnight train at Glasgow’s Central Station was the start of an important weekend for all supporters of Scottish independence and socialism. The campaign has been fighting for social housing in London and as Scottish author Irvine Welsh pointed out, its acceptance of the invitation to speak at the Radical Independence Campaign conference dispelled the myths of the unionist left. The argument that Scottish independence blocks unity of the British working class was vividly challenged  by the stirring reception given to the campaign by the conference. Scotland is showing a way forward for working class people across these islands.

On Saturday 22 November Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and Focus E15 Campaign supporters attended the Radical Independence Campaign conference in the Clyde Auditorium. With a venue packed out to capacity of 3,000, it was an inspiring gathering with lots to discuss and plan. It is a testament to the hard work and the important role played by RIC groups across the country in the run up to the independence referendum, going door to door in working class areas, that such numbers could be mobilised.

FRFI supporters attended the mass forums throughout the day, hearing from speakers including Bernadette McAliskey who urged us all to continue the fight against British imperialism. Workshops  attended included ‘Opposing austerity now: a radical plan for the economy’, ‘A modern mass party: Debating the role of the SNP today’ and ‘No to NATO: A new strategy to challenge imperialism and nuclear weapons’. 

Class was a crucial factor in the ‘Debating the role of the SNP’ workshop where we heard writer Neil Davidson urge supporters of Scottish independence to stand against capitalism and to forge a new party of the left committed to building socialism. In contrast to this, an SNP member argued that criticism of the SNP’s ruling class policies on the monarchy, NATO membership and cuts had to wait until after independence was won. The analogy of  ‘getting the house first and then decorate it’ was unconvincingly deployed.

In summary, independence for whom and on whose terms, was a theme that ran throughout the event. FRFI supported those who argued for the interests of the working class to be placed at the centre of the independence movement, by asking  directly: 'Who speaks for the working class?'

The RIC leadership must now seize the time by creating a democratic and energised structure to ensure independence candidates are returned at next May’s General Election. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! will fully support RIC in this.

Full political independence for Scotland would be a major blow to British imperialism at home and abroad. For this reason we need to stand with all political parties, candidates and groups backing full independence for Scotland. This support must be on the condition of the fullest democracy in the movement for full independence; for the democratic right to criticise and oppose all attacks on working class and oppressed peoples whether those attacks come from the Tories, Labour, or the SNP.

In total we handed out over 1,800 leaflets to the crowds at the conference publicising our Labour Party funeral and wake the following day. We called for support for the annual commemorative march for John MacLean on 30 November and finally urged everyone to come along and seriously engage in our public meeting on 7 December on the subject of ‘Who speaks for the working class? Scottish independence, the General Election and the working class’. Join Us!

FUNERAL AND WAKE OF THE LABOUR PARTY

Progressive supporters of Scottish independence gathered in Glasgow on Sunday 23 November to finally bury the fatally ailing Labour Party. We assembled beneath the statue of Labour Party millionaire Donald Dewar. Speeches, chants and songs, a Labour Party coffin inscribed with the words RIP, sombre funeral dress and placards all made for a fitting service.

Organised by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! the event was supported by the Focus E15 campaign, Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions, Perth and Kinross Yes for independence and Radical Independence Campaign supporters.

With two of Scotland’s ‘Yes Cities’ - Dundee and Glasgow - represented, the protest had a healthy spirit of rebelliousness. Appropriate funeral music blared out as the RIP Labour Party coffin was led down a busy Buchanan St., along Argyle St., before its final resting place in McChuills pub for a not so solemn wake.

The Labour Party's post referendum crisis has created the opportunity to finally break from this unionist, anti-working class, dishonest party of racism and imperialism. Our slogan is ‘Seize the Time!’

On 8 and 9 November we launched the second edition of ‘Labour: A Party fit for Imperialism’ with the author Robert Clough at public meetings in Dundee and Glasgow.  The book provides a definitive history of the Labour Party showing that in both words and deeds the Labour Party has always been and will always remain a party committed to the defence of the imperialist interests of the British ruling class. Copies are on sale here index.php/our-shop/3750-labour-a-party-fit-for-imperialism

Yes Scotland!

Yes Socialism!

UPCOMING EVENTS

Sunday 30 November, 1pm

Annual John MacLean Commemoration March

Meet at Eastwood cemetery (next to Thornliebank Railway station) for graveside orations. The march will move off at 1.30pm. Organised by the Scottish Socialist Republican Movement. more details at www.scottishrepublicansocialistmovement.org

Public meetings:

‘Who speaks for the working class? Scottish independence, the General Election and the working class’

  • Dundee - Saturday 6 December, 2.30pm, Room G8, Dundee University Tower, Nethergate, Perth Road
  • Glasgow - Sunday 7 December, 2pm, Jurys In Hotel, 80 Jamaica Street, Glasgow G1 4UG

To get involved in our weekly activities, political discussions and street sales of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! contact us on:

Facebook ‘Glasgow FRFI’

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: 07923961864

Glasgow Events

Scotland Events coming up..

Get in touch with your local Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! group:

Glasgow; glasgow_rcg@gmail.com

Edinburgh: edinburghfrfi@gmail.com

 

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