News from Nowhere

The campaign blog for Socialists in Scotland campaigning in the Livingston by-election - uniting for world socialism.

Friday, September 30, 2005

A Post-Mortem of the Poll Result

( The following is taken from one of the Party's on-line discussion forums )

My conclusions from the election result are:

1. We got 0.12% of the vote which is what we got at the Scottish Parliament elections when there were 10 or so candidates, and is pretty much what we should expect at a by-election when there is more than just Labour, Liberal , Tory to choose between.

2. I think when we have stood in the absence of any other " Socialist " ( by name ) party then we gain a fair number of votes ( up to 1% of the vote ) simply because we have " socialist " in our name . When someone else uses that name and offers a more immediate or apparently reasonable position ( based on a set of carefully-focussed reform demands ) , then most of those votes disappear , leaving the residual 0.1% who actively go out and vote for the SPGB and against SSP or whoever....

3. seems to me to be a fairly consistent trend . Does the 0.1% actually represent voters with some sort of socialist consciousness ? I think so , although anyone standing on any sort of position is likely to get around 0.1% of the vote ( e.g. we were beaten by the independent Tory who stood on a mixed bag of issues, and the Alliance for Change was a religious nut ) . The key question of course is how do we get that 0.1% of the voters ( or 0.03% of the adult population ) who are prepared to actively go out and vote at elections , actually involved ? It does represent 15,000 people in U.K. In other words , only one in thirty of those who are prepared to actively vote for the SPGB ( even when other socialist parties are on the ballot ) are actually members of the party . Not sure if that is good or bad news ?!

4. Given that the SSP and Greens stood on a raft of apparently attractive reforms (do away with prescription charges , defend local services etc ) , the idea that offering such reforms is a gateway into political change is somewhat smashed against their combined 3% of the vote . Far better to actually say what it is you are standing for , than be caught halfway between , and ending up without influence and without putting a genuine case for change.

5. Anyway , tempting as it is to read significance into the poll result , the main reason for standing was in order to get our leaflet thru' 50,000 doors at low cost . I think the overall cost ( for deposit , leaflet printing etc ) worked out at about 3p per leaflet , which is very cheap I think for production and distribution . The real measure of the worth of standing at election is whether we perceive any sort of increased website clicking , or contacts with Head Office , or attendances at local branch meetings . It strikes me that this is something we can measure , to try and compare the effectiveness of standing at elections against other publicity options we have.

6. Bearing in mind Alan Johnstone's comments regarding the numbers of leaflets coming through doors etc , it might be more worthwhile contesting elections that aren't by-elections, when our leaflet will stand out a little more . On the other hand , general elections are completely TV-dominated that we are maybe even more suffocated . Local elections are a cheaper option and may be an arena where our voice can be heard a bit better , and people are more inclined to vote for something ( as opposed to just keeping the Tory out etc ) . On the otherhand , I think it can be quite difficult to put forward real revolutionary politics in a local election environment, when everyone just wants to talk about the positioning of a bus shelter etc

Brian Gardner , Socialist Party candidate

Election Result

Alas , there will be no Socialist Party MP taking his seat in Parliament . Instead , yet another Labour Party functionary will be going to the House of Commons . Our candidate , Brian Gardner , received 32 votes and , unfortunately , came bottom of the poll .
But are we despondent ? No ! !
We offered the working class of Livingston the choice of remaining with the parties of Capitalism and more of the same or choosing the Socialist alternative and voting for revolutionary change . The truth of the matter , though , is that faced with the sophisticated machinery of the mainstream political parties , the indifference of the media to minority parties , the reliance upon photo opportunities and soundbites , and the lack of a forum for genuine political debate , the voices of real socialists was not effectively heard .
We will continue arguing our case , carry on exposing political fraudsters , and never cease advocating Socialism .

The full results of the by election is as follows :
Jim Devine (Lab): 12,319
Angela Constance (SNP): 9,639
Charles Dundas (Lib Dems): 4,362
Gordon Lindhurst (Con): 1,993
David Robertson (Greens): 529
Steve Nimmo (Scottish Socialist Party): 407
Peter Adams (UKIP): 108
Melville Brown (Ind): 55
John Allman (Alliance For Change): 33
Brian Gardner ( Socialist Party of Great Britain ): 32

There is always a next time .

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Taking to the Streets

With Royal Mail proving rather tardy with delivering our leaflet through the doors , four members took matters into their own hands yesterday , Tuesday , and began handing out our election address outside the entrances of the main shopping centre .
Alas , the weather was against us . Too blustery to set up the lit. stall and sudden downpours forcing us to seek shelter in a nearby hostelry .
We did manage , however , to distribute several hundred leaflets .

" Candidates take safe route to Cook seat " was the headline in yesterday's Scotsman newspaper .
This may be true of the rest of the political parties contesting this election and offering the same old stale remedies to the problems of Capitalism , but , of course , the Scotsman fails to mention the Socialist Party and its case for Socialism , which is certainly not a safe slogan to raise if it is just votes wanted to get a seat in Parliament to maintain the status quo .
We , in the Socialist Party , desire the electors to seek an understanding of the realities of the World . We leave the popularity campaign to simply just get Xs on ballot papers to the PR men and spin doctors of the Coalition for Capitalism . We only want votes from those who agree with our sole aim and objective - The Abolition of the Wages System - No Middle Way .

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Unequal time

Unlike for the press, there is a obligation on radio and TV to mention all candidates and their party standing in a particular constituency. In the past the letter of this was respected by at least mentioning the names of all the candidates even if some were mentioned more than others. Then the TV stations dropped mentioning all the candidates in favour of rapidly scrolling the names of those not mentioned across the screen, generally too fast for people to note them properly. On radio as the way round even just mentioning all the candidates, let alone giving them equal time, the practice has been crept in of referring listeners to the BBC's website which lists them. Radio4's World Tonight programme has just done this. After giving the Labour, SNP, Liberal and Tory candidates 10 seconds each the journalist, one of the many John Knoxes that exist, simply mentioned that there were 10 candidates in all and referred listeners to the BBC news website. This isn't good enough. First, because not everybody has access to the internet and, second, those that do have are unrealistically assumed to know what the address is since it wasn't given.
In fact, it's and there is in fact a link to our website at . That's OK as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough.
An official complaint has been lodged.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Split the Left ???????

We received this criticism from a Dan Paris ( ? ) .

" Split the left . Why not !
What exactly is the purpose of the SPGB standing in the Livingstone [sic] by-election ?
The SPGB has no grass-roots support in the area , you are an irrelevant sect with no link to working class people in the area .
Standing against the SSP is simply splitting the left and helping the forces of capitalism.
It's this kind of reactionary action that stops the working class from supporting socialism . "

Our candidate from the 1997 Livingston election has replied :

Hi Dan ,

I dont think you know us for starters .

We stood in this consituency in the General election of 1997, and largely predicted the form of the New Labour administration and the subsequent disillusion which the " left " are now trying to capitalise upon .
We are not a part of this " left " . We are opposed to measures which tinker with and attempt to reform capitalism .
The left on the other hand have kept their agenda well hidden , if it has a discernable revolutionary current , it isn't obvious , indeed , even their active supporters appear afraid to engage with any discussion about what socialism * is * .

However , it has been a " left " tactic in the past where they are hypocritically asking workers to vote for a parliamentary party to get reforms which you know you can't get , on a road which they dont support , to socialism ,which is not defined except , that it is recognisable as another state capitalism . The Socialist Party is opposed to such trickery of workers .
This you call socialism...Such cynicism and hypocrisy allied to political opportunism is breathtaking.
It started quite early this , Sheridan , at a radical book fair held in Edinburgh outlined his view of socialism which was nationalisation - with the maximum and minimum permitted wages of worker being in the ratio of 4 - 5 : 1 , he added , that this lessening disparity of income was realistic as a society where equality of income existed wasn't realistic .
Besides making him a socialist who doesn't believe in socialism , the society he mentions retains every feature of capitalism mentioned above , and therefore could only ever be a bastardised capitalist society .
I was there and I heard it . Simply , the "left" are not socialists , " yir airse is oot the windae " , as we say , if you think you're socialists . Lesson number one for would-be leftists...
** Even limited equality can not be achieved , while retaining the profit motive - It is economically impossible .**

We on the other hand are quite explicit that socialism is , " the common ownership and democratic control of all the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and on behalf of the whole population " . In other word a free access society . We stand for the original idea of socialism .
Untrammelled by statist failures , indeed we predicted all of these failures . The " left " appear to want to administer capitalism with minimum levels of wage slavery permitted in this , and inasmuch , the SSP , declare £9 an hour as an ok situation , worth workers striving for , worth a socialist party having as an objective.

Far from splitting the " left " , we despise the "left " for its political cowardice , ( being unable or unwilling to describe socialism to workers and nail their true colours to the Socialist mast ) , of opportunism , ( interference in workers struggles and grass roots movements to subvert them to their cause ) , and for its pretensions , ( of assuming to know what socialism is , and presenting itself as a leadership to-wards it) .

As the only Socialist Party in the Livingston by-election we urge workers to " Abolish the wages system " . We insist that Socialism as defined above is an immediate and practical possibility , requiring only a majority of workers who know what it is , who desire it and are willing to organise as equals , without a vanguard of political leaders forming an elite and a cadre of misinformed workers , as their expendable cannon fodder and irrelevant pawns , (our job is to inform , relay , and assist in this ) unlike the Leninist - Trotskyite , and former CP-er Stalinist Left , we dont , as Lenin said , regard workers , " left to their own devices as being only capable of achieving trade union consciousness "

( I give a line by line detailed answer to your post below)

What exactly is the purpose of the SPGB standing in the Livingstone by-election ?
To put the case for Socialism , as no others do this , made by workers seizing control of their own destiny and working for socialism , without the leadership of vanguardist organisations or any other leadership .

The SPGB has no grass-roots support in the area, you are an irrelevant sect with no link to working class people in the area .
The Socialist Party ( SPGB ) does not look for support or supporters , rather we insist that on the contrary workers learn what socialism is , and join us as equals to bring it about .
We dont wish to lead them . They will not need leadership if they make themselves socialists . Far from having no link to working class people in this area , we are the working class in this area who are organised for socialism as we define it , admittedly pitifully small , though we are , but we dont lie to workers by pretending, that by voting for reforms , or any other measure they are supporting socialism . We do not intervene in workers struggles , except as workers in struggle .

Standing against the SSP is simply splitting the left and helping the forces of capitalism .
We are standing against * all * the capitalist parties , this inevitably includes the SSP as they support a reformed capitalism with them as the new bosses , retaining wage labour capital , government control , and their platform reflects this . The SSP and the Left ARE the forces of capitalism . Simply put , we are the only revolutionary alternative to capitalism in this election...

It's this kind of reactionary action that stops the working class from supporting socialism .
It is by insisting that SSP style reforms can ameliorate the conditions of workers , and that this equates to a " socialist " response , the SSP and any and all others who so mistrust the workers , that they can't describe the socialist alternative to them , are indeed the reactionary element , leaving workers confusedly equating socialism with these tired and out-moded tried and failed remedies of the last century . ( The Labour Party , The Communist Party , Social Democrat Parties of all stripes ) .
The Socialist Party ( SPGB ) has an honourable record since 1904 of never selling socialism short , and insisting it is an immediate and practical goal , requiring no other minimum demand , now that the vote has been won , that it can only be brought into existence by the workers themselves , comprising a majority , who know and understand what socialism is , a free access global society , without nation states . We dont pander to nationalist sentiments like the SSP , following slavishly Lenin's silly " Imperialism as the highest form of capitalism " dogma .
Our demand is the world for the workers and not for some new state-capitalist entity , or permissible level of wage slavery . In fact , the SSP's platform is even less radical than the Old Labour one , where mistakenly , they thought they were ushering in a new era , and piously mouthed phrases such as " we are the masters now " , and " socialism will come like a thief in the night " .

Yours for real socialism ,
Matt Culbert
( Edinburgh Branch , West Lothian Socialist Discussion Group )

The West Lothian Discussion Group meets at the Lanthorn Community Centre , Kenilworth Rise , Dedridge , Livingston , 7-30pm every 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month .
Edinburgh Branch Meetings are the 1st Thursdays of each month 8pm at Quaker Hall , Victoria Terrace , Edinburgh

The Annual Labour Party Show

According to the media, the Labour Party conference is being held in Brighton this week. And these days all it is is a media event at which the various party leaders vie with each other to see who gets the biggest applause. No policy is made, so all the talk by the delegates is just that. Mind you, even in the days when it was ostensibly a democratic policy-making event, the leaders never felt bound by what the delegates voted for, arguing, especially when they were in government, that they must have a free hand to do what the circumstances demanded.
This year is likely be the year that the Scottish windbag, Gordon Brown, consolidates his claim to be Blair's successor -- as if that will make any difference except that the cry at anti-war and other demonstrations as in London yesterday will change from "Blair, out, out, out" to "Brown, out, out, out". But Brown has now realised that his luck has run out and, after claiming the credit for when things happened to go right for him as chancellor, is now not accepting responsibility when things happen to be going wrong but is blaming hurricane Katrina and the gnomes of Europe. Actually he isn't responsible either for his "success" or for his failure, since governments don't govern how the capitalist economy works, neither at national and certainly not at world level, but can only react to the ups and downs of the world market.
The one good thing about the Labour Party these days is that it no longer pretends to have anything to do with socialism. Perhaps they realise that if they did people wouldn't believe them anyway. They are not even the left-of-centre "labour" party they once were, but are an openly illiberal and populist party that has stolen all the Tories's clothes. Not that "Old Labour" was any better when in government, imposing wage freezes, cutting benefits, opposing strikes just like all governments of capitalism as an economic system that imposes that profits must come before people.
Socialism meant, and still means, the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, where goods and services are produced directly for use and not for profit and where every member of society has access as of right to the things they need to live and enjoy life. Nobody who wants such a society would dream of voting for the Labour Party.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Independence no solution

Alex Salmon was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 this morning. He said that as devolution had failed to solve the problems facing people in Scotland he expected that, by the next Scottish elections in 2007, people would be more prepared to listen to the SNP's view that an independent Scotland was the only framework within which these problems can be solved. He even spoke of holding a referendum on the matter, unwisely since he must know he'd lose it. But then he needs to rally his troops and bluffing is part of being a professional office-seeking politician.
Of course devolution has failed. But that's because people's problems in Scotland were never caused by a lack of devolution in the first place. They were, and still are, caused by capitalism as the system of class ownership and production for profit. This is why independence is no solution either. As capitalism would continue in an independent Scotland, so would the problems. These problems are not caused by the form of government, and any government of an independent Scotland would still be compelled by the economic laws of capitalism to put profits before people, just as UK governments have been. The SSP would then no doubt come along and say "independence has failed because capitalism has been kept" and that what is needed an "independent socialist Scotland" and that then the problems will be solved. But they won't, first, because socialism cannot be established in one country (we are living in an interdependent world and capitalism is a world system) and, second, because what the SSP mean by "socialism" isn't real socialism but only a national state-capitalism.
The only framework within which these problems can be solved -- which don't just exist in Scotland but are basically the same in all the countries of the world -- is a world community without frontiers based on natural and industrial resources of the world being the common heritage of all humanity so allowing production directly for use instead of for profit. In other words, world socialism not narrow nationalism. That's the issue we are raising in this election.

The Crazy Contradictions of Capitalism

In our election leaflet we talk about unemployed nurses alongside closed-down hospitals and we have been challenged on that claim , certain individuals citing the current campaign to invite foreign nurses to solve the existing shortage of nursing staff . Confession time . That section was taken from an earlier leaflet . Then , there were 14,000 unemployed nurses ( See here. ). One problem that does exist to-day is trained nurses no longer wishing to pursue their career . Tens of thousands of qualified nurses who choose not to practice for reasons of low pay and grueling working conditions. " 41% of hospital nurses were dissatisfied with their jobs and 22% planned to leave them in less than one year (among nurses younger than 30, this figure was 33%). " - International Council of Nurses report 2003 .
We fully expect the pendulum to swing back eventually and the demand for employing nurses to wane once more again , even though the demand for nursing care will still remain high .
It possibly already has as this report seems to indicate :
" The British Medical Association (BMA) said three-quarters [ hospital trusts ] were facing cash shortfalls of 0.2m to £25m this year...In addition to the half who said their trust intended to implement a recruitment freeze , a quarter said their trust was considering staff redundancies. One in seven said redundancies would include medical staff. " See here
But our point was a general point . To demonstrate how misery can co-exist with the potential possibilities of abundance .

But to press home our damning of the system that permits the closure of hospitals while trained staff are unable to exercise their medical skills , we direct you to this recent statement by the British Medical Association :
" Thousands of young doctors might be unable to find work because of a shortage of jobs and the problem could be worse than feared, the British Medical Association said on Tuesday......A survey of 2,356 junior doctors carried out in August found that almost one in ten had been unable to find work.The BMA said if that proportion was replicated across the country, then as many as 3,000 doctors could be affected, forcing many to go abroad."
See here. .

So in place of reading "unemployed nurses" in our leaflet , please read "unemployed doctors alongside closed-down hospitals" instead .

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What's in a name?

The Scottish Politics site at has reproduced our explanation as to why we have not supplied a photo of our candidate, but have recorded that he was also one of the names on our list when we contested Lothians in the 1999 elections to the Scottish Parliament, a useful reminder that we've been active in this area before. In fact, for some people it's their third or fourth chance to vote for socialism since we also stood in the Livingston constituency in the 1992 General Election and in the Lothians constituency in the 1994 Euroelections.
For a short while the Scottish Politics site substituted in lieu of a photo what they thought was our emblem. In fact it was that of the Trotskyist Militant Tendency. An understable mistake (which they quickly corrected, for which we are grateful) in that, since 1992, the Militant Tendency has been trying to usurp the name "Socialist Party" which we have been using, including at elections, alongside our other names of "Socialist Party of Great Britain" and "SPGB", for over a hundred years now. Militant's full false name is "Socialist Party of England and Wales", or, rather expressively some might think, SPEW for short.
Militant also gave rise to the so-called "Scottish Socialist Party", which claims to stand for "socialism" (in one province). In fact, what both Militant and the SSP stand for is a system under which all industry would be nationalised and the government controlled by a single vanguard party, as taught by Lenin and Trotsky. They also follow Lenin in thinking that workers are too thick to understand socialism, but must be led there by a vanguard party offering attractive reforms of capitalism (look at the SSP programme).
Nationalisation and rule by a vanguard party is not of course socialism, but something more appropriately called "state capitalism". It's a travesty of the word socialism which in reality means a system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, with goods and services produced simply to satisfy people's needs and distribution on the basis of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs". Socialism is a simple idea, which anybody can understand; which is what we are standing for in this election and nothing else (we make no promises).
If you want state capitalism, vote for the SSP. But if you want real socialism, you can show this by putting an X by the name of our faceless candidate. And then get in touch with us to do something about it (our election manifesto giving details of how to contact us should be distributed this week to every household in the Livingston constituency) .

Monday, September 19, 2005

For the West Lothian Courier

Brian Gardner is the candidate for the Socialist Party . We are standing to argue the case that Capitalism is past its sell-by date .
The world can now easily produce wealth sufficient to adequately house , feed , care for and educate the global population . Instead we see hunger, disease and homelessness around the world despite the concerns of governments, charities and popstars. Closer to home, in a "developed" nation like the UK , we see child poverty and an increasing gulf between rich and poor . Rates of depression and anxiety are becoming epidemic .
Capitalism is failing : it now acts as a barrier , preventing production being geared to human need . Rather than keep trying to tinker with this system we should start looking beyond it to an alternative : a wageless , moneyless , classless world community based on production for human need , not profit .
This social change can only come about once the majority understand it and want it . It won't come about by following leaders or voting for someone else to do it . The face of our candidate is therefore a complete irrelevance . That's why we have no photo .
The other candidates contesting this election (whether openly pro-capitalist or avowedly socialist) are asking you to believe that they can run this society a little bit better . We’d argue that history shows that the money system actually ends up running them . Their pre-election promises usually amount to nothing .
So don’t vote for them - it only encourages the idea that capitalism can be made better. A vote for the Socialist Party in contrast, is a statement that you don’t want to live this way and that you think another world is possible .
If you have confidence that humans can live and work co-operatively without the pressure of the wages system, or the rationing system of money , then visit - and vote for the Socialist Party .

Brian Gardner

A Word From Our Candidate

What is apparent so far in this election is the extent to which all the parties try and manage the agenda for the election. They all want to encourage the debate to be round the handful of high-profile “flagship” issues where they feel on strong ground.
But its always phrased along the lines of “knocking on doors, we keep hearing that XXX is the real issue of the day”. Funnily enough, we don’t hear the Lib Dems, for example, say “recent canvassing returns indicate that voters actually don’t give a damn about our policies one way or the other”.
The assumption is that voters are stupid and can only remember 3 or 4 things at a time, so why give them more than that to consider.
What it all means is that the campaign may centre around a handful of issues only. That may appear to appeal to the Socialist Party. After all we are the ultimate single issue party - Abolish Capitalism. But while this is a single issue no-one is pretending that it is a simple case. Sure its not complicated, the case for putting human need ahead of profit, but soundbites don’t do our case justice.
We are also handicapped in the eyes of the modern voter by the fact that we are not in a position to make promises, and what’s more, we aren’t going to “do anything” for anyone. The other parties are falling over each other to be seen to be offering some immediate palliative.
What is important to recognise is that these so-called “local” issues that are high on the agenda at the Livingston by-election (such as the NHS, local schools, and fire cover) are pressing issues everywhere else. But these are not really local issues after all. Its just that many people (and all of our opponents) think the solution is usually a local one, so there is no point looking elsewhere for the answer. Unhappy with the plans for the local hospital (St Johns) ? Well don’t worry whoever gets elected will have a word with the local Health Board and try and clarify the situation. Concerned about fire cover at Craigshill fire station ? Don’t worry, one of the politicians will make sure you are consulted about it. Losing sleep over global warming ? No problem, I’ll just turn the thermostat down… (OK I made the last one up)
In fact the problem underpinning most of the supposed “local” issues is usually much broader. Its not just specific local problems (like poor quality consultation documents, or ill thought through proposals). The whole issue of provision of essential services such as health care and fire emergency cover is dictated by the level of resources allocated . And whether the by-election is in Livingston or Llannelli, the same picture emerges: social services are obviously extremely stretched. Public sector workers are under pressure to work harder, for less money (see NHS Agenda for change) and now, it would seem, for longer (see for example yesterday’s government announcement that the retiral age is likely to be increased).
Labour’s response is to provide selective statistics to prove that Labour has been investing heavily in NHS. This may be true recently, but follows a calculated starvation of resources in the earlier years of the “New Labour” administration. And anyway this has only been possible because the economy has been strong. The economic storm clouds are gathering which are likely to severely inhibit Prime Minister Brown’s room for manoeuvre.
Of course Labour like to take responsibility for the strength of the economy in recent years. The reality is that Gordon Brown chose his time to be Chancellor very well, and will be getting out at just the right time. In reality, the government is in control of the economy the same way a duck bobbing around on the ocean is in control of the tides.
Our opponents are making all sorts of promises to the voters of West Lothian. What will they do for the NHS ? Will they remove prescription charges ? Will they maintain adequate fire cover for the area ? What is a “fair“ wage for a nursery nurse ? Or for a bus-driver for that matter ? In so doing we’d say they are fighting over the crumbs from the rich man’s plate, rather than upsetting the whole table.

What is our response to some of the key issues raised in the campaign to date ?
Fire Cover at Craigshill station
A local community group the, Fire Reform Action Group, held an election hustings on Thursday night.
The local authority appears to be proposing a cut in the number of tenders available for weekend periods. This is likely to result in an increase in time for tenders to travel from other stations during busy periods. This is also despite an increase in fires in the area in the last year, and a projection that the population will continue to grow in the near to medium-term.
The Socialist Party’s view is that this is clearly a cost-cutting measure. it’s a blatant example of the merciless logic of the market system. The Fire Service is not a profit centre (in its early days of course it was - your house would burn to the ground if your payments weren’t up to date), but it is a cost to the capitalist state. It’s a cost that the state is prepared to pay on behalf of its paymasters (the UK capitalist class) - after all stopping a property from being burnt to the ground is usually a cheaper option than re-building it outright. (And the owning clas don’t want to have to do it themselves - after all, can you imagine Brian Soutar or the Duke of Buccleuch wanting to get their hands dirty).
But the capitalist class don’t want to pay any more than they have to; they don’t want a fire service that will be able to do anything more than the bare minimum. The reason ? - ultimately these costs come off the profits of UK Capitalism.
It was interesting to note that during the debate, all of our opponents at the hustings on Thursday night expressed the view that profit should not be put before people or public safety. Socialist sentiments lurk inside us all, often without us realising it. In the Socialist Party, we don’t just pay lip service to this basic principle though: for us its not just a nice idea - it’s the essence of our position. Only the Socialist Party has the practical case that is consistent with this idea.
Let’s be in no doubt, despite the politicians platitudes, the reality is that profit does come before public safety. Somewhere in the local authority or Scottish Executive or Westminster, there is an accountant doing a cost-benefit analysis on the fire service. They are working out how small a fire service can be maintained, and at what point the cost savings from this are outweighed by the costs of the additional deaths, which will surely follow.
As an example of the insane logic of the market system, last year West Lothian Council received £10,000 to help householders identify fire hazards in their home and to fit smoke alarms. In contrast every retail outlet in the Almondvale shopping centre has had smoke alarms, fire detectors and sprinkler systems in place for years. The message could hardly be clearer: the profit system would rather protect a rack of clothes in Top Shop, than a family home.
So, good luck to the organisers of last nights hustings, the Fire Reform Action Group of Livingston. They appear to have managed to avoid being taken over by the usual underhand and deadhand Leninist tactics of the SSP, and are a genuine grassroots community group. I wont be signing your petition: not because I don’t think the issue is important, but rather because I simply don’t think that petitions work.
You don’t need to be told not to place too much faith in whichever politician gets elected from Livingston - history would suggest that promises made before the election quickly get discarded when in office, and the pressure of trying to run the profit system in the interests of humanity become too difficult.
The Socialist Party advocates the abolition of buying & selling and money & wages. We want the replacement of the system where production is geared to profit, by a system where production is based on self-defined human needs. In the (admittedly) unlikely event that the Socialist Party was elected on 29th September, we would (after sobering up) very probably (ie as we are a democratic party it wouldnt just be up to me to decide) give our support to your reform demand, as we would any issue which we felt would advance the interests or conditions of the working class. But it is reasonable for us to not want to allow this to divert us from the mandate we would have been elected on, to push for a world where the satisfaction of human need is the first and last and only consideration of society.

Brian Gardner , The Socialist Party candidate

This World of Ours

Scotland has been named the most violent country in the developed world by a United Nations report. The study found that, excluding murder, Scots were almost three times as likely to be assaulted as Americans...
The survey concluded that 2,000 Scots were attacked every week. That figure is 10 times the number recorded in official police figures.The figure for Scotland dwarves that of other developed nations such as Japan, where people are 30 times less likely to be attacked. BBC News

TONY Blair "relished" sending troops into action in Iraq, according to claims by a former Downing Street aide. Lance Price, a former No 10 spin doctor, has published diaries of his time with the Prime Minister that paint a highly unflattering picture of life at Downing Street.Mr Price stated that Mr Blair "relished his first blooding as PM" when he sent British troops into action in Iraq. The entry was written when the Prime Minister ordered military action for the first time, sending RAF pilots on bombing missions along with the United States over Iraq at Christmas 1998. [ Behave like a violent thug on the large scale and they will declare you a "great man " ]
The Scotsman

A GRAN starved to death because her council home had no letterbox so her pension could not be delivered. Penniless Ivy Allen, 79, had barely drunk or eaten in the last three months of her life.
TRAGIC Ivy Allen's pension was sent back each week after the council gave her a new front door but failed to put a letterbox into it. Penniless Ivy, 79, starved to death. There was not a scrap of food in the house when her emaciated body was found.
The Mirror

The number of million-pound house sales in Scotland has more than doubled in the past year, according to figures. 40 homes with seven-figure price tags were sold in the first half of the year, compared to 18 in the same period of 2004.... [ i am sure they all came with letter-boxes fitted ]
BBC News

Friday, September 16, 2005

More requests for photographs of candidate

Politics in Britain is certainly becoming more and more a cult of the personality .
Once again we have had to advise a website , on this occasion , that we will not be issueing photographs or personal details of our candidate . We have requested that they include this statement , instead .

" Brian Gardner is the candidate for the Socialist Party . We are standing to argue the case that Capitalism is past its sell-by date , and can now be replaced by its alternative : a wageless , moneyless , classless world community based on production for human need , not profit . This change can only come about once the majority understand it and want it . It won't come about by following leaders or voting for someone else to do it . The birthplace , background , work history or face of our candidate is therefore a complete irrelevance . That's why we have no photo. "

It's 9 against 1

The official list of candidates, just published by the Returning Officer, is:
Peter Adams (UKIP Scotland) John William Allman (Alliance For Change – Britain in sin)Melville Brown (Independent) Angela Constance (Scottish National Party) James Devine (Scottish Labour Party) Charles Christopher Dundas (Scottish Liberal Democrats) Brian Gardner (The Socialist Party of Great Britain) Gordon John Lindhurst (Scottish Conservative and Unionist) Steven Grant Nimmo (Scottish Socialist Party) David George Robertson (Scottish Green Party).
So, it's 9 candidates standing for capitalism in one form or another against one standing for socialism as a world of common ownership and democratic control, with production just for use and distribution on the principle from each according to their abilities to each according to their needs.

No photographs please

We have had a request from for a photograph of our candidate , Brian Gardner to add to their site . Our reply was as follows :

" I am afraid that the visitors to your blog-spot will have to remain disappointed with the lack of photograph from the Socialist Party candidate , Brian Gardner . We have a policy that it is the Party's case that should be voted upon , not the Party's face . It is the politics not the personality . Note also the lack of biographical information on the candidate in the election leaflet . We want you to vote for the Socialist Party , not the man "

Thursday, September 15, 2005

No, he's not one of us

A US student newspaper in Boston, The Daily Free Press, in its edition for yesterday, opened an article headlined "BRITISH MP BLASTS BUSH FOR IRAQ WAR" as follows:
"George Galloway, a Member of Parliament in the Socialist Party of Great Britain, challenged Britons and Americans to defy governmental authority, particularly against the War in Iraq, in a rally at Faneuil Hall Tuesday." (see
We are of course opposed to the Iraq War as to all wars, which under capitalism are caused by conflicts of interest between capitalist states over sources of raw material (in this case oil), markets, investment outlets and strategic locations to protect these, but we have to correct the Boston students' mistake.
George Galloway has nothing to do with the Socialist Party of Great Britain. He is an MP, the only one in fact, for the reformist Respect Party. Helped by the trotskyist SWP, he played the Muslim sectarian card in the Bethnal Green constituency in London and won. Now that the Scottish Sheridan Party (SSP), having dumped Sheridan, is in decline, he is threatening to stand his Respect Party in elections to Scotland.
We are sure that Galloway will be as anxious to deny any connection with us as we are with him. After all, he still stands for the pipedream of a reformed, "humanised" capitalism as he did when he was a Labour MP for Glasgow, and not for a socialist world of common ownership, democratic control, production solely for use and distribution "from each their ability, to each their needs" that we, as real socialists, do.

Monday, September 12, 2005

2nd Hustings Meeting

There has been a second hustings meeting that the Socialist Party have been invited to and will be attending with the rest of the other candidates .

Friday 16th September
@ 7:00pm
Loganlea Miners Club
Loganlea , nr Addiewell .

Livingston Hustings

The Socialist Party candidate has been invited along to a question and answer public meeting of all the candidates hosted by the Save Fire Cover campaign ( ) of the Fire Brigade Union and , of course , Brian will be attending to put forth the arguments for socialism .

The details are :
Thursday 15th September @ 7:00pm
at Inveralmond Community High School,
Ladywell , Livingston

Ballot Paper Names

That's it , comrades , we have now had our nomination to stand in the Livingston election accepted . Brian Gardner will be the socialist candidate , the only socialist , the only real socialist , on the 29th of September .

Unfortunately , the authorities felt that name The Socialist Party on the ballot paper may possibly have led some of the electorate to confuse us with the Scottish Socialist Party . So ,alas , we will be standing as the Socialist Party of Great Britain , which will be the name on the ballot paper . Fortunately , however , our case for socialism can never be confused with the hodgepodge of promises to reform capitalism into some sort of humane state - controlled society that is the policy of the SSP .

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Royal Mail approve leaflet for free distribution

We have received this morning by email the following communication from the Royal Mail concerning our candidate's election communication for the Livingston by-election on 29 September. Next step: printing the 50,000 to be delivered free to each of the households in the constituency. The presses starting rolling on Monday.

"I am writing to confirm I have vetted the proof to ensure it does not contain any obscene, offensive or indecent content and I am happy to give my approval. The vetting code is xxx-xxx-X.
Kind Regards
Artwork Vetting Team

Royal Mail vets election mailings where the postage is paid by the DCA [Department of Constitutional Affairs] and draws candidate attention to election mailings which it considers contains material which is offensive, obscene or indecent. Regardless of any vetting carried out by Royal Mail, it remains the responsibility of candidates to ensure that election mailings comply with the law and the requirements as set out at pages 12 and 13 of the candidate mailing campaign. One of the requirements is to ensure that election mailings do not contain any signs, words, marks or designs that are offensive, obscene or indecent. Candidates should ensure that election mailings comply with the product specification as laid out in Candidate Mailing Guide to Best Practice - in particular the mailings:· must not weigh more than 60g· must be the same size and weight· must be between 140mm and 240mm in length, between 90mm and 165mm in width and no thicker than 6mm when folded· must have the words "Election Communication" font 10 or larger on the front of the mailing. (if the mailing is addressed it must be the top of the mailing) Please be aware candidates are entitled to one free mailing.This mailing must be EITHER unaddressed or addressed, both cannot be sent."

Friday, September 09, 2005



That's the issue in this election, says
On 29th September, you will have your
occasional ration of democracy with the
opportunity to vote for a member of
Parliament. It's all very well having a
vote-but are you normally given any real
Let's face it, if it wasn't for the politician's
head on the front of the election leaflet,
could you tell which party was which?
It's tempting, in the absence of any real
alternative, to get drawn into the phoney
war that is political debate today.
Whether Labour, Tory, SNP, Lib Dem or
SSP they all spout the same promises.
But it always amounts to the same thing-they
offer no alternative to the present
way of running society.
Do you really think who wins an election
makes any difference to how you live?
And do politicians (whether left-wing,
nationalist or right-wing) actually have
much real power anyway? OK, they get
to open supermarkets and factories, but
it's capitalism and the market system
which closes them down.
REALITY CHECKDo any of the political parties address
any of the real issues:
.Why is there world hunger in a
world of food surpluses?
.Why are there unemployed nurses,
alongside closed-down hospitals and
waiting lists?
.Why are there homeless people in
the streets and empty houses with
"for sale" signs?
.Why do some people get stressed
working long hours while others get
stressed from the boredom of
This time you will have a real choice. We
in THE SOCIALIST PARTY are standing
at this election to put forward an
alternative to capitalism and the madness
of the market:
A society of common ownership and
democratic control.
We call it socialism.
But real socialism, not the elite-run
dictatorships that collapsed a few years
ago in Russia and East Europe. And not
the various failed schemes for state
control once put forward by the Labour
Party and now put forward by the
reformist Scottish Socialist Party.

For us socialism means something better
than that
We're talking about a world community
without any frontiers. About wealth being
produced to meet people's needs and not
for sale on a market or for profit. About
everyone having access to what they
require to satisfy their needs, without the
rationing system that is money. A society
where people freely contribute their skills
and experience to produce what is
needed, without the compulsion of a
wage or salary.
If you don't like present-day society . . . if
you are fed up with the way you are
forced to live . . . if you think the root
cause of most social problems is the
market system, then your ideas echo
closely with ours.
If you want to vote for our party we're
delighted. But we don't really want votes
based on a misreading of what we are
about. We are not promising to deliver
socialism to you. We are not putting
ourselves forward as leaders. This new
society can only be achieved if we join
together to strive for it. If you want it, then
it is something you have to bring about
If you agree with this, you can
show it by voting for Brian
candidate for Livingston
parliamentary constituency.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Election Blogging

This is the second election blog I've been involved in - previously at the general election we ran the blog Vaux Populi for our campaign in Vauxhall constituency.

Our Edinburgh comrades, however, are even more wired up than the london crew - so I'm looking forward to doing less of the writing here, but reading the sizzling prose of our Scottish electoral pros.

We'll be making the case for socialism, as well as describing the experience of taking part in a by-election campaign.

It's not the number of votes that counts in Livingston, it's the number of people our message reaches.