Socialist Worker

Rosemary Byrne: gearing up to offer a socialist alternative

Solidarity MSP Rosemary Byrne spoke to Socialist Worker about the campaign in Scotland to challenge neoliberal parties in the 3 May elections

Issue No. 2043

‘Solidarity activists have been delivering pre-election bulletins to houses across Scotland over the last few weeks. Tens of thousands have been delivered so far.

We’ve also been handing them out on street stalls where we’ve been petitioning against the war and the replacement for the Trident nuclear weapons system.

Although these issues aren’t controlled by the Scottish parliament, they are major issues in this election. There’s a particular focus on nuclear weapons after last week’s vote in Westminster to support Trident.

People who have relatives serving in Iraq have signed our petition and said they want the boys to come home.

The feeling in communities is that people are really switched off from New Labour. They’ve had so many services cut – for the young, the elderly and for people with disabilities – that they are angry.

People are fed up with the state of their communities. I spent Monday of last week with people from Age Concern in Irvine, where I’m based, talking with elderly people.

They are worried about local issues such as the collection of rubbish, the state of the buildings and areas they don’t like to go to.

There are also issues around young people having nothing to do. People feel that Labour has done nothing to bring back the sense of community that Margaret Thatcher and the Tories did so much to destroy.

The Solidarity manifesto will be ready by the end of this week after we held a conference last month to discuss which issues we needed to take up.

Disgrace

These include opposition to the war and Trident, but also opposition to poverty. The number of children living in poverty in Scotland is a disgrace.

I have pledged that if I am re-elected, I will bring forward a private member’s bill in the Scottish parliament on reducing class sizes to no more than 20. I will also bring back my bill on drugs rehabilitation.

Another bill I will propose is one banning air rifles. Over 80 percent of people in Scotland support this ban.

Tommy Sheridan MSP, the co-convenor of Solidarity, will push for a Scottish service tax bill to be passed by the Scottish parliament if he is re-elected.

This will scrap the council tax and replace it with a local taxation system based on income and ability to pay.

We will also propose a free schools meals bill, which Tommy Sheridan has brought forward as an MSP.

These are the same policies as those subscribed to by our former colleagues in the Scottish Socialist Party.

We should be working together in the parliament for socialist policies. We should work together for the good of our communities.

We are standing up for workers’ rights. Workers at the Simclar electronic components factory in Kilwinning, north Ayrshire, recently occupied in protest at the company’s plans to close the factory.

Ten years

I supported their protest. Simclar is just one example of New Labour’s ten years in office. The government has done everything possible to protect the bosses.

We need to turn the tables so that workers’ rights are restored and they can take secondary action to support other workers.

Solidarity has supported the recent civil service workers’ and signal workers’ disputes.

We are standing on the regional lists of the Scottish parliamentary elections and not in the constituencies. The regional is on the left hand side of the ballot paper, so we are asking people to vote on the left for Solidarity.

We are cautiously optimistic about getting both myself and Tommy Sheridan re-elected, and a few other parliamentary candidates elected.

Solidarity is also standing candidates in the council elections on 3 May.

We are confident of doing well in these elections because of our excellent candidates, and because it is a single transferable vote system in Scotland this year.

Any Solidarity MSP or councillor will fight for the people, to make sure they come first.’

For more information on the campaign go to www.solidarityscotland.org


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