The impending general election presents the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) with a great opportunity.
We will be standing in all 59 parliamentary seats across Scotland, except for East Kilbride, which Rose Gentle is contesting on an anti-war ticket.
Our socialist message will link the immediate campaign for social justice with the bigger campaign for socialism.
We will be concentrating on the NHS, education, pensions, jobs and the economy, and Iraq.
The NHS continues to be in crisis. In Edinburgh the new Royal Infirmary is costing £930 million through a PFI scheme, when it only cost £270 million to build.
Labour is deliberately undermining the foundation of the NHS — collective free provision at the point of need from cradle to grave. This is backdoor privatisation.
Our education system remains underfunded and understaffed. Good education is becoming a privilege for the few, not a right for the many.
Gordon Brown preaches the virtues of prudence, yet public sector workers that have prudently contributed to their pensions for years are being robbed outright.
And if Brown wants to lead Labour’s campaign on the economy, then we’ll point out that 25 percent of kids in Scotland live in poverty, that areas of social deprivation in Scotland are aplenty, and that tens of thousands have lost their jobs in recent years.
Nor will we let Labour run a “Basil Fawlty” campaign. Every time they try not mention the war, we will shout out, “You lied to get us in to this illegal, unjust war” and demand “Troops out now!”.
We will campaign on the basis of the bills we’ve introduced in the Scottish Parliament — on free school meals, scrapping the council tax, and abolishing prescription charges.
We’ll also do it on the basis of our republicanism. Our very successful Calton Hill declaration event will become an annual event — over 50 percent of Scottish people want get rid of the monarchy.
Our vision is of “another Scotland” — an independent republic with wealth redistribution, respect for the environment and workers’ control.
But this election isn’t just about garnering as many votes for social justice and socialism as possible.
It’s also about recruiting new members and sinking deeper roots in working class communities. It’s about building a solid basis for the battles to come.
Straight out of the election, we’ll be putting all our energies into the anti-G8 mobilisations. We want to help provide the biggest hostile reception to G8 leaders and the biggest warm welcome to protestors.
All this work means that when we fight on more fertile ground in the 2007 Scottish elections, we’ll reap the seeds we’ve sown.
Colin Fox MSP is national convenor of the Scottish Socialist Party.
SSP website: www.scottishsocialistparty.org