Free Public Transport Broadcast

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all




Xmas comes early for Jack


Last week

Frances, Barbara, Felicity and myself went to Bute House to deliver this Christmas card, signed by hundereds of Edinburgh residents at the local farmers market, supporting free school meals to Jack McConnell. He wasn't in bah humbug!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Trident motion in parliament

S2M-5355.1 Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) : Trident— As an amendment to motion S2M-5355 in the name of Nicola Sturgeon (Trident), leave out from “notes” to end and insert “believes Trident nuclear weapons to be both illegal under international law, as they cannot distinguish between enemy combatants on the one hand and innocent civilians on the other, and immoral; calls on the Westminster Parliament to oppose the White Paper on the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system and to recognise Britain’s obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaties; believes that the £25 billion needed to replace Trident would be better spent on health, education and social services, and calls on all parliamentarians to support the Faslane 365 day of protest on 8 January 2007 for MSPs, MPs and MEPs outside the naval base on the Clyde”.


Lodged on 20 December 2006; current

Trident debate in parliament

there was a debate in the parliament today on Trident, here are the notes of the speech I made in the debate you can also find some coverage on the BBC by following this link http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6198607.stm

Trident 21/12/06
1 I welcome this debate because it is important and the chances of Labour bringing it up in their time, with the huge divisions in its ranks, are zero.

2 This debate should be raging across Britain, the full implications of developing yet more nuclear weapons of mass destruction engaging all civic and democratic institutions because it affects us all.

3 It’s a huge issue for our age; one which puts all humanity at risk,
one where the legality of theses weapons under international law is put under close scrutiny,
one which casts doubt on Britain’s commitment to the nuclear non proliferation treaties it has signed , and
one where enormous sums of money which could be spent on health, education and social services are to go on nuclear bombs.

5 But of course it is precisely these issues, those of international legality and concern for humanity where Tony Blair doesn’t shine.
His legacy, the catastrophic failure of policy in IRAQ stands for evermore round his neck.

6 And neither should we be surprised at him steamrollering this debate. Blair is not comfortable with democracy. He lied to us on Iraq and he lies to us again on this debate.
His cabinet has already decided and his chancellor has already allocated the funds, and his First Minister ahs jumped into line, so his appeal for a full and open debate is another sham.

7 Don’t believe me? Where were members on June 12th this year?
On June 12th I visited Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment part of Scottish CND deputation.
We were taken round the perimeter fence of the base by veteran CND activists- AWE management would not meet us.
Shown where the manufacture of nuclear warheads took place.
Shown where the development of replacement Trident system is already far advanced.

8 In the afternoon we travelled up to Westminster where we met Dr Hans Blix the UN weapons Inspector. He was in London to present his latest report on the nuclear non proliferation treaty and how the countries who had signed up to it were not honouring their commitments.

9 That evening Gordon Brown in his Mansion House speech announced that he had already allocated the £25bn plus needed for replacing Trident.

10 Yesterday Tony Blair had the affrontery to tell us we are, in this epoch, locked into a battle between democracy and extremism.
If that is right then he is certainly not on the side of Democracy? He doesn’t know the meaning of the word.

11 The majority of Scots have expressed their opinion about Trident.
They are opposed to it and believe they make Scotland less safe.

12 An independent Scotland would scrap Trident of that I have no doubt.
Just as, an independent Scotland would not have sent Scottish soldiers to fight an illegal war in Iraq.

13 Britain is one of just 9 countries in the world with nuclear weapons.
Weapons designed to annihilate entire countries, making no distinction between enemy combatants and innocent civilians. That’s what makes them both illegal and immoral.

14 Tony Blair is the extremist who holds the threat of nuclear annihilation over the world. He is a threat to his neighbours, with nuclear missiles he is a threat to every nation. So where are the UN weapons inspectors now?

15 Who protects the world from Kim Jung Blair? He has weapons of mass destruction and has also ‘got form’ attacking and invading other countries! Iraq! Who protects the world from Kim Blair Il!

16 Reminds me of Anacharsis – the Greek philosopher who once said that ‘laws are like cobwebs – strong enough to hold the weak but not able to hold back the strong’!
In other words the NNPT is there to hold back those small nations- North Korea’s defiance not withstanding - but the big nations, as Hans Blix concludes, the powerful nuclear nations, they don’t take a blind bit of notice.

17 ‘THE ULTIMATE INSURANCE’ he calls it. Trident nuclear weapons provide us with– the ‘ultimate insurance’ claims Tony Blair ‘a safeguard against attack.’ The US has 32,000 and it didn’t stop 9/11.
The nature of the threat has rendered these illegal and immoral missile systems obsolete in the so called ‘war on terror’.

18 How dare Tony Blair warn Kim Jong –il of North Korea not to develope nuclear missiles and then turn round and spend £25bn - £75bn of our money on more Trident weapons of mass destruction.
Who insures the world from Blairism?

18 The £25bn - £75bn could be better spent on health, education and social services, not on weapons designed to blow entire nations to smithereens.
*No Labour members who support Trident Two can in future in all conscience stand up in this Chamber without attracting ridicule and dare claim there is no money for free school meals, no money to abolish NHS prescription charges or for free personal care for the elderly
– not when they are prepared to spend billions on Trident 2.

19 There are 9 countries in the world with nuclear weapons – 9!
USA 32,500. Russia 16,000 France 400, UK 240, China 200, India 110 Pakistan 100, Israel 100 and North Korea 4.
Only US has ever used them in war and yet they have more than everyone else put together. Who protects the world from George Bush?

20 Trust in politics has never been in shorter supply.
And you just can’t trust Labour on Trident. Gordon Brown in 1984 said Trident was ‘….unacceptably expensive, economically wasteful and military unsound’ June 19th 1984 and now he’s all for them?
Blair shows the same inconsistency - a maverick warmongering leader to compare with any turnaround of Kim Jung Il!

21 SUPPORT FASLANE 365 – Protest on Jan 8th
Scottish CND have begun a year long protest outside the Faslane Naval base and as part of that exercise they have invited Parliamentarians to join them on Jan 8th. I will be there. I hope all MSP’s here today will join me. ENDS

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Former SNP candidate leaves to join SSP


Chris Sagan , who was SNP candidate in East Dumbartonshire at last year’s Westminster general election has joined the Scottish Socialist Party.

Chris, who is a teacher in Bishopriggs, said that he was increasingly unhappy at the rightward drift of the SNP and attracted to the SSP by its keynote policies on poverty and independence.

Chris said:

“My main reason for joining the SSP is a positive endorsement of the party as being on the side of the poor. Policies such as Free School Meals and free Public Transport are both just and deliverable and would I believe make major inroads into combating inequality in Scotland.”

“As a life long supporter of independence I fully support the SSP demand for a democratic, Scottish republic with the real powers to change peoples’ lives for the better.”

“I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the SNP other than to say that it seems to be watering down its concern for ordinary people in a bid to cosy up to the business community.”

“That was clearly shown last Monday by the absence of any SNP MSPs from the Farepak protest in Edinburgh—presumably to avoid offending the HBOS ‘fat cats’.”

“Like many Scots, I don’t want to just swap New Labour for New SNP. I have joined the SSP because it calls for an independent, nuclear free, socialist Scotland.”

Welcoming Chris’s decision to join the socialists SSP leader Colin Fox said:

“Chris Sagan is a very important gain for us. He is the latest in a steady stream of people joining the SSP who recognise a party of integrity which is passionate about winning a different kind of Scotland not dominated by big business.”

“I am proud to welcome Chris and indeed all the other new members across Scotland to our party and to the fight for an independent, nuclear fee, socialist Scotland which is going from strength to strength, gaining support each week in the polls. I am sure Chris Sagan will be at the heart of our work between now and next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.”

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bring back our buses

As a regular user of public transport I know how invaluable getting a bus can be. I'm lucky in that I live on a main route into the city centre where buses are almost ten a penny. I've lodged this motion in the parliament to try and highlight some of the local campaigns to maintain or resurrect bus routes.


S2M-5327 Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) : Bring Back Our Buses Campaign— That the Parliament notes that several vital community bus services in the Edinburgh area have been cut or made virtually unaffordable through fare increases over the last year; applauds the efforts of the South Queensferry Bus Users’ Group in campaigning for affordable fares and of the “Bring Back our Buses” campaign in calling for the retention of frequent services on the 13, 18, 38 routes and the reinstatement of full services on the 67, 20 and 60 routes, which are much used by OAPs and other vulnerable members of excluded communities in Blackhall, Ratho, Dumbiedykes, Wester Hailes and Pilton, and believes that local authorities should be allowed to regulate bus routes and timetables to ensure that marginalised communities are able to access services and amenities.

Lodged on 14 December 2006; current

Fox Scrap Trident Call

This is a press release I sent into the Edinburgh Evening News yesterday afternoon. Shortly after sending I saw a poll run by BBC Scotland which shows that a majority of Scottish MPs are opposed to nuclear weapons on the Clyde. Many of these MPs were Labour MPs and much pressure will be put on them in the coming weeks to back Tony Blair's plans to maintain weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde. The will of the Scottish people is clear - MPs are opposed to Trident and the feedback from the streets show that the public are opposed to Trident.
however the democratic deficit that arises from the Westminster system means that we will have these heinous machines of destruction foisted upon us by an unholy alliance of Labour and Tory MPs.
Surely the time has come for the people of Scotland to take control of their own affairs. Son of Trident highlights the fight, not only, for Scottish independance but also for the kind of Scotland we are fighting for! A low waged haven for business where the privateers are in control using the celtic tiger model favoured by the SNP or an independant republic based on principles of public ownership, equality and democracy?


Scottish Socialist Party MSP Colin Fox will press christmas shoppers on Princes Street to write to Tony Blair and protest against Trident nuclear missiles. In particular the MSP is angry at the Prime Ministers decision to deny the country a meaningful say in the Trident debate. Fox believes the Cabinet has already made up its mind on the issue and that instructions have already been given to Ministry of Defence chiefs to spend upwards of £25bn on a second generation of Trident nuclear submarines.
The Lothians MSP told us
"When I visited the Atomic Weapons factory at Aldermaston in Berkshire in June I saw for myself the silo's where these nuclear weapons are manufactured. It was clear to me back then that plans were well advanced to build the new missiles.Contracts with American companies like Lockheed Martin and MacDonnell Douglas were already in place. As it happened, on the same day I visited Aldermaston, Gordon Brown announced that he had allocated the £25bn needed to replace these weapons of mass destruction in his budget settlement.
So I expect shoppers in Edinburgh today to take with a pinch of salt claims by Tony Blair that a full democratic debate will take place on whether or not we replace Trident before the Commons votes on it in late January. Just as he lied to us on Iraq he is lying to us again over our rights to a democratic debate. The decision has already been taken and his so called debate is a sham. This is the man who put the con into consultation".

The Lothians MSP believes public opinion in Scotland is heavily opposed to Trident nuclear weapons which are based at Faslane Naval headquarters on the Clyde.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Free Public Transport for all

This is a copy of an article I sent to the South Edinburgh Echo

31, 7, 37, 47, 3, 8, 29 no it’s not my lottery numbers, it’s the buses I get into the city from my end of the Inch.
I hate taking my car into town, its just a nasty, irritating, frustrating experience -driving up Minto Street, along South Clerk Street [past my constituency office] and then onto the Bridges – and just don’t get me started on ‘the joys of parking’!
Of course when you add up all our journeys and the cumulative effect of traffic pollution and congestion, the cost to the Scottish economy of all these hours of gridlock morning and evening is horrendous. Across Scotland the environmental damage from these poisonous gas emissions is enormous. All the experts warn we simply can’t go on like this.

It is time for a radical solution. And the Scottish Socialist Party believe we have found one - free public transport for everyone. Free bus travel, free train travel and free ferry travel.
Think of the likely impact in tackling traffic congestion for a start. There would be a very real incentive to leave your car at home. It would dramatically reduce CO2 emissions.
It would also assist those excluded from participation in everyday travel activities which the better off can afford and it would benefit the wider economy by freeing everyone from the daily grind of traffic gridlock and mindless commuting. Added to that it would significantly reduce road accidents as the number of cars on our roads would be halved.

Many will rightly argue that it is the direction we are moving in anyway. The Scottish Executive’s free public transport scheme for senior citizens has been such a success it is soon to be rolled out further. More and more people are using public transport as the decline of the past twenty five years has been halted and passenger numbers soar.
In Hasselt in Belgium, a city the same size as Edinburgh, the authorities faced much the same problems as here with traffic congestion and pollution. They adopted a free fares policy and the result was that the region saw a dramatic fall in traffic volumes and pollution levels.

There is no doubt in my mind that if we make public transport the most attractive option people will take it. In the early 1980’s Ken Livingstone’s GLC implemented a far reaching public transport policy in London which slashed fares and opened up thousands of new bus routes. The initiative saw the numbers using public transport increase 870%.

Think how much easier journeys in Edinburgh South would become. Consider how do you get to work at the Western General hospital or at BAe on Ferry Road or the Gyle at the moment in your car?

Certainly making public transport free would mean we would need more buses, trains and trams to cope with the demand. That for me is a given and must obviously be added to the cost.
So what about the cost? Most transport experts and academics suggest it would cost about £1bn if you add the current income which would be lost and the cost of extra investment in new buses, trains etc. But against that must be offset the cost of doing nothing, the benefits to the wider economy and of course the quality of life for travelers and also the cost to the NHS of road traffic accidents and deaths.
In the week Tony Blair announces there is anywhere between £25bn and £75bn available for a hugely unpopular second generation of Trident weapons then surely no one is going to argue there I no money around!

I believe the months leading up to the Holyrood elections afford us the opportunity to debate the issues of congestion and pollution in full and debate the likeliest solutions. To me offering free public transport to everyone is the most imaginative and attractive solution and the one most likely to succeed.

Death of Pinochet





I shed no tears at news of the death of General Augusto Pinochet this week.
The former President of Chile came to power in 1973 after he overthrew the democratically elected socialist government of Dr Salvador Allende in a brutal repression of democracy. With the backing of the US, Pinochet launched a bloody coup d’etat against the popularly elected government and was responsible for the torture and death of tens of thousands of trades unionists and political activists. To this day many of the bodies have never been found or identified.
Pinochet has never faced justice for his actions. He was hailed as a hero by Thatcher and Reagan, protected by the right internationally and despised by human rights groups and the left to his dying day.



The director Costa Garvas captured the events powerfully in ‘Missing’ a film starring Jack Lemmon and Cissy Spazek. I remember seeing it and being shocked at how the world could stand back and see the ‘Britain of Latin America’ as Chile was then considered – because of its long history of stable parliamentary democracy in a continent well known for coups and military uprising – suffer such interference from US state and economic forces.
Salvador Allende

The events of Chile in 1973 remain a potent warning to democrats the world over.
Today in Latin America left leaders have been elected to power in Venezuala, Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and of course Chile itself – not to mention Cuba, where we may be approaching Fidel Castro’s last days.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Scottish Executive hypocrisy on hate crimes

S2W-30449 - Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) (Date Lodged 7 December 2006) : To ask the Scottish Executive how it reconciles the position taken by the Minister for Justice and the Lord Advocate on the benefit of applying racist and sectarian aggravations in respect of hate crime with its decision not to provide such protection to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and disabled people.

Answered by Johann Lamont (19 December 2006): The Scottish Executive deplores all crime, particularly that motivated by prejudice of any kind. The common law in Scotland allows the courts to take forms of prejudice into account as aggravating factors. We consider that the creation of further statutory aggravations would work against our wider objective of improving consistency in sentencing. We are at present considering carefully how that objective can be achieved, against the background of the recommendations contained in the Sentencing Commission’s recent report on the matter.


S2W-30370 - Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) (Date Lodged 5 December 2006) : To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will reconsider its decision not to implement the recommendation in the report of the Working Group on Hate Crime that there should be a statutory aggravation for crimes motivated by malice or ill-will towards people based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability, similar to that of sectarianism and racism.

Answered by Johann Lamont (19 December 2006): I refer the member to the answer to question S2O-11201 on 23 November 2006. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament’s website the search facility for which can be found at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/webapp/wa.search.


S2W-30369 - Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) (Date Lodged 5 December 2006) : To ask the Scottish Executive what the ministerial decision-making process was that resulted in the Executive deciding not to implement the recommendation in the report of the Working Group on Hate Crime that there should be a statutory aggravation for crimes motivated by malice or ill-will towards people based on their sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability, similar to that of sectarianism and racism.

Answered by Johann Lamont (19 December 2006): This decision was taken following normal procedure in the context of collective Cabinet responsibility, namely, after full and careful consideration by all those ministers with an interest in the matter. The member will also wish to take account of my answer to question S2O-11201 on 23 November 2006. All answers to written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliament’s website the search facility for which can be found at:
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/webapp/wa.search.

Latest parliamentary motions

S2M-5295 Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) : Nuclear Submarine Workers' Health and Safety at HM Naval Base Faslane— That the Parliament shares the concern of the former Faslane and Rosyth radiation controller, Mr John Connor, that no mandatory secondary monitoring (MSM) takes place on radiation workers leaving nuclear submarines at the naval base; notes that Mr Connor has approached the Health and Safety Executive, the Ministry of Defence and the Westminster Parliamentary Ombudsman regarding his concerns that MSM is implemented in all other nuclear establishments in Britain, but not those at Faslane and Rosyth, and the need to protect all those working on nuclear submarines from radiation sicknesses, and calls on the Defence Select Committee at Westminster to investigate the substance of Mr Connor’s concerns at the earliest possible opportunity and allay the fears of many former employees and their families as well as those currently working at Faslane regarding nuclear safety.

Supported by: Bruce Crawford, Frances Curran, Rosie Kane, Carolyn Leckie, John Swinburne

Lodged on 07 December 2006; current




S2M-5269.3 Colin Fox (Lothians) (SSP) : Civic Participation - Trade Union Engagement with Scotland's Civic Society— As an amendment to motion S2M-5269 in the name of Ms Margaret Curran (Civic Participation - Trade Union Engagement with Scotland's Civic Society), leave out from "strength" to end and insert "important part that free independent trade unions play in civic Scotland today; welcomes the Scottish Trades Union Congress’s (STUC) role over many years in promoting trade union values and the interests of working people in Scotland on a wide variety of matters such as job protection, pay and conditions, health and safety and equal opportunities; welcomes the STUC's information week at the Parliament, and recognises the just cause of the workers at McKinnon Mills in Coatbridge and public sector workers across Scotland seeking to secure their right to equal pay for work of equal value.”

Lodged on 05 December 2006; 07 December 2006

See S2M-5269

Hugo Chavez drives on with Bolivarian revolution


At the beginning of this month the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, won the presidential elections with an increased share of the vote. His support went up from 56% in 1998 to 63%.
This is despite the attempts by the right to paint him as some kind of a rogue leader and his Bolivarian revolution being unpopular and leading to economic destruction.
Chavez’s programme of public ownership and wealth redistribution has been proven to be increasing in popularity not decreasing. There is still a long way to go for the Bolivarian revolution but I’m sure we can take heart that the ideas of socialism can work when given the chance to be put into practice.

SSP fortunes looking up

In the past few weeks things have certainly been looking up for the SSP - I've spoken at a series of public meetings across Scotland about our Free School Meals bill. A host of people have joined the party as a result of these meetings, in particular the meeting we held in Lochgelly was very good. 30 people came along to hear what Lorna Bett, the SSP top of the list candidate for Mid Scotland & Fife region, had to say.

As well as these meetings we launched plans for a radical, free public transport policy at the start of December. this was quickly followed by the most recent poll published in the Sunday Herald putting the SSP on 4%.

As I've said before - the best days of the SSP are ahead of us!

The people you meet on Princes Street

My friend Gemma came over to the stall against son of Trident last Saturday - perhaps her boyfriend, Hearts star Roman Bednar, (pictured) could arrange a meeting for me with his boss Vladimir Romanov to discuss nuclear submarines!

That self same afternoon I spent a miserable afternoon at Tynecastle watching my beloved Motherwell fall to a 4-1 defeat.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fox launches nuclear fight


SOCIALIST leader Colin Fox was expected to lead a campaign on Princes Street today against plans to replace Britain's ageing nuclear deterrent.
The Lothians MSP condemned Prime Minister Tony Blair's £25 billion proposal to build new Trident nuclear missiles, unveiled on Monday.
Mr Fox said: "These Trident nuclear missiles are indiscriminate and capable of wiping out whole cities and consequently killing civilians and combatants alike and as such are illegal under international law."


Article from Edinburgh Evening News Sat 9th Dec

Farepak demo tonight

I'll be attending the demo outside the HBoS headquarters on the mound tonight at 5.30. I hope that the coverage of this demo will help persuade HBoS to do the right thing by the Farepak customers.

please follow this link for an article in yesterdays Sunday Herald
http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.1066459.0.politicians_snub_hbos_party_over_farepak.php

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Letter to trade unionists about HBOS protest

5th December 2006
Support ‘Un–Fairpak’ protest outside HBOS HQ December 11th at 5.30pm
As you will be aware, 150,000 customers of Farepak budgeting for Christmas via the company’s savings scheme have lost £45m as a result of the firm’s collapse.It is now clear that Farepak had been accepting deposits long after it became clear they were insolvent. And it has also emerged that the Halifax Bank of Scotland may have been aware a year ago the company was in difficulty. It is believed the bank foreclosed on a loan in October, precipitating Farepak’s collapse and has now taken the £45m for itself.Farepak customers have formed themselves into a protest group called ‘Unfairpak’ and are seeking to recover the £45m and fully compensate the savers, 90% of whom are low paid women workers.‘ Unfairpak’ has pressed the moral and economic case with the Halifax Bank of Scotland that they should release the money but to no avail. The bank has offered just £2m. We do not consider this to be acceptable, frankly it is adding insult to injury.We understand HBOS plans to hold a ‘Christmas Champagne Reception’ for top executives and VIP customers at its headquarters on December 11th. ‘Unfairpak’ intends to mount a peaceful protest at it and we would like you to join us. As the bank spends some of its £4.5bn profits from last year entertaining its guests we intend to focus public attention on what we feel are their social responsibilities. Fat cats sipping expensive champagne or low paid women workers seeking justice at Christmas, where do you stand?We are calling on people across the Lothians to join Farepak customers incensed by HBOS’s actions on the protest at HBOS headquarters at the Mound in Edinburgh at 6pm on Monday 11th December. We believe we can make our point effectively.Please bring your banners and send messages of support to - suzy@unfairpak.co.uk

Yours sincerely
Suzy Hall and Colin Fox MSP

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

World AIDS Day


On Friday I was very pleased to show my support for Oxfam's World Aids day - you can read the Oxfam press release below. Of course the points made so well by students about poverty and inability in the third world to pay for medicines chimes with the campaign to abolish prescription charges here.



Students, Oxfam & Annie Lennox back World AIDS Day

Developing World needs 4.2 million health workers

Scottish students will join Oxfam in Scotland to mark World AIDS Day, [Today, 1st December]. Students and Oxfam campaigners will back Oxfam’s campaign to ensure everyone living with HIV and AIDS has access to the medicines they need.

Oxfam is calling on pharmaceutical companies to supply affordable medicines to all who need them and want governments to pay over £12.7 billion per year for 4.2 million extra health workers.

In order to highlight the plight of HIV and AIDS sufferers students will pose as ‘patients’ in a hospital bed with a text board on the front of the bed with Diagnosis: “Too Poor to Pay". Next to the bed will be a sales rep from "Big Pharma", holding a giant pillbox out of reach of the patient. The pillbox will be labelled “ Profit Pills put profit before People”.

Eurythmics star Annie Lennox, who is backing Oxfam’s campaign, said,

“ Last year, 8,000 people died every single day from AIDS, and there were 14,000 new infections each day. Poor countries are being forced to deal with an unprecedented health crisis without the means to tackle it.

“ Governments can only show how seriously they are taking this crisis by taking immediate action to provide four million extra health workers and to grant those in need access to affordable medicines.”

Adam Ramsay, Co -convenor of Edinburgh University’s People and Planet said,

“ Forty million people in the world are suffering from HIV and AIDS. What is needed is for people in developing countries to be able to get affordable medicines easily.

“ People everywhere who have HIV and AIDS should have the same rights to life enhancing medicines regardless of their social class, nationality or gender. World AIDS Day gives a chance to ram home the message around the HIV and AIDS epidemic.”

John McAllion, campaigner for Oxfam in Scotland added,

“ The record of the pharmaceutical industry in putting profits before patients has been abysmal. They have continually lobbied rich country governments to provide stricter patent protection for their products in trade negotiations, and have put legal pressure on poor countries that dared to use international safeguards to guarantee public access to cheaper generic drugs.

“ Big Pharma companies must accept that people’s lives should always come before their commercial interests. Lives must not be put at risk for the sake of company profits.”


ENDS

Contact: Eileen Clarkson on 0141 285 8859/07770 281419


EDITORS NOTES

1) The event will take place on Fri 1st December 1-2pm outside the main library at Edinburgh University on George Square.
2) Students from Edinburgh University’s People and Planet Group, Oxfam Volunteers and Stop Aids societies are taking part in the ‘Big Pharma’ stunt
3) Also attending are Mark Lazarowicz MP, Gavin Strang MP, John Barratt MP, Colin Fox MSP, Sarah Boyack MSP, Mike Pringle MSP, Margaret Smith MSP and Mark Ballard MSP.
4) 39.6 million men, women and children now live with HIV, 14,000 people are newly infected every day, and 2.9 million people died this year from AID –related illnesses. Two-thirds of people living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa. There are now more women than men infected by HIV.
5) Annie Lennox has recorded a 15 and 35 second audio piece for radio/web broadcast which can be downloaded from:
http://www.oxfam.org.uk/press/downloads/annielennox.htm

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

SSP backs free public transport plan

On Sunday our executive committee backed a radical plan to make all Scottish public transport free. in a major attempt to tackle pollution, cut chronic traffic congestion and tackle traffic related ill health. The plan will be put to the party’s national council this weekend and is likely to form a flagship policy of our campaign for next year’s Scottish elections.

Free public transport would be the biggest pro- environment and anti pollution measure ever enacted by any national government.”“It would also boost real incomes and be a major anti poverty and pro social inclusion measure. It would also benefit Scotland's tourism industry.

SSP Policy co-ordinater Alan McCombes said:
“With just ten years to halt global warming we need radical solutions for the gravest crisis facing humanity.“By moving towards a free fare public transport system Scotland can lead the world as it did during the enlightenment.”

Read more about this radical new policy:


The case for free public transport
http://www.scottishsocialistparty.org/transport/transport01.html


Funding free public transport
http://www.scottishsocialistparty.org/transport/funding.html


Why not public transport?
An idea whose time has come

Monday, December 04, 2006

A victory for militant trade union strike action


A statement on the outcome of Glasgow city council dispute by Richie Venton, SSP national trade union organiser


The planned 3-day strike by UNISON members in Glasgow city council has today been cancelled, after the city council caved in on the very eve of the biggest conflict they faced from trade unionists in several years.The outcome is a substantial victory.The strike was provoked by several factors, but primary amongst these was the cliff-edge pay cuts facing nearly 5,000 workers in March 2009, when the temporary protection of current salaries would have ended. Up to £10,000 a year losses in salary loomed at that point.By balloting for strike action, and refusing to be morally blackmailed by the council and their kept media over the issue of 'life and limb' emergency cover, the union has won a settlement that amounts to idefinite/lifetime protection of current salaries. Either people will be re-trained or their jobs re-designed to guarantee them their current pay by March 2009, or that deadline will be extended indefinitely until such time as these devices kick in. Many workers will be thousands of pounds better off each year as a result of this victory.The only area of some doubt applies to those staff in Culture and Leisure Services, who are threatened by a council plan to hive them off to a charitable Trust, which would only mean the one-year TUPE protection of their current wages - not indefinite protection.In addition to stopping cuts to wages from March 2009 onwards, the threatened strike has also dragged the panic-stricken Labour council back to the negotiating table on all other issues, and there will be trade union representation on a Steering Group to monitor implementation of the deal. No doubt workers will lodge appeals against the grades they have been allocated through the flawed Job Evaluation exercise, and battles will be required to fight off attempts to use new definitions of the working day as a means of dodging overtime rates of pay.But these and other issues - central amongst them in my opinion being resistance to plans to offload Culture and Leisure - can now be taken up by a vastly strengthened trade union, confident after a very substantial victory.Another key lesson in this battle is that the looming May 2007 elections will have concentrated the minds of Labour councillors wonderfully - like hanging does!! They were panic-stricken. Their opening line to union negotiators on Saturday was, "What do you need to avoid this strike?". A stark, simple truth that needs to be re-learnt: strike action works!The Scottish Socialist Party - both within the workforce and outwith it - has played a very positive, substantial part in this workers' struggle against Labour's wage-snatchers. As well as our council worker members helping to lead the UNISON resistance, thousands of SSP Council Workers Voice bulletins have been distributed around virtually every council workplace - first during the ballot, more recently to consolidate the decision to strike - calling for funding off the Scottish Executive to win equal pay without a single penny off the pay of a single worker.Our MSPs and councillors have also taken up the workers' cause, opposing pay cuts as a means of funding so-called equal pay.Some of the details have yet to emerge, but we will also need to be vigilant if the council tries to pay for these concessions through any other forms of cuts to jobs or services - as opposed to demanding extra funds off the Scottish Executive. But a victory is a victory and needs to be recognised, as part of the recovery of workers' confidence.The attention of council workers, the SSP and other trade unionists should now turn to building the UNISON demo in Falkirk on 16 December, against brutal pay cuts from the SNP council, to give a booster to these workers' confidence on the backs of the Glasgow victory.

SSP backs Farepak campaigners 100%


The Executive of the Scottish Socialist Party has given Suzy Hall and the Farepak campaigners our 100% backing for their cause after hearing the appalling details of how HBOS has acted in this affair.
Thousands of low paid workers and pensioners have had Christmas 2006 stolen from them.
The SSP is well aware of the rapacious nature of the UK’s banks but our Executive was shocked to be told the details of how the bank has acted in this affair.
The SSP Executive has given the campaigners our 100% backing and will be doing everything we can to mobilise for the lobby of HBOS’s champagne reception on the 11th of December, 5.30pm at the Mound in Edinburgh.
Check the unfairpak website at http://www.unfairpak.co.uk/
Watch the recent debate in the Scottish Parliament at http://www.holyrood.tv/library.asp?title=Members
The debate lasts 1hour 10 minutes (Colin speaks at 37 mins 40 secs)

Socialist Fox on 'power to the people' trip

SCOTTISH Socialist leader Colin Fox is to visit Torness nuclear power station on Monday.
The Lothians MSP is expected to meet senior managers and tour the plant.
He said: "I am a convinced opponent of nuclear power but an opponent who wants to conduct the debate about new nuclear capacity and our energy needs on the basis of facts. My visit to Torness is at my own request."
"In particular I want to explore how, in a non-nuclear world, we can harness the experience and skills of the workers who are employed at Torness."
Mr Fox said he hoped to discuss the mechanics of decommissioning nuclear stations and how the skills of the current workforce could be used.
He added: "The Torness site must also have potential, as a coastal location, to play a part in the development of wind and wave power and one thing which I think is urgent is for British Energy to carry out a skills audit of its workforce to assist in slotting them into jobs or further training."
Mr Fox offered to hold a public meeting or debate after his visit.
He said: "Opponents of nuclear power have to set about the serious work of explaining their alternative to both the workers and the public. I for one would be happy, after my visit, to put my case to the people who work in and live near Torness."

Edinburgh Evening News
02/12/06

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Stop the War Speech at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire – 2/12/06

On Sat 2nd December I was invited to address a Stop the War protest outside RAF Brize Norton.
The base is the main supply station for the British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the speech I delivered on behalf of the Scottish Socialist Party.


Thank you for the invitation and warm welcome.
I am both proud to join you here today and to bring you greetings of peace and comradeship from the Scottish Socialist Party.

I congratulate you for drawing attention to Brize Norton, the place from which Britain in effect services its illegal occupation of Iraq.
As we marched round the base this afternoon I noticed, as I am sure you did, the huge transport aircraft taking off for Iraq or Afghanistan. I could not help think of the 120 young men who left this place in just such an aircraft and have not come back. I think of how a young fusilier called Gordon Gentle felt. I also think of the hundreds of other nameless young men who have come back severely injured and traumatised.

As a Member of Parliament I have had to console families in the city of Edinburgh that I represent who have lost sons.

Our appalling losses, because they are appalling, without need or reason, are of course dwarfed by the losses American families have suffered - 3,000 sons who flew out likewise never came back.
But it is above all the poor innocent Iraqi’s who have been butchered most of all – more than 660,000 of them have died who would still be alive were it not for the illegal invasion of their country by alien forces.

The Scottish Socialist Party has opposed this war from day one and every hour since. And we were right. All of us here were right to speak out and we reiterate the demand we have espoused throughout – we call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign military forces from IRAQ. And to those who say their WILL be civil war I say the blood thirsty civil war in Iraq that claims more than 100 lives a day – a rate 36,500 a year which equals one 9/11 each month – where is the worlds condemnation this time? All this happens because the troops are there, they are plainly not stopping anything!

Much has of course changed in the last three months. MAKE NO MISTAKE. We are witnessing the endgame of the occupation of Iraq, the endgame of a catastrophic failure of policy by Britain and USA.
What are the signs?
- Labour politicians who supported the war are now recanting and asking for forgiveness. Michael Meacher is one of many who says supporting the war in Iraq was the biggest political blunder of his career – we could have told him that and did at the time.
- Generals and majors who just 6 months ago were demanding more troops must be sent in now risk courts martial by publicly condemning MOD military strategy and press for 50% of the troops to be home by May.
- Public opinion has grown inexorably against the government, against the incessant slaughter and pointless strategy. The extent of this was seen last month in the US elections where BUSH got hammered and the first socialist was elected to the Senate.

And let me ask you what is that smell in the air?
It’s the smell of Tony Blair’s legacy. He will soon be gone and good riddance. But how will he be remembered?
As the man whom brought twenty years of the hated Tories to an end? NO
As the first Labour Prime Minister elected with a working majority?
NO
As the first ever Labour Prime Minister elected three times?
NO

He will be remembered as a liar. One who’s every lie was found out.

Tony Blair is responsible for the deaths of those young men who flew out of here to their deaths and for the US deaths too and above all for the 660,000 Iraqis slaughter. Without him things would be oh so different. All those who perished in this catastrophic policy failure stand in stark contrast to outcome, about to retire on a huge pension into a £4m mansion in Belgravia. The millions scattered in his wake will enjoy no such luxury.
Shame on you Tony Blair you will be remembered by us as the worst Prime Minister this country has ever had.

And on Monday he leaves us his parting gift – Britain’s new and deadliest weapons of mass destruction, the second generation of Trident nuclear missiles based on the Clyde near Glasgow.

Only the weak minded among us – Labour MP’s mainly – would accept there is a democratic debate yet to be held.
Let us here today tell Tony Blair- the man who put the ‘con’ in consultation
- We know the decision has already been taken
- -We know Gordon Brown has already earmarked the £75bn
- We know you will have to rely on Tory votes to railroad it through.

Do not insult our intelligence, you are no democrat, you have no democratic credentials - you supported Regime Change Iraq we, true democrats believe regime change in Iraq is the sole and inviolate right of the Iraqi people and nobody else.
Tony Blair is no democrat; he is a warmonger, a war criminal and militarist.

OUR MESSGAE FROM RAF BRIZE NORTON ON THIS WINTERS DAY IS
NO WARS FORM US IMPERIALISM
NO TO TRIDENT

We stand for greater goals, for peace and social progress all mankind.
Thank you.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Fox Targets RAF Base

SCOTTISH Socialist leader Colin Fox will tomorrow address a mass protest outside RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
The protest has been arranged by the Stop the War coalition to take its message to the base used to fly troops to Iraq

Edinburgh Evening News 01/12/06