SSP, Second Session Scottish Parliament report
SSP Research, policy and media unit
As the second session of the Scottish Parliament draws to a close, the
Scottish Socialist Party has put together a summary of the work of its
MSP's over the course of the past year.
The Scottish Socialist Party recorded the biggest increase in
electoral support of any political party in Scotland at last May's
Scottish Parliament elections. From a Scotland wide percentage of 2% in
May 1999 the SSP more than tripled its percentage share nationally to 7%
last year, securing 128,026 second list votes.
The SSP also stood in all but 3 constituency seats and won 117,998
votes, establishing new branches and members across Scotland.
The SSP MSP's are pledged to "Live on no more than the
average wage of a skilled (professional / technical / craft) wage."
The Scottish Parliament Information and Research Centre defines
the "average wage of a skilled worker in Scotland" as £25,429.
All six Scottish Socialist MSP's receive the equivalent of
and the rest is donated to the SSP to support the fight for socialism in
Scotland and internationally.
For members like Rosemary Byrne and Carolyn Leckie it has meant a
reduction in wages from their previous professions as a teacher and
However the skilled workers wage in Scotland is higher than
received by 75% of the working population and the SSP challenge to
all Scotland's Parliamentarians is to support a wage cut and stop
living on a £50,000 a year salary, among the top 4% of earners in our
Until we secure an across the board reduction in MSP pay the SSP
Group will continue to donate any surplus above the skilled workers
wage to the Scottish Socialist Party.
The SSP Group has been the most active of any in Parliament in
relation to the introduction of Bill proposals to change the lives of
Scots for the better.
1) The Abolition of Council Tax Bill: Proposed by Tommy Sheridan and
now out to formal consultation this Bill would improve
the standard of living for millions of Scots, particularly
pensioners and low paid workers.
The SSP has led from the front on this issue but is glad to be
joined now by the Lib Dems and the SNP who completely ignored
the unfair council tax in their first four years in Parliament.
The debate on the Bill could be heard before the end of 2004.
2) Free School Meals Bill: This pro-health and anti-poverty proposal
is now being steered through the Parliament by Frances
Curran with the public consultation about to go out.
This very popular measure would provide a healthy and nutritious
school meal for every child attending a state school in Scotland and
would attack the obesity and dietary ill health problem alongside the
child poverty that scars our nation.
3) Abolish Prescription Charges: This is another pro-health and
anti-poverty measure which is also out to formal consultation and is
being led by Colin Fox.
Many low paid workers can't afford can't afford prescription
charges which is particularly difficult for those with illnesses that
require regular medication.
The Welsh Assembly are to abolish prescription charges, so too
should the Scottish Parliament.
4) Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Bill: This radical proposal
would legislate for local drug treatment and rehabilitation
facilities to be available for those needing and seeking assistance
with damaging drug addictions. It is being led by Rosemary Byrne and
would provide vital support to individuals, families and communities
affected by the consequences of drug misuse and abuse.
5) Single Vaccines Bill: Carolyn Leckie has submitted a proposal to
allow parents the choice to opt for single vaccinations against
measles, mumps and rubella instead of having to accept the triple MMR
vaccination which many suspect is not absolutely safe.
The complex details of this proposal are currently being examined
by health experts and others in this field before a formal consultation
Scotland's nursery nurses dispute
Every one of the six SSP MSP's poured enormous energy into building
solidarity in support of Scotland's nursery nurses in their historic
battle for a decent living wage, the longest running all out strike in
Scotland since the miners strike.
From Ayr to Airdrie, Dunfermline to Dundee, Lothians to
and Pollok to Paisley, the Socialist representatives travelled the
length and breadth of Scotland, speaking at public meetings,
addressing marches and rallies, joining the picket lines and doing
everything in their power to give voice to the overwhelming support
that the nursery nurses won through their determined fight for a
decent living wage.
In the Parliament the SSP used every available device to raise the
dispute and put pressure on the Scottish Executive and the employers to
settle the nursery nurses claim.
One of the SSP's few debating slots was used to embarrass the
Minister on a day that even our self declared enemies in the press
pronounced as an historic parliamentary occasion.
The nursery nurses repeatedly descended on Parliament to lobby
MSP's and the Executive, their singing and chants ringing through the
corridors of power.
While Tommy shredded Jack McConnell at First Ministers Questions,
Carolyn Leckie became the first MSP to be ejected from the chamber
when she refused to back down over a demand to ask questions on the
The Iraq War/ George Bush visit
In November George Bush visited London. The SSP group used its
debating time to bring the whole question of the Iraq war into focus and
to accuse Tony Blair and George Bush of war crimes.
After the debate Kevin Williamson made national news headlines
he appeared in a George Bush mask in the public gallery.
Saudi Arabian Ambassadors visit
In January 2004 the Saudi Arabian ambassador made an official visit
to the Parliament which the SSP Group decided to protest against
given the human rights record in Saudi and in particular the
treatment of women there. The MSP's held up a banner in the chamber
saying `despots not welcome' while heavy handed policing resulted in two
SSP parliamentary workers being ejected from the public gallery, one of
whom was arrested and charged.
Stockline Plastics Disaster
The SSP group had only weeks before all worn Workers Memorial Day
tshirts to commemorate all those killed in industrial accidents when the
Stockline Plastics factory in Maryhill, Glasgow, exploded on 11th May.
Rosie Kane spoke for the SSP group in a specially convened
meeting of the Parliament.
The SSP Group has been active in building international
for the ideas of socialism. Carolyn Leckie was invited to Canada to
address the Canadian trades union congress on the question of
privatisation and has been asked to return this year.
Tommy Sheridan visited Venezuela to meet President Hugo Chavez
while there made a documentary film which will be shown at this years
Edinburgh International Film Festival.
Colin Fox made a speaking tour of Australia and New Zealand at
invitation of the Australian Socialist Alliance and the Alliance
Party of New Zealand. Colin spoke at 14 meetings in 13 cities over
the course of 14 days.
In The Community
All Scottish Socialist Party MSP's have been active in their local
communities around a myriad of campaigns, a flavour of which are
Rosemary Byrne (South of Scotland): Rosemary has been involved in
many environmental campaigns across South Scotland, particularly over
land fill and sewage dumping at Coalburn and Newcastleton. She has given
solidarity to workers in dispute over the closure of Ayrshire Metals in
Irvine and with parents fighting school closures in the Borders.
Rosemary has been heavily involved with drugs
issues in the region, particularly around the lack of provision of
drug treatment and support.
Frances Curran (West of Scotland): Hospital closures have been a
massive issue in the region and Frances was heavily involved in the
successful campaign to save Johnston Hospital, along with ongoing
campaigns to defend maternity services in the region.
Frances has been involved in the setting up of the `Ban the
Brands' campaign that has already won concessions from Edinburgh City
Council with a ban on fizzy drinks in the cities schools.
Colin Fox (Lothians) School closures are a big issue in the
Lothians and Colin has been campaigning hard with the parents of a
number of schools threatened with closure. As organiser of the
Edinburgh May Day, Colin spoke alongside Arthur Scargill to mark the
20th anniversary of the miners strike. As chair of the Edinburgh
People's festival Colin was again instrumental in bringing "the world's
greatest arts celebration" to city communities which would not normally
Rosie Kane (Glasgow) Rosie has played a key part in turning the
question of asylum and immigration into a human rights issue in
Scotland in the past year. Her work around Dungavel and the Ay family
and Mercy Ikolo took on European wide proportions with her visit to
Berlin in August of last year. While Rosie had to take
a well publicised break from work at the beginning of 2004
she has come back with renewed vigour and enthusiasm, taking up issues
around the stigmatisation of people with mental health problems.
Rosie is currently campaigning against the M74 motorway and is
promoting and supporting the Scottish Homeless World Cup team.
Carolyn Leckie (Central Scotland) Carolyn has been extremely
in her constituency on a wide range of issues including protests
around the Greengares landfill near Airdrie, Dunbeth Park PPP scheme and
the campaign for a skatepark for young people in
Caroline continues to be a member of UNISON and continues to play
an active role in trade union issues, particularly in relation to
health, many of which have become major news stories over the past
Tommy Sheridan (Glasgow) The campaign to abolish the council tax
has seen Tommy speaking at pensioners groups and community
organisations across Scotland. Rallies, conferences and demonstrations
on poverty, the war in Iraq and dozens of other issues see Tommy
travelling thousands of miles in the name of the SSP. Tommy has also
attended key trade union conferences on the question of political
affiliations including the Fire Brigades Union, the Communication
Workers Union and the Rail Maritime and Transport union
Trade Union Affiliations
While not directly a part of the SSP Group in the Scottish
Parliament, the six MSP's have nonetheless played a crucial part in
developing practical solidarity work with Scotland's trade unionists and
The SSP now has two trade union affiliations, one from the RMT
one from the CWU Edinburgh number two branch, a total of 11,500
affiliated trade union members; 7,000 RMT members and 4,500 CWU members.