David MacLennan Portrait


Democratic Left Scotland hosted the unveiling of a portrait of David MacLennan, the actor, writer and producer who was at the heart of Scottish theatre for over 40 years until his death in June 2014 at the age of 65. The unveiling by Scottish Green Party co-convener and David’s widow Juliet Cadzow took place on Sunday the 21st February.


MacLennan co-founded the influential 7:84 touring company with playwright and director John McGrath.  7:84’s most significant work was the play “The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil” about the Highland Clearances. Following this success MacLennan enjoyed enormous success with “A Play, a Pie and a Pint” which has Òran Mór as its home. The list of contributors included Robbie Coltrane, Elaine C Smith, Liz Lochhead, David Greig and David Hayman.


Sandy Moffat’s portrait marks another step in the on-going project by the artist, supported by Democratic Left Scotland, to represent some of the leading intellectual and cultural figures in contemporary Scotland.


Over the past few years, Sandy Moffat has sketched and painted Alasdair Gray (whose portrait now hangs in Òran Mór), Alan Bissett, Tom Nairn and now David MacLennan. These portraits have been produced for the common good, with Democratic Left Scotland paying for the materials. DLS is a political organisation, open to all, whether members of a party or not, who support our radical, feminist and green aspirations. We produce an occasional magazine, Perspectives, which ranges widely over political and cultural issues in Scotland.


Maggie Chapman said: “It is an honour to be invited to unveil this portrait of David MacLennan. His early career with 7:84 and Wildcat brought political theatre to contemporary Scotland. “The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil” transformed people’s understanding of Scotland’s history, and “A Play, a Pie and a Pint” continues to bring theatre to new audiences in a remarkably egalitarian way – in Glasgow and around the world. We celebrate great cultural figures like David MacLennan in this way to acknowledge the role of artists in reflecting upon, critiquing and recreating our society.


DLS Convener Stuart Fairweather said: “DLS is delighted to recognise the contribution made by David MacLennan to the cultural life of Scotland. We commissioned Sandy Moffat’s painting to add to those of Alasdair Gray, Alan Bissett and Tom Nairn, all of whom have made very substantial contributions to the Scotland we see today.”

A Scottish Perspective Jan 5th – May 5th

Many issues will impact attitudes to Scottish politics in 2016: people’s daily lives and the weather amongst these. Europe and global events, the fate of local government and public services will compete with the Scottish Government elections for people’s attention.
Involvement in politics undoubtedly was at a highpoint during the referendum, ensuring that the campaigns of 2016 come close will be an important task for all. The Scottish election in May has the potential to do this. The impact and timing of Cameron’s European gamble is another matter (we will consider these on another occasion).
Democratic Left see the importance of politics both within and out with parliaments. A progressive Scottish Government bolstered by a range of progressive parliamentary voices would be the best outcome in May if coupled with strong extra-parliamentary activity. The voting system for the Scottish elections offers opportunities. There is a need to remind people that the regional lists offer a potential way round major party dominance. This is important nationally because the SNP are not without limitations and Scottish Labour is unlikely to benefit substantially from any kind of Caledonian Corbyn effect.
Voting tactically for the best placed progressive candidate on your regional list will maximise the possibility of a radical rainbow of MSPs in addition to the government. It will also minimise the chances of the Tories or the Liberals getting into parliament and undoubtedly acting as apologists for austerity.
The Greens and in some places RISE may be the best vehicles for votes but each region will have its own ‘local’ characteristics which will suggest which list to choose. The individuals who top each list are important in this regard. These women and men if elected can connect campaigns and the policy implemented at Holyrood. The election of progressive MSPs can also add to the discussion on how to win more powers for Scotland: those that put anti-poverty, peace, people and planet before profit, pollution and the abuse of others.
Discussion needs to start now about how to get the best from the election campaign as well as from the result: a result that marks a real step forward in achieving a different kind of Scotland and a different kind of world.

Policing the polis: Holding Scotland’s new service to account

by John Finnie MSP, featured in the latest edition of Perspectives. Copies are now available at Word Power, West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh. 


Ever since being asked to write an article, a couple of months ago, on Scotland’s now two year old police service, its already rancorous birth has been compounded by almost weekly controversies.

Since the new service started there has been a wholesale change in policing methods: armed officers have appeared on our streets attending routine non firearms incidents; and a significant number of Scotland’s children have been stopped by the police, asked to ‘consent’ to being searched, then having their mobile phone numbers requested.

I’m a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Police Committee and during evidence taking have been assured by senior officers that those unpopular, and in one instance legally questionable, practices had stopped only to subsequently learn that’s not the case. Whilst this information was not given on oath, as senior public servants it was reasonable to assume that we would not subjected to false, misleading or inaccurate statements.

So what is going on? Who is really in charge? And was the First Minister wise to recently give the chief constable a vote of confidence when many think she should be giving him his P45?

I will examine the background to Scotland’s police service, what checks and balances exist, whether the advent of the single police service heralded the police being the controversial political issue they have become, whether those controversies have another genesis, and what the future might hold.

The difficult birth of Police Scotland

Until fairly recent times it was widely accepted that the principal of policing by consent applied to the various constabularies discharging their duties in Scotland.

In April 2013, Scotland’s eight regional forces and ‘central services’, such as the Scottish Police College, were merged into a single entity, Police Scotland, since which time the police’s commitment to that concept has been seriously questioned by local and national politicians and the Scottish Human Rights Commission.

I fought for and secured improving amendments to the legislation and, as Chair of the Parliament’s Cross party Group on Human Rights, was delighted my proposed revised oath to be sworn by all new recruits; “I, do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of constable with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, and that I will uphold fundamental human rights and accord equal respect to all people, according to law,” was unanimously agreed by Parliament. The previous oath made no mention of “upholding human rights”.

The transition from 9 bodies to one was tortuously slow. Police are very rank- conscious and the preparatory work for the new service had exactly the same number of ‘work-streams’ as there were assistant chief constables so everyone got a new, albeit temporary, title. Self-interest among those individuals lead to inertia and it was only after the appointment of Police Scotland’s first chief constable, Stephen House, hitherto the chief constable of Strathclyde Police, that things got moving.

Stephen House is a former Metropolitan Police Officer who believes that a ‘performance culture’ is what is required to evidence sound policing practice. So, whilst some things, such as public reassurance, are very hard to quantify, it is easy to count the number of drivers charged with not wearing a seat belt or the number who have dropped litter. Now, as someone who owes their life to wearing a seat belt, I place very great store in educating the public about road traffic safety and, of course, I dislike litter. However, in each of those instances, if the offender is someone who will respond to advice, then much better that, rather than reach for their notebook, officers deploy their most significant power: the power of discretion. That way you have two citizens grateful for not being charged and two future potential witnesses to help the police. But if you give a clear focus on numbers then that’s what front-line officers will concentrate on.

The period running up to the amalgamation was frenzied. On paper at least, the scrutiny process was designed to be enhanced. Each council ward now has its own Policing Plan and each Local Authority its own Police Committee, rather than the joint board system of members for various authorities in all but two of the former forces. Overseeing it all, the Scottish Police Authority, a board of appointees with various backgrounds and officials with a variety of skills.

Arming the police

Until about 20 years ago, the Scottish Police service was always unarmed. Trained officers could be sent to incidents where firearms were needed, invariably the aftermath of an armed robbery, a murder using firearms or whilst on close protection duties for VIPs. About 20 years ago saw the advent of the Armed Response Vehicle: two highly trained uniformed officers in a vehicle on constant patrol. Within the last decade each of the forces had them but only Strathclyde and Lothian & Borders officers have the firearms carried overtly on the officers; Tayside’s ARV crews carried the weapons covertly whilst the other forces had weapons contained within a locked safe in the boot of the vehicle with withdrawal and use requiring the approval of a senior officer.

When a constituent contacted me saying they were concerned armed officers were patrolling on foot in the Inverness area I was initially sceptical but I made some enquiries and found it to be correct.

One of the changes that followed the move to the single service was the significant change I encountered trying to get replies to constituents’ enquiries. I wrote to the chief constable asking if there was a plan to put in place a correspondence protocol and was effectively told ‘we’ll decide what’s important’. For those reasons, rather than send off another letter which could go unanswered for months, I raised the matter through the Herald newspaper.

Police Scotland’s response was dismissive. I was told that only I and one other had ever complained. I sought and secured a meeting with the Assistant Chief Constable responsible for firearms and invited all my Highlands and Islands MSP colleagues to attend.

Now, almost a year and three official reports on we are told the ‘terrorist threat’ means our armed officers will retain their ‘standing authority’ to openly carry their firearms and they will still intervene in non-firearms incidents ‘using their professional judgement’. My request that the guns be returned to the safe in the car boot has been roundly rejected.

Stop and search

When used proportionately, stopping and searching citizens is legitimate crime prevention tool for the police. Indeed, common law powers of search and statutory powers relating to things such as drugs and weapons have always been a feature of effective policing. The laws relating to stop in search did not alter when Police Scotland came into being, nor did the threat level suddenly change what did alter was the police’s approach to stop and search.

One year in, we learned that levels of stop and search in Scotland exceeded those of the Metropolitan Police and New York Police Department.

More reports and explanations, and then the sad spectacle of Assistant Chief Constable Mawson, in the full light of the resulting publicity, explaining to Parliament that the ‘loss’ of “20,086 (search) records …. between May and July last year’ was because, ‘a computer programmer pressed the wrong button”. I’m not sure even he believed it, but within a few days the story changed anyway.

Whether terrorism, organised crime or drugs, the police like to tell us their operations are far from random, rather they are “intelligence led”. Of course, were that the case then we wouldn’t see communities targeted for stop and search operations resulting in four out of five stopped and searched having nothing on them, something the hapless ACC described as ‘a good success story’.

Later, having assured Parliament that searching of under-12s would cease, only for it to continue, the chief constable boasted he can and does ask for explanations from officers, bizarrely adding “that is quite an impressive development as far as human rights are concerned.” The ‘development’ that has seen young people stopped, searched, and had inappropriate details requested is ‘impressive’: an impressive disregard of human rights which will now stop.

Every profession has its own language and when we are told “there are no targets for volume of stop and search” yet are aware that each of Scotland’s Divisional Commanders has 23 key performance indicators to satisfy, you can see how scepticism can arise.

Policing the polis

Councillors on local authority committees have little to scrutinise and were cynically by-passed on the armed police issue whilst the Police Authority, initially distracted by a turf war about who’d be in charge of what, has been absent without trace on both the armed police and stop and search issues, belatedly and ineptly reporting events long since pored over by the press and politicians.

Since I became an independent MSP, the government no longer has a majority on either the Justice or Police Committees and seem to wish to characterise criticism of the police as ‘an opposition campaign’. I fear that misjudges the important scrutiny role expected of parliamentarians and, whilst we must all support the rule of law, that does not mean a blank cheque to an over-bearing policing style.

What do we learn from all of this? Well, it’s not that all the Police Scotland does is bad. The proactive work targeting serial domestic violence offenders has rightly been widely welcomed by Women’s Aid and others. Yet, even with that positive issue, rather than work with the legislative tools they are given, the police became active and vocal supporters of ending the age old Scots law convention of corroboration, the requirement for two separate sources of evidence to convict someone. That issue was eventually kicked into not very long grass by the Scottish Government, and will emerge again at the end of the year in time for proponents of this dangerous change to pontificate that some rights are more important than others.

Those opposed to the creation of the single service will feel vindicated that the series of events I have related show that they were right. I disagree; I believe they show a single-minded chief constable, unchallenged by his fellow chief officers, who isn’t held in check by his Police Authority, and who needs reigned in.

Sir Stephen House is quick to say he understands the need for him to be accountable; however, you do not need to be an expert in body language to read that’s not really his view.

I support local policing, and were I still a local councillor I would have been asking questions about armed officers on my beat. Why it was not picked up at local or national level? In fairness to the police they did tell the Police Authority. It was the last sentence of Paragraph ‘5.9’ of agenda item ‘8’: “Work is therefore well underway and on track in terms of Armed Policing provision for Day 1 when a standing authority for Armed Response Vehicles (ARV), Tactical Firearms Unit (TFU), airport coverage and other policing operations will be implemented.” Now, despite my intimate knowledge of the police service, I would not have read it as ‘routine arming’. Deliberate or not, it is now academic because, as with many other aspects of the controversies, the story has constantly changed with there being several versions of how it happened.

A colleague on the Police Committee recently asked the chief constable ‘if a witness in a police investigation changed their evidence as quickly and as often as that, they would be considered to be unreliable, would they not?’ Sir Stephen House replied ‘we would certainly be interested in why the story was changing. We are trying to explain why the story has changed.’

The story that is Police Scotland needs to change and, whilst that may only happen with the departure of the present chief constable, we must all remain vigilant and demand that our police service ‘uphold fundamental human rights and accord equal respect to all people, according to law’. I’ve not given up hope yet!

Post Referendum – What Kind of Scotland?

Well it’s not boring. Nicola is First Minister with a gender balanced cabinet. Alex looks set to return to London to open up a second front and Jim will lead Scottish Labour and try to find a seat in Holyrood. Added to this all of Scotland’s civil society; the unions, the media, the parties, the churches, culture and citizens have had a democratic shake up like never before.   Now we need to look to the future.

Democratic Left Scotland (DLS) is a wee organisation with big ideas. Ideas and ambitions that we share with others but our size and our heritage also let us ask difficult questions. Questions like: Where are we trying to go and how will we get there? Born as an autonomous organisation in 1999 when the Scottish Parliament was reconvened DLS has Scotland’s future as its centre. Our organisation draws from the rich tradition of independent progressive organisations and individuals that worked for change. Importantly these women and men ‘dug where they stood’ by being part of the daily struggles of their workplaces and communities. They were also critical thinkers and internationalists. Their battles alongside those of their neighbours in England and cousins further afield were all part of changing the fortunes of people and planet for the better.   Our network looks to continue this work.
Scotland’s future is intertwined with what happens across Britain, Europe and the globe: the environmental and the economic impact on relations between worker and owner, state and citizen, women and men. Today’s world creates competition between generations, localities and workforces. So called established communities need to respond to ongoing migration.
The neo-liberal response to the global economic crisis coupled with the British political class’s response to post-imperialism has meant constantly increasing pressure on the many. Cuts, the implications of war and austerity are the social policy back-drop. Monarchy, trident, the Lords, the banks, bonuses and expenses continue. Food banks (emergency food aid), flexibility (wage cuts, redundancy and stress) and welfare reform (sanctions) are imposed, as so called celebrity culture distracts people from this growing normality. Whilst daily discrimination on the basis class, race, gender, sexuality, disability, and faith continues.
In May 2015 we will get a vote (16 and 17 year olds will have to wait). Westminster, the lynch-pin of much of the above inequality is moving further in the direction of the Tory right and UKIP and the parties that pander to the assumed views of ‘middle-England’.   Labour’s ability or desire to put a break on this seems questionable. Still for a few months around May of 2015 Westminster will be the focus. But there is more to democracy than voting. The self-determination that developed around the time of the referendum should be increased not dissipated (and it does not need to be unique to Scotland).  It should not be limited to a cross against one of the parties although we all need to figure out which candidate in each constituency is best placed to move us beyond the broken promises of the palace of Westminster.
A just Scotland is not compatible with the (TTIP) privatisation of the NHS, with Trident renewal, the cutting of local services and the demonization of migrant workers. And if we are to build that different kind of Scotland there is enough to do now: we do not have to wait for the revolution. Working class communities found their voice in September. In alliance with others across Scotland there in a need to oppose fracking, challenge racism, cap rents, introduce a living wage and end the poor-law culture of sanctions and precarious employment. We need to learn from and support activity where it is already taking place. We need to build effective, sustainable, participative communities, local government and Scottish Democracy. Beyond this land, industry and resources need to be employed for the benefit of society if we are to find a route out of austerity. 
The Unionist parties failed to address this with their promised Vow and their approach to the Smith Commission.  All in Labour talk about social justice but they continually fail to understand the new democratic awakening or the developing progressive culture of Scotland.  Until now, they could still have been a part of this but the election of Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale make it extremely increasingly unlikely. Importantly we should not disown the traditions of the Labour movement but to attempt to locate them within the context of democratic renewal.
The SNP, the Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party have all gained members.  This is to be welcomed. But the lessons of September 2014 show that alone this is not enough. Discussion of an electoral agreement between these parties for Westminster was always a bit of a side-show. There is more to politics than parties.   There is a need to build an even greater self-determination for a different kind of Scotland. We can’t ignore the Yes and No settlement of September 2014 but we have to move beyond it to an even bigger consensus for Yes – for a different kind of Scotland.
What kind of Scotland will that be? The STUC’s a Just Scotland, the Radical Independence Campaign’s people’s Vow, the work of; CND, the National Collective and Belle Caledonia can all help. As can, Women for Independence asserting the second part of their name ‘independence for women’.   The advent of the National newspaper and the role of the Sunday Herald are pivotal as is social media and importantly real conversations with real people. Common Weal, Engender, NUS Scotland all have ideas. Even small publications like Perspectives and Scottish Left Review have a contribution to make. This is only part of a long list and importantly not all of these organisations and institutions are exclusively or in any way Indy.  ‘Yes Scotland’ needs to speak to No Scotland without bitterness and those impacted by Osborne’s ongoing austerity and other forms of inequality need to be given the space to speak about their experience. The settlement vintage 2014 is not static.
Political spaces, real usable spaces in communities and the policy spaces created by the Community Empowerment Bill, the Strengthening Local Democracy commission and land reform and other legislation need to be use where possible. Tax justice needs to become a reality in Scotland if we are going to pay our bills. The arguments for economic sustainability and appropriate social security need to be nailed.  We need to rethink the relationship between paid and unpaid work. The radical needs to become more common place.
The post referendum Scotland requires us to create even more energy in the run up to May and beyond. We need to start to build the Scotland we want to be. It might not be easy. It will not be boring.

DLS Referendum Statement

Here is a message from Stuart Fairweather:

“Tomorrow 97% of people over the age of 16 living in Scotland have the right to vote. We should encourage and support all friends, family, neighbours and workmates to use their vote. Democratic Left members and supporters will be amongst those that take part in this huge democratic event.
DL members have been involved in the campaign in many different ways. We are unlikely to all vote in the same way. Accordingly Perspectives has given coverage to the Yes and No positions.
A Yes vote looks likely to many to provide the potential for progressive change. For other a No vote is seen as a route to equally important outcomes.

DL’s National Council plans to meet on September 20th to discuss the result of the vote and consider the possibilities it creates. All members and supporters are welcome to use the e-mail group to express their views and contribute to what will be an ongoing discussion.”

Sandy Moffat’s portrait of Tom Nairn

In 2012 Democratic Left Scotland commissioned Sandy Moffat to paint a portrait of Scottish political theorist Tom Nairn. It was unveiled at the launch of a collection of his work “Old Nations, Auld Enemies, New Times, Selected Essays” on Monday 15th September 2014 in the Martin Hall, New College Edinburgh. The collection was compiled by Pete Ramand and Jamie Maxwell and is available here.

There’s a drawing for the portrait currently on show in Peacock Visual Arts. Aberdeen as part of Sandy’s exhibition “Paintings as Arguments”.


After Falkirk and Grangemouth, where next?
The article below should be seen as a contribution to an ongoing discussion. It draws on discussions with members of Democratic Left Scotland and others in late 2013. Any comments would be very welcome.

“… we represent the only real organised challenge in society to the values and views of our bankrupt establishment.” States Len McCluskey in relation to the events of 2013. Events we are told that help illuminate ‘the nature of power in society today’. A telling assertion that suggests that the Labour Party, as it is now at least, offers little in terms of taking on neo-liberalism and the interests of capital. Additionally Unite’s General Secretary also states that globalisation renders our politicians and governments weak in the face of the ‘almost unlimited power of private ownership to act as it pleases’.
Few on the Left would take issue with the general thrust of these comments and it is easy to see how they were informed by the events at Falkirk and Grangemouth but given the outcome some discussion is required.
Falkirk: At one point Falkirk was represented by the popular and effective MP Denis Canavan. That was before New Labour and boundary changes. Then the disastrous Eric Joyce prompted a selection battle. Unite unlike other unions Public Commercial and Services (PCS), Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and Rail Maritime Transport (RMT) have emphasised the recapturing of the Labour Party. Unison and GMB are more agnostic. This leaves Unite alone with an active strategy of ensuring more working class and anti-austerity MPs get elected to Westminster. A strategy that means taking on the Labour Party career machine where Lord Sainsbury supported candidates are pushed up the ladder of patronage. Interestingly many in Falkirk and elsewhere within the Labour Party opposed this challenge from Unite. For many in Miliband’s Labour Party Unite are seen as ‘the other’.
Conversely the fact that our biggest trade union feels the need to open up this second front to take on the bosses as a class, not just as employers, is remarkable. This is because Labour are considered, as suggested above, as ideologically and practically redundant when it comes to supporting legislation and action that will allow workers to challenge the power of private ownership.
In Falkirk this saw Stevie Deans, Unite’s leading lay official, divide his time between defending workers at INEOS and as he saw it promoting their interests via a changing Labour Party. Whilst the likelihood of Westminster passing laws that can effectively challenge globalisation can be debated the tactic of a ‘political’ as well as industrial strategy is understandable. Working to raise people’s political consciousness in a way that supports them to take part in the democratic process is a desirable proposition. Whether that is entirely what was happening is another question. However what is apparent is where the Labour Party establishment are challenged in selection battles for relatively safe seats; things can become very competitive and very mucky. More energy and money would appear to get spent on securing a favoured candidate rather than building political understanding and engagement of new and potential members.
All this effort is premised on Unite’s belief that the Labour Party is the only realistic potential political vehicle for change with all other options being considered fanciful or unworthy of consideration, this side of the UK general election in 2015. In this context Unite’s actions on the electoral front seem understandable. The connection between workers and all political parties is distant and becoming increasingly so. Labour retains a historic link to working people in realms of recoverable memory but the reality is different particularly out with the public sector.
Grangemouth: The private sector is different. As for all workers it is hard to hold onto gains but in the private sector asserting ‘moral guardianship’ over the relationship between the production process and a community is fiercely contested by the need for ever growing profit. In spite of this and the dirty and dangerous aspects of the work at INEOS the workforce were considered well organised and relatively well rewarded. The recent attacks by the owners on the workforce’s pensions had been resisted back in 2008; wages this year were increased against a background of erosion elsewhere.
But nothing stays the same. Changes to the ownership, access to raw materials, competition, the balance sheet, and scope of future production were taking place. This impacted on the workforce’s leverage over the manufacturing processes. Labour could still be withdrawn but INEOS had repositioned itself in relation to the chain of effects. It could control the turning on and off of the tap, the timing of this and to a degree the consequences.
Given Stevie Deans involvement in events in Falkirk they went for him too. Whether this provocation was simply vindictive or calculated is largely academic (except of course for Stevie as an individual). INEOS created a situation where a straight-forward strike was of little consequence to them. They were challenging the UK government, Holyrood and the workforce to fund the costs of the modification of the plant and their continued and increased profit margins. A bi-product was further reducing the terms and conditions of the workforce and taking on the union at the plant.
At that juncture retaining the jobs was important. INEOS had argued that Grangemouth without investment was becoming a liability. Its threat to close the refinery needed to be taken seriously. By the end of October it was too late to call their bluff, irrespective of the reality of Jim Ratcliffe’s bank balance, without having adequate local and national alliances in place to do so.
Where next: Hindsight is a wonderful thing and it is perhaps too easy for those at a distance to ask what if? But it is important that learning takes place.
Governments in London and Edinburgh had already agreed in principle at least to fund Jim Radcliffe and INEOS in their venture to re-fit Grangemouth with the capacity to process shale gas shipped from the USA to the Forth. The environmental and economic rationale for this only makes sense in the context of supporting the globalised tax avoiding pursuit of ever increasing profit. Whilst the media and others to some degree acknowledged the questionable moral position of Jim Radcliffe and INEOS they did little to fundamentally challenge his position. The plant have morally been ‘ours’ But the profit was Ratcliffe’s.
David Cameron compounded this by attacking, Unite, Ed Miliband and Stevie Deans. Labour in London appeared largely compromised by its electoral ambitions. Johann Lamont said nothing. Attempts were made by Unite to ensure the ‘bad bosses’ had nowhere to hide but the alliance between Britain’s political class and INEOS remained intact. Ideologically, globalised profiteering might not be considered pretty but right to exploit Grangemouth was not contested. Whilst people spoke about employment and the local community, the Scottish economy, or with Britain fuel needs no concrete alternative people’s alliance was formed.
For Unite, and other unions, industrial relations are informed by the right to withdraw labour. But little seems to be done to strengthen control and influence over the productive forces when advances have been made and negotiations are taking place. Jim Ratcillfe would appear to have been in sole control of the information and decision making relating to the future of Grangemouth. Does direct workforce involvement in the management and ownership of manufacturing needs considered? Limitations need to be taken into account but waiting for reluctant politicians to effectively legislate equally seems like a long haul. Strikes, occupations and work-ins must remain part of the equipment of challenging exploitation but ways need to be found to consolidate and expand control over wages, conditions, but also the means of production as part of the wider economy. However controversial this would appear to be, a more direct route to limiting and transforming relations with global capitalists is not on the horizon.
The European elections, the referendum and the 2015 general election result could provide us with a renewed political landscape upon which to build the strength of our movement. This will take hard work and imagination. However there also remains the need to find an effective political party that does not prioritise profiteering. It would be welcome if the Labour Party as an institution could be moved in that direction. Working people however cannot remain still whilst real wages are being reduced and the economy and environment are being continually exploited for the needs of the few. Unite needs to connect to this resistance if it wishes to contribute to an effective challenge to the values and views of our bankrupt establishment.