Iain Ferguson

A new terrain for socialists in Scotland

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The outcome of the 2017 general election in Scotland was altogether more complex and contradictory than in England and Wales. The election result saw the forward march of the SNP — in power in Scotland since 2007 — not just halted but thrown sharply into reverse. The party went from 56 to 35 MPs, with leading figures such as Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson losing their seats to the Tories.

Scotland: can RISE rise?

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August saw the launch in Scotland of RISE (Respect, Independence, Socialism and Environmentalism), a new left alliance initiated by activists from the Radical Independence Campaign, the Scottish Socialist Party, and socialists and activists.

Around 600 people attended the launch event in Glasgow.

RISE aims to bring the Scottish left together under one umbrella which can pose an electoral alternative to the Labour Party and the nationalist SNP, with the first test being the Scottish parliament elections next May.

Revolutionary kernel in Freud's ideas

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There are many criticisms that Marxists can — and should — make of psychoanalysis in general and of Sigmund Freud in particular.

To dismiss Freud, however, as a “career-building opportunist” as Susan Rosenthal does (“What’s wrong with Sigmund Freud?”, July/August SR) hardly does justice to a thinker whose ideas have engaged the interest of successive generations of revolutionary socialists, most notably Leon Trotsky.

Can Openers

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At a Social Work Action Network Conference a few years ago one delegate shocked those present when he stated that, in his area team, management’s definition of the good social worker was the person who could make the biggest cuts to his or her clients’ care packages.

The fascination of this novel from mental health social worker, Unison activist and revolutionary socialist Malcolm Jones lies in the fact that although set several years in the future, that same craziness of a welfare system based precisely on denying people their most basic needs is instantly recognisable.

Social Work Action Network: Gove's worst nightmare

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Since the 1980s social workers and social care workers have been regular targets for Tory attacks. While their statutory powers in areas such as child protection mean that they can sometimes be experienced as oppressive by their working class clients, it is still the case that the majority of social workers want to work in anti-oppressive ways.

Scotland: There's no going back

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Scotland

The No camp may have won the referendum, but the working class anger that drove the Yes campaign is here to stay. Iain Ferguson reflects on the movement and its fall-out.

As the Scottish independence referendum result was announced on the morning of 19 September, a sigh of relief could be heard from every section of the British and global political elite.

Labour's surrender to austerity

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In June Ed Miliband and Ed Balls signalled that a future Labour government will accept the framework of the Tories' austerity plans and put a cap on welfare spending. Iain Ferguson looks at Labour's shift to the right and challenges the myths about the welfare state used to justify this turn.

"Even in these hard times, is it too much to expect an opposition to oppose now and again?" (Sunday Herald, 16 June).

For historians of the British Labour Party, June 2013 is likely to be remembered as a key milestone in Party's political and ideological evolution.

Salmond smiling

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Anyone wanting to understand the reasons for the Scottish National Party's landslide election victory in Scotland on 5 May could do worse than read the speech delivered by Alex Salmond as he was sworn in as first minister on 20 May.

Echoing Woody Guthrie's famous anthem, Salmond went out of his way to welcome new Italian, Pakistani and Middle Eastern members of the Scottish Parliament, saying, "This land is their land...it belongs to all who choose to call it home. This includes new Scots who have escaped persecution or conflict in Africa or the Middle East...We offer a hand to all, whether they hail from England, Ireland, Pakistan or Poland."

Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists

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Daniel Dorling, Policy Press, £19.99

A veteran Tory MP recently suggested that people who travel standard class in trains "are a totally different type of people". Not surprisingly, he was quickly slapped down by David Cameron since that kind of elitism doesn't exactly fit the image of the new, reformed Tory party. Nevertheless, the belief that certain groups of people are inherently superior to others is one of several that have helped to create and sustain the highest levels of income inequality in Britain since the Second World War.

Imperialism and Global Political Economy

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Alex Callinicos, Polity; £16.99

The notion of "imperialism" is firmly back on the global agenda. For many thousands of people who have become politically active over the past decade through involvement in the great movements against war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, it helps inform the way in which they now make sense of the world.

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