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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Rallying for a Republic



Republicans Gather on the Hill - BBC

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Holyrood poet Morgan signs up with the rebels of Calton Hill

The Herald

THE poet laureate has backed calls for an independent republican Scotland just hours before one of his poems is read out as a centrepiece of the Queen's opening of Holyrood.
In a major embarrassment before the �0,000 ceremony, Edwin Morgan has signed the Declaration of Calton Hill, which has been drafted by the Scottish Socialist party as part of a rival celebration to the royal opening.
It calls for Scotland to be freed from the "hierarchical and anti-democratic institutions of the British state", and declares: "We believe the right to self-determination is an inherent right, and not a favour to be granted . . . by the Crown."
The 450-word credo, which has already been translated into Gaelic and Urdu, is the main plank of a party being organised by the Socialists on Calton Hill this Saturday at the same time as the Queen opens the Scottish Parliament in the valley below. The event has already attracted support from as many Scots artists as the official version.
Mr Morgan, 84, who was yesterday given a �00-a-year stipend for being the national poet, or makar, said his sympathies were very much with the republicans.
"The poem I was asked to write was for the opening of the parliament, and it's about the building and the people who will work in it," he said.
"I'm not really bothered by the Queen liking it or not. It's not really for her, it's for Scotland in general."
The 50-line poem, which is still a mystery, will be read out in the new parliament's chamber by Liz Lochhead, the playwright, because its author is unwell.
Mr Morgan's ambivalence to the royal presence comes just days after another key performer said she was drawn to Calton Hill.
Eddi Reader, who will sing Wild Mountainside immediately after Mr Morgan's poem, said: "I am of the left. I really like Tommy Sheridan and I'll be sorry not to see him. Maybe I could sing at both events."
Although the royal opening will include Sir Sean Connery, artists Elizabeth Blackadder and John Bellany, and authors Christopher Brookmyre and Alexander McCall Smith, the rest of the artistic contingent has been filled out by TV comedians Fred MacAulay and Karen Dunbar.
However, the rival Calton Hill party has secured the support of authors Iain Banks, Alasdair Gray, Jim Kelman and Irvine Welsh, as well as actors Peter Mullan, Bill Paterson and Tony Roper.
Not all of them will be present in person. Mr Gray, who does intend to appear, said: "We do not want an independent Scotland because we dislike the English, but because we want separation from that union of military, financial and monarchic establishments calling itself Great Britain."
Mr Banks added: "I don't believe in going to anything that involves the royals; all that bowing and scraping just encourages the blighters."
A parliament spokesman said: "The makar has penned a splendid poem for the official opening ceremony. Like everyone else in Scotland, he's entitled to his own opinion."

BBC - Alternative Ceremony Mapped Out

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Socialists targeting council tax

BBC NEWS

A bill aimed at abolishing the council tax has been lodged by Scottish Socialist Party Leader Tommy Sheridan.

The SSP said it wants to replace it in Scotland with a personal income-based service tax.

Mr Sheridan said the wealthiest 14% would pay considerably more while 80% of Scots would pay less.

He said the radical and progressive measure would cover existing council spending and also allow domestic water rates to be scrapped.

Mr Sheridan said: "The council tax is an unfair Tory tax which penalises the pensioner and average worker but pampers the well paid and wealthy.

"The Scottish service tax replacement raises more money than council tax but in a fairer way."

He added: "This bill is great news for pensioners and low paid workers in particular.

"It is a radical measure which will significantly redistribute income from those with most to those with least."

People were urged in May to give their views over the following four months on the Socialists' alternative to the council tax.

Party leaders argue it would see many low-income households saving up to � a week.

Labour said the proposals were "not credible" and that those on low incomes were protected by council benefits.

Mr Sheridan replied that research suggested 77% of people in Scotland were in favour of abolishing the charge.

Anyone earning up to �,000 would pay less than they are at the moment, Mr Sheridan calculated.

All those earning under �,000 a year would be automatically exempt from the proposed tax.

The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats want the council charge replaced with an income-based alternative.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Rallying Against Health Cuts

Scotland on Sunday: "Addressing the rally, Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan said the 'patchwork quilt cuts' had to stop and called for more patient and public involvement in decisions affecting the NHS.

'We need a moratorium on any further cuts until we have a national plan about how services are going to be delivered,' he said."

Cultural backing for alternative to Royal opening of Parliament

SSP Research, Policy & Media Unit Press Release: 03/10/04

Scotland's cultural community have turned their back on the official opening of the new parliament building and are rallying to the alternative event on Calton Hill organised by a broad range of Scottish republicans and the Scottish Socialist Party. Writers Iain Banks, Alasdair Gray, Jim Kelman and Irvine Welsh have joined with actor and director Peter Mullan and other leading members of the arts community to back the `Declaration of Calton Hill' which will be signed in a public ceremony at the same time the Queen is opening the controversial new parliament building. The extent of the backing for the alternative event was shown when the singer Eddi Reader, who will be at the official opening, expressed a wish to attend the Calton Hill event, saying; "I am of the left� maybe I could sing at both events."

Although organised by the Scottish Socialist Party group in the Scottish Parliament, the Declaration of Calton Hill is a non-party political event and the declaration has been worded as a basic statement of the democratic right of Scotland to self determination.

Best selling author Iain Banks said; "I don't believe in going to anything that involves the royals; all that bowing and scraping just encourages the blighters. I'm a citizen of Scotland, thanks, and deeply resent the imposition of being termed a "subject" of anything or anybody. "As for the Declaration, it has my full support. I rarely read anything that long - especially originating from politicians - without wanting to disagree with or edit something, but frankly I don't think I'd change a word. Well said. Actually implementing it all will be the hard bit, obviously, but then nothing that worthwhile comes without a struggle."

Irvine Welsh wrote in support of the declaration; "'It's time we got it together and started doing things ourselves rather than blaming London or Brussels or even the current toytown parliament, which is set up for failure, every time things go wrong. "It's my view that until we gain the sort of political maturity that can only come from sovereignty, we'll keep on making daft mistakes like the Holyrood fiasco. It's time to be a nation once again.'

Alasdair Gray added; "We do not want an independent Scotland because we dislike the English, but because we want separation from that union of military, financial and monarchic establishments calling itself Great Britain!"

Expelled SNP MSP Campbell Martin is also backing the Declaration of Calton Hill, he said; "I think this is highly significant and it highlights the new reality of politics in Scotland � while the SNP are in Holyrood bending the knee to the British Queen, I will be out on Calton Hill celebrating a different vision of Scotland."

Scottish Socialist Party national convenor Tommy Sheridan explained why the SSP Group organised the event; "We have no wish to parade behind a feudal figurehead who symbolises elitism, privilege and deference. "The basic principles that Scottish republicans believe in can never be put into practise while Scotland remains subordinate to the hierarchical and anti-democratic institutions of the British State."

The Declaration of Calton Hill is a 450 word document that commits its signatories to campaigning for an Independent Scottish Republic "built on the principles of liberty, equality, diversity and solidarity".

The Declaration of Calton Hill event will run from 11am � 1pm on Saturday 9th October with a signing ceremony at 12 noon. The full wording of the Declaration of Calton Hill is available via the SSP website; http://www.scottishsocialistparty.org/