Sunday, 20 February 2011

Speaking Up For An Independent Socialist Republic At My Old School In Motherwell

After speaking at Fettes College (the fee paying school in Edinburgh that Tony Blair attended) last week I now get the chance to meet pupils at my old school; Our Lady's High School in Motherwell.

This Wednesday's visit will be the third time I have been asked to address the pupils and I'm really looking forward to it.

Not only is Motherwell my home town and Our Lady's my old school but this is heartland territory for the Socialist movement. It is the birthplace of Labour's first leader - James Keir Hardie - and nearby lies the UNESCO World Heritage site of New Lanark. Here the Utopian Socialist Robert Owen established a world renowned cotton mill in the early 1800s with enlightened attitudes to work, education, health and social conditions. Motherwell also elected Britain's first Communist MP back in the 1920s, one of only four ever to win a seat at Westminster.

Those sSocialist pioneers believed in a democratic republic and, with two Royal weddings to suffer this year, it is surely time to remind people of the need for an elected Head of State to replace the feudal relic that is the British monarchy. The Socialist movement's founders firmly believed in putting the interests of the people ahead of those of rich aristocrats. Those beliefs are today carried on by the Scottish Socialist Party. The record of the modern Labour Party, on the other hand, is of course light years behind Keir Hardie, Robert Owen and other founders of the labour movement. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Milliband and Iain Gray would be hard pressed to spell Keir Hardie, much less have anything in common with his views! They have long since turned their backs on such ideas in order to pursue their own privileges, high living and fat cat expenses. By contrast the SSP believes, as Keir Hardie and Robert Owen did, in the need to end exploitation and to provide full employment, decent wages and conditions, educational access for all, the redistribution of wealth and the establishment of a democratic republic.

Those values are as important today as they ever were. Lanarkshire once led the world in fighting for them. Now Labour's dismal record at local, national and UK levels would shame the county's progressive pioneers.

At Our Lady's High on Wednesday I intend to remind all the students of this past and to outline the case for an Independent Socialist Scotland today and a modern democratic republic.

No comments:

Post a Comment