May Day 2011 will be remembered for the SNP's truly historic and extraordinary election victory at Holyrood. Like it or not the implications for the labour and trades union movement and for the prospects for socialism in Scotland are profound.
The overwhelming political issue of the moment remains the appalling cuts planned by the CON-DEM Coalition in London and their impact on the living standards of working people. The question is, can we rely on the SNP Government to fight those attacks, because that undoubtedly means confronting the employing classes and redistributing the great wealth of Scotland.
Our message to Alex Salmond today remains clear - these cuts are utterly unnecessary and indefensible AND HE MUST FIGHT THEM. We do not accept that an economic crisis caused by the greed and recklessness of our banks and global corporations means working people and the poor must suffer a severe cut in their living standards.
And let's make one thing clear. We are not 'all in this together'. Times are not hard for everyone - not when some are paying £25,000 a year for schooling their children at Fettes
- not when the Registers of Scotland reveal houses in Belmont Drive, Murrayfield, sell for £2.3m
- not when the Royal Bank of Scotland awards it's CEO a £7.7 million salary
- not when Edinburgh, with it's stark inequalities, remains the UK's 2nd richest city, with £3 trillion worth of equity managed here.
Yet David Cameron, Nick Clegg and David Milliband insist 'There have to be cuts in the standard of living of millions'. They are wrong. They are ideologically motivated. They intend to ensure the filthy rich keep their excessive wealth whilst the rest of us pay heavily for something we didn't do.
It's our job in this labour and trade union movement to outline the alternative, to explain that the books can easily be balanced by making alternative decisions;
- like ending the tax evasion which robs the country of £20 billion a year
- or raising corporation tax to the same level seen in the rest of Europe
- or scrapping Trident nuclear weapons to save £100 billion
- or ending the occupation of Afghanistan, which costs £5 billion a year
- or taking the banks' profits into public ownership, not just their debts and losses
- or replacing the council tax with an income based alternative to bring in another £1.5 billion.
This issue is about morality and justice. Those who caused the crisis should pay for it.
Not the poor, elderly, sick and disabled, nor the one in three children already living in poverty.
Not the 850,000 low paid workers earning a pittance in Scotland.
Not the pensioners struggling to get by on wholly inadequate incomes.
Alex Salmond is a very shrewd politician, but he supports the NATO attacks on Libya and he supports the British occupation of Afghanistan. He supports the monarchy and cutting Corporation Tax for employers whilst retaining the unfair Council Tax.
Working people have put the SNP on watch; Alex, will you implement Tory cuts or refuse?
Will you stand up for the 1 in 3 youngsters in Scotland living in poverty or ignore them again?
Will you help the 850,000 people struggling to get by on the National Minimum Wage as you tout Scotland around the world as a low wage economy?
How you answer these questions will truly determine whether our country has entered new ground or not.
Last month I joined half a million people in London on the TUC demonstration against the cuts entitled 'There is a better way'. Indeed there is, and the people of Scotland need it desperately.