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I am the Scottish Socialist Party spokesperson, former MSP for the Lothians. A founder member of the SSP I have been a political activist for 30 years.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

SSP 'Day of Action' over gas and electricity bills is a huge success


The Scottish Socialist party had one of its most successful days in years on Saturday as branches across the country reported enormous levels of support from the public for our petition to curb fuel poverty.
I was on Princes Street with Paul, Norman, Allan, Eddie, Jim, Sean and Rob [Jim and Sean are new SSP members and couldn't have hoped for a better 'baptism' in party activity]. We were all completely blown away by the fantastic response we got to our call for the power companies to be condemned for recent increases in charges. I have been campaigning on this issue for months but have seen nothing like this level of support before.
Indeed in 30 years campaigning I'd compare yesterday with stalls I have done against the war in Iraq in 2003 and against the Pol tax in the late 1980's. People were queuing up three deep around our table to get the chance to sign our five petitions in the mild November sunlight.
Over a couple of hours we collected more than 800 names [50 petition sheets with 17 names on each one]. We also met Renata and Claire who were so impressed by our efforts and the support we enjoyed that both now want to join the SSP. We sold all the Voice newspapers we had. By any measure this was our best result in many years.
It is clear that our demands - expressed through the loud-hailer, leaflets, notice boards and petitions chime with a widespread public mood.
People are furious both at power companies they see 'profiteering' at our expense, and at Governments who appear to be 'asleep at the wheel'. Government do not appear to understand people are furious at increasing bills and falling incomes. And it might be argued Government is in fact getting off lightly since they have cut the winter fuel allowance to pensioners and cut programmes giving grants towards household insulation and energy efficiency schemes.
With one million Scots families now living in fuel poverty [the Scottish Governments own figures] the situation is now critical.
The SSP has demanded that Government acts to reduce these bills, to increase financial help to the most vulnerable and extends the funds available for household energy efficiency.
But if we are to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland - and we must - we need to diversify away from expensive and harmful fossil fuels, build 100,000 new homes annually to the latest energy efficiency standards and return the energy industry to public ownership.
As far as the campaign to achieve these objectives is concerned the next SSP EC on December 3rd will discuss the matter in some detail.
In the meantime all credit is due to those SSP members who participated in yesterdays efforts. I want to thank them. Those of us who have been campaigning on this issue for the past 6 months have been vindicated. We, in the SSP, saw this conflict coming and we had the courage of our convictions to stand up to some of the worlds biggest corporations and Government.It's clear the overwhelming majority of Scots are now behind us on this matter.

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