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Successful launch of Jimmy Reid biography at UNITE Scotland offices, 25 Oct 2019

Oct 25, 2019 Comments Off on Successful launch of Jimmy Reid biography at UNITE Scotland offices, 25 Oct 2019

The Jimmy Reid Foundation, in association with UNITE Scotland (as the successor union to the engineering union of Jimmy Reid’s time), launched the new and definitive biography of Jimmy Reid on Friday 25 October at UNITE Scotland’s Glasgow offices.

The biography, with the cooperation of the Reid family, has been written by Alan McKinlay and Bill Knox – see https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/books/id/51544/

An audience of some 50 union activists, officers, former officers and UCS veterans, along with Jimmy’s widow, Joan Reid, heard UNITE general secretary, Len McCluskey, as the guest speaker and was followed by Alan McKinlay and Bill Knox.

We thank UNITE for providing the facilities to launch the biography and to the general secretary for speaking.

Below is a photo of Len McCluskey with authors Bill Knox (left) and Alan McKinlay (right).

Video of Aamer Anwar’s 2019 Jimmy Reid Foundation lecture

Oct 13, 2019 Add a comment

In all its glory, here is the video of Aamer’s lecture at the Bute Hall, University of Glasgow on Thursday 10 October 2019 (with introduction from Neal Juster and Lynn Henderson). Thanks again from the Foundation to Aamer for giving the lecture and to the University of Glasgow for allowing the Bute Hall to be used. The standard has been set very high for the next person that delivers the 2020 annual lecture.

 

 

 

 

Text and slides from Aamer Anwar’s 2019 Jimmy Reid Foundation lecture

Oct 11, 2019 Add a comment

To a large and rapturous audience, Aamer Anwar delivered a barnstorming and heartfelt lecture on poverty and injustice in the Bute Hall at the University of Glasgow on a wet and windy evening on Thursday 10 October 2019.

The video of the lecture will shortly be available but for now here is the text of the lecture and the accompanying slides.

The Jimmy Reid Foundation records its thanks to Aamer for providing such a stimulating and enjoyable evening – he has certainly set the bar very high for the speaker of the 2020 annual lecture!

Extract from Aamer Anwar’s 2019 Jimmy Reid Foundation lecture

Oct 09, 2019 Add a comment

Tomorrow (Thursday 10 October 2019) Aamer Anwar will say 

In an extract from his forthcoming 2019 Jimmy Reid Foundation lecture called ‘The struggle for justice, equality and freedom in Scotland’, Scotland’s leading human rights and criminal defence lawyer, Aamer Anwar, will set out a wide-ranging analysis, saying:

‘Jimmy Reid is often described as the best MP that Scotland never had, but he was much more than that: he was the conscience of his generation. Many claim to honour his legacy and, as a nation, we claim to be left of centre. But I believe we are failing the weak, the poor and the vulnerable. There is much I will try to cover in my memorial speech and it is a daunting task to try and follow in the footsteps of the giant that was Jimmy.

But I am tired, some 20 years after the murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar, of seeing families still screaming for justice whilst young people incarcerated in our prisons take their own lives as their cries for help go unheard. Be it in Scotland – or, indeed, England – those who wear a uniform appear immune from any sort of justice when it comes to as death at their hands.

Behind the scenes the Scottish Legal Board is slowly preparing to dismantle our legal aid system along the very same lines as the Tory government did, which will leave the weak, the vulnerable, the guilty and the innocent without justice.

On the political front we have a Tory government with a veneer of positive Britishness but a reality of imperialist values, racism, and anti-immigrant hysteria. We are in dangerous times as the right, with the failure of the left, begins to fill the vacuum.

For Scottish Labour, so obsessed with its own internecine warfare, there is simply no point in constantly mentioning one hundred years of previous labour struggles, if in this century there are none to see. Where there is an opportunity to unite, they oppose through a visceral hatred for the SNP.

As for the SNP, being a party of government for twelve years, has created a sense of complacency and arrogance. The inevitable road to independence must not blind it to immediate demands for justice and accountability. Ordinary people are desperate and they cannot or will not wait.

Be it in Scotland, England or Wales, we cannot build a ‘land of opportunity for all’ on the ruins of a million more children living in poverty or the bodies of those broken by being forced to work till 70.

But whilst Jimmy would have been angry at the political landscape we see today, he would also have been full of optimism, because he had a fundamental belief that there has always been a spirit of dissent in the younger generation, untouched by the defeats of the past.’

This Is What Democracy Looks Like event in Manchester, Sat 31 August

Aug 01, 2019 Add a comment

Supporters of the Jimmy Reid Foundation may be interested in the major conference being organised by the ‘Politics for the Many’ campaigning group. It is called ‘This Is What Democracy Looks Like: Building A Politics For The Many’ and takes place in Manchester on Saturday 31 August. The depute-convener of the Foundation, Lynn Henderson, is one of the speakers in her capacity as the PCS union national political officer. Details of the event and how to by tickets can be found here.

Seventh annual Jimmy Reid lecture, 10 October 2019 – tickets now on sale

Jun 23, 2019 Add a comment

Tickets are on sale here – click this link

Scotland’s leading human rights lawyer, Aamer Anwar, to give 2019 Jimmy Reid annual lecture

The Jimmy Reid Foundation, in conjunction with the University of Glasgow, is delighted to announce that Scotland’s leading human rights lawyer, Aamer Anwar, is to give the seventh Jimmy Reid annual lecture on 10 October 2019. Currently, Aamer is the Rector of the University of Glasgow, as Jimmy Reid was in the early 1970s, and will give the lecture in the Bute Hall where Jimmy gave his famous rectorial address in 1972 called ‘Alienation’ and known as the ‘rat race is for rats’ speech.

The title of Aamer’s lecture is ‘The struggle for justice, equality and freedom in Scotland’. In it, he will not only discuss the state of justice, equality and human rights in Scotland but examine how the battle for these can be pursued in the face of opposition from the Scottish establishment.

Looking forward to giving the lecture, Aamer said:

It’s an honour to walk in the footsteps of Jimmy Reid. As Rector, he gave what has been described as one of the greatest speeches since Lincoln’s Gettysburg address in which he spoke out against injustice and inequality, urging our students to reject the values of the ‘rat-race’. Since then, we have achieved much that as a nation we can be proud of. However, injustice, inequality and racism remain deeply rooted in our institutions and society. We continue to sleep walk in complacency whilst politicians issue sound bites of comfort.  Nearly 50 years after Jimmy spoke, the vulnerable, the poor, minorities and the weak are despised, abused and silenced. It is time that the voice of the voiceless was heard.

Professor Gregor Gall, director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation, commented:

Jimmy Reid would have been delighted that such a leading campaigner for social justice as Aamer Anwar is to give a lecture in his honour in the very hall where Jimmy himself gave his trailblazing 1972 rectorial address. In Scotland today, there is no one more qualified and suited to walk in Jimmy’s shoes than Aamer Anwar.

Tickets are on sale here – click this link

Notes:

  • Aamer Anwar is a longstanding anti-racist and human rights campaigner. He became a solicitor in 2000 before going on to found Aamer Anwar & Co, Solicitors & Notaries, in 2006. He was elected rector in 2017, having attended the University of Glasgow from 1986 to 1994. He was ‘Solicitor of the Year’ in the Herald’s Law Awards of Scotland 2016 and 2018, and ‘Lawyer of the Year’ at the fourteenth Scottish Legal Awards in March 2017. He is also a patron of the Jimmy Reid Foundation.
  • The 2019 lecture will take place from 6.30pm onward at the Bute Hall, University of Glasgow on Thursday 10 October 2019.

Tickets are on sale here – click this link

‘Neo-liberalism and the new institutional politics of universities’ – paper now available

May 30, 2019 Add a comment

The Jimmy Reid Foundation launched its latest paper called ‘Neo-liberalism and the new institutional politics of universities’ by Jeremy Valentine (formerly Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh) at the UCU Scotland offices on 30 May 2019.

The Foundation would like to thank Jeremy as well as Ann Gow, past president of UCU Scotland, and Eurig Scandrett, past vice-president of of UCU Scotland for being the discussants at the launch as well as Murdo Mathison and UCU Scotland for hosting the event.

The paper is  now available here.

Launch of ‘Neo-liberalism and the new institutional politics of universities’, 30 May 2019, Glasgow

Apr 29, 2019 Add a comment

The Jimmy Reid Foundation will launch its latest paper called ‘Neo-liberalism and the new institutional politics of universities’ by Jeremy Valentine (formerly Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh) from 6pm-8pm on Thursday 30 May 2019 at the UCU Scotland offices, 4th floor, 227 Ingram St, Glasgow G1 1DA

Jeremy Valentine will lay out the how, where and why of neo-liberalism now dominating the way universities are run and the purposes they are run for. Alongside Jeremy will be speaking Ann Gow, president of UCU Scotland, and Carlo Morelli, president-elect of UCU Scotland. There will be plenty of time for Q&A. All are welcome.

The paper will be available at the launch and uploaded to the Jimmy Reid Foundation’s website the day after the launch.

 

UNISON Scotland commissioned report on alternative sources of funding for local government

Apr 15, 2019 Add a comment

UNISON and Jimmy Reid Foundation call for fundamental review of funding local government

UNISON Scotland and the Jimmy Reid Foundation are calling for a fundamental review of funding local government. The call was made at the launch of joint UNISON and Jimmy Reid Foundation report: Additional Revenue streams sources of funding for the delivery of local government services at the STUC 122nd Annual Congress  in Dundee.

The Report states that expansion of local public services is possible with a fairer system of property taxes, and environmental charges. Local government has borne the heaviest burden of austerity cuts to the Scottish Budget since the financial. There just isn’t enough money in the local government budget to meet the needs of our citizens. We need to examine new and alternative sources of revenue for local government.

Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary of UNISON said:  “Over the years, the balance of funding for public services through local government has shifted from approximately 50% coming from national government to 50% being raised directly by local authorities, to 85% of funding coming from central government and 15% being raised directly by local authorities.

Together with an overall reduction in funding, during a period of austerity, this has resulted, in severe financial pressures and impacted upon, the quality and delivery of vital public services. Politicians in all spheres must create the time and space for a fundamental review of funding local government. This report is a contribution, to that essential debate”

Professor Mike Danson, the lead author of the report said: “Within the constraints of the fiscal powers devolved under successive Scotland Acts, there are still some opportunities to generate greater funding for public services locally. Some changes will require time to explore, plan and introduce but it is economically efficient and effective to shift the tax burden onto property and land owners and away from Council Taxpayers, making the tax system more progressive and more based on ability to pay.”

NOTES:

The report recommendations:

i)        Recruitment of additional council, government and agency staff to ensure that registration, regulation and collection of revenues is undertaken in order to identify where loopholes, avoidance and coverage has allowed some to escape making their fair contribution.

ii)       Committees of the Scottish Parliament should examine whether the Small Business Bonus Scheme, and other reliefs from Non-Domestic Rates, are fit for purpose and determine what alternatives could support private and social enterprises and other bodies more effectively.

iii)     Unions should remind the Government and Parliament of how the Fair Work Framework should underpin both these reviews and implementation of tax changes. Making reliefs and subsidies and tenders for public procurement dependent on good practices at the local level should raise revenues indirectly for Council budgets.

iv)     Parliament, councils, unions and communities should explore how new taxes and levies can be introduced to support inclusive growth and the foundational economy. Attention should be paid to the opportunity for such initiatives to change behaviours and overcome negative externalities and market failures.

v)      Unions should consider how municipalisation of buses, energy, and other public services could be appropriately pursued. This may require powers to be devolved from Westminster.

vi)     Unions and others should also explore how local authority debts and PFI/PPP contracts can be taken over by the Treasury, saving local government many billions in interest charges each year and so releasing tax revenues for investment in local economies and communities.

vii)   UNISON should consider establishing improved research and policy facilities through collaborations with academics and others in the STUC research network to assist in the above.

Some of the proposals that may follow from these recommendations would generate new income for local authorities while others may rebalance the burden of taxation onto the wealthy and higher income groups.

Some of the changes that may follow can be implemented immediately, some would require legislation by the Scottish Parliament, and others would require significant further devolution of fiscal and other powers from the Westminster Parliament.

Cuts to local government funding:  

Local government has experienced substantial cuts to its budget and ability to deliver services to the public.  The Information Service Annual Benchmark report shows what’s happening to funding for individual services.  Total revenue funding for councils has fallen by 8% in real terms across 8 years.  Spending on teacher numbers and social care has been relatively protected. Education and social care make up 70% of expenditure within the bench-marking framework so this means substantial cuts have had to fall on other areas.

·         a 22% reduction in culture and leisure spending

·         a 34% reduction in planning

·         almost 15% reduction in roads spending and

·         almost 10% in environmental services spending

Children’s Services

The education budget has reduced by 2.5% since 2010/11 but the number of primary school pupils and pre-school registrations has increased by 30,000. That is a big cut in the money available for each pupil. Total spending on primary and secondary education has grown in cash terms the real spend per pupil has fallen since 2010/11. (8% for primary and 4% for secondary). Satisfaction with schools has fallen for the sixth year in a row.

Adult Social Care

Total social care spending has grown by 10% since 2010/11 although spending on home and residential care for older people has fallen as a percentage of that total.  Although the number of hours of home care has been relatively static spending on home care has risen by 15% since 2010/11. Much of this is due to paying staff the living wage.  Spending on residential care has fallen by over 12% although the number of residents has only fallen by 2%.

Culture and Leisure Services

Culture and leisure services have seen substantial increases in demand alongside a 22% spending cut. Sports facilities have increased visitor numbers by 19%, libraries by 36% and museums by 29% over the period analysed. Spending on parks has also reduced by 5% . Public satisfaction rates have fallen for all culture and leisure services in the last 12 months.

Environmental Service

Despite the direct importance of these services to the health and safety of citizens real spending has reduced by 10%. Waste management has been cut by 3%, street cleaning cut by 27%. Preventive services like trading standards and environmental health have been cut by 18%. Spending on roads has fallen by 15%.

The full report can be read here JRFUnisonScotlandtaxreportfinal

 

Into 2019: Broadening Human Rights Horizons and Ambitions

Jan 11, 2019 Add a comment

Carole Ewart surveys the terrain for prospect of advance in 2019

I expect the reputation of human rights as a delivery framework for social and economic fairness to be significantly enhanced in 2019 as 47 recommendations are rolled out from reports of the Equalities and Human Rights Committee at the Scottish Parliament and from the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership.  We have waited 21 years for human rights to be explicitly mainstreamed across public services and understood as applying to us all equally.  Now we all must be vigilant to ensure these roadmaps for change are delivered and sustained.

The Labour Government elected in 1997 delivered a human rights legal framework through the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Scotland Act 1998 which gave domestic effect to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).  Importantly, the ECHR is not tainted by Brexit as it is a treaty of the Council of Europe.  Both UK Acts of Parliament develop and add to the layers of protection already provided by the EU, as well as the UN whose treaties provide extensive rights.  A favourite of mine is the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which includes the right to an adequate standard of living, to food, clothing, housing, fair work conditions and adequate remuneration.  However, political complacency abounded after 1998 as saying ‘let it be so’ did not deliver the seismic cultural and operational shift needed across the public, private and third sectors.  Unsurprisingly to many of us not much changed and the power of human rights continued to be overlooked as well as becoming a ‘bete noire’ to the Tory right which realised that giving people minimum rights meant they could not be economically exploited and socially disadvantaged.  Human rights are, after all, about enabling human beings to thrive not just ‘scraping by’.

Unfortunately, the Scottish Parliament intake from 2003 – 2007 [1], fell into the trap of viewing human rights and their enforcement as a problem for the State.  MSPs specifically banned the newly created Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) from undertaking, advising or assisting people to bring human rights cases.  Failing to provide a realistic threat of publicly funded test cases by an expert body such as on health and housing provision, enabled complacency.  Now our norm is ‘pockets of good practice’ and the benevolence of staff which of course can lead to arbitrariness.  When UNISON Scotland asked its members what the problem was, they advised “that they don’t generally operate in a human rights culture” [2].

The report ‘Recommendations for a new human rights framework to improve people’s lives’ produced by the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership makes seven recommendations and the context and detail runs to 79 pages. Published in December 2018 [3], the First Minister immediately committed to set up a National Task Force to deliver on the recommendations [4].  Nicola Sturgeon’s aspiration for the whole of her Government is to ‘ensure Scotland is an international leader in building a rights-based society’.  If followed through, this is a game changer and an admission that good intentions, laws on rights and the £10m spend on the Scottish Human Rights Commission’s work has not achieved the dramatic change in outcomes for people.

The seven recommendations include: passing an Act which provides human rights leadership, capacity-building to enable effective implementation of the Act to improve people’s lives, a Scottish Government ‘National Mechanism for Monitoring, Reporting and Implementation of Human Rights’ and development of ‘human rights-based indicators’ for Scotland’s National Performance Framework (NPF).

In November 2018 ‘Getting Rights Right: Human Rights and the Scottish Parliament’ was published by the Equalities and Human Rights Committee.   Its 40 recommendations, to be delivered over a nine-year timeframe, followed an inquiry which was influenced by extensive oral and written evidence as well as overseas visits and informed opinion from the UN. The report recognises that a human rights culture, human rights knowledge, human rights practice, human rights monitoring and human rights law all need to be in place as it is the sum of the parts that will deliver impact rather than a single strand of activity. The recommendations are targeted at the Parliament itself such as developing scrutiny of human rights through the Scottish budget process and investigating a strengthening the SHRC’s powers.  Recommendations for the Scottish Government include the production of an annual ‘human rights report’ for the Committee to scrutinise and to fund civic society to scrutinise compliance with UN ratified treaties in devolved and reserved matters.  Recommendations for the SHRC include ‘developing a parliamentary engagement plan’ for Scotland’s National Action Plan on Human Rights’.[5]

2019 will herald a period of realism, addressing the barriers to mainstreaming human rights across publicly funded services which have built up over the last twenty years. Now we need to see clear signs of a meaningful rights respecting strategy designed to achieve genuine social and economic change.  The two reports require people and organisations to rise to the challenge of leading change, in the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government, the SHRC.  That leadership will individually and collectively impact on the public services, and on those delivering services of a public nature including the private sector eg in procurement.  Key to progress are duty bearers understanding their obligations, which extend to preventative as well as enforcement measures, and rights holders being able to know and assert their rights effectively.  Politicians of all parties can lead on delivery by ensuring the recommendations are acted upon and we can lead too, by holding politicians to account. I hope you agree to be a Human Rights Leader!

Carole Ewart is a public policy and human rights consultant and serves on the Project Board of the Jimmy Reid Foundation.

[1] See Scottish Parliament for more information https://www.parliament.scot/msps/24068.aspx

[2] Response of the Human Rights Consortium Scotland To ‘Scottish Independence Bill: A consultation on an interim constitution for Scotland’, October 2014 https://consult.gov.scot/elections-and-constitutional-development-division/scottish-independence-bill/

[3] Available on the Advisory Group’s designated website  http://humanrightsleadership.scot/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/First-Ministers-Advisory-Group-on-Human-Rights-Leadership-Final-report-for-publication.pdf

[4] See press release of 10th December 2018 at http://humanrightsleadership.scot/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/First-Ministers-Advisory-Group-post-10th-December-update.pdf

[5] Available on Committee website at https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/106453.aspx