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Successful launch of municipal socialism policy paper at the Scottish Parliament

May 30, 2018 Add a comment

There was a successful launch of the new Jimmy Reid Foundation report on municipal socialism in the Scottish Parliament today with 6 MSPs and 12 others in attendance.

We are grateful to Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard MSP, for hosting the meeting and introducing the paper.

From the press release for the paper:

Following on from his earlier (2017) JRF paper on public service reform, Dave Watson, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at UNISON Scotland, sets out  what he terms ‘a modern approach to municipal socialism’. He defines this as not just being one that is more efficient vis-à-vis  service delivery and raising revenues, but also being as part of creating a fairer and more democratic society in this age of increasing inequality in wealth and power and decreasing democracy.

Despite the denigration and destruction of local government by central governments, Dave Watson begins by setting out his case in its historical context where municipal ownership in the 1940s provided 30% of local authority income. He suggests that returning to such a situation will allow local government to be part of the solution to the challenges society faces in twenty first century Scotland. And here the case for municipal socialism is based upon collective provision that involves sharing risk, wealth redistribution and improving living standards. It also has to involve elements of popular control through participative democracy. Simply delivering more services through a weak local state is not enough.

From this, the paper identifies a number of services that could be delivered locally through municipal socialism. Dave Watson starts by arguing that traditional public services like housing, social care and childcare need to be brought back in to an integrated public ownership services model. He then moves on to arguing that municipal socialism can be applied to energy, transport, water and broadband as well as banking and public finance.

He then turns to advocating that information technology can be a key element of service delivery and enhancing participative democracy so that local people are not treated merely as consumers of services but are participants in deciding the how, where and when their services are delivered.

Dave Watson said: ‘As we approach the twentieth anniversary of the recreating of the Scottish Parliament, the political window of opportunity is now open to debate and discuss ideas within Scotland about how we can make our society better and fairer. My model of municipal socialism challenges the logic that either the market or senior government officials know best because it argues for reimaging and reconstituting local government not only as a very much enlarged operation but one with popular participation at its core so that we do not return to the ‘command and control’ model of before. I think both Keir Hardie and Jimmy Reid would have welcomed the application of their ideas, showing that socialism makes sense for the modern age.’

Gregor Gall, JRF director said: ‘This new paper by Dave Watson will find a ready and attentive audience. From the Scottish Labour Party, we have new leader in Richard Leonard who is keen to develop policies that expand economic economy and popular participation. From the Scottish National Party, we have a leader who has commissioned the party’s Growth Commission on how Scotland could prosper both economically and socially under independence. From the Scottish Green Party, we have a leader who wishes to integrate environmental justice with social justice. All three parties will find stimulating ideas within the paper to help flesh out their policy ideas. The paper will challenge some parties more than others. But at its heart, the paper issues a challenge to all three parties to recognise that local government should be seen as part of the solution and not part of the problem to delivering a fairer and more democratic society. But as Dave Watson argues, for this to happen, local government must be completely re-imagined and re-constituted as a form of municipal socialism’.

The paper can be accessed here:

New policy paper: ‘Municipal socialism for modern Scotland: local public enterprise for the common good’

New policy paper: ‘Municipal socialism for modern Scotland: local public enterprise for the common good’

May 28, 2018 Add a comment

In this new policy paper, Dave Watson, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at UNISON Scotland, sets out  what he terms ‘a modern approach to municipal socialism’. He defines this as not just being one that is more efficient vis-à-vis  service delivery and raising revenues, but also being part of the process of creating and a fairer and more democratic society in this age of increasing inequality in wealth and power and decreasing democracy.

The full paper can be read here: JRFDaveWatsonmunicipalsocialism


Launch: new JRF paper on municipal socialism by Dave Watson (UNISON Scotland), Scottish Parliament, 30 May 2018

May 22, 2018 Add a comment

‘Municipal socialism for modern Scotland: local public enterprise for the common good’

Following on from his earlier (2017) JRF paper on public service reform, Dave Watson, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at UNISON Scotland, sets out  what he terms ‘a modern approach to municipal socialism’. He defines this as not just being one that is more efficient vis-à-vis  service delivery and raising revenues, but also being part of creating a fairer and more democratic society in this age of increasing inequality in wealth and power and decreasing democracy.

The paper will be launched in the Scottish Parliament at 2pm on Wednesday 30 May 2018. The meeting is hosted by leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Richard Leonard MSP. Richard will also speak at the launch and there will be time for questions and answers afterwards.

If you wish to attend, please email Gregor Gall ( and come to the public entrance of the Scottish Parliament building for 1.30pm so that you have time to go through security. There will be a sign for where to gather in the public lobby before we go up en masse to the committee room.

General Data Protection Regulations – our privacy statement

May 16, 2018 Add a comment

General Data Protection Regulations – Privacy Statement

Scottish Left Review and its sister organisation, the Jimmy Reid Foundation, maintain a record of the contact details of its network of members. We use this data to circulate information about political, economic, social and cultural matters and about activities which members may engage in to further our objectives (as well for our own internal administration). Network members can unsubscribe at any time by using the link at bottom of all our emails and their details will be deleted.

We maintain information about the status of members who subscribe to the print issue of the Scottish Left Review in relation to the payment of their subscriptions as well as those of sustaining members of the Reid Foundation who make a regular donation. When subscribers or sustaining members unsubscribe their details are placed in an inactive file for accounting purposes. We do not hold any bank or other financial information except that of subscribers who pay by standing order (paper copies) and these are destroyed after one full accounting year.

We also maintain a record of people and organisations which have consented to be contacted by us. We use this data to inform them of events relevant to their expressed interests. The legal basis for this processing is “legitimate requirements”. These individuals and organisations can unsubscribe at any time. Their information will be placed in an inactive file and deleted after one full accounting year.

We will not supply the identity of anyone on our database without their consent to any other organisation.

We do not engage in activity which is intended to constitute marketing other than that detailed in our objectives and if we change this policy we will inform data subjects and seek consent.

If you have any queries, objections, requests or complaints please address them to:

Scottish Left Review – or Editor, Scottish Left Review, 741 Shields Road, Glasgow G41 4PL, Tel: 01414240042

Jimmy Reid Foundation: or Director, Jimmy Reid Foundation, 741 Shields Road, Glasgow G41 4PL, Tel: 01414240042

You have a right to access the data we hold about you and to correct it. If we do not deal with objections, requests or complaints adequately you may have a right to complain to the Information Commissioner in the United Kingdom. The UK has been identified as our lead regulatory authority for the purposes of the General Data Protection Regulations.

This Privacy Statement can be viewed at our websites and as can our objectives, structure and current activities. Both websites are free to access by anyone.

Details of 2018 annual lecture announced – speaker Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary

May 07, 2018 Add a comment

First notification – sixth Jimmy Reid annual lecture, Thurs 27 Sept 2018

The Foundation is pleased to announce that its 2018 annual lecture will be given by Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress with over 5m affiliated members, on Thursday 27 September 2018 in the Banqueting Hall of the Glasgow City Chambers.

The subject of the lecture concerns whether the Scandinavian system of social democracy represents a desirable model for Britain to follow after Brexit in March 2019.

Lynn Henderson, national officer for the Public and Commercial Services’ (PCS) Union, will chair the event. She is depute convenor of the Jimmy Reid Foundation and the current President of the Scottish Trades Union Congress.

The lecture will be preceded by a civic reception given by the Lord Provost of Glasgow and followed by a Q&A format.

Details about how to acquire tickets, the starting time and solidarity stalls on the night will be forthcoming.

JRF evidence to Scottish Affairs Committee helps form its recommendations on employment practices

Mar 25, 2018 Add a comment

In January this year, Professor Mike Danson – on behalf of the Jimmy Reid Foundation – gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee of the Westminster Parliament. His evidence, along with others, has helped form the basis for the Committee’s recommendations to the Westminster Government, especially in the light of the report the Westminster Government commissioned from Matthew Taylor on modern working practices called ‘Good work’.

To strengthen the rights available to workers and employees, and enforcement of those rights, the Scottish Affairs Committee has recommended that the Westminster Government:

· extend the right to a written statement of terms and conditions to all workers;

· clarify employment status in primary legislation;

· create a right for workers who have been on zero hours contracts for 12 months to be able to request a contract which reflects actual hours worked;

· commission the Low Pay Commission to consider a higher minimum wage for hours which are not guaranteed;

· commission a study to assess the extent of unfair or illegal employment practices in Scotland;

· bring forward stronger and more deterrent penalties, including punitive fines, for repeat or serious breaches of employment legislation, and expand “naming and shaming” to all non-accidental breaches of employment rights; and

· work with trade unions to establish the current extent of blacklisting, and take action to eradicate it if is found still to exist.

The documentation leading the conclusion and recommendations can be found here and here. Mike Danson’s evidence can be found here. The JRF wishes to thank Mike Danson for stepping in to give evidence in person.

Minutes Please! – for accountability and transparency

Jan 26, 2018 Add a comment

Carole Ewart writes on the campaign responding to a disturbing new practice in the operation of the Scottish Government

I dread to think how many meetings I have attended in my career and sometimes agreeing the subsequent minute is problematic: some are an accurate record of who was there, what issues discussed and actions agreed; some are an attempt to skew the record; thankfully only some are page after page of who said what with some occasional sentence detailing decisions taken. For some, the practice of minute taking is now considered to be akin to a ‘dark art’, whilst others still believe in good governance so a ‘meeting’ cannot properly be said to have taken place unless there is a record of business transacted.

There is growing evidence that too many meetings attended by Government Ministers are not being minuted which raises the question of motivation.  Why would civil servants, government Ministers and Special Advisers fail to make a record of meetings? Whatever the reason, the impact is always a lack of accountability and transparency. There is also a real danger that participants get fed up going to unproductive meetings. Last year I attended a meeting where one of the participants announced at the start that if proceedings proved to be another waste of time she would leave half way through as she had lots of real work to get on with.  This refreshing approach was one which I shared but when she left, my inquisitiveness forced me to stay although debate was again more theoretical than practical, aspirational rather than realistic and avoided concrete decisions, clear timelines and allocated responsibilities.  Subsequently I had a moment of inspiration – if the meetings were minuted then progress would have to be evidenced.  My next thought was that meetings were unlikely to be convened in the first place if the purpose was just to allow people to vent opinions and avoid measurable outcomes.  Either way calling for Minutes was bound to make a positive impact.

The Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland (CFoIS) has now launched a ‘Get it Minuted Campaign’ and is calling on people and organisations to ask and insist that there are agendas, notes and minutes for any meetings with the Scottish Government and, for that matter, with any public authority. Planning a meeting, recording outcomes, agreeing further actions by whom and when are all key steps forward in achieving our shared objective of making Scotland fairer. Civil servants, special advisers, government ministers attend lots of meetings with charities, with the public sector, with the private sector, with lobby groups and coalitions, with business people and professionals.  All these meetings should be minuted although we know that the public will not routinely see them as the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FoISA), permits broad exemptions to disclosure.

The ‘Get it Minuted Campaign’ is supported by a report written by CFoIS, with support from UNSION Scotland, on Minute taking rules.  The picture is complex and must be replaced with an actively enforced, single set of rules containing precise language and which details penalties for failure to comply.  For example, currently “Private Offices should arrange for a record to be taken of meetings with outside interest groups, including lobbyists, that will set out the reasons for the meeting, the names of those attending and the interests represented (see Ministerial Code[1] paragraph 4.22).” CFoIS would have preferred to see “Private Offices must arrange…”. Similarly, the wording and therefore the obligations on civils servants is also weak in respect of “it should be the responsibility of accompanying officials to take an appropriate record of an event with a Minister”. We would prefer to see “it is the responsibility”. The terms “Notes” and “Minutes” are used but clearly these are different types of documents.  The full report can be accessed on our website at

Failing to produce Minutes and Notes breeds public distrust.  According to the latest research from the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner 94% agreed that it is important for the public to be able to access information and 77% would be more likely to trust an authority that publishes a lot of information about its work.[2]

Building public trust at a time of fake news and the manipulation of social media is a declared priority for democratically elected politicians.  Therefore, there are considerable reputational, confidence-building and trust gains for a programme of pro-active publication of agendas, notes and minutes.  Even more reason to review whether FoISA is fit for purpose 16 years after it was passed and 13 years after it was implemented by over 10,000 listed public authorities in Scotland working in devolved areas.  CFoIS looks forward to the Scottish Parliament delivering on the motion passed 7 months ago, on 21st June 2017, to hold two independent inquiries into FoISA – post legislative scrutiny and the Scottish Government’s compliance with its legal obligations.

So far, the Campaign has secured support from a variety of organisations including UNISON Scotland, the Scottish Council on Deafness and the Jimmy Reid Foundation.  Disappointingly, it has also been misrepresented by the First Minister at FMQs on 18th January when she claimed to agree with its purpose but changed it to “… ensuring that appropriate records of business are taken. When meetings involving ministers meet the criteria that are set out in the civil service guidance, appropriate records are routinely taken.”  Ouch, the Campaign wants records taken of all meetings all of the time!

People’s work lives are increasingly frantic across public services due to staff cutbacks and increased workloads.  Making time for meetings is increasingly hard.  As some ministers and public servants are keen to meet with people and organisations to discuss not much and agree very little, it is understandable that staff and volunteers feel they need to prioritise their time and focus on the work for which they are funded. As there is no accountability for unproductive meetings, it is inevitable that more will be convened. The ‘Get it Minuted Campaign’ will hopefully benefit us all by reducing the number of useless meetings which waste all our time and increase our effectiveness by making a record of the business conducted at meetings convened by either the Scottish Government or the public sector.  If you want to join the Campaign, please email your support to

Carole Ewart is the Convener of the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland, and serves on the project Board of the Jimmy Reid Foundation

The Jimmy Reid Foundation is one of the initial supporters of the ‘Get it Minuted Campaign’.

[1] The Scottish Ministerial Code is published on the Scottish Government website at:

[2] See OSIC website

New JRF-UNISON Scotland report on the value of local government

Jan 21, 2018 Add a comment

The new JRF-UNISON Scotland report of the value of local government (its services and workers) to our communities and society in Scotland can be accessed here. The full report and the media release are to be found there.

Successful fifth Jimmy Reid annual memorial lecture on 5 October 2017

Oct 23, 2017 Add a comment

Around 150 people came to hear Mark Serwotka make the case for pay, people and power in the public services.

PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, was introduced by Nicola Fisher, EIS president.

PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, was introduced by Nicola Fisher, EIS president.


Fifth Annual Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture Thursday 5th Oct

Aug 14, 2017 Add a comment

PAY, PEOPLE and POWER: the progressive case for public services

Thursday 5th October 7pm

Govan Old Parish Church
866 Govan Road
Glasgow G51 3UU

General Secretary, Public and Commercial Services Union

President, Educational Institute of Scotland

After 10 years of austerity cuts, out sourcing, privatisation and wage freeze, public services are now reaching crisis point. In Scotland, for example, over 10,000 civil services and 40,000 local government jobs have been lost, seriously affecting the delivery of even adequate standards of services. Workers’ morale is at an all-time low and recruiting new staff becoming more difficult. Under the pretext of “cutting red tape” and increased efficiency, service users’ and providers have been put at risk. We need a public sector for the 21st century, properly funded with fairly paid staff and democratic ownership. Come and hear that case from one of the most powerful advocates of it and one who without his heart transplant last year would not be here today.

  • Doors open from 6.00pm, tea and coffee, exhibition and stalls.
  • Lecture commences at 7.00pm, followed by question and answer session, finishing about 8.30pm.
  • Govan Old Parish Church is at 866, Govan Road, Glasgow G51 3UU, about 100m west from Govan Cross Underground Station.


Ticket Type

Note: Please print and produce your PayPal ticket receipt for presentation at ticket desk before Lecture.

Trade unions and other organisations can make block bookings at and be invoiced for ticket costs.