Colin Fox versus Philip Hunt

Mr Colin Fox, my Scottish Socialist Party opponent in the Liberton/Gilmerton by-election, has written on his website about why you should elect him. Let’s examine what he says in detail:

Say no to the appalling cuts in council services the other parties have in store.

You can vote for Tory cuts, Liberal cuts, Labour cuts & SNP cuts OR you can vote to improve the Council services you rely on by supporting the Scottish Socialist Party.

Why should children, the vulnerable and the sick have to pay for this crisis through cuts to the schools, hospitals and other services they rely on? We can afford to protect them and those who provide vital public services.

I agree that we should prevent cuts to necessary public services. The difference between me and Colin is that I actually have a plan that will do so — it’ll raise £160 million in revenue for Edinburgh council every year, which will prevent cuts to services AND reduce the council tax. Colin has no such plan.

Scrap the Council Tax
The Scottish Socialist Party believes the Council Tax is completely unfair. It bears no relation to income or your ability to pay it. Labour say they want council tax bills to rise again, hitting senior citizens and the low paid hardest while the wealthy pay next to nothing.

Edinburgh Council has no power to scrap the council tax. It does have the power to reduce it, and my plan does that.

Redistribute the wealth of Edinburgh, the UK’s 2nd richest city.

Unfortunately it’s not working people, pensioners and the poor who get to share in that wealth. A tiny, spoilt, rich elite skim the cream off for themselves.

The SSP would like to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor. The Tories want to do the opposite: redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich. The truth is that (i) it’s necessary that there will be redistribution from the rich to the poor, to prevent real hardship, and (ii) in a democracy, the amount of redistribution is going to be roughly the same as it is now, because the amount that happens now is roughly what the British people want, and if a government tries to increase or decrease the amount by a lot, they’ll get kicked out at the next election.

Instead of arguing about how to divide up the national cake, let’s bake a bigger cake so that everyone can have a bigger slice. I’ve already outlined some ways to do that:

  • Build lots of low-cost housing for employees near to their places of work, which will save on transport costs, travelling time, and also cut congestion, pollution and carbon emissions.
  • Build affordable housing for everyone. It’s a scandal and a rip-off that it costs over £200,000 to buy an average house in Edinburgh, when houses can be built for £20,000. Why do none of the mainstream politicians tackle this scandal? Because they don’t care.
  • Allow anyone on benefits or a low income to set up a microbusiness that will let them earn £2000 a year without having to pay tax on it. This also encourages entrepreneurship (something I suspect the SSP disapproves of)

If you genuinely want to help the poor — as I do — then simply soaking the rich for more money isn’t going to work (that’s why we now have a Tory government). The way to do it is baking a bigger cake, so everyone gets a bigger slice.

The SSP website also has a big banner at the top, celebrating Cuba’s revolution:

Cuba: 50 years of revolution

Banner on Scottish Socialist Party website

Colin Fox is the co-leader of the SSP, so presumably he agrees with this banner. Cuba is a nasty repressive dictatorship where opposition political parties and independent trade unions are banned, and where the standard of living is a fraction of what it is in Britain. Yet Colin Fox apparently thinks Cuba is a model to be emulated — does he really want Britain to be the sort of place where opposition leaders are arrested by the secret police at 2am and taken to prison where electrodes are attached to their genitals? Because that’s what most dictatorships are like, and Britain, for all its faults, is vastly better.

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4 Responses to Colin Fox versus Philip Hunt

  1. Dave says:

    “The truth is that […] (ii) in a democracy, the amount of redistribution is going to be roughly the same as it is now, because the amount that happens now is roughly what the British people want, and if a government tries to increase or decrease the amount by a lot, they’ll get kicked out at the next election.”

    That’s an extremely ahistorical thing to say, since the amount of redistribution has been in constant flux over the past century (and is in the process of major change as we speak). You base your point on two assumptions. First, that government policy is perfectly representative of an abstract ‘the people’ (moreover an abstract which in reality doesn’t exist); and second, that people’s opinions are constant and unchanging. Both assumptions are demonstrably wrong.

    My concern is that such a flawed conception of the state would have important implications if held by an elected official. It is this sort of mechanical thinking that leads to a passive attitude whereby the official doesn’t act to protect services, or advance the interests of working people more generally, because the level they end up at is somehow viewed as ‘inevitable’.

    Also, your point on Cuba was rather silly.

    • milkmiruku says:

      Progressive forms of democracy and participatory involvement can better allow voters to be engaged by the political process. That’s another matter. I’m sure Phil was talking in the abstract on this matter.

      Cuba, while I’m sure very lovely in various ways, isn’t exactly a shining example of a state.

  2. Eddie Truman says:

    AS a nearly 50 year old techy bod I was really interested in how the Pirate Party was going to translate aingle issue campaigning into the real politics of municipal politics. As a founding member of the Scottish Socilait Party that intereset is obviously multiplied.
    I’ m not going to give a big promotional speel for Colin iin this by-election but rather focus on your comments on Cuba.
    Is this Pirate Party policy?
    That Cuba is an evil dictatorship that uses aparticularly brutal form of terror on political prisoners and that Britain is “vastly superior”?
    In terms of a political position, it would place you very firmly in the same vicinity of the US far right, if indeed it is the position of the Prate Party.

    • Phil Hunt says:

      I’ m not going to give a big promotional speel for Colin in this by-election but rather focus on your comments on Cuba. Is this Pirate Party policy?

      The Pirate party doesn’t have an official policy on Cuba. You can read our policies, as voted on by the membership, here.

      That Cuba is an evil dictatorship that uses a particularly brutal form of terror on political prisoners and that Britain is “vastly superior”?

      I’ll split this up into its components.

      “Cuba is an evil dictatorship” — I didn’t use the word evil, I said “nasty [and] repressive”. Would I call Cuba evil? There are certainly less pleasant places to live.

      “uses a particularly brutal form of terror on political prisoners” — I didn’t say that Cuba uses any particular form of terror, merely that dictatorships in general do. I don’t know whether Cuba attaches electrode to political prisoners’ genitals but I’m sure that (i) being arrested for political crimes in Cuba is a seriously unpleasant experience, and (ii) there are dictatorships that do attach electrodes to prisoners’ genitals.

      “Britain is “vastly superior”” — I 100% agree with this proposition. I like living in Britain and would not consider moving to Cuba. Would you? If so, how come you don’t live there already (assuming you don’t).

      “it would place you very firmly in the same vicinity of the US far right” — hardly. The vast majority of British people would rather live in Britain than Cuba; if you don’t realise that, you’re out of touch. And I’m no friend of Sarah Palin or other figure on the right of the Republican Party.

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