Big Society in Scotland must horrify Dave
All this gibberish a few years back from David Cameron about Big Society seems to be coming to fruition in a way which would horrify him. People all over Scotland have come together in the last week to donate en masse to foodbanks. The other day an acquaintance said that donating to foodbanks doesn’t address the problem. I beg to differ. The problem, at its most basic and frightening level, is that there are people who don’t have enough money to feed themselves and their families as a direct result of policies implemented by the government.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Tories’ goal was to starve poor families, but they knew it would happen and they saw that as an acceptable price to pay. In the same way that they see the inevitable death and suffering that privatising the NHS will cause as an acceptable risk for the financial rewards it would generate. They could stop this tomorrow if they cared about normal people over their pals in big business. While the bigger problem of living in a society where we currently need foodbanks is not directly addressed by donations, this last week of regrouping and rallying and action speaks volumes. Each donation is a protest against a Tory government that sees poverty as necessary to prop up those who take orders of magnitude more than they need. Recent events have opened Scotland’s eyes to the idea that we can change things. So, firstly, people are taking direct action in the area that needs to be addressed most urgently. Secondly, those same people that have taken their own time and money to help those who need it will turn that same passion and energy to the root of the problem: Westminster.
The arrogance and complacency of Britain’s right wing is fascinating. They’re so transparent and grotesque that it would be funny if they hadn’t already caused so much suffering. That said, I hope you’ll allow me at least a chuckle as their out-dated structures collapse around them and they, as oblivious to public consensus as they have been to suffering, are forced to run blinking and naked into the cold light of day . Know one thing; while they still hold the power, these sociopaths will do everything they can to make sure they keep it. The cuts will keep on coming.
They’re now talking about stopping benefits for people under 22. They’re trying to abolish the Human Rights Act, which protects among other things the rights of people to appeal criminal cases. That implies that English courts are somehow infallible. They’ve quietly removed your right to object to fracking beneath your home. I don’t automatically object to the notion of fracking, but its safety has not been studied enough for it to be even considered near populated areas, especially when the few studies there have been imply statistically significant negative health impact. I also know that I’d rather have a beautiful outlook “ruined” by a wind-farm than by fracking equipment. I could go on all day about the vile things the government have done in the last week alone, but a great illustration of the character of your average Tory MP is that they have started defecting to UKIP, a party that represent exactly the kind of sickening Nationalism, separatism and, yes, racism, that was wrongly levelled at the the Yes campaign.
Where’s the Labour party in all of this?
Well, they’re proposing to cap child benefits. They’re being wishy-washy on zero-hours contracts. In Scotland, they’re shaking hands with Tories and lying about pensions and the NHS to ensure they get to remain relevant. Labour party members are leaving in droves, tearing up their memberships in disgust. This was a party which was supposed to protect the working class. Instead, they’re trying their damnedest to protect themselves. And the sad thing is that all they’d have to do to regain their rapidly-shrinking support would be to apologise and embrace their traditional values: social democracy, living standards, health, welfare, community. That they can’t or won’t do that wholly implies that they’re in bed with the same people as the Tories.
So, how do we stop this?
I’m not going to talk about Independence; that’s a conversation for later when the promised powers don’t materialise. What I will say is that the independence campaign was a great illustration of how politicians can only take you so far when their agenda is set by a minority with questionable interests. People are now engaged and don’t want to disengage. For my part, I’ve joined the Scottish Green Party. Their stances on social justice, equality and interventionism mirror my own bleeding-heart values fairly closely. I’ll be attending meetings when I can, but most importantly, I’m going to talk to people.
The awesome thing is that this movement wants to improve the lot of everyone in Scotland, the UK, the world, and that can only be done through discourse. We need to recognise what the majority of people actually want, present the options for getting there and take actions to do so. What’s amazing about the referendum is that everyone got to hear arguments that would otherwise be made in a musty green and brown room where men with lots of houses applaud and bray as they trade insults. We have a movement that can make a big impact in the coming elections. More importantly we can make great change from the bottom up. I will be getting out there, discussing what kind of society we want to live in and helping to make those changes now. Action and unity at the bottom will force change at the top. Together we can make Cameron’s Big Society come back to haunt him.
Keep doing what you’re doing, Scotland. I’m proud of you.
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Great piece, hopefully some organisation of the various groups and development of strategy and goals will happen soon but we’ll always need those who do their own thing too. It would be nice to eventually link up others in the UK who feel the same way. Strength in numbers as they say.
Thanks Colin. I rattled this out on Sunday night after seeing parts of the Tory conference. The events of the last few days, while depressingly predictable, just go to show they’re continuing their assault on the disadvantaged. I fear their proscriptive policies will end up causing riots and I fear that they’d be more than happy with that outcome. You’re absolutely right when you say that the various groups need to work together to meet our common goals. Individual ones can wait as long as these rotters loom large over those in need.