Call to Action

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by Sean and Doug, talk given by Sean at our public meeting

Evening everybody. I won’t take up too much time speaking at you; I see my job as stimulating a debate. We want to hear what everyone here tonight thinks.

So, where do we find ourselves at the start of 2014?

The UK is a country on its knees, brought low by successive governments pandering to the rich, whilst blaming the rest of us for its problems. Up to it’s eyeballs in debt as a result of bailing out our casino bankers yet peddling the lie that those at the bottom of the heap are the cause of this financial mess.

One of the latest expressions of this narrative is the bedroom tax. This tax affects 80,000 homes in Scotland. 78% of these have a resident who is registered disabled. Only 4 Scottish MP’s voted for it, yet it was imposed by Westminster. It is a cynical attack on those who should be being helped by the state, not blamed by it.

1664 households in Aberdeen are currently losing out because of the Bedroom Tax, and 1084 have now fallen into arrears on their rent payments, or 65%! It’s hardly surprising this has happened; you can’t cut the income of people reliant on benefits and expect them to still be able to pay their bills. What’s even more sickening is that as this iniquitous attack on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society carries on, over £30bn is lost to the exchequer each year, through tax evasion and avoidance.

But our current rulers don’t care. Just under 90% of the British cabinet are millionaires, who give tax cuts to the richest in society. As the bedroom tax was being implemented, the top rate of tax was cut from 50% to 45%, at a stroke making 13,000 millionaires over 100,000 pounds a year better off.

Then there’s ATOS, forcing sometimes seriously or terminally ill people back into work. Often work that is rewarded only by a giro of 70 odd pounds a week through the workfare program, a program that once again benefits the rich. The owners and shareholders of the companies that use it are getting free labour.

But let’s not forget the working poor who rely on top up benefits to have a living wage. Let’s be clear about this, these benefits are a subsidy to the employers who are too tight to pay a living wage in the first place! These things are disgraceful enough, but add to it the fire sale of our postal system and the English NHS and you would need to be wearing especially thick rose tinted glasses to think the UK government cares about the majority in this country.

No, the UK government represents itself and its cronies. It’s worth mentioning again, nearly 90% of the cabinet are millionaires. They don’t represent us. That’s assuming nobody in this room is a millionaire! They and their old boy’s networks are heavily invested in the same companies that have bought our postal service and are in the process of buying chunks of the English NHS.

To add insult to injury, while all this is going on, the UK government want to waste £100bn on replacing nuclear weapons on the Clyde.
They want to spend money maintaining around 165 nuclear Weapons of Mass Destruction about 40 miles from the largest city in Scotland.
Not only is this a massive white elephant that would never be used, it puts Faslane at the top of the list of first strike targets for anyone attacking Britain.

Meanwhile, food banks handed out around 120,000 meals over Christmas in Scotland. Scotland is a rich country yet we have more and more people dependent on food banks to make ends meet. Aberdeen is a rich city, the oil capital of Europe, yet even here one in three children grow up in poverty. This is a disgrace – and it isn’t an accident. The policies that Westminster has pursued have brought us to this.

So to escape this austerity driven neo-liberal nightmare, what could we do with an independent Scotland?

Well, instead of investing in Weapons of Mass Destruction we could become a world leader in offshore renewable technologies. The shipyards of the Clyde could be making turbines, not warships. Instead of living in the fourth most unequal country in the developed world, we could put in place policies to create a fairer society based on a high wage model as exists in our Scandinavian neighbours. Instead of finding money to bail out bankers, we could be investing in our children and young people.

The white paper published by the current SNP government is a step in the right direction, giving parents decent access to childcare, but RIC want to go further and put policies in place to ensure that no child ever grows up in substandard housing or goes to bed hungry, and no parent or older person has to choose between food and heat.

Instead of living in a country where just 432 people own half of all the land in Scotland we can pass laws to ensure that local communities can own and have meaningful control over their own land and natural resources. And not just in rural Scotland, land ownership is a problem in our cities too. Instead of living in a country where a capitalist boss can spit the dummy, leaving thousands of workers in danger of losing their livelihood, as happened at Grangemouth recently, we can build a society where there is genuine industrial democracy. An economy where ownership is dispersed in a range of models, co-operative and community based.

RIC have an alternative vision from the cosy Westminster consensus, that Labour and the ConDems would have us stuck with. An alternative vision of a green Scotland that strives for peace, equality, social justice and real democracy. Another Scotland is not only possible, it’s necessary.

Now this isn’t going to happen if we don’t start persuading people. If everyone who supports independence now can convince just one other person who wasn’t going to vote, or who was going to vote no, to vote yes, then we win.

And this is where we need everyone in this room to help. We’ve been out canvassing in Woodside and Tilly but we want to do more and there are a lot more doors to chap in the city. It’s great fun and it’s inspirational. And we’d love you all to come out and help. We’re starting a blog, so if anyone wants to write something, it would be great to get your contributions. If people would prefer to be part of a stall in town, or if someone wants to make a poster, or has fantastic fundraising ideas, every contribution counts. This campaign belongs to everyone who wants to be part of it, so please do whatever you can.

A YES vote gives us a once in a generation chance for change, a chance to transform Scotland into a better place. I’ll say it again: another Scotland is not only possible, it’s necessary.

Thank you.

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About RIC Aberdeen

The Radical Independence Campaign sees Scottish independence as the first step towards creating a fairer, greener, more democratic place. RIC Aberdeen are a local campaigning group, ordinary people who want to make a difference. We do canvassing every Wednesday night, along with other events. Please get in touch for more info.

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