May Day Speech
by Sean, speech given at the Aberdeen May Day rally, 3 May 2014 – text here, or you can listen to the speech in the next post (May Day March & Rally).
Thank you to our friends in ATUC for allowing us to speak today. ATUC have been at the forefront of the fight for workers’ rights and social justice for many years. It is an honour and pleasure to talk at this May Day celebration they have organised. I am here as member of Radical Independence Campaign (RIC). For those that don’t know RIC are a broad group of left wing supporters of independence; we are socialists, trade unionists, peace campaigners, feminists, anti-fascists, internationalists, environmentalists; from political parties and from none; young and old; from across racial and ethnic lines; all brought together with the aim of creating a FAIRER, GREENER, more SOCIALLY JUST INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND; positive, internationalist, and nuclear weapon free!
2014 sees us at a crossroads; the path we choose determines not only OUR future but our CHILDREN’S future and beyond. The independence referendum is a once in a lifetime chance that we cannot waste!A no vote means more of the same; a no vote means you are okay with the current situation; with Westminster governments imposing policies that Scotland didn’t vote for. Today we find ourselves ruled by a Tory led government that we never elected; inflicting policies WE WOULD NEVER HAVE VOTED FOR; their ideological attacks on our welfare state are hurting ordinary people; hitting our most vulnerable people hardest. As services are cut and austerity rules, the same Government are giving tax breaks to the rich; introducing policies and legislation that give us ATOS, the bedroom tax; a bedroom tax that affects over 80,000 households in Scotland, 70% of which have someone who is registered disabled; and only 4 SCOTTISH MPS voted for it! The same bankers and financiers who caused this mess continue to reap huge bonuses; while 1 in 3 children in regeneration areas of this Energy Capital of Europe grow up in poverty.
The relentless rise of UKIP is pulling the London centric parties further and further to the right. More racism, more xenophobia, less compassion. The decline, absence and failure of a credible left cannot continue.
A vote for yes is a vote for the possibility of change. It’s NOT a choice between the SNP and Labour; it is NOT even about party politics. It’s about the people of Scotland choosing between HOPE and OPPORTUNITY or Austerity and FEAR. It’s about voting YES for a blank canvas where we can all help to shape the society we live in; for a society where people come before profits. I say to my friends and comrades who support the Labour party, Independence is not something to be feared. Independence is the chance to reclaim the Labour party as a party of the people. We’ll change henceforth the old tradition and spurn the dust to win the prize.
Our support for independence is not for the SNP, it is not for a flag, it is not for borders; it is for the 1 in 3 children who grow up in poverty in some areas of Aberdeen; it is for the THOUSANDS of people in this city reliant on food banks to feed their families; it is for the OAPs who in the Oil capital of Europe have to choose between heating or eating. It is for the chance to shape our own future; to renationalise the Royal Mail; revive manufacturing; protect the NHS; improve the Welfare State; and rejoin the world as a positive force for good. It’s about HOPE; it’s about aspiration; and it’s about creating the spark to awaken the working class from its slumber. It’s about re-engaging people with politics; it’s about empowering people to stand up and say ENOUGH. For reason in revolt now thunders and at last ends the age of can’t. No more nae sayers.
Let’s celebrate International Workers Day and solidarity across borders; whether that be with working class people in England, Ireland and Wales or those in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan; with our cousins in Catalonia, Palestine and Quebec, or our neighbours to the north in Norway, Sweden and Iceland. Our influence knows no borders, it knows no limitations; it is delivered not with guns and bombs and planes, not with shock and awe, not through bullying and intimidation, but through solidarity, cooperation, mutual respect and pursuit of the collective good. We can achieve this by creating a FAIRER, GREENER, MORE SOCIALLY JUST society; free of nuclear weapons; where equality is the watchword, not austerity; an inspiration to its neighbours and standing on the side of the oppressed throughout the world. Let’s say YES to a chance to create a better society, YES to wealth redistribution, YES to internationalism and YES to Scottish independence: Via Catalunia, Tiocfiahd ar la, Viva Palestiana, long live the Internationale!