Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Losing everything

During my lifetime, I have owned a railway, trains, airports, airlines flying to foreign and domestic destinations, a telecommunications company, a mobile phone operator, a power company, coal, gas, steelworks, car manufacturers, the mail, hospitals, schools, blood stocks, oil, the defence engineering industry, electricity, banks, buses, air traffic control, probation services, prisons, roads and the police. 

I've only been alive thirty-one years, and all of that has been taken from me - and the compensation for it? Because I live in Glasgow, where I can be reasonably expected to be halfway through my life, I will even have my retirement taken away from me. 

It's not just me, of course. Those industries and services once belonged to every single one of us. They were founded for the good of the country and its people, and because they operated as public services, there was no constant rise in the price to use them to squeeze even more money out of the working people and into the pockets of fat cats and slush funds. 

The vast majority of these things were taken away from us by Margaret Thatcher and John Major, although Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron couldn't quite resist taking their shares either. 

So when I see Scottish Labour claiming to be a socialist and redistributive party, I wonder why in the thirteen years they governed this land, they didn't find the time in parliament to renationalise a single industry other than those which were suddenly abandoned by the private sector when they failed to continue yielding profits, and just as swiftly sold back off again.

Austerity is hurting  people. Those governing us know that: they just don't care. They don't care that the rise in the price of a stamp - not to improve services, but to drip more of our money into the pockets of thieves and spivs - or a rail fare, or phone bills has a disproportionate effect on the poor - the poor that they then hammer - Labour and Tory alike - with vile actions like the Bedroom Tax (Tory, although invented by Labour) and abolishing the 10p tax rate (Labour, with relish) - a policy by a Labour government which had the specific intention of taking money from the poor. 

They both like to brag about how they are going to hurt the weakest and most vulnerable in society in pursuit of their disgusting austerity policies. They take pleasure in detailing how they will reduce benefits given to the disabled and ill. They relish competing with each other to speak in nastier terms about those who need the most help. They crow in delight that they'll outdo each other in closing libraries; that they'll take the most money from the poorest people. 

It took Labour a year to decide they were against the Bedroom Tax. That's not socialism. Decent people looked at that policy and instinctively knew it was an evil and cowardly assault by a gang of bullies on people who have nothing to fight back with. And when they gleefully tell us they'll be "tougher than the Tories", they mean it. 

Of the two major London parties, they differ not a jot in terms of policy and principle: only in extent. They are both pro-austerity, although they'll differ slightly in the amount of cuts. They're both pro-Trident. This very month, Labour and the Tories worked and voted together in Parliament to cut spending on public services, while voting for Trident the next week, and acting to prevent the abolition of fracking the week after that. 

If you want austerity, vote for Scottish Labour, or one of the coalition parties. 

If you want change, send them a message. Scotland can't change whether the British elect a Tory government or not whether we send 59 Labour MPs or 0. But we can send a clear message to Scottish Labour - you can either support the Scottish people, or support the Tories on austerity. And if you back the latter, you forfeit the support of the former.

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