Iain Macwhirter's examination of Alex Salmond's "two nations" speech made interesting reading (The new word for socialism ...
independence, Comment, May 29). Salmond’s admonishment of the people for sectarianism and alcohol abuse was genuine, down-to-earth stuff, eloquently delivered. He also signalled his nationalism was not about superiority of race that could degenerate into hatred.
However, I was surprised that, though an economist, he seems to know there’s more to life than GDP, and humans are something more than economic animals. My belief is that countries are facing crises. People have lost faith. They have seen their life savings and pensions disappear, faced the prospect of redundancy and unemployment, while witnessing the arrogance and over-consumption of the prodigal rich, indifferent to the welfare of the nation. Modern societies are failures, for unequal societies cannot survive. Beyond that lies the spectre of oil shortage, food scarcity and havoc caused by climate change.
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All these changes cause bewilderment and disorientation and when people feel threatened they will seek to punish others. Already journalists in other newspapers are writing (again!) about “benefit cheats”, while others ask if we can really afford to save the poor.
Alex Salmond only has his people. He seems to realise we can only survive as a nation if he can draw all together with a common aim – that of a fairer and just society. Let’s remember his words, “the poor won’t be made to pick up the bill for the rich” and “that profit from the land shall go to all”. We can only hope for “calm seas, auspicious gales”.
The greatest challenge so far not engaged with or faced up to by the SNP lies in Alex Salmond’s words: “The profit from the land shall go to all.”
With Scotland having the greatest concentration of privately-owned land in the fewest number of owners anywhere in Europe, Alex Salmond and the SNP have a major land reform package to consider before Scotland comes anywhere near the social democracy standards of the favoured Fennoscandian analogues they frequently quote.
The signs that the SNP are ready for such a challenge are not good. They cannot engage with the concept of Scotland’s national parks being owned by the Scottish nation, yet support the hostile buy-out concept, brought in by the previous Labour administration and now in prospect at Pairc in Lewis. However their greatest policy void is in not realising what comprises “the profit of the land”, namely societally created land rental values, the 100% collection of which would cause land reform by “democratic osmosis” rather than by expensive expropriation and at the same time secure public revenue and stimulate job creation.
Regardless of what executive producer Ewan Angus claims, I believe there are children featured in The Scheme who have received scant attention from either their parents or the programme-makers (Broken Schemes, Broken Dreams, Essay of the week, May 29).
Take Kendall McCutcheon, the lovely and articulate Primary 1/2 child who is always so appealing on camera, if sometimes seriously inappropriate for a five or six-year-old child. In this age of the superinjunction, doesn’t she have the right to privacy of family life allowing her to grow and develop away from prying eyes and perhaps sneering attitudes?
If her parent should choose to abdicate that right for short-term fame or notoriety where does that leave Kendall? We can only hope she will not end up haunted by images of her younger self in later life or suffer long-term negative consequences in the future as a result of her appearance on the show.
Those who work with children are obligated to act within the legal proviso of “in loco parentis”, but who is acting in the best interests of Kendall and the other children involved in the show? I think that Ewan Angus and the programme-makers of The Scheme are being disingenuous in aiming to defend footage of children which may make good telly but in terms of impact on those individual children is indefensible.
Here’s the test as I see it. Would the programme-makers be happy to have their own children served up for public consumption in this way?
The UK Government’s agenda of cuts and privatisation is the key issue facing the people of Scotland. The consequent loss of jobs and services in the public sector will be devastating. Indeed, the post-election cut announcements have already begun. At least one university has announced the closure of several courses. In the last year 13,000 jobs have been lost in the Scottish public sector, and another £1.3 billion in cuts has been outlined for the 2011-12 budget. At least another 40,000 jobs, or 7% of the public sector, is expected to be slashed over the next four years.
We believe that we cannot wait a moment longer to organise and mobilise the millions of people across Britain who want to fight the cuts. The half-a-million-strong TUC demonstration on March 26 proves that we can build a mass movement against the austerity agenda.
We extend our support to the various national initiatives against unemployment, cuts to disability services, and other campaigns. But we believe more has to be done to unify the movement into a powerful mass campaign against austerity, with local anti-cuts groups affiliated in every town and city. As a means to this end, as activists and campaigners in Glasgow, we intend to establish a Coalition of Resistance group.
A Coalition of Resistance group that meets up regularly to provide support and solidarity for those fighting back is a necessity. The planned co-ordinated strike action on June 30 by at least three public-sector unions requires that we immediately build support and mobilise all those suffering from the cuts in support of the strike action.
To begin this process in Glasgow we call on all those who want to organise the fightback to attend an open planning meeting this Thursday to establish the Coalition of Resistance in Glasgow (coalitionofresistance.org.uk). We support this statement in the spirit of unity and urgency as not just our future, but the future of generations to come, could face ruin if we don’t do everything in our power to stop the Con-Dems’ massacre of the welfare state.
Signed (in a personal capacity):
Iain Banks (author); Katy Clarke MP; Patrick Harvie, MSP; Phil McGarry (RMT Scotland); Martin Doran (Scottish organiser, GMB Scotland); John McFadden (Brigade Secretary, Strathclyde FBU); Jim Malone (regional organiser, FBU); Steve Deans (Chair, Unite Broad Left Scotland); Marion Hersch (NEC, UCU); Malcolm Balfour (liason officer, SNP Trade Union Group); Ross Greenshields (secretary, South Lanarkshire TUC); Duncan McCallum (secretary, Falkirk TUC and Forth Valley NUJ); John Dennis (secretary, Dumfries & District TUC) Danny Alderslowe (Green councillor); Martha Walldrope (Green councillor); Jim Taggart (NEC, CND); Professor David Miller (spinwatch.org); Dr Linda Croxford (senior researcher, Centre for Educational Sociology); Alessandra Asteriti (Adam Smith Research Association); Jamie O’Neill (refugee rights activist); Nathan Sparling (LGBT officer elect, NUS Scotland); Tommy Gore (president, Glasgow University SRC); Emma Iwanow (president, Glasgow City College students association); Sinead Dunn (President, Glasgow School of Art students’ association); Phil Whyte (President, Strathclyde University Union); Charandeep Singh (president elect, Strathclyde University Union); Bryan Simpson (Defend Bryan Simpson Campaign)
Full list at coalitionofresistance.org.uk
I am constantly surprised at the flippant use of the word “genocide”. A standard dictionary use of the word is “the deliberate extermination of a race”. This implies that to commit genocide an entire race must be destroyed. No despot or fascist dictator, thankfully, has ever succeeded in carrying out such a despicable crime. Accurate reporting should refer to “attempted genocide”, though often “war crimes” or “ethnic cleansing” would be more appropriate. All such crimes should be dealt with vigorously by the courts.