Citizen Commentator: Campbell Martin
‘It Could Be You’ – the slogan used by the National Lottery to encourage us into gambling, looking for a life-changing win that would see us financially secure for the rest of our lives.
However, the same slogan can apply at the other end of the financial scale. You may be doing okay at the moment. You have a job, a regular income, a nice home, a car. You’re working, earning a living and looking after yourself and your family.
That’s great, long may it continue. Today, though, work is becoming increasingly insecure. Pay-levels and workplace conditions have been eroded under successive Labour, Tory/Lib Dem and Tory Governments. Zero-hours contracts, with no guarantee of work or pay, are now extremely common. The UK is also one of the easiest places to sack workers, for any reason, including if the boss simply doesn’t like someone’s face.
How long do you think you’d be able to manage, financially, if the boss suddenly took a dislike to you and decided to ‘let you go’?
In a shocking report, the much-respected housing charity, Shelter, has revealed that over one-in-three workers could not pay their mortgage for more than a month if they lost their jobs. Poor and poverty-level wages mean people are living from week-to-week, often day-to-day, and cannot afford to save.
A spokesperson for Shelter described the situation: “The depth of the financial pressure and insecurity felt by people across the country means that millions are living on the edge of a crisis, only secure in their homes for a matter of weeks.”
The charity’s research shows that families with children are at most risk of losing their home.
In the insecure, low-wage economy of 21st Century Britain, ‘It Could Be You’.
One of the main actions of the UK Conservative Government has been to divide and conquer the working class. The poor and unemployed are demonised as work-shy spongers, living the high-life on supposedly-generous state benefits. Hard-working ‘strivers’ are encouraged to look-down on the lazy ‘skivers’ next door. Tory MPs frequently trot out the line about the decent and deserving person going out to work, while the apparently indecent and undeserving unemployed person next door enjoys a cosy lie-in.
The reality is that the unemployed person is likely to have recently lost their job because of savage austerity measures introduced by the Tory Government or as a result of bosses seeking to maximise profits by laying-off workers. The reality is also that the ‘decent and deserving worker’ could easily join their neighbour on the dole without much, if any, warning.
In 21st Century Tory Britain, ‘It Could Be You’.
Of course, were the worst to happen and you lost your job, you would be different from all those ‘lazy skivers’ already unemployed. Sorry to shatter that illusion, but you would be no different. In the eyes of the Tory Government in London – the government with just one MP in Scotland – you would instantly become just another of the idle unemployed, sponging off the state.
Don’t expect different treatment. The people you were willing to accept as ‘lazy skivers’ were, in fact, previously in the exact same boat as you. They, too, worked but lost their jobs. You are now a ‘lazy skiver’, and your neighbours in employment will be told to look down on you.
Do you think you will be ‘special’, that you will be given help to get you back into employment? Think again. You will be bullied and pushed to accept any minimum-wage job within ninety-minutes travel time of where you live. That is any job you could do, not specifically one where your academic qualifications would be of benefit; not one where your experience and skills would generate for you a higher income; not one that would provide you with a long-term career path – any minimum-wage job. In fact, you could be ‘sanctioned’ if you don’t apply for any job you could do, including positions advertised on the Government employment site that turn-out to be self-employed positions offering no guaranteed hours or wages.
A ‘sanction’ is a period of time – up to three years – where you would be denied any financial support while you attempt to rebuild your life. Sanctions actually mean instant destitution – no money to feed yourself and your children, no money to pay rent or utilities bills.
Look how quickly you went from doing okay in employment to being a social pariah. Look how quickly you moved from a decent ‘striver’ to a shameful ‘skiver’.
In 21st Century Tory Britain, ‘It Could Be You’.
Our enemies are not our neighbours who find themselves without a job. Our enemy is the uncaring Tory Government in London, which has created a situation where more-and-more people are living a precarious existence, fearful of losing their job and being plunged into desperate poverty.
The Conservative & Unionist Party is called the ‘nasty’ party for a very good reason. It’s members are nasty people. They don’t care about others; the only thing that matters is the rich should get richer. The poor are expendable.
Scotland has democratically rejected the Tories at every election over the past fifty-years, but for the majority of that time we have had Tory Governments imposed on us by voters in England. Currently, the Tories have one MP in Scotland, yet that party continues to force onto us its policies of austerity, while spending billions-of-pounds on nuclear missiles of mass destruction, which it intends to house in Scotland, against the wishes of Scots.
All of this can only happen while Scotland remains part of the British Union.
Remember, in 21st Century Tory Britain ‘It Could Be You’, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
By retaking Scotland’s status as a normal, independent nation, we retake all of the powers we need to radically transform our economy and society. We retake the ability to build a progressive country where the interests of the people come before the profits of multi-national corporations. We can restore hope and opportunity to everyone in Scotland.
As an independent country, free from malign Tory rule, Scotland can also be a beacon to rally our working-class neighbours in England. They, too, can overthrow the Tory/Labour/Lib Dem elite that governs in the interests of the rich.
Don’t let it be you. Fight back, take control; build a better country, a better life for you and your family.
Campbell Martin is a former MSP now working as a freelance journalist.
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