By Campbell Martin
Those of us getting on a bit in years will recall a time when British governments strove to achieve full-employment.
The idea of creating work for the people was pursued by both Labour and Tory administrations following the Second World War.
There was sound reasoning behind the strategy: the more people in work, the more tax revenues accrued to the Treasury and the lower government-spend on welfare.
Socially, full employment meant people knew the dignity of work. Parents were able to support their families. Children saw positive role-models in the immediate family. Taxes were re-invested in local communities through the building of social housing, healthcare facilities, libraries, sports pitches and leisure complexes.
With full employment, children grew up with hope and opportunity. Everyone had the prospect of securing work, earning a living and playing a positive role in society. However, the ‘post-war consensus’ on full-employment was shattered in 1979 with the election of a Tory Government led by Margaret Thatcher.
In recent years a number of right-wing, revisionist writers have tried to portray Thatcher as a visionary who pulled the country up by its boot-straps, taking-on and defeating trade unions that, in Thatcher’s opinion, had been hellbent on crippling industry (apparently in some plot orchestrated in the Soviet Union).
The reality was very different. Margaret Thatcher and her Tory Government advanced the twin ideas of global capitalism and the unfettered free-market.
To Thatcher, there was no such thing as society, people were expendable: all that mattered was allowing a small Tory-voting elite to make as much money as possible.
Taxes on the rich were slashed, publicly-owned utilities – gas, electricity, telecoms, transport – were sold-off to private investors looking for a quick profit, and supposedly uneconomic heavy industries were closed. The economic and social devastation we are currently enduring was started in the 1980s by the Tory Government of Margaret Thatcher.
The policies of Thatcher closed viable coal mines, steel manufacturing plants, textile factories and shipbuilding yards, with millions of workers thrown onto the scrapheap. Industrial action taken in attempts to save workplaces that often provided employment for entire communities were ruthlessly smashed by draconian anti-tradeunion laws.
When greedy bosses closed factories in Britain, shipping work to low-wage, sweat-shop economies in developing countries, a compliant right-wing media portrayed this as ‘good news’ about British companies expanding overseas.
Thirty-years of unfettered freemarket capitalism, where the profits of multi-national corporations have been put before the interests of the people, has created today’s reality of soaring unemployment, increasing levels of poverty and deprivation, and a generation of young people robbed of hope and opportunity. Yet, according to the British Unionist partners of Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat, this is as good as it gets for Scotland.
The Better Together campaign tells us we should reject independence and, instead, we should simply allow Westminster-based Tory Governments to continue destroying Scottish industries, Scottish jobs, Scottish hopes, Scottish aspirations and Scottish lives.
With independence we can embrace a very different approach to running our own country.
With socialist policies in an independent Scotland we can once again invest in creating jobs: a shipbuilding industry that doesn’t have to rely on making warships; aircraft manufacturing could be revived, bringing with it the broad spectrum of well-paid, high skilled jobs; a free public transport system would require buses, trains, ships made in Scotland; engineering projects – railways, roads, bridges, buildings; the construction of social housing, to name just a few employment sectors that could once again thrive, providing employment for university graduates, skilled tradespeople, unskilled workers and apprentices.
In an independent, socialist Scotland we can put the interests of Scots before the profits of multinational corporations and venture capitalists. In an independent, socialist Scotland we can once again deliver a society that provides the dignity of work for all of our citizens, and restores hope and opportunity to all of our young people.
Courtesy of the Scottish Socialist Voice http://www.scottishsocialistvoice.net/