On Sunday I was privileged to share a platform with campaigners and others at the national demonstration against benefits cuts and sanctions, organised by Black Triangle and others, in Glasgow. This is (more or less) what I said.
Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to speak on behalf of the Scottish Green Party. It is a huge privilege to share this platform with John, Gail, Willie and others who spend their days fighting to protect the rights of some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Thank you for organising this, John, and thank you for all the work you do.
We have heard a great deal about the impact of these cuts; cuts that have already happened, and the cuts that are still to come. The devastating impact of an inhumane government and the very real damage caused to people’s lives by this attack on social security.
We must resist these cuts, as we have mobilised and tried to resist the cuts to date. We have stood, and we must continue to stand, in solidarity with those who are being driven to the very edge, and sometimes, devastatingly, over the edge. We must take practical action – supporting claimants, supporting foodbanks and supporting the organisations that work so hard to stop this like Black Triangle.
We know these cuts are far from necessary. Austerity is not the appropriate response to the economic crisis. We know the economic crisis was caused by the capitalist class, not by those whose support is being removed. It’s time we blamed those who caused the crisis, not those who have borne the brunt of the crisis.
We need to make it clear that the real scroungers are those who make profit by paying poverty wages, which the state tops up. The landlord class, who pocket billions in housing benefit. The bankers who took the £375bn of money pumped into the economy in Quantitative Easing over the past 7 years.
And we need to provide dignity and decency for all. As greens, our aim is a Citizens Income, which recognises that society and our economy are created by the people, and the people should benefit. No more conditionality. No more cuts. Security for all. Real social security.
This Tory government wants a return to a Victorian notion of deserving and undeserving poor. This disgusts me. No one is undeserving of basic human needs. The problem we have is the undeserving rich. Those like Goerge Osborne, who lives off inherited wealth. Those rentiers who bought Council houses at knock down prices and now use these assets to extract wealth from the people. The lairds who own vast estates while their tenants live in substandard housing. The bankers who pushed the price of food up because their priory was profit.
We won’t go back to Victorian squalor. Instead of making the rich richer and the poor poorer we need to create a society with equality at its heart. We start by opposing these cuts, we demand a citizens income. Because everyone deserves their humanity, their dignity and the right to happiness.