Posted by: rosa alba | April 4, 2016

A Letter to Loki


Dear Loki,

I agree with all you say about the cyclic nature of poverty, of dispossession,of marginalisation. And it is happening here, now, still in Scotland.  In 206. Outrage as a response to your story would not be intensified by any rhetoric nor reference to Knox and universal eduction, the Enlightenment, Burns, whatever emblematic Scots reference invoking our progressive voice as a nation.There are no qualifiers. No justifications. No Modifiers. And no excuses. Your story stands, unchallenged. There is nothing I can add to your story, nor should I, nor lessen the political of the personal by categorising it as one of many.

Evidence, on, to our lack of progression. A hundred years of manifestos, from Maclean to the Miliband/Murphy marriage, yet socialism and pseudo-socialism have failed us: one in four children in our nation lives in poverty, achieves less than their full potential in school, and will, in all likelihood live out their life in a repeat cycle of despair.

 It is to our shame, beyond a doubt, and far from what we came together for in the Yes Movement.

As long as we do have children going to bed hungry,  young people taking on an adult carers role beyond their abilities, elderly dying forgotten, food banks as a constant everyday fact of life, and worse, need, how can we aspire to the more lofty ideals of leading the way amongst other nations, or radically furnish Scottish hospital ships  to patrol the sea to offer succour  and refuge to the needy, as dreamed of by Jim Sillars in his speech at St Thomas, Riddrie during the Independence Referendum?
But,more to the point, how do we move forward, slowly thought it be, to convert into reality the most fundamental aspirations of the Yes movement? 
My emotional response to your story is pointless; any echoes of tragedy in [my own or others] similar or different experiences also add nothing. Nothing can be added to these stories unless it lead us towards an alternative, to realising  the enduring aims of the early Scottish Socialism of MacLean (as poeticised by Hamish Henderson) that every child and adult  have “breid, barley bree and painted room” forbye healthcare, education adults full workers rights, and from this decade’s refinment, if not a citizen’s income, a realistic living wage.

Change can only be effected by action.

And yet…  

We are not, in these islands together, often moved to come together as one, as -topically- the Icelandic, or in their time the French, or Russians, far less with anything close to success, the few isolated occasions that we do. As it is, any mass movement  politics endeavour  or protest is likely to be put down, violently, rather than to overthrow the gunship mentality of the regime at Westminster. The workers rights the people of Glasgow rallied for, reward for  war heroes, were rolled right over by Empire in George Square in January 1919 on Bloody Friday.
And, IF the people of these isles did move together successfully as one as a popular movement which overthrew the incumbent government, any latter-day Cromwell taking the helm, would be in the thrall of  that middle England, “I’m alright, tough on you Jocks, but you are all scroungers anyway”, a misconception made worse by the  likes of the “rivers of blood” piece by Massie père in the Mail On Sunday before the General Election. The fiscal reality of Scotland as a net contributor, has been too successfully silenced as a “lie”..
Without guillotines and tricoteuses, or even just Communes and barricades, or more mildly still, Cameron ceding power to Corbyn… But the mechanisms of a vote of no confidence would entail another General Election:  no coups d’état please, we’re British.
Even in the event of  victory for Labour’s Corbyn and Kezia,  Caped Duo they most decidedly are not to bring instant social justice; (Scottish) Labour, speak fine words  but the parsnips themselves, they abstain from buttering.

And we have an election imminent, already. Five weeks of campaigning remain, and whatever the results, they will not immediately release us from the Union (to create our own forward-thinking socially just egalitarian paradise,as not even fairy tales have so sudden a happy ending); and UDI is on no one’s lips. Nor can we yet expect salvation from urban poverty  by the means of a Scottish Labour majority, even if it were that to happen, whatever the thrice- spent tax increases mooted. A putative Scottish Conservatism majority at Holyrood returns us, doublefold, to the inequities and UN-Conventions-flaunting policies of Cameron and Osborne, without the mitigating safeguards, some already in process at the hands of the SNP Governement.
No, the choices before us are what they are – the menu is fixed:  mince, tatties and two veg. largely Centrist policies, different herbs at best in your gravy, for the Constituency seats.
Few among us, across this nation have the option of  First Vote Green or Rise (or other such radical parties). Fewer seats yet are likely to return a Green or Rise Constituency MSP.
The enduring reality of Scotland, as you well know Darren, is that of returning a left of centre Old Labour (now, SNP) block of MPs Westminster, but being faced with a right of Centre or New Labour government. Governments which have, generation on generation, failed to enact any policies to successfully eradicate the persistent, endemic, urban (and rural) poverty.
It would be hyperbole to state that from the era of Red Clydeside to  the present nothing has changed, for there have been positive policies, at the hands of some post-war Labour Governments: the NHS and Council Housing not least, but the truth of your story is there, at the centre of every scheme, multi or inner city tenement, in every Social Security Bed & Breakfast, in every homeless hostel, on every city centre street at night, repeating itself: poverty,  marginalisation, dispossession. Poverty, marginalistaion, dispossession. Poverty, marginalisation, dispossession: they are daily and terrible realities, across all the nations of these islands, where the vulnerable are targeted, time and again, in an increasingly vicious circle that strips food, healthy, dignity, sense of self, and figures from a variety of DWP Assessments reveal, life from the already terminally, chronically and mentally ill.

The choices before us are what they are. There are no knight in shining armour or cavalry on the ridge options, nor would they be elected, at this point. The priority is, therefore, to elect a Yes majority so that, in the first instance, we can work towards, minimising the excesses of Westminster policiies, hopefully with as large contingency as possible of (in all likelihood) Green List MSPs, to advocate for the more radical options. The longer game remains, as it has since 19th September 2014, that of increasing the Devolved Powers and, finding the quickest route to Independence.
Then, with a grown up electoral system and complete sovereignty, those whom we elect can form us into a progressive country where no child or adult within our borders, wherever they were born, or however they came to reside here, whatever their religion, language or customs, will want for any basic human needs or rights.

First Vote SNP, Second Vote Green or Rise.

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