Close to one million people living in Scotland are classified as living in poverty. Every fifth person in our country is poor. Almost five-hundred thousand are living in conditions described officially as serious or severe poverty, unable to afford the very basics such as food and clothing. That is every tenth Scot who is struggling to eat every day and feed their children. More than 280,000 of Scotland’s poorest people are children. In 2013 it was estimated that half a million people in Scotland were relying on foodbanks, with the Trussell Trust in 2015 reporting that 10,500 were depending on its foodbanks – the highest number in the history of the charity in Scotland, and over half of all Scottish adults in poverty are employed. Something is clearly wrong.
In 1979 when Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, and when the liberalisation of the British economy first began, a full quarter of the nation’s GDP was produced by a colossal manufacturing sector concentrated in the north of England, Wales, and Scotland. By the time she eventually left Downing Street in 1990 manufacturing in Britain had been reduced to less than seventeen percent, the trade unions had been smashed and unemployment in the former industrial heartlands was the norm. Scotland’s North Sea oil, from the late 1970s, was commandeered by Thatcher’s Westminster government to launch the City of London in the process of financialisation in which the money markets would become the primary source of ‘British’ wealth.
Over the period of 1975 to the present the wealth produced in London as a result of this production base transfer sky-rocketed, but the massive wealth generated was concentrated within the City of London. In the same period unemployment in Scotland rose to crisis levels, earnings and standards of living fell dramatically, and year on year more Scots fell into poverty. 50,000 more in-work adults in Scotland were classified as living in poverty in 2012 alone. What is evident, and now beyond all doubt, is that service industry, minimum wage, and zero hour jobs are not paying, and that the promise of ‘trickle-down’ from the thieves in London was yet another Westminster lie.
Unit of Labour (@UnitOfLabour) February 14, 2016
Blairite and the neo-Thatcherite policies of Cameron have been directed at destroying the ever increasing dangerous class’ will to fight by securitising Britain and criminalising poverty, isolating individuals and demolishing communities. Social resistance to Westminster’s artificial programme of austerity (which is in fact a wealth transfer from the bottom to the top) has become all but impossible with the annihilation of the industrial working class and the utter demoralisation and atomisation of the merging precariat. The economic and social indicators of the past four decades point only to a continuation of this hell-bound trajectory – with greater unemployment, more job insecurity, and deeper levels of poverty. Scotland’s place in the union is deteriorating fast.