Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Anti-Austerity march on 28th June

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

On Sunday 28th June around 400 people gathered to march through Inverness town centre for an anti-austerity rally organised by RIC.

austerity march speech

Isla spoke on behalf of the H&I greens and this is what she said:

“We are experiencing severe and crippling austerity but it’s no accident. It is a systematic transfer of power and wealth from the poorest to the richest in our society.

We have been told that the crash of 2008 happened because of public spending being too high and that the public spending must be cut back. This is a lie! The crash happened because of the unrestricted, irresponsible behaviour of the financial sector. The bankers!  Now we are all playing the price. Every single country that introduced significant austerity since 2010 has seen its economy suffer.

There are 2 major crises that we are facing the world over. An economic crisis and an environmental crisis. These cannot be separated. They are intrinsically linked. We cannot have a healthy economy without a healthy environment and society.  The economic crises has resulted in the ever widening gap between the poorest and wealthiest in our society.

We now have a welfare state that pushes people into low quality low paid jobs and then subsidises big businesses to keep them there.

The benefit sanctions mean we have a huge rise in foodbanks and here in Inverness we have one of the busiest ones in the UK. This is not something to be proud of.

Especially relevant for the rural areas up here in the north is the ongoing privatisation of public services such as the NHS. Public services should never ever be run for profit.

There is a general and widespread unaffordability of basic human needs (affordable housing, heating and food).  And all this is happening at the same time as the wealthiest enjoy the best of conditions. Where the richest 1% in the UK own more than the poorest 55%.

The environmental crisis is being driven by our ongoing obsession with fossil fuel extraction. By corporations trashing the planet in pursuit of profit.  By the wasteful materialism that sees the destruction of our natural world and its resources in our never ending quest for more ‘stuff’.

It boils down to this widely accepted fact.  Human economic activity is putting life on earth at risk.

That’s a scary thought! It makes people want to bury their heads in the sand or run for the hills screaming.  But all this presents us with an opportunity. An opportunity to bring our collective voices together and demand a better future.

It is only in the recent past that we have seen this degradation of our planet and communities.

  • A future where we realise equality not austerity. Sustainability not crises economics.
  • An economy that puts people first not profit, one that works for the many and not the individual private gain of a few.
  • A future where we reject the notion of economic growth at all costs.
  • A future where we are defined by the measures of success that really matter. Living standards, well-being and environmental sustainability.

As Naomi Klein says:  We have been told this is impossible. That humanity is too greedy and selfish to change. If you think that the challenge is too great then look to the success that we are seeing all over the world. The fightback for the next economy is already succeeding.

  • Look at the general election result which saw Scotland sending 56 MPs to London on an anti-austerity ticket.
  • Look to the students who successfully protested for Edinburgh University to divest away from fossil fuels.
  • Look to our friends in Greece who are resisting calls for further cuts.

The austerity ideology that dominated 5 years ago has already collapsed. Hardly anyone still believes in it. Except, of course, the party that rules Britain and most of the British media.  If the political will existed right now there could be many changes that would cut the cuts. Bin trident, collect evaded taxes, introduce a tax on financial transactions.

But the biggest change, I believe, will come from us realising that all of the problems we face are symptoms. We need to recognise what the root cause is.  The root cause is the right wing, individualistic, neo-liberal, free-market capitalism that we see at the heart of our Westminster politics today.  It is this rampant capitalism that we need to stand against and say loud and clear that enough is enough.

If we want a fairer, greener Scotland then we’ve got to make it happen.”

austerity march