After the failed Scottish Independence referendum in which a large percentage of people voted for Yes(independence), ACE, ECAP, Edinburgh IWW, Edinburgh Afed and others got together to write a statement and a vision for moving forward. This was the text of that attempt which led to the creation of the Action Against Austerity network.
The vast majority of people who voted Yes did so for a more equal and just society; to stop the war on the poor being waged by Westminster and the rich; an end to food banks, benefits sanctions, wage cuts, public service cuts, wars, and the destruction of our environment.
There is no mandate in Scotland for the vicious austerity programme of the Tories and Liberal Democrats. Meanwhile Labour compete to prove they will reduce the deficit by hammering the poor.
Despite its claim to seek a better deal for Scottish people, the SNP-controlled Scottish Goverment is implementing austerity. It has already made cuts to further education – Edinburgh College workers struck against worse conditions. It has understaffed the NHS, while cuts to council funding are leading to disabled people paying for their own care. The SNP/Labour council in Edinburgh plans to slash £22 million from local services.
The devolution of new powers will not stop the cuts, and whether they come from local government, Holyrood or Westminster they are an attack on working class people.
So what are we going to do now? We have no faith in politicians. We have no trust in the electoral system.
Let’s take action
There is an alternative – people power. There are hundreds of thousands of people fed up with the unfair austerity programme and if we act together we can make the government’s policies unworkable, by mass collective direct action.
Our immediate aims should include:
Reversal of the cuts to benefits, ending workfare and the attacks on disabled claimants made via the Work Capability Assessment etc. Stopping the implementation of Universal Credit
Far better wages, conditions and a shorter working week for all workers – an end to poverty pay
Standing together with immigrant workers fighting for better conditions – solidarity not scapegoating
Stopping vital public services being torn apart in the name of austerity
An end to disabled and older people being charged for their care and support services
Fighting to maintain and improve NHS staffing levels and to stop budget cuts and privatisation of health services
Stopping fracking and open cast coal
Getting rid of Trident nuclear weapons, opposing all war
Ending the jailing of refugees in Dungavel detention centre
Ending fuel poverty, combating climate change
Totally opposing racism, patriarchy, discrimination against disabled people and all oppression
Let’s make Scotland ungovernable. Instead of politicians and the rich having the power we can create our own counter-power from below by organising in our communities, where we work and study. Real democracy is not voting for someone else to do our thinking for us, real democracy means direct democracy, first hand involvement.
We need to organise from below
We are not saying this will be easy. But something like it has been done before, here. We made the Bedroom Tax unworkable in Scotland because so many of us refused to pay, and because we organised in our communities to stop any evictions. The poll tax non-payment movement was an inspiring example of community self-organisation, defeating an all-conquering Thatcher.
Some of us who have written this statement are claimants and are involved in struggles against workfare, against sanctions, against the attack on disabled and sick claimants. We are winning important victories, convincing and pressuring so many employers to pull out of the “work-for-your-benefits” schemes that in Edinburgh workfare providers like Learndirect are really struggling to find workfare placements. Our weapons
are direct action and collective backing for claimants up against the system. This is just one example. Together we have the potential power to make all the government’s hateful policies unworkable.
As we struggle for a society which will put human need first, we need to build up links with others doing the same thing internationally. In a planetary economy, where the greed and recklessness of rich investors in the housing market in the USA can trigger a global crash, all countries are connected. Fundamental problems like war and the destruction of the planet by global warming need to be tackled world-wide.
Fostering distinctive cultures is positive. But beware governments and bosses using nationalism to divide us and promote a false “national interest”. In Scotland, as in all countries, there is no common interest between the ruling class – the likes of Brian Souter and Ian Wood – and the vast majority of working class people.
Our vision is of a world without borders where resources are shared communally. A world where a co-operative effort of a free association of producers aims at meeting human need in the widest sense. A world where relationships are based on equality and mutual respect, overthrowing the oppression of women by men, and all relationships where some dominate others.
“The whole world will be one brotherhood…That can only be obtained when the people of the world get the world and retain the world.”
– John MacLean, 1918
#YestoAction is supported by the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Coaltion Against Poverty, Industrial Workers of the World Scottish Assembly and Edinburgh Anarchist Federation. We invite any other groups who support this statement to contact us and join the initiative.