Monday, 18 March 2019

Hope and love will conquer hate

I attended a very moving vigil this evening to remember the innocent victims killed in the terror atrocity in two mosques in Christchurch and to stand in solidarity with our Muslim communities.

Over 100 people came along to send our condolences to all those who lost loved ones and to pledge to fight the politics of hate with hope and love.

I was proud and privileged to speak alongside friends from the Muslim community, trade unionists and local politicians. I feel passionately about the need to call out racism and Islamophobia and to do all we can to challenge the politics of hate and the rise of extremism and the murder of innocents which result.

These are my words:
 
"The murder of innocent Muslim worshippers in Christchurch has been devastating. It was an act of hate, pure and simple, like many such acts we’ve seen over recent years.
 
Like most people I have gone through several emotional phases 

Feelings of deep sadness at the loss of life, especially the children and young people who had their whole lives in front of them

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Our poverty shame in the world’s fifth richest economy


Calling for an end to child poverty
at UNISON Conference 2012
If asked what the most important political issue is in the UK today most people, I am guessing, would say Brexit.

But not me. In my view the most pressing issue – and the one that as a country and a society that we should be most ashamed of – is the extent of poverty in this, the world’s fifth richest economy.
When the Tories introduced their austerity agenda in 2010 it was with the mantra – “We are all in this together.”

Right from the start those of us on the political left and the trade unions knew that would never be the case. We knew that those who would be most affected would be the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. We knew that the rich would be fine. And very soon it became apparent that not only would the rich easily weather the storm, they would amass to themselves even greater wealth. 

Inequality in the UK has grown massively since the financial crash. Research by the Equalities Trust shows that the 1,000 richest people in the UK now have total wealth of £724bn, which is an increase of £274bn in the past five years and an increase of £66bn in the past year alone. As the trade unions predicted, the rich have done very well indeed. The poor have paid the price of the bankers’ profligacy. 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Colin Clark MP's reply to my concerns on the detention and treatment of Palestinian minors

I have twice now written to my MP, Colin Clark, who is a member of the Conservative Party  about issues relating to Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people and both times I have been very unhappy with his response. In fact I was so appalled by his response to my letter on Palestinian child prisoners that I wrote back to him about it.

It seems unlikely that he will take up any of the issues which I raise with him in relation to the terrible situation in Palestine or the oppression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government, in breach of human rights.  So I am going to post his responses on this blog. Please read on.

Time to tell Israel enough is enough - Support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

Here is my speech for the protest in Aberdeen on 7th April to condemn the shootings of unarmend Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Forces. 

That very day the news broke about the killing of photo journalist Yusef Murtaja despite wearing a PRESS vest. Yet our government still sells arms to Israel and refuses to condemn this outrage.

"So here we are again 

Gathered together in Aberdeen to condemn once again the horrific actions of the Israeli government against the people of Palestine
And sending a message of support and solidarity to the people of Gaza

Here’s what you need to know about the shooting of unarmed Palestinians protesting in Gaza
These are not clashes
Clashes are incidents that take place between equals

Clashes are what you see in Parliament, when Jeremy Corbyn takes on Theresa May or the SNP and Labour disagree on levels of taxation
What we are seeing in Gaza just now is a massacre – pure and simple
Soldiers armed with live ammunition are shooting unarmed Palestinians

And let’s make no mistake 
Most are engaged in peaceful protest – you can see that from the video footage on social media
But it doesn’t actually matter if some of those Palestinians are throwing stones or bits of burning rubber
 
Shooting and killing is a complete over-reaction
It is a tactic designed to terrorise
To put down and control an entire population to make them feel powerless
Men, women and children – trying to tell the world what is going on in Gaza
Killed and maimed by live ammunition
It’s terrorising and it’s terrorism – pure and simple

Saturday, 10 March 2018

We must use our collective power to end gender inequality and the abuse and exploitation of women

Here is my speech for the International Women's Day Rally in Aberdeen, organised by the Aberdeen Trades Union Council in our 150th year and compered by ATUC Vice President and Aberdeenshire UNISON Equalities Officer, Kathleen Kennedy.

It was a very cold evening but it was great to see women and men standing together to call for gender equality and an end to all forms of discrimination against women.

Especially good to see my son Euan there to support the struggle!

"Kate Ramsden, bringing greetings from UNISON on International Women’s Day.

And very proud to be speaking here at this Aberdeen Rally to celebrate the achievements of the women’s movement over the past 100 and more years and to gird our loins for the battles yet to be fought.
We’ve heard a great deal about inspirational women and there have been many throughout history – In fact some of them are here today.

But despite the best efforts of those women and the women’s movement I think we all know that gender inequality is alive and well.
Many of the challenges that I was facing and fighting as a young trade unionist and Labour activist are the challenges that face us still

Some things have got better – but much has stayed the same or got worse.
The problem is that we still live in a society dominated by male power and male privilege.

The exploitation and abuse of women is one example of a power imbalance that has never really gone away over the years.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Educate, agitate and organise - it has never been more important

For those who would like to read it, here is my speech for the St Andrew's Day Rally in Aberdeen.It looks at the challenges which face our society and the forces for equality and social justice and supports the call to educate, agitate and organise. These are difficult times but we are beginning to see changes - people waking up to the effect on ordinary folk of this Tory government, supported by a right wing media, for the benefit of the richest.

Kate Ramsden, Branch Chair of Aberdeenshire UNISON, and NEC member, proud to be speaking here today and bringing you greetings and solidarity from UNISON.

Educate, agitate and organise. That’s the focus for today’s St Andrew’s Day marches and rallies across Scotland.

And it has never been more important. 

We live in a society where we are encouraged to be passive. Where politics has become a spectator sport and many people don’t feel connected to our elected members or our governments. Where trade union membership is in decline. Where the whole notion of society has been undermined and we are encouraged to look out for number one.

These are dangerous times.

The divide and rule tactics of this Tory government have set worker against worker, have demonised the poorest, the elderly, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.

They have cut the NHS, public services and social security so precious to our parent’s and grandparent’s generation; they have normalised a reliance on foodbanks in the 21st century in the 5th richest country in the world and they have created an environment in this post Brexit era where racism and fascism doesn’t only exist, it flourishes. Where the insidious messages of the Tory grandees and the right wing media have resulted in a huge rise in race violence across the UK.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Reconnecting people with their values and their democracy

This is my speech for today's May Day March and Rally in Aberdeen. Written in the wake of yesterday's council election results it looks at the challenges facing our movement in our fight to have a better society for all, as the General Election approaches.



"We live in strange times.


We’ve had 7 years of a Tory government who have hammered ordinary folk


Poverty pay


Rises in insecure labour and zero hours contracts


Wages cap and vastly increasing inequality between the rich and the rest of us


Hideous caps on benefits and a benefits system described by Ken Loach at the STUC as “conscious cruelty” - “a campaign of systematic punishment” which leaves more and more of our children, disabled people and elderly in poverty and distress


Our young people hit particularly hard 


Cuts to the NHS and public services and a massive selling off of the NHS – our NHS (especially in England and Wales)  – to private companies running for profit not patient care.