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.

But not here comrades – not here. Here we know the importance of standing together against racism and fascism, against the demonisation of all and any citizens. Here we celebrate and value our diversity and are clear that there is so much more that unites us than divides us. Here we know the importance of educating, agitating and organising. We do it all the time.

From the fantastic young people in the Better than Zero and other campaigns – fighting for decent pay and conditions for young people and others in insecure work – to those of us longer in the tooth but no less committed to a fair, more equal, more socially just society, we reject the politics of this right wing Tory government and we do all we can to challenge and subvert them – not just for ourselves but for every worker exploited by them, for every family made poor by them, for every person subjected to racism and fascism because of the insidious messages they give out about migrants, about immigrants, about refugees and asylum seekers.

Steve, Gordon from Angus, me and Morag
And we are beginning to see change. We are beginning slowly but surely to see a rejection of the politics of division – a rejection of the politics of hate – a rejection of politics for the rich at the expense of the rest of us. 
Because that’s the real divide – between the richest who salt their money away in off-shore accounts to avoid paying taxes and the rest of us.
People all across our country are beginning to wake up to the need for a new politics – a more inclusive politics. One that unites rather than divides.  One that looks out for ordinary people and not just the rich. One that makes the rich pay their fair share and protects the poorest and most vulnerable.

The General Election result proved that.

It’s early days. These are delicate shoots - but if we nurture them they will grow.

And that is why we stand together today against racism and fascism, against inequality and injustice here and across the world. That is why we keep up the struggle for a society that is caring, compassionate and that celebrates difference. And that is why we will never stop educating, agitating and organising!

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