Perspectives: 'How can we allow wealth inequality to continue?'
Yesterday we published a video from the Office for National Statistics showing, among other things, the unequal nature of wealth distribution under Westminster, with Scotland sitting at the bottom of the 'wealth distribution' league (while we sit near the top for wealth generation).
One of the most powerful reasons for becoming independent is that we can do things differently in Scotland - we can choose to take a different path from the one Westminster has been on for well over 30 years now.
And if we needed any convincing that a different path is urgent thenthe ONS video should dispel that within minutes.
Take a look at this graphic, which shows that half the population have just one tenth of the wealth, while the very richest 10% have over four times as much:
How could we possibly allow this to continue? And remember, this is the direct result of policies pursued at Westminster for over 30 years.
And what does it mean in terms of actual money in your pocket? This second image shows just how little most of us have compared to the 1% at the very top of the scale. Think about it, how far off £2.8 million are you and your family (or even the almost £1 million of the top 10%).
If the top 10% of society moved from having 43.8% of the wealth to just 40% of the wealth, and the benefit was then shared with those in the bottom half of the scale, those in the bottom half would see their share of national wealth increase by almost 40%. What a big difference that would make to you and your family.
Independence gives us the ability, here in Scotland, to design policy that would see our vast wealth shared more fairly (and don't forget, it is vast: we are one of Europe's wealthiest nations, even if it doesn't always feel that way for many).
I would say to those MSPs who are currently arguing for a No in 2014, why don't you want the power in your own hands to do something about this?
Westminster isn't working, and hasn't been working for decades, for the majority of families in Scotland.
The direct consequence of this wealth disparity is that most of us are facing financial pressures. Many are struggling to make ends meet, others are just getting by, but that is not good enough.
The Westminster way of alternating governments, Labour, Tory, Labour, Tory has brought us to where we are today. We may wish this wasn't the case, but the facts above speak for themselves. Even where there has been one step forward, for example the minimum wage (backed by Greens, SNP and Lib Dem and introduced by Labour), that is quickly followed by two steps back. The relentless, overall trajectory is towards greater inequality.
In Scotland we see a different political balance, with Labour led governments followed by SNP led governments. Other progressive parties, like the Scottish Greens, have a stronger voice and influence. That means, when it comes to decisions in the Scottish Parliament, we get two or three steps forward for every one step back.
One of the reasons I am voting Yes in 2014 is because I believe we will choose a different trajectory from Westminster. We will choose to take Scotland in a new and better direction. And that will mean we work hard to increase our wealth as a nation and we make sure our rich country also becomes a rich and flourishing society.
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I got involved in Unison as soon as I began working in the public sector. Prior to that, I was in Unite and USDAW - simply because I've been brought up to believe that, wherever you work, you should be a member of a union.