Westminster isn't working
By Cailean Gallagher
Westminster isn't working for Scotland. That’s why we know Scotland could be better than it is today. Scotland can be fairer, wealthier and more successful and that means for most families in Scotland our standard of living could, and should, be higher.
These ideas will be at the centre of our campaign. Instead of the unwelcome changes to Scottish society that we are witnessing today, independence offers us the opportunity to choose a different and better path.
Westminster isn’t working for Scotland’s economy, which is why we face more years of austerity and thousands of Scots are without jobs. It isn’t working for Scotland’s place in the world, which is why we now face five years of uncertainty before a possible EU referendum. But the first theme in our campaign will be the need for a fairer Scotland.
Choose Fairness for Scotland
We want to live in a Scotland that is fairer, more equal, and more successful. But for Scotland to address unfairness and inequality, economic powers need to be in the hands of people who seek a fairer society – the people of Scotland. Independence will enable the people of Scotland to choose a fairer path.
We are used to the No path
- Where we are part of the UK, the 4th most unequal country in the developed world, and on track to becoming the most unequal.
- Where income inequality has increased over the last decades,including during thirteen recent years of Labour government.
- Where the Westminster Government’s most recent welfare cuts will take a further £210 million out the pockets of hard working Scottish families, whilst the same Government cuts taxes for a few at the very top of the income scale, and invests another £350 million in the latest stage of Trident renewal.
- Where on this path, one in five kids in Scotland are in poverty, and one in five young Scots are unemployed, almost double the 2008 number.
On this path, there are few hopeful signs of change. But a Yes path will allows us to choose a different future
- Where essential economic and social powers will be held not by alternate Tory and Labour Westminster Governments, but the Parliament and people of Scotland that have consistently opposed this policy direction.
- Where we spend on welfare not weapons of mass destruction.
- Where we know that fairness is good for society.
- Where we know that fairness is also good for growth.
- And where economic growth is not for its own sake, but balanced for the sake of all those who work and live in our society.
Choosing a better way
The Scottish Parliament has worked within its limits to make Scotland fairer, but these limits mean we can only go so far towards a fairer Scotland. Independence takes away the current barriers.
It will allow the people of Scotland to choose a government that is responsible for all the economic and social policy levers and which is able then to build a society and economy founded on equality, fairness, and justice.
Independence allows us to take a new direction as a nation and we can choose to halt the unwelcome changes to our society being introduced by Westminster. That means wealth and opportunity shared more fairly with the vast majority of families seeing a benefit.
The most successful countries are also the most equal. They also tend to be small. We have an opportunity to put Scotland on this track and create a better future.
Westminster isn’t working for a fairer Scotland
Child poverty and inequality
- Scotland’s child poverty rate stands at 21%
- This compares badly with comparable countries like Norway and Denmark where child poverty is not 21% but 10%
- The UK Coalition policy trajectory will lead to 24% child poverty across the UK by 2020. and an increase from the current 220,000 in Scotland by up to 100,000
- Children in the UK from the poorest fifth of families are nearly a year behind children from middle income families in vocabulary tests by the age of five, when most children start school.
- Scotland is part of the UK, the fourth most unequal country in the world, and on track to be the most unequal. Small independent countries like Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic are repeatedly in the top ten of most equal countries.
- In the UK, the top 10% have disposable incomes of around four times that of the bottom 10%
- Between 1978 and 2007, the share of total income taken by the top 1% rose almost three-fold from 5.7% to 15.4%; that of the top 0.1% rose fivefold to reach 6.1%
- 14% of total income is taken by the top 1%; over 5% is taken by the richest 0.1%
- Taking total assets - physical, financial, property and pension - into account, the top tenth of all UK households own 44% of the nation’s wealth. The bottom 50% own just under 10%. (Sutton Trust “Cognitive Gaps in the Early Years” (2010))
Unequal effect on women
- Women’s unemployment is rising dramatically, and women’s employment, rising since 2004/05, has declined sharply since 2007/08.
- The impact welfare cuts have had a disproportionate impact on women’s income.
- The cuts to public sector employment affect women disproportionately too; women are twice as likely as men to work in the public sector in Scotland.
Unequal impact on young people
Of the 80% rise in unemployment since mid-2008, almost half of this rise was unemployment among those under 25. Youth unemployment is now 21% in Scotland (OECD factbook 2011 (p80)).
A boy born in the most deprived 10% of areas has a life expectancy of 68, eight years below the national average and 14 years below boys in the least deprived areas.
For girls born in the most deprived 10%, life expectancy is 76, four years less than the national average and eight less than girls in the least deprived 10%.
Westminster image by wetwebwork via flickr
Ask anyone about the basics of a prosperous life, and they might mention warm, spacious housing, a good job, affordable energy, decent transport – but a high rate of "GDP per capita" is unlikely to be top of the list.
Yes to a Just Scotland is our response to a paper published by the STUC last year which asked whether a Yes or a No in the 2014 referendum would help us build a fairer and more socially just Scotland.
“Stiglitz: Only Independence Will Let Scots Tackle Income Divide”. That’s the headline for today's report in the Herald about the contribution of Nobel prize-winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz to the independence debate.
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