Thursday 24 February 2022

We need an economy that acts for all of us, not a privileged clique, demands ATUC's Doug Haywood

Doug Haywood
Doug Haywood spoke at the Cost of Living Crisis Protest on 12th February on behalf of Aberdeen Trade Union Council. He gave a passionate speech, urging people to "Use your rage. Together we are powerful."

"Hello everybody, thanks for coming on such a cold Saturday afternoon.

We’re here again.

It’s a, grim, grinding pattern. Prices rise, rents rise, bills rise. Wages stay the same, or hours are cut, often to the insidious zero hour’s contract.

People are forced to choose between heating and eating. Between shoes for the bairn or decent food on their plate.  In one of the richest countries in the world.

And let’s not forget those new to Aberdeen, refugees fleeing persecution, terror and war, now housed with a corporate landlord (on Crown Street), patronised with £7 a week pocket money. With no shoes, and barely adequate clothing for an Aberdeen winter.

Meanwhile, the privileged blithely expand their exploitation.

The consequence-free corporate pleasure-cruise carries on. To take just one example, BP recently reported its highest profits since 2013. A $12.8bn windfall annual profit. $12.8bn. That is simply obscene.

Yet, despite the obvious injustice, we wrap what is happening up in phrases that are supposed to make this somehow more acceptable. A Cost of Living crisis, an attainment gap in education, a housing crisis. Mealy mouthed phrases all. A marketing man’s attempt to paper over what we are really talking about.   We need to be honest, we are talking about poverty.

Poverty that’s the result of political decisions. Gross inequality that’s the result of political decisions. In one of the richest countries in the world.

The £150 payment, while welcome, will barely touch the sides of this crisis. At best it’s a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.

Once again charities (doing incredible work!) have to try to plug the gap. This should not be happening in one of the richest countries in the world.

So what to do?

I was listening to the radio the other morning and Mervin King, former governor of the Bank of England, suggested that our consumer choices will change the economy. That somehow we can use our individual, household demand to reshape an exploitative (and grossly unbalanced) system. This is simply wrong.

As consumers we’re virtually powerless. We get to choose between which corporate giant we support. Between evil, awful, and terrible.

This is not where our power lies.

Our power lies where we come together in Solidarity. When we take collective political action at the level of society.

During the pandemic even the Tories discovered that society does exist. (And they seemed to find the magic money tree too!) We can’t forget that, and we can’t let them forget that.

So if you’re wondering what to do, do get angry, by all means. Rage is energising. But don’t just funnel that anger into a keyboard. And don’t fall for the tired tropes that some powerless minority is the cause of your problems. Don’t let the agents of exploitation divide and rule.

Use your rage. Get out there. Join a union; connect in your community, build, ACT. Networks of mutual aid make us strong. Connections make us human.

Together we are powerful. Together we can demand a lot more than we ever can as individuals or consumers. (And that scares the likes of Mervin King.)

Together we can create radical change. Win an economy that finally acts for all of us, not a privileged clique.

Thank you."