CAMPAIGNING FOR SCOTLAND
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Nationalism and all that is best in Scotland."
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Issue 764 - 23rd January
Compiled by Fraser Hudghton
SHAME ON YOU, WESTMINSTER
Last week the Trussell Trust released figures on the numbers accessing their
foodbank network in Scotland during December 2014. At well over 10,000
people - it was the highest ever number of individuals recorded in need of
emergency food aid in one month in this country.
In previous columns I’ve noted the acceleration of demand for basic food
supplies - particularly affecting Glasgow and our major cities - but
reflected broadly across the nation, as unacceptable in our advanced
Worse still, an alarming counter-foodbank agenda has spread in tandem with
the outrage felt by many at the skyrocketing numbers. The counter agenda
runs thus - far from it being the fault of the system under which we operate
that people are stricken by the most degrading forms of poverty - apparently
the headlines surrounding food banks have increased awareness amongst
“benefit junkies” to get a free meal whilst spending their hard earned on
fags, booze and down the bookies.
Operating in the charity world as I do, I can confirm that this argument is
complete rubbish and belies a total ignorance of the experience of attending
a foodbank or any other charity outreach centre for emergency aid.
People in need of emergency parcels are at their wits end. We are talking
here of aid for Scots to have the most basic of supplies the rest of us take
The numbers of people accessing foodbanks as an emergency measure is bad
enough. Recent reports have demonstrated that those in employment are also
now faced with receiving food parcels. The ‘working poor’ they have been
coined. Perhaps you or someone you know falls into this category.
Christmas and winter is a time toughest for our most vulnerable - the old
and the young - but at its heart remains the highlight of the year for
children. The coming of Santa Claus and the pressure on parents to buy
presents in 2014 was further compounded by unscrupulous payday lending firms
offering an ‘advance’ in lieu of an inflated payment or stinging fee later
on. Ruthless Westminster benefit sanctions and these sharks taking advantage
of the economically disadvantaged have driven people yet further into
The era of austerity, kickstarted under Gordon Brown and developed by a
severe Tory agenda, continues apace.
Only last week 28 Scottish Labour MPs voted with the Tories in favour of
further austerity measures.
An outsider may in good faith ask - how exactly do the Labour Party stand up
And the answer of course is - they do not.
The question must be asked of Labour and the other Westminster parties in
the forthcoming election - what will they do to address the poverty ongoing
and being made worse by their policies?
A Glasgow councillor told me recently they’d just dealt with a case where an
elderly constituent had contacted them because his house was riddled with
damp and was desperate for a new home.
The damp aside - the councillor raised concern with their constituent at the
fact the heating in the elderly man’s house wasn't on - in the middle of one
of the coldest snaps Glasgow has experienced for a few winters.
And the answer - “I either eat or heat”.
Post-referendum, more so than in previous years do Scots realise we are in
the grips of a Westminster austerity agenda most of us did not vote for.
Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, are all stymied because with a
government in charge of our economy which puts in place policies to cater
for the UK capital and centre of wealth - we will never have the real levers
to recharge our poorest areas.
If we take a back seat after the No vote, and hope for a UK government with
policies designed to lift Scots out of the poverty cycle we will be waiting
The ‘working poor’ driven to foodbanks and the elderly gentleman forced to
choose between heating or eating in his damp infested home - should be at
the forefront of our thoughts in Scotland in this election when we say
“Westminster - you are not working”.
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