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VOICES OF SCOTLAND We are experiencing first hand the need for a fairer society

The task that lies ahead when the coronavirus crisis ends is to turn this collective experience into action, says CRAIG ANDERSON

THE contempt and hypocrisy of the political elite has dazzled and amazed at a level never seen before the Covid-19 crisis. 

The Tories’ continued smoke-and-mirror strategies and new-found passionate loyalty to NHS staff and key workers beggar belief.

In the CWU, our members are scared, being asked or forced to risk their lives and and the lives of their families without the necessary protection, whether through lack of protective wear or lack of government support. 

But at least we are all in it together, some say. Well, we are not!

The low-paid, precarious workers, key workers and the most vulnerable in our society will pay the highest cost of this crisis — many with their lives. 

The CWU, similar to most trade unions, has and is currently fighting daily to safeguard members in demanding sufficient PPE and measures put in place to make workplaces as safe as possible during this time. 

Profit before lives is not an option. Companies choosing not to protect employees is not an option. Avoiding working jointly with trade unions to get through this crisis is not an option.

This crisis has highlighted many positive acts, reinvigorated community spirit, and reminded the British public of the essential role workers play and the vulnerability of many in our society. 

But it shouldn’t have taken a pandemic claiming thousands of lives for this to happen. 

Many are stating we cannot return to where we were before Covid-19 — and we can all play our part. 

We all have a vote for whatever party we so choose, and pressure must be put on political parties to radically rethink many issues highlighted through this time.

In Scotland the independence debate has consumed and restricted our political progress for years. 

There are bigger issues which can change our society and future generations. 

If the people of Scotland demand a vote, then let’s deal with that and move on, but let us be clear: the status quo may not be an option, but neither is the SNP-endorsed vision of decades of austerity outlined in its commission. 

The priority in Scotland and the Holyrood elections in 2021 should be the lessons from this crisis. 

All political parties need to be bold in creating radical policies which, post-Covid-19, may not be so radical. 

Once again, in a crisis situation, the market has been found wanting, and the public can see it. 

Twice in 12 years, capitalism moved from its everyday failure to spectacular failure. 

On the back of a political leadership nominally left, the 2008 crisis delivered power into the arms of the populist right and nationalism as people rejected the failed status quo. 

We cannot allow these mistakes to be repeated. Socialist policies are popular in Britain and, without as much as a blush, huge public spending is being implemented, temporarily, by a Tory government who mocked such profligacy just a few months ago. 

This, then, isn’t a time for the Labour left, or the left in general, to allow our heads to drop after recent electoral results — far from it. 

Let us own and protect what we all realise is important to us — our NHS, care sector, transport, postal service and utilities, including broadband. Banish the need for foodbanks with a welfare system fit for purpose and develop a national food service. 

Install universal basic income and develop a tax and economic strategy that delivers for workers, not big business.

Jeremy Corbyn was mocked by some in his party and in the right-wing media for having the temerity a few weeks ago to say “we won the argument.” 

Not for the first time, he was absolutely right, and the events of the last few weeks have only reinforced this. 

Here and now, our task is to protect our workers, care for the vulnerable and to challenge the government’s hypocrisy and inaction — but the task that lies ahead when this crisis ends is to turn this collective experience into action, and bring about an irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth with it. 

We are experiencing first-hand the need for a fairer society, a well-funded NHS service and the need for a national care service for the vulnerable in our society, and all political parties will have the responsibility to deliver this for the people of Scotland in their 2021 manifestos.

Craig Anderson is CWU regional secretary – Scotland.

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