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I LIVE in Edinburgh, the city of festivals, and am both a poet and a teacher of computing.
As a poet, I see young colleagues with great artistic talent ground down by the impossibility of living on their poetry, combined with precarious employment in dead-end warehouse or call-centre jobs that suck out their creativity.
And how many people really understand that the Edinburgh Fringe runs on an army of super-exploited young people on zero-hours contracts or, worse still, are hired as interns on expenses only? Or that the only substantial housing going up in this city is student flats, while the tenements students move out of are becoming AirBnB rentals?
Edinburgh is following London’s deadly path into housing crisis.
Back in 2014, in the Scottish independence referendum, many people who voted Yes did so in the hope of a new future — proper jobs at living wages, social housing, a benefits system that really gave social security once more and an end to Tory domination.
I wasn’t one of them. I had no faith that that was what we’d actually get and I thought a call centre worker in Dundee had more in common with one in Sunderland than with the managers of Ineos, Scotland’s would-be frackers.
But now all the policies mentioned above — and more — are in Labour’s manifesto for this election.
A Labour government led by Corbyn represents a solid version of that hope, with industrial planning that spreads prosperity over the whole island. It contains the kind of financial settlement for Scotland that really could meet the needs of its working people, including UK support for a massive housing programme.
It would winkle the burden of PFI out of the NHS, a burden crippling Scotland’s newest hospitals. It would nationalise rail, so that we could end the shambles that is Scotrail, end zero-hours contracts and introduce a living wage of at least £10 pounds an hour.
Labour’s green industrial revolution offers skilled jobs that would give us tidal schemes as well as more wind power in Scotland. Free broadband would bring in the digitally excluded, many of them in rural Scotland, as well as kickstarting new digital services.
I think that would be a UK worth being a part of.
That’s what I am voting for.
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