By Fiona Grahame
The Tories are having to think about whether comments made by Boris Johnson MP in his newspaper column should incur some kind of telling off or penalty. No doubt readers are familiar with his remarks which said that Muslim women who wear a burka look like ‘letter boxes’ and compared them to bank robbers.
It’s just one of many statements made by Johnson where his persona of the affable buffoon has allowed him to get away with making racist and divisive remarks. Boris Johnson is a highly educated and intelligent man – he is responsible for what he is saying – and so too is the political party he represents.
It’s all part and parcel of the creeping normalisation in UK politics of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. In ‘normal’ times the murder of an MP during a political campaign would have been considered a sea change moment – an opportunity to stem the flow of hatred in mainstream and social media which was encouraged by politicians in both leave and remain camps. But it wasn’t. Indeed the climate of hatred and othering has increased.
The Tories in Scotland occasionally try to distance themselves from the mothership in Westminster but they are one organisation. A political party where dark money has funded campaigns to get MPs elected. A political party which seeks to destroy the Scottish Parliament removing its powers into the hands of a Tory Government in Westminster. MSPs who were elected to serve in the Scottish Parliament supporting the removal of powers over farming and fishing – the key economic activity in many of the constituencies that they represent.
The Tories, with the support of the LibDems in the Cameron/Clegg Coalition Government, introduced the bedroom tax which penalised those on low incomes for having a spare room where they could keep their wheelchair or where their children could come to stay if they were a single parent with visiting rights. The Scottish Government spends £58million so that this does not happen in Scotland. In 2017 Jeane Freeman, who was the Social Security Minister in the Scottish Government said:
” we have taken action to ensure DHPs [Discretionary Housing Payments] are available to all affected households so no one has to pay it and we are committed to abolishing it as soon as practically possible.”
Outside of Scotland if you are deemed to have a bedroom ‘surplus’ then a percentage reduction will be applied to your eligible rent for the purposes of your housing benefit claim:
- 14% will be taken off if you have one extra bedroom, or
- 25% will be taken off if you have two extra bedrooms. Shelter
The UK is the 5th richest country in the world and yet during the summer holidays last year (2017) 74,011 children received emergency 3 day food supplies from Foodbanks run by The Trussell Trust. In total 204,525 emergency 3 day food supplies were sent out just in the two months of July and August. Do you think the figures will be better or worse for this summer? Foodbanks are already running out of supplies and resort to begging on social media for donations.
Samantha Stapley, Director of Operations at The Trussell Trust, said:
“Foodbanks cannot, and must not, be a long term to solution to hunger at any time of year. No one should face going hungry, and although our network will be doing all they can this summer to help families struggling to make the money they have stretch to cover the essentials, no charity can replace people having enough money for the basics.
To find out how Universal Credit is affecting people have a look at Universal Credit Sufferer a blog by Alex Tiffin where he details what it is like to live in 21stC UK – the 5th wealthiest economy in the world.
And let us not forget that women who want to claim support when they have more than 2 children have to prove that the child was conceived as the result of rape – the 2 child benefit cap. That is the total lack of compassion driving the ideology of the Tory party.
The minority Tory Government propped up by the DUP with a £1billion bribe is taking us out of the EU on an advisory referendum where 2 out of the 4 nations that make up the United Kingdom voted to remain in. And it still has no plan – nothing has been agreed.
The Tories in Scotland are part of all of this. Don’t be thinking that somehow they are the softer side of the Tory party – just look at their voting record in the Scottish Parliament where they are increasingly isolated. In local government they have had to get into bed with their old buddies the Liberal Democrats in several areas to form an administration.
The Tories in Scotland want you to pay for your prescriptions, make graduates pay for having gone to university and allow GM crops to be farmed. And they are now, of course, totally in favour of the UK leaving the EU with or without a deal and all the implications of that for our thousands of EU citizens living in Scotland. Scotland Voted 62% Remain – every constituency in the nation made it clear they wished to stay in the EU but the Tories are taking us out.
Scotland is not a hot bed of lefties in fact in many aspects of our lives we are conservative and careful about how we go about things – the canny Scot. But Scotland, through the actions of the Scottish Parliament since its re-formation in 1999 has started to lay down a different pathway. Even with limited powers the Scottish Parliament has shown that :- we can develop our nhs free at point of need; we can successfully oppose fracking; and we can put respect into the heart of our welfare system.
When this is what we can do within the limitations of a devolved administration what could we do if we didn’t have those constraints holding us back? Scotland has a well educated, skilled people with an abundance of natural resources that most countries envy. It is time those were used to build a fair and just society for all our citizens.
“Open the doors! Light of the day, shine in; light of the mind, shine out!” Edwin Morgan