I know a few folks who say they’re “fed up with democracy” and “all politicians are the same”. While I understand their apathy, I am always infuriated by the unwillingness to change this. Why on earth would anyone sit back and allow a government to treat its people in a barbaric manner and just say “they’re all the same” and then do nothing?
We only need to look at Catalonia to see what can happen when a government is intent on brutalising the people of the country. So in this sense we are lucky. Reticent to use the word lucky in a time when foodbanks and charities warn us of the approaching “perfect storm” of benefits sanctions, waiting times for the roll out of Universal Credit and a raft of further cuts to welfare claimants money.
The rise of foodbanks is an abhorrent, national disgrace and one where any Tory voter should hang their head in shame. Now we hear that foodbanks have become the norm and are stretched to breaking point, with no further safety net to catch those that fall through.
Where will people turn in their desperation and how will we face the world in our combined shame at letting people starve in Scotland in 2017? The Tories will certainly not be running a TV ad campaign for this disaster. The footage of a mother dragging her 3 kids to a foodbank to be met by empty shelves will not adorn our screens. The caption of “Margaret needs help to feed her bairns, because she has to now wait six weeks for a single penny of the money she’s entitled to!” will not be plastered across billboards up and down the country.
It seems that very few care at present. Is it because it doesn’t affect them? Is it because our media spin it in a such a way that anyone on any welfare payments are now seen as scroungers, leeches and the like? Or is it because we just don’t care?
Well, if you don’t care about this, what do you care about? Will you care when it’s your pocket affected? Will you care when you are the one being victimised? I’m going to let you into something, the Tories will come after us all at some point. It is the fundamental base of Tory policies, it is basically, survival of the fittest and at some point in your life, you won’t be the fittest and will be fair game.
What shall all the rest of us do then? Should we rally to support, even though your support has not been there for others? A good example of this at the moment in Edinburgh is black taxi drivers.
Black taxi drivers are currently under the cosh and feeling the pinch. With the rise of private hire contracts and the explosion of Uber, their income streams are being squeezed. They have to learn about our city, the training can be hard and then the cabs are all in excellent condition with safety measures that are world beaters. Our black taxis are beacons of Health & Safety legislation. The drivers are professional and have high standards, any complaints can mean they lose their plate and they have all undergone thorough police checks.
This is all good for our cities and good for promoting our country as a great one to not only visit but invest in.
Black taxi drivers are mostly self-employed and are a positive virtue of the capitalist system and shining beacon for free trade and self employment. I have often gotten in a taxi to hear how they get no sick pay, holiday pay, set pay, guaranteed hours etc. They combat this with a good work ethic and overcome to earn what they need and make it work for them. Great stuff.
Then why do they now moan that Uber and private hire companies are ruining the trade. I am by no means defending Uber or trying to say the black taxi trade is not ruined. I know too many that have left or are leaving because of this. My point is why moan? The system which created and promoted Uber and flooded the market with part time drivers is the same one which had the black taxi drivers flourishing. The authorities that allowed private hire companies to bid for airport pick ups and public body accounts, is the same one that allowed black taxi drivers to have unbridled work and earn what they wanted. This is the free market you wanted guys, don’t moan when it bites your erse! Right?
Well, I don’t think it’s right. Then again, I don’t believe in an unbridled free market. I believe in a fair days pay for a fair days work. I believe in a company paying you when you are too sick to work. I believe that we should all be entitled to paid holidays and a steady work contract with hours that are manageable. I believe in the european working time directive stopping people from working over 48 hours per week, allowing 11 hours between shifts and stating that you should have two consecutive days off. But I’m a loony leftie, snowflake and lots more besides.
So, if I am made aware of our Edinburgh black taxi drivers running a campaign or asking for support, of course I will support them. Their working conditions have been manipulated by those that can and the free market that they love has now destroyed their trade. They need support, they will need the support of all who believe in fairness and equality and they we should offer it, wholeheartedly.
However, every single black taxi driver who votes Tory, spouts the right wing rhetoric about benefits claimants being lazy and workshy, refuses to acknowledge that sometimes you can work as hard as you like and you will just never get anywhere will need to wake up and smell the capitalism. For the system which they have fought and voted to protect is the same one that now bites at the erses and robs them of fair wages and fair working conditions. Something that some of us had known was coming, has arrived but it gives me no joy to be right.
I do not use Uber, I do not use Air B n B, I do not buy from Starbucks and in fact a long, long list of other companies who do not promote good working standards and fairness for their employees and suppliers alike. I do not agree with an unfiltered free market without regulation. This is just the start though, just as the foodbanks warn of a perfect storm for welfare claimants. Those who have pushed for a free market economy had better hold onto their hats, as the perfect storm of free trade comes. We are not out of the EU yet, we still have a little protection. When the working time directive, the right to rest breaks, the right to paid holidays, leave for working parents and fixed term working right are all removed, then we shall see the worst a free market economy has to offer.
It will not equalise the employed with the self-employed. The employed cannot choose when their work is open, when it will close, how much they will earn, or when they will take a break and how long that break shall be. All choices that the self-employed take for granted. The employed cannot argue with HMRC about the tax that is deducted at source and they cannot opt out of paying 13% National Insurance. The loss of these rights will pull us all down the ladder a little and some a lot.
For any black taxi drivers reading this…….just how many people will turn to Uber when they cannot make ends meet because of the reduction in workers rights as listed above? How many will have a spare fiver for a taxi when their employer cuts their wages or refuses them a pay rise?
The quickest way to build any economy is to give money to those at the bottom. They need to spend it to survive and usually spend it more locally. The quickest way to drain an economy is to hoard the money at the top where it is saved in onshore or offshore accounts. The second is what we have and will continue to have under the Tory party that so many black taxi drivers love.
You see, we are all affected by politics and it really is not acceptable to say that they are all the same and do nothing. It will bite you on the erse at some point, I’m ready to bite back!