Fat cat rule under pressure as No camp’s lies are unmasked

simon peckham melrose

LOOKING DOWN ON YOU: the UK’s top-paid boss, the chief executive of engineering investment firm Melrose, Simon Peckham, takes less than an hour to earn the annual living wage

by Ken Ferguson, editor, Scottish Socialist Voice Just weeks from the No vote, the bitter reality behind the cynical promises of the Westminster parties about caring and sharing Britain grows ever clearer. Not only have the worthless promises of the supposedly sacred “vow” gone into the wheelie bin of history but the pitiless policies punishing the poor have been further ratcheted up.

From the infamous remarks of Lord Freud labelling the disabled as worthless to the endless scapegoating of the low paid and claimants by hard faced Tory ministers such as Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVeagh Westminster’s key aim is to smack down the many in favour of the fat cat few.

Perhaps the most striking example of this emerged from union research showing that the UK’s fattest fat cat, Simon Peckham, boss of transnational engineering firm Melrose, earned the annual living wage demanded by the TUC—in around half an hour!

Mr Peckham reportedly received a total package of £31million last year although a company spin doctor challenged the figure saying that Peckham earned “only” £409,800 last year. Meanwhile in Scotland 800,000 live in poverty and those in work have lost the equivalent of £50 a week through frozen pay. This is the background to what is a growing revolt not just against the Westminster parties but with the biter consequences of the austerity policies that they all endorse.

In Scotland this is seen most dramatically seen in the vortex of crisis engulfing the once all conquering Labour Party now gripped by a cold terror that their once Eastern European style dominance of Scottish politics is fatally damaged. Already under pressure for their slavish servility to Blairite worship of markets and profits they were not helped by hapless leader Johann Lamont’s now notorious labelling of Scottish welfare policies as “something for nothing”.

However what looks like the last straw for Labour voters was the spectacle of their leaders getting into bed with the detested Tories and their Lib Dem soul mates in the misnamed Better Together alliance. Although the lies and fear mongering won the day for the No camp, for Labour it proved a hollow victory with key Labour areas such as North Lanarkshire and Glasgow ignoring them and voting Yes.

The Labour Party now looks rather like a football fan who went to the Scotland end of an England V Scotland game wearing the wrong scarf. Even the supposed wisdom of grumpy Gordon Brown and the famous Daily Record cooked “vow” has blown up in their faces as Cameron ditched it within hours of the No vote.

As thousands flood into the Yes supporting parties the mass movement built around the left of the Yes movement is now also turning to address the consequences of the No vote and what can be done about it.

For the Scottish Socialist Party this means engaging with the demand that the promises given by No camp are not only met but exceeded and that is the core of the SSP submission to Lord Smith. It calls for powers over all money raised in Scotland to be spent here but also for powers to scrap the anti-union laws, introduce fair pay, tackle the housing crisis, scrap the Council Tax and introduce free public transport. This submission was sent to the noble Lord despite his decision to exclude the SSP from his cosy “consultation” with all the other parties from the Yes and No camps.

However, important that this is, the SSP is under no illusions that a few polite meetings over coffee and shortbread with Lord Smith will deliver real answers to the democratic, social and ecological problems facing Scotland. That’s why we welcome the thousands of people who have joined us and look forward to taking our case for immediate change and long term socialist solutions onto Scotland’s streets, communities and trade unions with their help.

Scottish politics are changed utterly by the referendum and the momentum for change not just democratic but social and economic too is immense. It must be grasped and the slogan that another Scotland is possible made a reality.

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