Joe Cullinane

Scottish Labour Councillor for Kilwinning

Irvine Herald column: Don't mourn, organise

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Joe explains why he will be attending Saturday's STUC rally against austerity.


 

In 1896, having failed to be elected as the MP for East Bradford at a by-election, the great Keir Hardie said in his concession speech, “defeat is not in the socialist dictionary”. 

The General Election result was a painful one. Not only for the Labour Party but more importantly for the communities that will suffer from five more years of the Tories. 

However, just as Keir Hardie said all those years ago the local Labour Party has dusted itself down and is ready to meet the challenge of standing up against the worst of the Tories and getting back to being the political force that drives the change that the working class will surely need. 

It is absolutely vital that we do so because if you thought that five years of a Tory led coalition was bad then just wait until you see what five years of a Tory majority brings. 

The Human Rights Act is on the chopping board. 

Workers’ rights are under attack with a new set of anti-trade union legislation. 

The most vulnerable in society will once again bear the brunt of the Tories agenda with another £12bn of welfare cuts whilst the public services that we all rely on are under threat as austerity gathers pace with another £70bn of cuts. 

In Scotland we could use the powers of the Scottish Parliament to take a different approach and protect public services. However, this week it has been reported that the current Scottish Government will pass on £1bn of Tory cuts to local authorities. Scotland’s councils have already borne much of the burden of austerity and any further cuts will simply decimate council services and cost thousands of jobs across Scotland. 

This is the awful reality of a Tory majority but it is no time to feel sorry for ourselves. It is a time to get angry and fight back. 

There is a phrase often used in the Labour movement – “don’t mourn, organise”. There has never been a better time to put this into practice. 

That’s why on Saturday (20th June) I will be in George Square at the STUC anti-austerity rally. I will be joined by people from across the political spectrum – people who despite having political differences will unite for a day to call for an end to damaging austerity cuts. 

We will do so because we believe in a better of way – investing to improve public services, providing fair pay and reducing poverty and inequality. 

Beyond Saturday I will continue to campaign to protect our public services and stand up for those most in need. 

Whether it be protecting those affected by the Bedroom Tax from eviction, pushing for action so more people are paid at least the Living Wage or campaigning against local bus cuts I have always tried to stand up for local people. 

That will always be my priority. If you agree I say – “don’t mourn, organise”. I hope to see you in George Square on Saturday.

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