St Andrew’s Day rallies: Educate, agitate, organise, and reject the politics of hate

Glasgow St Andrew's Day Rally

Glasgow St Andrew’s Day Rally

UNISON members were out in Glasgow and Aberdeen today in the traditional Scottish Trades Union Congress St Andrews’ Day marches and rallies against racism and fascism.

This year, there was also a Stand Up To Racism event in Edinburgh with the theme ‘No to Racism, No to Islamophobia! Football for All!’. The protest was organised to highlight the racist and Islamophobic basis on which the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) are organising. The FLA had stated their intention to march that day.

Kate Ramsden, UNISON National Executive member, speaking at the Aberdeen rally, said that this year’s STUC focus of ‘educate, agitate and organise’ had never been so important.

Kate Ramsden Aberdeen rally

Kate Ramsden Aberdeen rally

“We live in a society where we are encouraged to be passive. Where politics has become a spectator sport and many people don’t feel connected to our elected members or our governments… These are dangerous times.

“That is why we stand together today against racism and fascism, against inequality and injustice here and across the world. That is why we keep up the struggle for a society that is caring, compassionate and that celebrates difference. And that is why we will never stop educating, agitating and organising.”

Kate slammed the divide and rule tactics of this Tory government that have set worker against worker, have demonised the poorest, the elderly, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups.

“They have cut the NHS, public services and social security so precious to our parents’ and grandparents’ generation; they have normalised a reliance on foodbanks in the 21st century in the fifth richest country in the world and they have created an environment in this post Brexit era where racism and fascism doesn’t only exist, it flourishes. Where the insidious messages of the Tory grandees and the right wing media have resulted in a huge rise in race violence across the UK.

“But not here comrades – not here. Here we know the importance of standing together against racism and fascism, against the demonisation of all and any citizens. Here we celebrate and value our diversity and are clear that there is so much more that unites us than divides us. Here we know the importance of educating, agitating and organising. We do it all the time.”

She praised the: “fantastic young people in the Better than Zero and other campaigns – fighting for decent pay and conditions for young people and others in insecure work”

And she commended those of us “longer in the tooth but no less committed to a fair, more equal, more socially just society. We reject the politics of this right wing Tory government and we do all we can to challenge and subvert them – not just for ourselves but for every worker exploited by them, for every family made poor by them, for every person subjected to racism and fascism because of the insidious messages they give out about migrants, about immigrants, about refugees and asylum seekers.”

But there was hope, as she told the rally: “We are beginning slowly but surely to see a rejection of the politics of division – a rejection of the politics of hate – a rejection of politics for the rich at the expense of the rest of us.

“People all across our country are beginning to wake up to the need for a new politics – a more inclusive politics. One that unites rather than divides. One that looks out for ordinary people and not just the rich. One that makes the rich pay their fair share and protects the poorest and most vulnerable.

“The General Election result, if nothing else, proved that. It’s early days. These are delicate shoots – but if we nurture them they will grow.

“And that is why we stand together today against racism and fascism, against inequality and injustice here and across the world. That is why we keep up the struggle for a society that is caring, compassionate and that celebrates difference. And that is why we will never stop educating, agitating and organising!”

See the Aberdeen speakers at https://www.facebook.com/AberdeenTUC/