In the cradle of Western democracy, the people have used their democratic power to demand change. On 14 Feb, 2015 several hundred people rallied outside the Scottish Parliament. “Scotland stands with Greece” was co-hosted by the People’s Assembly against austerity Scotland and the Radical Independence Campaign.
Rejecting austerity is brave and bold. For Syriza elected on a popular anti-austerity mandate, that change the people cried out for is not going to be as easily grasped from those that hold power.
We stand with Greece – her people in electing the Syriza government delivered a clear message to the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank that they have had enough of austerity, being dictated to and bullied. Greeks have suffered 50% youth unemployment, devastation of public services, pensions and a lack of hope with extreme austerity measures imposed on them. They have fought off a surge of extreme right fascist activity.
When capitalism comes a calling, democracy, if inconvenient, is undermined, disarmed and cast aside. Already the vultures of international vested interests are squawking “Greece be reasonable”, “Syriza must modify its democratic mandate”. Events this week show us that the bankers, when threatened, bite back.
Unlike the Greek government, no one elected the European Central Bank. The international banks are accountable to nobody but their shareholders, yet Greece, Europe and our own public services here in Scotland remain beholden to the whims of the banks.
The mandate for change in Greece is not enough to end austerity– it is the mere beginning of the end of austerity, and we in Scotland have a massive contribution to make in this struggle.
Our People’s Assembly Scotland formed as a force to unify opposition to austerity and in support of an economic alternative, has the backing of organised labour and campaigners from Yes and No alignments, still marking divisions. Coming together as progressives to fight austerity is now too important to tolerate any further factionalism and division.
In working with RIC to support Greece, the People’s Assembly Scotland has shown real inclusiveness, and we will continue to work with those that oppose austerity of both Scottish dispositions.
More importantly, for the People’s Assembly is to nurture a grassroots popular alternative to the stale, cynical austerity acceptance across the mainstream body politic including both Labour and the SNP.
Returning to Greece, let us acknowledge that there are uncomfortable compromises Syriza made to get to where it is, and that further difficult challenges and choices lie ahead if it is to bring about the meaningful change, so wanted by its people.
It would be foolish to pretend the objective conditions are the same in Scotland as they are in Greece. Something bigger is happening across Europe, however. Expectations awakened with Greece, are swelling the increasing popularity of Podemos alternative to mainstream forces in Spain. In Ireland too, after years of austerity measures raining down in wage cuts, job loss, rising poverty and public service cuts, the people of Ireland are rising up against Water Charges.
The People’s Assembly Scotland salutes the lead taken by the people of Greece. We demand an alternative to austerity, and its time is now!