Dear Scotland: contemporary views on how and why the union harms scotland

The Values of the UK: Profits over People

A government should advocate for all its people and the opposition should pounce when it fails to do so. But that’s not what happens here in the dysfunctional UK.

This is illustrated by Ken Loach’s last film, The Old Oak, about a working class community near Durham ravaged by Thatcher’s ruthless mine closures and how it copes with an influx of Syrian refugees, themselves victims of a proxy war between the great powers. Leaving aside the foreign policy aspects, the film explores what happens when a government fails to care for its people.

When the mines were closed, the UK government made no effort to put anything in their place. Unemployment, hopelessness, addiction, illness and early death became the norm. Scotland experienced this on a massive scale and is still dealing with the human fallout.

One of the characters remarks, “We’ve become a dumping ground, you don’t see them being housed in Chelsea, do you?” The initial hostility towards the refugees is not because the villagers were bad people. Rather, it was the years of economic neglect by their own government that seeded their resentment and feelings of hopelessness.

At the end, the villagers and refugees come to a mutual understanding. The great loss each has experienced binds them together and they realise that to create something new requires a collective effort.

The UK is broken because it embraced an ideology, neoliberalism, that values profits over people. Neither the Tories nor Labour show signs of abandoning a system that has immiserated millions and made the UK the deeply unhappy place it is today.

And that’s a pretty compelling reason why Scotland must leave.

Leah Gunn Barrett

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