Saturday, 1 October 2011

People First - my thoughts

 Today I was at the People First march and rally in Glasgow.  The heavy rain meant the rally was curtailed, and I wasn't able to speak - but here is what I would have said!

I’m happy to be able to speak for the Moderator today –

because he agrees with me
that when the rich go on getting richer,
and the poor go on getting poorer,
and nothing – nothing in government policy
is designed to change that, to make
any difference at all –
it’s time for people from churches
to stand beside people from unions,
to stand beside people from disability groups,
to stand beside people from right across Scotland

and say that this is an offence
against the kind of society
that we want to be part of.

To be as the old Testament prophets who stood up and named what was wrong ;
Challenged injustice,
And called
No demanded
that those in power
Put others first

Some people, of course, think they come first.
Because of their wealth
Their status
Their position
Or their antecedents
And the deep desire of these people
is – at all times and at all cost
to anyone else – to stay first.

That’s why we have a body of millionaires
making up the Cabinet,
trying to get their own taxes cut
and telling us that we can’t afford
poor people.

The Bible get a lot of stick these days,
but let me tell you now what the Bible says:

It says that when there are resources to be shared out,
everyone should get enough. Everyone should
get enough, and everyone can get enough.
We’re told there’s no choice
about which direction to go in.
And of course they’re quite right,
the government.

If things are to stay the same –
the same inequality,
the same winners,
the same losers,
the same lack of values,
the same lack of compassion,
the same holding on to weapons of mass murder,
the same refusal by the wealthy
to pay a decent share of tax,
the same lack of political will and imagination….

If all these things are to stay the same
then we’ve no choice.

But today we exercise choice – the choice
to say no to the same old, same old,
business as usual.

Today we say it is time to make other choices,
it is time to put some other people first.

All over Scotland
The nation of which we are all part
Whatever our roots and our beliefs
 there are young people who believe
that our society has nothing for them –
no respect, no decent work, no hope, no future.
It really is time to put them first.

All over Scotland there are people
Some of who are here today ,
who have  already felt the sharp edge of cuts –
transport services to disabled people taken away,
to save a fraction of a banker’s bonus.
It really is time to put them first too.

If the Moderator was here he’d tell you
that these are the very people
who should get a fair deal,
because right now they are last,
and what Jesus says in the Bible
is that the last shall be first.

The way they get to be first
is that we stop living as though
there was no alternative
and make the changes that are needed
to prioritise the poorest.

Scotland has a proud record
of caring for all of its people.
We need to call on that pride today,
and say that we will not cease
in our efforts, until we have
a change that puts people first –
that puts all of our people first,
and the ideology of market forces last.

What we have now is not rational,
it is deeply irrational to have an
economy in which the only thing
that  is growing is inequality. And
it is deeply irrational to have some
with all the opportunity and others
with none. 

It’s time for those with the power
to change our political priorities
to rediscover the morality that
needs to underpin our society, and
to say no to the ideological cuts
that are doing such terrible damage
to the most vulnerable people
in it.

On behalf of the Moderator
I thank you for listening, and
thank you for coming.


  1. You've said so much that needs to be said. The only thing I would take issue with is putting the ideology of market forces there at all. It's time we had a radical review of the whole capitalist system. As long as the wellbeing of millions depends on the ethics of the casino, the poor and powerless pay the price. Wealth creation? Out of nothing?
    Anyway thanks for speaking out.

  2. Brilliant! This needs to be circulated widely


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