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Panama Papers: An Opportunity to Think Radically

‘The structures of society that have been in place for years are not working, we need to now think radically about wealth redistribution, welfare and how we provide state help.’ 

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When are we going to admit to ourselves that trickledown economics just doesn’t work? The Panama Papers leak is the perfect example of this.

We are told to believe that when people or businesses accrue wealth, this will create more jobs, increasing employment or workers’ pay. However we know now that is not the case.

There are two screaming examples that prove that we need a radical change in how we look at the economic structures of the UK and the redistribution of wealth. Look at the evidence: huge companies turning millions of pounds worth of profit still refusing to pay their staff the living wage or, worse, forcing their workforce to sign up for zero hours contracts.

What’s worse is that we have a PR culture surrounding these big businesses that attempts to make us believe they care. Corporate social responsibility or CRS is now a booming industry in place sugaring our capitalist’s structures making them easier to swallow.

The second example is linked to personal wealth which brings me to the Panama Papers leak. You can apply it to your own income, when your income increases exponentially your expenditure doesn’t mirror this. At some point your expenditure levels out and you start saving and when we start saving that money stagnates. Money in the bank is worth nothing to our economy, our society, it benefits no one but the owner.

The Panama Papers leak is only the tip of the iceberg, this is one leak, from one company, from one country associated with tax avoidance. In our Prime Minister, David Cameron’s case the money held in these accounts for 13 years, 1997 – 2010, increased by 152% and during that time it benefited no one, it increased in value but had no worth to anyone but the Cameron family.

And these two examples are evident of the structures currently in place. In January this year Oxfam released data showing that the richest 1% now have as much wealth as the 99% that is left combined. But the breakdown of these figures is even more damning. Cash and assets worth £48,300 would get you into the top 10% and £533,000 to get you into the top 1%.

If you are living and working in the UK and if you own property, you are probably in the top 10% or even the top 1%. The United Kingdom has become a network of the world’s super-rich. The structures of society that have been in place for years are not working, we need to now think radically about wealth redistribution, welfare and how we provide state help. While the super-rich keep getting richer, whilst big businesses continue to drive capitalist consumerist culture, we need to stop demonising the poorest of our society and cast our eyes on the few that have gained so much.

Rhiannon Spear, SNP Youth Convenor

@RhiannonV

Rhiannon Spear

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Panama Papers: Why We Must Champion Our Investigative Journalists

 

Don’t be afraid. But keep them afraid.” – Seymour Hersh

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This week, we have seen a huge leak of millions of documents concerning our world’s elite, and not for the first time! The #PanamaPapers are the next phenomenon to join the leagues of notoriety of the #expensesscandal or #WikiLeaks or #snowdenleaks scandals. The content of the revelations linking to the world’s major movers and shakers, our governments and crucial public figures. However, I do not wish to dwell on the content of such exposures, but instead focus on the fact we are aware of this information.

And isn’t it great that we know these sorts of practices exist?  Yet, simultaneously, it is deeply concerning that it takes such a grand revelation to bring such illegality or immorality to the public light. It makes one wonder if the elites of this world can get away with something like this for so long, what else is still to be discovered? As stated, on a previous blog by Alex Kerr earlier this week – the Panama Papers are only ‘the tip of the iceberg’. This is a mere one company in one jurisdiction.  Just take a second to imagine how many others lucrative companies are out there in numerous tax havens. Also consider how much they have probably just stepped up their security to avoid a similar leak happening to them? Then think how many other morally corrupt practices are currently taking place worldwide? It is terrifying to think about what issues of public importance can go on behind the closed doors of the rich and powerful.

This is why we need our investigatory journalists – people with their fingers on the world pulse, to act as a watchdog for us all. These global issues of national security, tax evasion, corruption (to name but a few) need to be exposed or where does it end? If there is no way to find out and publicise these misdemeanours, how do we hold the rich and powerful – in particular, the ones we elect – to account?!  Politicians must be scrutinised, arguably, to an even higher degree than other figures. They are elected to serve the people of their communities and if they are in any way infringing on our right of proper representation through their actions or omissions, it is essential we are aware so we can act on the knowledge and keep our politicians honest and accountable.

Sadly, we all know that journalists can be unethical – sometimes with devastating consequences. In recent memory, this has been exemplified by the phone hacking scandals, in particular the News of the World’s chilling tampering of the voicemails of a missing teenager, Milly Dowler– giving false hope to her family and interfering with a police investigation. It is evident that actions like these cannot be condoned in any way and regulations must be introduced to prevent this occurring again. Of course, freedom of press is essential, but must be countered with the responsibility of morally sound reporting. But we cannot let these cases limit the power of our investigative journalists to such a degree we cannot uncover these sobering truths. I believe the majority of investigative journalists are good people, who instead of using unethical methods of investigation, actually aim to expose the unethical methods used by others to conceal corruption or crime, or hold their exclusive retention on power or wealth.

We must recognise the importance of investigatory journalism and continue to support, protect, champion and congratulate those working in the field as they fight wrongdoing, hypocrisy, corruption, illegality, inequality and immorality simply by exposing it.

Our ‘world watchers’ must be respected and appreciated for the work they do creating a more honest and transparent planet for us all through their reports.

 

Emma Hendrie

Equalities Officer, SNP Youth Glasgow

@emmahendrieee

Emma - Eq

 

Panama Papers: THE MOST AUDACIOUS ROBBERY OF OUR TIMES

 

Panama Papers: ‘this is only the tip of the iceberg.’

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They say that we can no longer afford a something for nothing culture. They say that we have become too greedy. They say that we have to tighten our belts.

“We are all in it together”. That is what they said.

Except now we find out that the politicians, business leaders and privileged few across the world and in the UK who preach welfare cuts for the poor and tax cuts for the rich have been doing their best to avoid contributing anything to our state.

Some of their dodgy dealings have been exposed through the Panama Papers, leaked from a legal company responsible for helping the richest avoid tax.

So far, the files leaked have implicated those close to Vladmir Putin, David Cameron, the President of Ukraine and the Icelandic Prime minister to name but a few.

It is nothing less than one of the most audacious robberies in history, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. This was only one company in a single tax haven.

Not only have they managed to escape with an astronomical amount of money that in one stroke would likely wipe out most of the financial problems we have, they have also transferred the burden of paying for their deceit and mistakes onto their victims.

Be under no illusion that this is what austerity fundamentally is. The disability cuts, the slashing of the public sector in England, the privatisation of the English NHS and the bedroom tax are all ways of making the poorest and most vulnerable pick up the tab.

And while most of the things mentioned impact mainly England, these cuts are then passed onto the Scottish Parliament which leaves us with a budget that is shrinking every single year due to the Government in Westminster that we did not vote for.

It is easy to accept the latest news with resignation, “they’re all corrupt”, “it was bound to happen”. But we cannot let this be our reaction because if we do nothing then nothing changes.

Instead get angry. It is an outrage and it directly affects you and your family.

If nothing changes, then the wealthiest and most privileged in the UK will continue to bend the affairs of our country to their will. As always, it will be the poorest and most vulnerable here in Scotland who most keenly feel the impact of these decisions.

Those abusing their power hope that you’ll give into despair: they think you are weak and stupid.

Take action, and organise. Get involved in politics and help change this. Show them how wrong they are.

 

Alex Kerr,

Glasgow Youth Convenor

@alexkerr3

Alex - Con

Campaign weekend: April Fools!

The first week week of the official SP16 campaign is over, it included the second leaders debate, April fools’ day and a good bit of campaigning.

This weekend we had teams out in the Lothians and in Glasgow, campaigning for Clare Haughey, Colin Beattie, and Alison Dickie:

We received a warm welcome in Rutherglen and Blantyre where we spent the day chapping doors, talking to voters, and getting to know the local campaign team.

Our SNP Youth Lothian members also kept themselves busy closer to home:

Our North East team did the opposite, travelling three hours in a packed car to help us out:

Thank you to all our activists and the campaign teams we joined.

The weekend’s campaigning also involved a few back and forths on twitter with Rise activists. We apologise to anyone to whom we caused offence – the intention was a bit of fun at the end of a long day campaigning but we all know that posts on twitter can be misjudged. SNP Youth encourage youth activism under any label and direct action is incredibly important part of political discourse.

Our members have also been hard at work with the pen as well as the clipboard. Youth’s VC Rory Steel wrote an article on the importance of trade unions in achieving the living wage for all – have a look here: https://snpyouth.com/2016/04/01/labour-is-labour-so-unionise-for-a-living-wage/.

Make sure to Join us this weekend in the Lothians! Happy campaigning one and all!

 

LABOUR IS LABOUR– SO UNIONISE FOR A REAL LIVING WAGE!

 

“I’ll tell ye somethin awfu’ true, ye wouldny have yer telly the noo if it wasn’t for the union.” – Matt McGinn, ‘If it Wasnae fer the Union’

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The Tories’ latest ploy to dupe the public into thinking it’s “the party of working people” comes with the new ‘National Living Wage’. As of today, the minimum wage will be increased to £7.20 per hour… so long as you’re 25 or older.

Currently in North Lanarkshire, the Labour-run council are currently ploughing in tax payers’ money to fight a legal battle so that they do not have to compensate female workers for decades of unequal pay. NLC have already settled £70 million with a number of workers, but only last week GMB protested outside NLC HQ demanding equal pay for the remaining 2,000 female workers who have yet to be compensated for their exploitation.

It is unthinkable nowadays to blatantly refuse women equal pay and not risk some form of legal action. But not so for younger people. There is no expectation of equality and no possibility of recourse.

Younger workers are often exploited in the workplace and this is being further legally enshrined by the Tory government with this policy. Not only have younger workers always had a lower minimum wage than other age brackets, the Conservatives have created a new wage bracket for those aged 25 and over who are the only group entitled to the ‘living wage’; suggesting no other age group has financial responsibilities and needs.

But responsibilities should not make you deserving of the same. Labour is labour, regardless of your age, gender or race. If you are contributing your labour, your demographics should not determine how much you deserve for doing it.

There is also the issue that the new ‘living wage’ isn’t in actual fact the living wage at all. According to the Living Wage Foundation, it is actually £8.25. You cannot simply raise the minimum wage and rebrand it as something different. But this hasn’t stopped the BBC and other media outlets praising the ‘new living wage’ whilst knowing all the time it is a lie.’

So how can the women of North Lanarkshire take the fight to the bosses while young people cannot? Because they are unionised and organised. Unfortunately, youth membership of trade unions today is extremely low. Our generation never had to fight for a minimum wage; or for health and safety in the workplace; or for child labour laws; or face the Orgreave Cavalry and police lines during the miner strikes – therefore we have no idea of the work and sacrifice that trade unions have committed for the worker.

In the same way female workers are fighting for their wage rights, so too must young people. If we want a fair wage for our labour, we have to organise to achieve it.

Just as our parents look back on Thatcher’s Britain; young people will look back on today as Cameron’s Britain. But, will we be able to say we organised and stood united against the bosses in the same way? I would lik e to think so – join a union.

Rory Steel,

SNP Youth Vice-Convenor

@RorySteel94

 

Our Weekend

With Easter weekend marking 40 days until the Scottish Parliamentary Election, our SNP Youth teams were hard at work across the country.


On Thursday evening, SNP Youth Lothian members met Mhairi Black MP at the Granton Youth Centre to discuss our campaign and the centre’s youth work.


Youth members then spent a sunny Good Friday campaigning for Derek MacKay in Renfrew North and East.

Our Youth teams were supported by Derek, local MP Gavin Newlands MP and local activists – thanks for having us!

Some of our teams:


On Saturday, we met youth members in the West of Scotland to discuss policy, campaigning, and to elect a Regional Executive Council. Congratulations again to Gavin, Lauren, Lauren, Callum, Fionn and Daniel.


In the North East we were also hard at work with SNP Youth NE holding a campaign day with Mairi Evans in Stonehaven!


However, our weekend was not all campaigning – we hosted a live music event in Motherwell for local candidate Clare Adamson, we joined Derek Mackay at his Adoption Dinner and we had a large contingent at SNP Live in Stnnehaven where Youth member Saffron Dickson was speaking.

A big thanks to all our activists and to SNP Deputy Leader Stewart Hosie for helping out on drums in Motherwell!

Have a look at our Facebook and Twitter for more photos! And look out for our events this weekend!

BOTH VOTES SNP

As you will be aware, there is a Scottish Parliament election this year. On the 5th May you will go to the polling stations and have two votes to cast; one for your constituency and one for your region. The Scottish Parliament election uses the Additional Member System (AMS) to elect the 129 MSPs. The first 73 members are our constituency MSPs and they are elected by the First-Past-The-Post system.

The final 56 members are elected using the D’Hondt System. This system can seem a bit complicated, as there is a bit of maths involved. Basically, in order to elect our regional list members this method takes the total number of votes received by each party in the Region and puts the number through seven rounds of voting; one round for each list seat to be allocated. In each round, every party has its list vote divided by the number of seats it already has in the region – both constituency and list – plus 1. We call that number (total seats +1) the divisor. The +1 is necessary, as any party that did not win any constituency seats would be starting at 0. A number we know you cannot divide by. Therefore, the higher number of constituency seats a party receives, the higher number their votes are divided by. If the Scottish Parliament was elected wholly by FPTP and the May 2015 results were emulated, the SNP would have 123 SNP MSPs, with only 7 MSPs coming from other parties. (you can find more information on this at; http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/visitandlearn/Education/16285.aspx )

It is the second vote that is currently causing issues with voters and they are questioning who to give that vote too. We want to make it clear that as a SNP supporter and/or member your second vote must go to the SNP.

SO WHY BOTH VOTES SNP?

Simple arithmetic!
If we use the 2011 election results and consider current polling, the idea that ‘RISE’ in particular can make any gains in this election is fanciful. Take the example of Central Scotland, the SNP took six constituency seats in 2011, and got three on the list. This means that by the time their final seat was won, their vote of 108,261 had been divided by nine, making 12,029 votes. To take a single list seat, that’s the target (12,029) the fringe parties would have to beat. The Green vote in 2011 was 5,634, so they would need to record a 109% increase in their vote to achieve this. The Scottish Socialist Party, which is now effectively ‘RISE’ only received 820 votes, they would ned an increase of 1437% in vote share and finally Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity got 559, so they’d need to increase their vote by 2,107%. This picture highlighting the challenge facing the fringe parties is largely emulated across Scotland. Consequently, a sizable drop in the Labour vote and increase in the SNPs ‘second vote’ would allow the SNP to make net gains before the fringe parties get a look in. So thinking for one second lending your second vote to RISE or the Greens is going to help the cause for independence is just total nonsense. Only in a dream world would they see such a surge in their votes. Also, you must remember that the Greens in particular do not have Scottish Independence at the forefront of their agenda. (A more in depth analysis is available at: http://wingsoverscotland.com/the-eye-of-reality/ )

Tactical Voting
Largely for the reasons outlined above, Tactical Voting will not work for the ‘second vote’. Tactical voting only really works in a binary system where there is a clear choice between two parties. In the General Election, the SNP won 56 seats because a solid proportion of the electorate got behind the SNP, however, the Unionist vote split between all the Unionist parties. Had the Unionist vote got behind one party, the outcome for the SNP might have looked somewhat different. You don’t see the Tories telling their voters to lend their second vote to Labour or the Lib Dems so why should we be lending our second vote to RISE? Frankly it is a ridiculous idea.

Perceptions
If the SNP suffers a significant drop in their share of the ‘second vote’, think about the message that would send to Westminster. The headlines the next day would call out the beginning of the end for the independence movement. The majority of 2011, allowed us to hold our independence referendum. The only way to keep Scotland’s interests at the forefront of the political debate is by getting behind the SNP. Increasing our share of the ‘second vote’ would send a completely different message, reiterating that Westminster is on borrowed time. Remember the SNP is the only party that is large and resourced enough to take our movement towards independence forward and fight for Scotland’s best interests. Do you not want a party that can actually stand up for our country and continue to fight against Tory austerity? I can tell you now that RISE would never be able to do that if they got elected.

The Rules
Members of political parties are prohibited from the promotion of other parties. Indeed, the Labour Party removed several members for displaying any sign of sympathy towards the SNP and independence in the lead up to the referendum. Of course that makes complete sense, if you are a member and/or a supporter of the SNP both your votes should be for the SNP not another party.

A Cautionary Tale – Polls will be Polls
It is easy to forget, but going into the 2011 election the Scottish Labour Party were ahead of the SNP in the polls. The complacency and arrogance which came with relying on polls resulted in a humiliating electoral defeat whereby they lost some of their best candidates who they failed to secure for the Regional List. We should learn from this in the SNP and take nothing for granted.

So think carefully about who you give your second vote to on May 5th. If you believe in a Scotland that puts its people first then there is only one party to vote for… The SNP.

Colin Storrier
@independentscot

&

Alisha McMillan
@alishaann94