Social Justice with Dr Lesley Orr

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Yes Edinburgh West meeting minutes
Clermiston Inn, 7.30pm Mon 9 January 2017

  1. Anne Donohoe opened the meeting by welcoming everybody.
  2. Gerry Mulvenna posted a Livestream broadcast for the benefit of people who couldn’t make the meeting.
  3. There were 20 attendees. Email addresses given will be added to the mailing list unless anyone objects.
  4. Anne introduced Lesley Orr (a member of the Women for Independence National Committee), who spoke eloquently on “Social justice in an independent Scotlandstarting with a historical perspective going back to social ideals of the Reformation (of the responsibility of communities to educate, care and look to the common weal), through Keir Hardie to Women’s Aid (which recently celebrated its 40 year history), the Poverty Truth Commission and Naomi Eisenstadt’s report on Poverty and Inequality to the Scottish Government – and reflected on how much things have changed over the years. However, there is no magic wand to achieving social justice, as it depends on a complex mix of freedom from fear, isolation, poverty, and inequality. It requires safety, security, respect, dignity, choice, and a sense of community. It demands representation – that voices are heard, that there is a place at the table (“nothing about us without us is for us”). It needs a long-term change in attitudes, and depends on power, self-determination and economic independence – therefore sharing many aspects of the Yes campaign (echoes of Donald Dewar’s “equality and a sense of social justice are at the heart of who we are – a Scotland where everyone matters” and Nicola Sturgeon’s fundamental principles for an independent Scotland: participation, prosperity and fairness). She gave some statistics to justify an assertion that there is no social justice without gender justice: between 2010 and 2020, 86% of the cuts in social security have impacted poor women – they bear a disproportionate impact of Tory austerity. Women are twice as likely to depend on social security as men. 74% of carers allowances are paid to women. The gender pay gap is 15% (and 33% for part-time workers, who are often women). We need to tackle local democracy, gender budgeting, and the inequality that allows 64 people to own as much wealth as 50% of the world’s poorest people.

  5. Watch the video of the full meeting
  6. Anne opened the floor to questions and answers, and a useful discussion ensued.
    • the importance of universalism (as in the baby boxes) – “all of us first”
    • the potential of Basic Income to help address social justice
    • the correlation of Unionism with Thatcherism (collectivism versus individualism)
    • the impact of the disappearance of social housing
    • the need to see social security as a great idea, rather than a burden, and a stigma for recipients
    • the need to look at Brexit from a woman’s point of view
    • the great work done by WfI in IndyRef1 in closing the gap between No and Yes women voters
    • the need for the SNP to “widen the tent” for IndyRef2
    • whether the SNP has delivered on its manifesto promises
    • the role of the media in promoting (or attacking) social justice
  7. We have published a number of a briefing notes (as online E-Flets, rather than old-fashioned leaflets!)
    http://yesedinburghwest.info/wp-admin/post.php – all comments welcome! If you want to make comments, set up, lead or join groups on any other subject, please email Bob Glen.
  8. A Lending Library of relevant books is available for people to borrow from.
  9. Next meeting Mon 6 February 2017 (Clermiston Inn function room, 7.30pm): speaker to be confirmed
  10. Peter Curran has offered to run a tutorial on Negotiation on 5 February – if interested, please email Bob Glen.
  11. John Swinney can’t make it (“Education in Scotland: our most crucial challenge”)
  12. AOCB
    • If anyone wants a subscription to the iScot magazine, we get half – please email Bob Glen.
    • Gerry Mulvenna has implemented a donation facility on the website.
    • Please subscribe to the mailing list on our website, Like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and find a library of useful information on the Yes liaison

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