With exemplary timing, millionaire Chancellor George Osborne visited the Borders to warn us of the economic consequences of independence in the same week it was reported that 100 families in the area have to access foodbanks in order to survive.
What a shameful indictment of the policies of this coalition government in Westminster. What an indefensible scandal that in one of the richest economies on earth thousands of families across the country are reliant on charity handouts to feed themselves.
It was noticeable that Osborne’s visit was not widely publicised beforehand. Instead, he slunk into the area to meet a hand-picked audience and was away before he had the chance to meet ordinary Borderers who have suffered the economic consequences of the austerity politics of his government.
He never met those affected by his iniquitous and unfair bedroom tax. He never met workers on zero-hour contracts or those whose low wages make the Borders one of the poorest-paid regions in the whole of the UK. He never met pensioners who, last winter, worried themselves sick over the cost of heating their homes, while privatised energy companies racked up huge profits in a country with an abundance of oil, gas and renewable energy.
Osborne, the aristocratic former Bullingdon Club member, is divorced from reality.
He speaks of “economic consequences”, but he and his wealthy cabinet colleagues have no comprehension of the impact his politics of austerity have on ordinary people. He knows nothing of making the pay packet stretch until the end of the week. He has no understanding of the fear of losing your job, of being desperate for more hours or your contract coming to an end.
What does George Osborne know about the lives and struggles of the people of the Borders? We live in an area where manufacturing jobs have been decimated over four decades by successive governments, young people have had to leave the area to find employment and an ageing population finds itself among the poorest pensioners anywhere in Europe.
On September 18 I will be voting Yes to independence in a bid to break with the discredited Westminster system that has led to the scandal of foodbanks, low pay, zero-hour contracts and pensioner poverty.
I will be voting to live in a country that uses the talent of its people and the natural wealth of its resources for the benefit of the many, rather than a rich and discredited elite.
(chair, Yes Galashiels)