I shared a platform last night with Bernie Sanders’s brother, Oxford-based Larry, who is campaigning as part of #BritainforBernie and came to speak in Edinburgh. Here is my speech:
I’d like to begin by welcoming Larry to Scotland. February is maybe not everyone’s idea of the best time to visit, but I hope the sunshine and snowdrops are making the iciness bearable.
Larry has had a substantial career of his own. In politics, in academia and in social work. As a Green Councillor in Oxfordshire he was responsible for finding creative ways to oppose the austerity being imposed by the Westminster Government and the Tory-run County Council. He may be responsible for getting David Cameron’s own family to come out against the cuts. I like to think he is.
It is clear to all of us that we have a rigged economy, one that works for the few, not the many. One that blames public sector workers for the bankers’ crisis. One in which government allows the wealthy to make bets where the only risk is how much not if, they win.
Around the world people and popular movements have been resisting this rigged economy, be it Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain, or indeed the radical indy movement in Scotland.
Bernie Sanders’s campaign takes this fight to the belly of the beast – to the heart of the American establishment – and its success shows that we are growing in strength. There is every chance that Bernie can become President.
The thing that the Sanders campaign has in common with those popular movements around the world is its critique of late capitalism. A critique many of us including those of us here on the panel have been making for a long time. We see now as we await the next global crisis that the elite no longer have answers. They are left with a system that you could almost say contains within it the seeds of its own destruction.
But we can’t let a sense of inevitability about the demise of the rigged economy lull us into inactivity. We must resist the rigged economy every step of the way. Every day in Greece, in Spain, in Scotland and in the US people face destitution because of a system not yet in its death throes.
We must shape what comes next. We must create the alternatives to the rigged economy. A society based on equality and justice. A society where it is the people that rule, not the banks, not the elite, not the capitalist class. A truly democratic society with a truly democratic economy.
A Sanders win would mean having an American president willing to stand up to the corporations. Corporations which are attacking us as much as they are attacking Americans. It would mean a White House whose foreign policy isn’t dictated by the military industrial complex. And it would mean a commander in chief who understands that the biggest threat to the world is climate change.
I remember being excited at the election of an independent Senator from Vermont. One with a long record as a progressive in the House of Representatives. One who had vehemently opposed the Iraq war, one who had a long record of advocating on behalf of civil rights, LGBTI equality and universal healthcare. I don’t agree with Bernie on everything, but I am excited by his run for President. I’ve been following Bernie’s rise for years now, and that it’s damned exciting. But what excites me most is the thought of a democratic socialist in the White House.
I encourage those of you with a vote to cast it for Bernie, in the primaries. If you haven’t got a vote, find someone who does, and get them to vote…
We are on the brink of revolutionary change. We have a duty to create the new world out of the wreckage of the old. We are all part of that change. The new world we create must be one with people at its heart. With peace, justice and equality at its heart. A world we all need, and we all deserve.