Interview by Matt Dobson. Posted 23rd April 2012
Membership of the Socialist Party Scotland has been increasing significantly recently as interest in socialist ideas grows as a result of the capitalist crisis, savage cuts and austerity. One of the newest recruits to the Socialist Party Scotland, Richard Neville from Erskine (centre of picture), explained to us why he became a socialist.
What experiences made you political ?
“Well the workfare issue was the straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak. I work in retail on a 16 hour per week contract being told that “we only do 16 hour contracts” by the company. I survive by picking up extra hours each week. Suddenly the government are offering “work experience” which is essentially unpaid labour and my company can offer 30 hour “work experience” contracts!
“Before workfare there had been a build up of issues. My local library was closed, rent and utility bills rising faster than my pay, friends struggling to find work and unable to move out from their parent’s house, working full time and still being on government benefits to be able to provide for my family. All of these are issues that are affecting me and millions of others directly, so I feel that we all have to speak up and say enough is enough.”
Why did you join the Socialist party?
“I don't think anyone who actually thinks about it could come to any other conclusion than socialism.
“Should we build more social housing? Should we have a living minimum wage? Should the top third of households earn three quarters of the wealth in this country?
“The answer to these questions is obvious, yet every four years we vote in a government that does nothing to represent the views of ordinary people.
“The government pretend we have a voice but when I speak to friends and colleagues about voting they just shrug and say “what’s the point, nothing is going to change”. The government are busy listening to the millionaires and companies that donate money to their campaigns. This system can’t be right.
“I joined the Socialist party because I believe that we cannot go on paying for the mistakes of the banks.
“We all know how the Tories feel about the working class and Labour had their chance in 97 and showed that they are just as out of touch with reality.
“We need a truly working class party that represents the views of the majority of workers, not the companies that employ them. “We need to build the manufacturing industries back up. We need a real social housing program. We need our elected officials to be subject to open public scrutiny and subject to recall if necessary. We need a real alternative to the cuts that the main parties are happy to inflict upon us. We need to demand a socialist future.”
As a new USDAW rep, why is it important people get active in trade unions?
“Unions are there to represent the members. Becoming active, whether that is attending branch meetings, voting for the leadership or simply talking to a rep, is a way of getting your voice heard within the workplace.
“It’s not just grievance proceedings, your union will help you organise for better pay and working conditions, as well as deal with any health and safety issues. We also need to let our unions know how we feel about their policies and decisions.
“Bosses only care about their profits. They won’t just suddenly give you a better deal because it’s the right thing to do. The only way you can win a fairer deal is to organise and fight for it.”