|"Let's gear our society to social need, not personal greed."|
The death of Jimmy Reid (above) has produced the predictable eulogies extolling his socialist principles and consistent morality from many of those driven by motives far removed from Jimmy's beliefs. The hypocrisy of politicians and journalists praising Jimmy Reid when their own opportunistic actions and utterances are so at variance with his ideals is sickening. In his famous Glasgow University rectorial address in 1972, Jimmy Reid famously stated that the "a rat race is for rats" and one must wonder what sort of creatures our astonishingly greedy multimillionaire bankers are.
Reading this rightly acclaimed speech, it is extraordinary to recall that it was delivered almost 40 years ago, for the greed exposed and the inability, or unwillingness, of our political masters to curb the excesses of capitalists is now worse and more blatent than it was in 1972. Bankers who created the global recession continue to enjoy unwarranted massive salaries topped up with unearned bonuses even when those banks are effectively owned, like the Royal Bank of Scotland, by the State (ie you and me). Similarly, company directors give themselves obscene salary increases while politicians bewail such greed, but do nothing to curb it.
The Prime Minister and his acolytes proclaim their mission to improve social mobility and deplore the poverty in which so many live, yet their actions to date have only increased the burdens of the growing numbers of the poor while doing nothing to curb the greed of the rich. Indeed, it is just as simple for the rich to evade taxation as it ever was, while the companies they control find ever more simple ways to locate in tax havens to avoid paying tax in the U.K. Even wealthy footballers are helped to find ways of minimising tax on their earnings through tax avoidance trust funds held overseas.
Moreover, as we all know, politicians who could curb these excesses are only too keen to play games to top up their already generous salaries, as evidenced by the Westminster MPs' expenses scandal and the generous pensions and severance payments they award themselves. Of course, many of these politicians state that they have done nothing illegal, as though they have no moral responsibility for their actions! Nor do these immoral games stop at Westminster. The merry games which Glasgow councillors have played in ensuring their councillor salaries are topped up with payments as directors of 'arms-length' companies (previously run directly by Glasgow City Council) may be perfectly legal, but the morality of such payments is another matter.
How saddened Jimmy Reid must have been to witness the fact that the political, social and economic environment which he railed against in his rectorial address has steadily worsened in the last 40 years. Yet despite this accelerating decay of moral values, these words of Jimmy Reid remain as true today as when they were spoken in 1972:
"Let's gear our society to social need, not personal greed. Given such creative re-orientation of society, there is no doubt in my mind that in a few years we could eradicate in our country the scourge of poverty, the underprivileged, slums and insecurity."
We urgently need the honest will of politicians to realise Jimmy's vision, and surely only a socialist programme can bring this about. No more crocodile tears, no more cynicism, no more hypocrisy; we all need leaders with the consistent honesty and compassion which Jimmy Reid demonstrated in his life.