Alastair Darling has said that charities that benefit hugely from the union, citing specifically the national lottery, which would be under threat in an independent Scotland. It’s unusual for an argument so easily put to bed to be trotted out with such pride by the Better Together campaign, so let’s examine just how ridiculous it is.
For a start, there’s the absent-minded message to all of us working in the voluntary sector “Just be thankful you have the lottery, otherwise there’d be no funding for you!” Way to value our work! Presumably Alastair can’t bring himself to tell us there’d be more money if we stay (not even the most patriotism-addled folk over at Better Together believe that) so he’s saying we’d lose the lottery funding. Would that be so bad? Movements like Radical Independence and the National Collective are making headway, with the rest of the YES campaign, in convincing people that a Yes vote would give us full fiscal control to shore up the social care we so badly need.
The lottery is a double-edged sword for the voluntary sector, one of the tools which gives even the most ardent capitalist some impossibilist food for thought. A game of chance, offering people a catapult to the most hollowed echelons of wealth, which happens to give out money to charitable causes. Nobody would tell you that the lottery is a bad thing in and of itself, but virtually everyone would tell you they’d prefer their project be funded through public money. The difference in status is a significant one, although one that’s increasingly been blurred in austerity where organisations previously working on projects funded through government have had to turn for match funding or outright funding from the lottery.
Even without the lottery being mentioned this shows the vapid, petit-bourgeois stupidity that Labour and the other Westminster parties now champion under the guise of ‘social justice.’ They couldn’t care less about the work done for people-they’re only faintly concerned with caring about the public sector, having proven in power that they’re comfortable with privatising large swathes of that. Neither do they recognise the complexity of the voluntary sector, from the vitality of community projects which might benefit from some big lottery funding to the major organisations which provide healthcare services for issues the public sector can’t or won’t take on right now. The former should be getting public funding anyway (otherwise we are pitting communities against one another) and the latter should be receiving funding comparable to the public sector to do its work.
The idea that the ‘social union’ is anything to be defended should have whichever dry-humoured yes-voting intern who mentioned it in the BT office promoted. Charities in England have seen their funding slashed and the voluntary sector turned over wholesale to social enterprises. This in the name of the Big Society, the Liberal/Tory dream of ensuring that markets can cater for the things that really matter (causes which tug at Midland swing-voters’ heart strings). If there’s a no vote nobody up here should be in any doubt that the voluntary sector as we know it will be wiped off the map. Being ‘Better Together’ means ‘doing more with less.’ We can look forward to seeing the last vestiges of an infrastructure cobbled together to work for the most marginalised people in our society, rendered lovingly down to nothing in the sake of inconsistent 0.3% GDP growth-another ‘difficult choice’ for Cameron and co. to win back potential UKIP voters.
Nobody with any idea about how the voluntary sector operates would claim that the loss of big lottery funding would be something to cry about. Sure-the money is nice, but it’s tainted and we should be looking for something better, more long-lasting, and cognizant of the humanity which voluntary organisations serve. Ideally, a thorough understanding of what we need to fund at the periphery of our public sphere, to help those people who are the most vulnerable in our society. The really vulnerable. Not the deserving poor-Alastair’s cronies’ latest political concoction south of the border.