AH, gay Paris. The city of love. The city of light. The city of overturned police cars burning through the night. We could all learn a little something from the current unrest in France – particularly while our own government shows such gleeful disregard toward the lives of its citizens.

Certainly, across the Channel, there is an expectation and recognition that unpopular measures have consequences in the forms of strike action and political unrest. Government austerity measures, economic inequality and police violence have all been the catalysts for mass protest across France in the last few years alone.

Well before the flames were lit in Paris and Bordeaux, the French government was already facing waves of rolling strike action over plans to raise the retirement age by two years. But it was Emmanuel Macron’s decision to invoke article 49.3, pushing through his controversial pension reforms without the need for a parliamentary vote, that really struck the first match.

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To quote Martin Luther King, riots are “the language of the unheard” – and the French government has resolutely set itself to stopping their ears to the voices of its citizens.

In contrast to France, however, the United Kingdom seems content to allow the Conservatives to tear down all that remains with little more than the sound of many tongues a-tutting. Yes, there has been successful strike action in the UK. But nothing that reaches the scale and power that the people of France regularly wield against their own government.

After well over a decade of continuous right-wing rule, our public services are in a dire position. Our own retirement age is already significantly higher than even the proposed new age in France, and rising further. Trade unions, minority groups and asylum seekers are regularly scapegoated. And to top it off, the UK Government has made its own authoritarian mark through its invocation of a Section 35 order to override the democratic wishes of the Scottish Parliament.

The National: File photo dated 29/04/21 of the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood in Edinburgh, as a mobile "Parliament bus" which would visit rural parts of Scotland is among a number of suggestions from a citizens' panel to make Holyrood more

In short, we have tolerated above and beyond what our neighbours would have ever allowed to happen without challenge – and we’re all the worse for it.

Boris Johnson demonstrated to his colleagues that there was near no lie, offence or indignity that would not be tolerated and forgotten by the press and public, and the party’s desperate lurch ever further right is the consequence.

I suspect much of this comes from a difference in national outlooks. The youth of France have been raised in a nation that is quick to down tools and march when the call comes. Britain, in contrast, is a cesspit of classism and deference that lets the worst of its populace mask injustice with a clipped, upper class accent. We’ve been raised in a culture that treats political action and trade unionism as something almost embarrassing; that to believe in better is, in some way, a childish principle to be eschewed at the earliest moment.

READ MORE: Violent French pension protests erupt as 1 million demonstrate

Which leads to the logical fallacy of relative privation – wherein concerns over poor working conditions and stagnating wages are dismissed because, in theory it could be worse. This miserablism has been core to arguments against improving conditions in the UK for years.

On a nationwide level, it takes the form of folk south of the Border attacking Scotland for having state-funded prescriptions, eyecare and dentistry that isn’t available in England. On a trade union level, it takes the form of maligning strike action because the wages of union members are better than some non-unionised workplaces.

Rather than attacking Scotland, critics should be asking why their government isn’t funding their own healthcare. Instead of attacking striking union workers, they should be asking why their own workplaces are failing them.

Instead of pointing out that France’s pension age is already significantly lower than our own, we should be asking why ours is so high in comparison. It is perhaps BECAUSE of the fact that French citizens are so ready to fight back against the state that their age of retirement has not spiralled ever higher and higher already.

We deserve to ask for better for ourselves; not to hand wave away the prospect of well-funded services and fair working conditions with grumblings of “it’s better than nothing”. Because that mentality is only ever a race to the bottom in declining standards, until “nothing” is all that is left.

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Now, that isn’t to say that we should be readying the bricks for the nearest Starbucks window already. But our governments do need to be reminded of the power of the working class, as do the institutions that have been reduced to asking for less than what we deserve.

If the best that the Trade Unions Congress can muster is a minimum wage of £15 by 2030, then we must ask more of the congress. If the best the next SNP leader can promise is to allow the UK Government to override our democracy without challenge, then we must ask more of our leaders in Scotland.

If the best the UK Government can offer is more economic policies that strip our wealth, our land and our resources from us to be given to those already surrounded with abundance, then we must ask more of them too.

And when we are not heard, we must stop asking.