Glare of war illuminates Westminster power play

cm-anti war demo-edinburgh-3 dec 2015-2

NOT IN OUR NAME: anti-war demo, Edinburgh, December 2015 (Photo: Craig Maclean)

Editorial by Ken Ferguson As the Voice went to press 66 Labour MPs voted with the Tories to send a handful of RAF bombers into action in Syria once again showing that the lessons of recent history in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya count for less than the aphrodisiac of the dregs of British imperial power. This even as Cameron’s “national unity” mask slipped as he smeared anti-war MPs as “terrorist sympathisers in line straight from the tabloid play book. In the world of those MPs who favour bombing, all evidence that this is a hollow strategy which will achieve only further innocent deaths in Syria and heighten the terrorist threat here is disregarded in the wider interest of shoring up a declining UK which “punches above its weight” in the world.

This is the same mindset that supports the insanity of squandering billions on a Trident replacement nuclear missile system which, if ever used, will murder millions and no doubt see the destruction of the UK.

As with the air strikes in Syria, the Trident replacement has little to do with defending the streets of London and Edinburgh but everything to do helping keep the British lion at the top table of the UN security council, NATO and so forth.

The rejection of these imperial politics of intervention and permanent war played an important part in delivering a 45 per cent Yes vote in 2014 and, as the inevitable failure of this latest intervention unfolds, it can only further strengthen the demand for a second independence referendum as Scotland is dragged into another war.

This is the reality of the much trumpeted “pooling and sharing” showcased by the Tory/Labour/Liberal/Project Fear coalition to keep Scotland inside the imperial union.

It is this same set up which has, as the pro-independence left warned, locked us into a policy of shrinking the state, slashing welfare and imposing some £12billion of cuts in services and jobs to, as the Osborne spin has it “balance the books”.

Of course while social care goes to the wall and benefits claimants are portrayed as lazy scroungers by the Tory press in its war on the poor war spending is boosted and the fat cats keep licking the cream.

What was clear to many on 18 September 2014 is now being driven home to both Yes and No voters by a Westminster elite who serve a narrow but powerful clique of City of London financiers and shape policy to serve them at the expense of all else.

This policy of putting money before people, driven by Thatcher 30 years ago, has seen swathes of industry closed and communities laid waste with the steelworkers in Lanarkshire the latest in the firing line.

The urgent question now is how can we break with the British policy of permanent war and endless austerity.

The summer hopes, raised by the Corbyn leadership victory, that there might be renewed British road to radical socialist change are increasingly called into question by the war of attrition being waged by MPs steeped in the politics of Blairism and cheered on by a universally hostile media.

Brutally put the evidence from opinion polls and real elections casts real doubts that a Westminster Labour victory represents a serious prospect of breaking with the Tory agenda and dealing with the crisis facing the majority of the people.

Certainly in Scotland the latest polls which put Labour virtually neck and neck with the detested Tories for next year’s Holyrood elections—surely the bitter fruits of their Better Together collaboration—sky writes the growing gulf between the rhetoric of Corbyn’s “new politics” and voters verdict on actually existing Scottish Labour.

In sharp contrast the SNP looks unassailable with record poll leads, success in by elections and of course a principled vote against war in Syria.

However while the party has faced difficult questions around the conduct of two MPs which has generated much media excitement from the usual suspects, bigger challenges are on the horizon including divisions on fracking, land reform and centrally how to deal with the impact of Holyrood’s share of the Osborne cuts.

The trap set by the unionists will be to demand that the Scottish Government use the very limited powers flowing from the Smith Commission to soften Osborne’s cuts and then attack them as “Tartan Taxers” if they do or heartless service cutters if they don’t.

At the heart of this lies the Sturgeon strategy of managerial competence and “standing up for Scotland” while parking a fresh independence challenge into the distance in the hope that this converts no voters to Yes.

The central weakness of this approach is that it becomes increasingly difficult to deliver with Westminster choking off the cash. More importantly it risks demobilising the broad Yes movement and turning the independence demand into an issue solely for the SNP.

It is against this background that RISE, Scotland’s Left Alliance with its clear commitment to a Scottish republic and a menu of policies aimed at tackling the economic, social and ecological crisis has a key role to play.

RISE’s aim must be to go all-out to win MSPs next May who reflect the economic priorities which put people before profit and put a renewed demand for independence breaking with the failed UK state to the forefront of politics.

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