Memory Lane has no answers to Scotland’s current crisis
Doom and disaster are predicted by both sides with the unlikely narrative from the Eurosceptic right portraying the likes of Boris Johnston as a home counties Braveheart dug in to repel interfering eurocrats at the white cliffs.
The reality of course is that, despite some elements of left support, Brexit is largely a project of the hard right and the EU debate is largely between two versions of hard nosed free market capitalism neither of which has anything to offer working people born without silver spoons.
Then just as we all were getting back into the mood, another familiar tune wafted in on the breeze—that old favourite “You jocks are skint and far too poor for independence”.
Of course the chorus was lustily picked up by the spoon-fed scribes of the unionist media as they drooled over figures supposedly demonstrating a “black hole” in Scotland finance which would, had we voted Yes, have led to cuts and sackings.
As usual few if any were able to wipe their union jack specs long enough to notice that what they were describing was exactly what has been happening in the UK since the crash of 2008 under the leadership of unionist politicians, whether Labour, Tory or Lib Dem.
Like large swathes of the world the UK lives on tick despite sunshine stories from Cameron and Osborne about “balancing the books”.
Of course the unionists were besides themselves with glee claiming the figures demonstrated the truth of their dismal predictions on the outcome of independence with the Herald even treating us to the chilling spectacle of Tory chieftain Ruth Davidson astride a tank with union jack fluttering.
Readers were not told if the tank was British or, like the “independent” nuclear missiles, on rental from the US. However if the black hole was welcomed by the Better Together team it posed some issues for the SNP government and Nicola Sturgeon which was why she teamed up with finance minister Swinney to announce them in a high tech setting.
The plan was to take the apparently bad news head on and, amidst a setting that stressed modernity and progress, point to a brighter future. It won’t convince the once fascist-supporting Daily Mail, but it might change the subject.
For the wider independence movement however there are dangers not in the announcement itself but in how the SNP react to it.
There have already been briefings that the SNP will not include a second referendum in its May manifesto and will leave that power in the hands of the London Tories, rendering talk of it being ‘unstoppable’ with Brexit simply hot air and spin.
The Yes movement, already greatly demobilised since 2014, now stands at a crossroads and a choice between managing devolution into the far future with an SNP government or reinvigorating the campaign for independence.
Of course the first option is attractive and looks certain, in May, to yet again return an SNP majority government in Holyrood. The question however is—what then?
The real danger is that Holyrood becomes a mini-Westminster and, with the independence alternative road closed, implements cuts dictated by a right wing Tory government in Westminster mitigated by some of the new limited devolved powers.
The signs that this essentially managerial approach will prevail are already on show. The totally avoidable tendering of CalMac ferries which threatens jobs, vital services and public control was pushed on the pretence that it was compulsory under EU. It isn’t and that point has now been established by RMT legal advice. It still went ahead.
Likewise the privatisation of the non-domestic services of Scottish Water—kept in public ownership in the teeth of Thatcher—was celebrated with a photocall on the steps of the First Minister’s Bute House residence. The same fate befell ScotRail trains who are now in public ownership only of the Dutch and not Scottish public with the award of the service to Abellio.
Most significantly however has been the screeching U-turn which has kept the Tory designed Council Tax in place despite 20 years of promising to axe it.
Independence supporters need to smell the coffee and understand that there has been little or no campaign on independence since 2014 and there is now a real danger of the issue going on the back burner with the gas turned off.
That’s why the call by RISE for a determined campaign to win the power over the calling of an independence referendum to Holyrood—reported elsewhere in this Voice—is vital.
RISE MSPs would table a resolution supporting this in Holyrood if elected but it would also need a relaunched broad Yes movement which takes on the issues that lost the last indyref and sets about the work of winning an independence majority.
New red/green solutions are needed to deal with the challenges facing Scotland not a continuation of pro-capitalist business as usual whoever is in power.
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