Socialism and independence or Tory barbarism to the far horizon

TORIES: the danger is that they win again and once more impose Tory minority rule on a Scotland that never voted for them

by Ken Ferguson • It’s official, revealed by none other than Chancellor Hammond, falling wages and service cuts alongside housing shortages, health cuts, insecure work and falling benefits will be the order of the day for years under unelected Premier May.

Where now we might wonder are her conference promises about the Tories as the workers’ friend taking on big business and protecting the vulnerable?

As the Voice warned at the time they are simply sound bites and spin aimed at glossing over the brutal reality of life under a Tory UK minority government which is, for Scots voters, the price of remaining part of a “pooling and sharing” neoliberal UK.

The need to develop and popularise a programme which offers a real alternative on jobs, living standards, health and housing breaking with the failed idea that the market will solve these problems is now urgent and the key both to rebuffing the attacks on living standards and winning any Indyref 2.

Events across the planet give ever more ominous warnings of the dangers that will result if the progressive left fails in this task with the election of the revolting, bigoted Donald J Trump as US President on a heady mix of prejudice and the cynical exploitation of the concerns of workers made jobless by globalisation.

The neoliberal policy choices which ditched workers interests are not confined to the US but were largely followed by the US democrats, Blair’s New Labour, social democrats in Scandinavia, Germany, Spain and Greece opening the door to right wing populists from Farage to his soul mate Le Pen.

Almost exactly 100 years ago amongst the blood and carnage of the imperialist world war the famous socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg posed the choice facing humanity as between socialism or barbarism.

Then the challenge was the carnage of war now that is joined by low wages, underemployment, lack of housing, a mammoth refugee crisis and a gathering environmental crisis which menaces our very survival.

Here in Scotland the once mighty Labour Party has been humbled by the twin blows of New Labour’s policies which shunned their working class base and the fatal error of backing the Tories in the 2014 No campaign.

We now face an SNP government which has prioritised Brexit and reduced independence to a tactical option in those negotiations.

The Tory party which, having driven Labour into third place, is trying to repackage its long toxic brand in a tartan wrapper and can pose a real danger.

The resulting politics are seeing the SNP coming under pressure on day to day policies such a failing railway, council cuts and the NHS crisis while in a battle which can only lead to falling popularity.

This is a politics fraught with danger in a Scotland struggling to realise the progressive vision of the mass movement built around the 2014 Yes campaign which backed independence as a route out of the Westminster dead end to a politics making people and planet the priority over profit.

With Labour facing further defeats in next year’s council elections and the pressure building on the SNP on day to day issues the proposal to relaunch the Yes campaign is a welcome development.

However it would be foolish to think that winning any second referendum is anything other than a huge and difficult challenge.

Obviously the SNP will be central both to calling and campaigning in any Indyref 2 but the paradox is that post September 2014 a large section of the Yes social movement transferred into the SNP making it a party campaign.

Two things flow from this new situation. Firstly the SNP will need to take care to avoid Yes 2 becoming simply the SNP with some add ons from other parties and non-party supporters. Despite their dominance at Holyrood and Westminster the party cannot win an Indyref on its own.

Secondly the urgent need is to actually campaign for independence without waiting for a second referendum to be called. Necessarily such a campaign must be pluralist and cannot be confined by any demands presented by the Scottish Government.

A clear example of this is the question of currency where, for many Yes supporters the idea of keeping the pound in a currency union would be a hard sell.

Scotland faces a range of issues from the future of the North Sea, the desperate need for thousands of homes for rent, public ownership of railways and buses, eye watering council cuts and a gathering NHS crisis where only radical alternative policies can solve the problems.

A broad movement campaigning boldly for independence with a clear programme of change on big issues such as pay, workers rights, free public transport, and end to council cuts and moving towards a Basic Income in place of means testing can turn the 45 per cent into a majority.

It is this type of programme that is urgently needed to link independence unbreakably with a campaign for real change for the other Scotland that is desperately needed.

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