by Ken Ferguson • Missiles fly, state sponsored racism is uncovered, Westminster’s McVey backs the rape clause, and overhanging it all, the Empire fantasises of the hard Tory extremists set the mood music.
Welcome to the Tory United Kingdom endorsed at the 2014 independence referendum—and probably more of a nightmare than any Yes voter could have imagined.
However, the one good thing about nightmares is that you can wake up from them and shake them off and this is surely the urgent need of the moment—the question being: how?
The upsurge of Corbynism after Labour lost last year’s general election less badly than predicted fuelled a wave of optimism that, allied to a woeful series of Tory debacles, the May government would collapse and Labour sweep to power.
Welcome as the renewed interest in socialist ideas is, the Voice has consistently warned that we face, in the Tories, one of the most experienced and tenacious ruling classes on the planet, who will not be easy to defeat.
Well, if a week is long time in politics, three months is like an eternity during which the Tories have contrived to stifle dissent over Brexit and put on a surface show of unity.
The nerve agent attack in Salisbury and bombing of Syria allowed May to take on the mantle of national leader and, of course, the Tories love all things military and warlike.
In contrast, the deep divisions on the Labour benches—which we have spotlighted many times—are once again apparent, indicating the immense difficulties that these represent in constructing a united challenge to the Tories.
This is reflected in recent polls where Labour and the Tories are neck and neck and May is outperforming Corbyn in popularity. The outcome of upcoming English council elections will be crucial in how this unfolds.
As we have said, before all the evidence, both electoral and political, is that a strategy which envisages a British road to socialist change is at best very risky and at worse a delusion.
The Tories have now been in power for nearly 8 years and the danger is not that they lose to Labour but they win again and once more impose Tory minority rule on a Scotland that never voted for them, as during the long years of the Thatcher regime.
Indeed it was that bitter experience with it closures sacking and the hated Poll Tax which made the demand for a Scottish Parliament to provide a bulwark against such a scenario unstoppable.
And it was the rejection of Tory austerity and the callous abuses of claimants, service cuts and a feeding frenzy for the rich which helped build the Yes vote in 2014.
It was then and remains now the view of the Voice that the surest route to real change and a people-not-profit Scotland lies through an independent Scotland where a majority for change can be built.
However, before such change can be won, it is imperative that Scotland’s working class majority is won to support the linkage between independence and real change which will make a positive difference in their lives.
It is this political imperative that should be the key consideration, rather than an auction about when any second indyref might take place.
Certainly in policy terms, the latest leaks that the SNP high command are planning to endorse the neoliberal New Zealand economic model as a template for Scotland indicate that they have learned little from 2014.
Elsewhere in this Voice, we carry a report from New Zealand outlining the reality of neoliberalism there—and it is not a pretty picture.
Another factor missing in 2014 is the massive issue of Brexit, which has seen both the SNP and Greens acting as uncritical cheerleaders for the EU, with the latter committed to rejoining it after independence.
This of course rather ignores the fact that a large slab of Yes voters backed Brexit, and that means that any future Yes campaign will need to take that reality into account in shaping a pro-independence case.
It is against this background that the Voice has organised a discussion Forum on the topic, ‘How can working people benefit from leaving the European Union?’
Drawing on a range of speakers and viewpoints which we will report in a later Voice issue, we will look at prospects for public ownership of services such as railways, scope for public intervention and ownership in areas such as the developing green technology—here, unions estimate a million jobs could be created UK-wide.
Central to the event is the need to prepare for Brexit and to shape independent working class and socialist demands as part of this process.
So far, the Brexit process has been treated as largely a discussion by different bits of the capitalist elites with any regard to working people confined to sound bites and posturing.
Without doubt, we will face challenges post-Brexit but for socialists and the Labour Movement this has always been the case. For example, exhausted by a six-year war against fascism, we went on to transform Britain and forge the NHS.
What is clear is that working class people, parties and organisations cannot be passive bystanders but must take the field with their own demands and campaign vigorously to ensure they win.