by Ken Ferguson
· Both literally and metaphorically, the world is in flames, with fires largely lit by human greed, inspired by the market madness of neoliberalism.
Real conflagrations in the Amazon, an escalating US/Russia arms race raising the spectre of nuclear war, fabulous high tech sitting alongside a savagery that drowns refugees while across the planet the rich elite fill their boots as the majority face poverty, insecurity and want.
And overshadowing the entire picture is the ever growing menace of climate change brought to the front of people’s minds by the mass actions of youth across the globe and hammered home by fires, floods, melting glaciers, pollution and heatwaves.
All now recognised as caused by the actions of humans in a relentless quest for profit.
Yet amidst this deadly danger, the UK, which Scots voted to endorse five years ago, is led by a man who behind a Bertie Woosterish upper-class-twit persona is the most dangerous right wing Prime Minister since the detested Thatcher.
Pitiless neoliberal regime
And it is of vital importance to understand that behind the jolly japes, outright lies and mock clownishness and the chummy self promotion—swallowed whole by a supine media—of ‘Boris’ stands a committed guardian and supporter of the pitiless regime of neoliberalism.
His backing of the politics and economics of the far right view espoused by his No.10 fixer Dominic Cummings and his mentor and Trump tutor Steve Bannon is carefully planned and has as its central objective entrenching the idea that the market is all powerful.
Of course in reality such a policy will only intensify the exploitation, poverty and austerity confronting millions and therefore will be kept under the wraps of populist sound bites about wicked EU fat cats, Dunkirk-style pluck and general bluster.
Of course at the heart of this lies the dominating Brexit struggle where the new PM has adopted a scorched earth “out by 31 October” policy and simply asserts that it will all be fine.
The arm-twisting and back-stabbing on the Remain side of the argument stands in sharp contrast to the apparently united Brexit forces and, as we take the Voice to press, is reflected by a growing poll lead for the Tories.
The coming weeks will show if a Remain alliance can be built but with the shrill rejection of Corbyn by new Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson and her ultra-unionist hostility to the SNP alongside a Labour demand that Johnson be voted out in the Commons and Corbyn act as a interim PM it looks like a challenging task.
Of course the real danger is that the Tories achieve Brexit and call and win a UK general election while Scotland returns a big SNP majority and once again Scotland faces a hard line Tory government they didn’t vote for but are handcuffed to by the 2014 No vote.
Of course we have been here before. Through the Thatcher years which saw devastation, closures and mass unemployment Scots voted Labour and got Tories. Indeed it was Alex Salmond who labelled the then 50 LabourMPs as the “feeble fifty” for their lack of fight.
Such an outcome must surely pose a major challenge to the SNP, other independence parties and the broad Yes movement.
Just accepting the legitimacy of the new Tory administration and its right wing social and economic policies would constitute a fatal blow to the independence cause.
Pressure for an indyref2 will mount, particularly since the claimed mandate of the current Holyrood SNP/Green majority expires at the 2021 elections.However although the call for indyref2 seems straightforward it will not be simple re-run of 2014.
First of all in or out of the EU issue just wasn’t present in 2014 but needs to be dealt with in any campaign this time around. The Voice view in the 2016 EU poll was one of Remain as the lesser of two evils but, as seems likely, Brexit happens before an election what then?
Given that an estimated third of Yes voters in 2014 voted Brexit it would seem sensible in any Yes campaign to de-couple the two issues with a referendum now about independence leaving re-joining the EU to be determined post independence.
However if that seems relatively achievable the content of any Yes offer is likely to prove much more problematic. Last time out the SNP government produced a weighty tome as a basis of its case but the upsurge of grassroots groups pushed the indy vision to the left.
This time the SNP is lined up behind the so called “Growth Commission” with its austerity laden pledges on public spending cuts. Indeed when the latest GERS figures recently showed an ongoing spending deficit SNP leaders boasted that they could cut it in three years!
The Voice and the SSP rejects this approach as both wrong in principle and most importantly incapable of winning the support of working class Scotland which remains the absolute central need for victory.
Whether or not a second Yes Scotland emerges, any independence campaign must offer a vision of a renewed Scotland which creates jobs with real action on climate change re-skilling work, rebuilding communities, building homes and putting people and planet first.
One way of achieving this suggested by the SSP is creating a common programme of demands for change which might offer a basis for a progressive indy offer. It is certainly worth considering.