Brexit or not, colossal battles lie ahead

JOBS? WAGES? POVERTY? there’s more to indy than ‘the democratic deficit’ that saw Scotland vote Remain while the UK voted Leave (Photo: Craig Maclean)

by Ken Ferguson

· Deal or no deal, Leave or Remain, whatever finally emerges from the Brexit drama, the sea of challenges facing working people will still offer poverty pay, housing shortages, insecure work and a society favouring the rich with austerity for the rest.

So despite all the energy, often youthful behind the Remain camp the hard reality is that the austerity, zero hours contracts, slashed services, poverty are all part of today’s Scotland which is, of course, as we go to press still in the EU.

As the Voice warned in 2016, the Leave position—although supported by sections of the Left—is dominated by reaction and has now arrived at a point where Johnson’s Tories have a double figures poll lead at UK level.

Plainly put, neither a Remain win, which involves accepting the EU’s market friendly economics, or a Tory-led Brexit, steeped in neo-Thatcherite anti-working class politics, will deliver any progress for working class people.

Faced with this, one of the key question facing Scotland’s working class must be how best not only to resist the attacks coming our way but how best to do this.

Social challenges key
As a long standing backer of independence, the Voice takes the view that for a Yes victory to be won, then the economic and social challenges facing Scotland’s working class majority need to be answered, and those answers need to be at the heart of a new independence drive.

It is therefore timely that the Radical independence Campaign’s conference is meeting later this month since, as we have made clear on a number of occasions, that the core policy of the dominant SNP, based on the Growth Commission’s austerity stance, is a vote loser.

Despite large scale indy demos and a dizzying Westminster political crisis now in its third year, polling shows only at best a modest Yes lead in any potential second referendum, underlining the urgent need for shaping an offer to win the crucial working class vote.

There can be little doubt that, on UK polling evidence, Johnson could fight and win a majority government and that such a government in keeping with its Trump like “Make Britain Great Again” bluster would prove an obdurate opponents of a second indy referendum.

Yet the same election could also see, alongside a Westminster Tory government, an enlarged SNP contingent perhaps up to 50 strong facing the Tories in the Commons with the likelihood that the group of 13 Tories from last time having been decimated.

How the ensuing political impasse can be broken is surely the central question which is likely to face us in the coming months and its outcome is likely to prove decisive.

Key to reaching a successful conclusion will be building a movement which takes the demand for independence and unites it with demands and actions which address issues of wider concern including poverty, the climate crisis, housing and a myriad of other pressing questions.

The key here will be that word “movement” which while recognising the key role of the SNP and other elected pro-independence politicians must build something like the diversity that existed in the run up to 2014.

Only by clearly linking immediate concerns on such issues to the transformational possibilities of independence can such a movement be built.

The aim must be a mighty peoples’ movement, the existence of which both strengthens elected pro-independence figures and at the same time, by its energy and example, moves them to much more Left and progressive offer capable of involving thousands of working class voters currently under the cosh of austerity.

The increasingly yawning gap between the horrors resulting from a quasi racist free market extremist Tory Westminster and the potential of the very different consensus expressed by the majority of Scots voters urgently need to find a campaigning expression.

In this as in other aspects of the way forward many questions are posed. Is another Yes campaign either possible or indeed desirable?

What would form the core case of any pro-independence campaign? In 2014 the Scottish Government White Paper was overtaken by events and in many aspects was more a hindrance than a help.

Commission opposition
It seems highly unlikely the SNP’s Growth Commission, which has attracted widespread opposition across the wider indy movement, can form a basis of any united campaign but some basis or structure is an absolute priority to make progress.

Amidst the soap opera of Brexit, it is essential that we keep sight of the simple fact that the creaky neoliberal politics which saved the banks and visited austerity on the rest of us is increasingly rejected by voters.

Dealing with the fallout, the social, ecological and democratic need to be at the core of the case for transforming Scotland from today’s impoverished state to an independent, democratic republic putting people and planet at its core.

As we are constantly told, “the clock is ticking,” lets build the movement that can ensure our time comes.

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