by Ken Ferguson
· As the Voice goes to press, the Brexit extension has been agreed by the EU and Johnson has got his desired general election, amidst much ducking and diving on dates and self-justifying reasons why the recently unthinkable became the way ahead.
On the available evidence, for opposition parties, this look perilously close to turkeys voting for Xmas, particularly for Labour who are currently trailing the Tories.
For the SNP, there are likely to be significant gains but this could amount to a hollow victory if 50 or so SNP MPs face off with a Johnson majority government firmly refusing indyref2 after an election they backed. That’s why, whatever the outcome in December, pro-independence voters and the wider Yes movement will face major challenges if they are to make progress.
In Scotland the near obsession with Brexit by key sections of the pro-independence movement has sidelined the vital task of building the indy case and runs the risk of dividing the Yes forces.
Let there be no doubt—the Voice stands four-square with the Yes movement, as does the SSP but this does not compel us to stay silent on the way the indy case can be built and in particular how a Yes offer capable of winning the key working class vote can be constituted.
Brexit’s hard truths
Firstly on Brexit some hard truths need to be faced. The 2014 No vote firmly kept Scotland in the UK, which in turn voted Leave in 2016, and despite three years of debate, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Brexit will happen.
Even though Scotland voted Remain, an estimated third of 2014 Yes voters voted Leave and finding a position capable of reuniting the Yes vote is essential.
Given that any indyref looks likely to take place in a Brexited Britain, the issue will then be to decide whether or not to rejoin the EU and probably embrace the Euro the approach must be to decouple independence from the EU question.
Not only is this politically wise, it confronts what is likely to be the material reality in which any Yes vote will take place.
On the wider issue of first winning the power for a second referendum and the case it will be fought on, again, there is some hard thinking to do if victory is to be won.
Only a starry-eyed idealist will believe that a Boris Johnson government will grant the section 30 power to hold a legal vote—so how is this to be overcome?
Only a mass people’s movement which is built around linking the solution of the challenges facing Scottish voters to independence can build the public pressure to make the Tories think again.
Again, the reality of the austerity-laden Growth Commission, embraced by the SNP but widely rejected by much of the Yes movement, far from being a basis for victory, is a potentially divisive vote loser.
It is past time that the Yes movement toughened up and took the field to build a diverse pluralist movement which dispenses with shadow boxing and squarely faces the essential need to link the democratic indy case to its ability to solve the sea of problems facing working class Scotland.
Whatever else the Scottish voters think, they have demonstrated that they reject the right wing, pro-market profit-over-all-else policies of the Tories, from Thatcher, Major, Cameron, May and Johnson.
Despite decades of promising that progressive ideas can be implemented through Westminster, the result time after time has been Labour failures followed by years of Tory minority rule imposing closures, the poll tax, bedroom tax and a host others on Scots who rejected them.
All the polling evidence suggests that the Corbyn surge is likely to face defeat, and once again Scotland will face a Tory government which they didn’t elect. It is past time that we broke with the sterile idea that the creaking UK can deliver the kind of changes that are needed and take the indy road.
However if this is to be achieved we will need to take the wide range of policy ideas, think tanks and seminars and translate them into concrete, easily sold ideas that voters support and see as relevant and make the link between independence and what it can be used for.
It’s been done before with the French revolution’s ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’, Lenin’s ‘Peace, Land, Bread’ and 1945 Labour’s ‘Let Us Face the Future.’
Essentially, independence needs to be linked with convincing voters—centrally working class voters—that this is the route to permanently end Tory rule and utilise the power of democracy to fashion a politics which puts money at the service of people and planet, and not as their masters.
Action for change
To achieve this means hammering out a programme of demands on key issues such as housing, wages, tackling the climate crisis, insecure work and the PFI scandal.
Such a programme should be sharp, comprehensible and capable of catching the eye of voters and, through building support for action for change, also builds support for the means to achieve the change they imply—independence.
The last three years of manoeuvre, rebellion, angry speeches on parliaments green benches has been compelling viewing for the engaged but has also shunted politics onto a single track, largely ignoring the myriad of issues facing people.
The stark lessons are all there to be seen. Either Scotland breaks with pseudo democrat Westminster and risks being prisoner of a parliament normally run by governments we don’t support, or break with the UK and back independence.