by Ken Ferguson
· This Voice goes to press amidst amidst a growing tide of concern among both the public and governments about the scale, spread, health implications and wider social impact of a possible Covid-19 pandemic.
So serious is the potential health and economic damage that it even flushed the elusive Premier Johnson into the open to brief the population via the media and forced the Dominic Cummings-inspired embargo on ministers appearing on the Today programme to end.
Of course, Voice readers will fully back the drive to contain and defeat the virus and in particular offer our support and solidarity to those in front line of the NHS and related services.
We also fully back the demand that all workers laid off as a consequence of the battle with Covid-19 should receive their wages in full and not be asked to take a cut in their pay if workplaces close or they have to self isolate.
However without in any way minimising the scale of this crisis and the need to deal with it the fact remains that the many faceted crisis will not go away and the “all in it together” rhetoric applied by ministers will not extend to the many challenges and battles elsewhere.
No Tory mandate in Scotland
There is no substitute for plain speaking in the face of this reality and the fact remains that here in Scotland we are still at the mercy of a hard line Tory government with no mandate from Scots voters which shows increasing signs of moving away from the “One Nation” pitch of December’s election.
Under the cloak of the Rasputin clone Dominic Cummings an all out war is waged on everything which stands in the way of the ultra free market deregulated economy with Free Ports, a bonfire of regulations on food, environment and the already pitifully weak workers’ rights. All this amounts to zombie return to the unfettered free market mania of the Thatcher years.
Meanwhile the strategy to sell this rations appearances by the former publicity hungry Prime Minister to appearances in which he makes anodyne sub-Trump boasts about the wonders of his NHS spending and the wickedness of the EU.
And of course amidst the Priti Patel row with her top Mandarin Sir Philip Rutman who is now taking her to court over bullying, we had the news that Johnson and his partner Carrie Symonds are due to become parents later this year. A happy coincidence?
This row follows close on the heels of the resignation of Sajid Javid as Chancellor after he lost a power struggle with Cummings all lifting the curtain on the tension in the Tory administration under the bravado provided by the election majority.
Here in Scotland the most obvious flashpoint with Downing Street is the stonewall refusal to concede any second Indyref in the face of the heavy Tory losses in December.
This in itself has had a knock on impact both in the SNP and the wider Yes movement with spats such as the Cherry vs Robertson fight and a string of “insiders” leaking their different versions of the tensions in the once SNP monolith.
And then there is the looming Salmond trial which, on past experience, is likely to end badly whatever the outcome.
Faced with the developing crisis the case for a break with the UK and a move to an independent Scotland should now be streets ahead rather than bobbing about in the just Yes or just No as it is.
Like the SSP, the Voice has warned for months now that if a second referendum is to be forced out of Westminster and, crucially, a Yes vote won, mass majority support will be essential.
It is increasingly clear that achieving this goal is not going to happen without an reinvigorated mass Yes movement which takes in all Yes parties and the wider progressive activist base with a real vision of change which can energise the movement.
It is this belief which led the Voice to reject the neoliberal austerity implicate in so called Growth Commission and endorse a programme put forward by the SSP to link immediate demands to building confidence and support for Yes.
This was spelt out after the party’s recent National council by party co-spokesperson Colin Fox, who said:
“The SSP is convinced Scotland’s working class majority holds the key to delivering that extra support the Yes movement requires. And we firmly believe the policy initiatives we have announced will make all the difference in 2020.”
The SSP’s five policy priorities
The SSP’s policy making National Council agreed five policy priorities for this year:
• To press ahead with our increasingly successful campaign for a minimum wage set at two thirds male median earnings, now £12 an hour
• To secure majority support in Scotland for independence
• To deliver housing justice for the many Scots living in accommodation that is either inadequate for their needs or far too expensive with a massive council house building programme
• Step up our campaigns for public ownership of key utilities such as our public transport provision, the renewables sector and our energy industries
• To work with others in the many COP26 climate justice forums to tackle the climate emergency with our socialist case for collective action putting people and planet before profit
Fox added: “The absolute priority of ensuing a majority of pro-indy MSPs in 2021 makes the return of SSP members one of the key priorities both for us as a party and the interests of the broad Yes movement.”