Being pro-indy no excuse for shelving socialist politics

Foam finger politics: the SNP’s Labouresque policies will not win independence

by Ken Ferguson

· As we take this Voice to press, mainstream media and cyber space are awash with ever more fevered speculation about the formation of new alliances and perhaps parties set to contest the regional list ballot in next year’s Holyrood poll.

Apart from Union Jack George Galloway’s attempt to cobble together a pro-British slate with the Tories, the rest aim to win big on the regional list vote next year to win a big independence majority alongside the SNP.

At first look, this is potentially an attractive proposition aiming to unite all the pro-independence force around a single aim but in reality it is likely to prove fraught with obstacles.

Perhaps the first and most serious obstacle to such a strategy is the fact that it will not get house room from the SNP leadership irrespective of the maths that suggest it might deliver some extra pro-indy MSPs.

The SNP of today now stands on the same political territory and more importantly exercises the same degree of political dominance held—for decades—by Scottish Labour.

They will just not countenance any compromise or deviation that threatens that hard won position and will press on with their “both votes SNP” strategy.

SNP’s mildly centre-left menu
Socialists need to appreciate that the SNP now enjoys what Italian Marxist Gramsci termed a “hegemony” over the framework of ideas by which people make their political judgements and ultimately how they cast their votes.

Support not just for the SNP but their general mildly centre-left menu—again uncannily similar to that offered for decades by Labour—is now the “common sense” which sets the terms of political debate in today’s Scotland.

Against this background the rather elitist assumption that Scottish voters are simply voting fodder capable of being moved at will by whatever rickety coalition proclaims itself pro-independence simply exposes its own contradictions.

Leaving aside the personalities floated as part of such a grouping and the somewhat vague politics of its platform on central issues such as jobs, homes and health, the central difficulty it faces is the simple fact that May 2021 will be an election not a referendum.

They say that generals tend to fight the last war the were in but even there we have a fairly clear example of attempts to corral the second vote for indy in the less than successful example of RISE which aimed to do just that—with the support of this paper and the SSP—and failed miserably.

Most importantly the idea that independence will be a central motivator of voters actions ignores both the experiences of millions of living through the Covid-19 (C-19) crisis and the economic and social consequences flowing from it.

Before the crisis broke, tens of thousands of Scots faced poverty pay and insecure work, a chronic rented housing crisis, shredded public services thanks to austerity, racism and a response from the Holyrood administration which was at best often well-intentioned managerialism.

Yet peoples’ experience of the last five months has surely exposed just how inadequate the opinion poll-watching market led politics that dominates Westminster and Holyrood politics is not just to meet the Covid crisis but to take the decisive action to delver the fundamentally change towards a people before profit Scotland.

Central to this has been the direct intervention by the state spending billions on everything from furloughing jobs to housing the homeless and in the process putting to the sword the eternal defence of the wealthy that there is no money for such needs.

Meanwhile while humanity wrestles with C-19 across the planet, the resulting downturn of industrial activity, driving, air travel and so forth has dramatically demonstrated the reality of the human impact on the environment as air pollution falls and emissions are cut.

Within a few months of the Holyrood polls, the UN COP26 summit, postponed by C-19, is due to take place in Glasgow and there can be no doubt that dealing with the every escalating climate crisis makes a rejection of business as usual imperative.

We need a different ‘normal’
In any post C-19 world, we don’t need a new normal but a very different normal which is able to link dealing with the social and economic crisis created by the virus to the material interests of Scotland’s working class majority.

This requires what Norwegian campaigner Asbjorn Wahl has termed an “interest based struggle” which cuts emissions, creates well paid skilled work on the new technologies at existing workplaces such as the BiFab yards on the Forth and producing emission-free buses, energy-efficient homes and a range of other goods.

Such a programme can both meet the demand for real quality jobs and build the urgent work which is simply essential for human survival if the tipping point of climate change—now less than ten years away—is to be avoided.

Of course within this wider context, the Voice and the SSP will firmly back independence as the best route to implement fully such a radical plan but we cannot turn an election into a one-issue campaign but must boldly put a Socialist Green Recovery programme on the agenda now and at the 2021 polls.

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