As a Socialist I believe in internationalism and solidarity. I believe that a united working class across the UK offers the best hope of permanently defeating neo liberalism and the capitalist model that spawned it. The working class is truly “Better Together”. When will we wake up and realise that the power is really with us? If we united in solidarity to make the aims of Socialism a reality, we could sweep this evil system that sees 1.5 BILLION of our fellow travellers in this life live on under a dollar a day away in the blink of an eye?
If Scotland votes “Yes” on Thursday no one on the Left should be under any illusion that Scotland will overnight be rid of the terrible social problems wrought on the country via de industrialisation and generations of neglect by the Tories. Indeed the Child Action Poverty Action Group said the following in August this year, “there will be massive rises in poverty in the coming years. In Scotland alone up to 100 000 children will be pushed into poverty by 2020. The latest 2012/13 figures already show an increase in child and whole population poverty”. (Source CPAG briefing Aug 20th) These figures are in addition to the 220,000 children already living below the poverty line. This is 22% of all kids in Scotland. In Denmark, an equivalent economy, the figure is below 10%.
Health inequality will not be solved overnight by a “Yes” vote. A report by Audit Scotland in 2012 stated, ” Health inequalities are long-standing and entrenched in Scotland largely because of deprivation” (Reported by the BBC 13/12/12).
A look at UK wages shows that all but three constituencies in Scotland report take home pay is below the national average. In addition there are a quarter of a million Scots stating that they are under employed. (Guardian Data Blog June 2014). This will not change with a “Yes” vote. None of us should hold out any hope that Salmond, a former oilman and Banker will act in the interests of anything other than capital. That quote of James Connolly about just replacing one capitalist flag and set of accents for another must be borne in mind.
But the possibility of real and lasting change will be on offer.
The politics of hope can replace the politics of fear. Virtually all the arguments presented by the “No” campaign focus on the fear that the financial system will be damaged. This obsession with the currency and with the economy in general unveil the real fears of the Westminster Political Elite; that the financial status quo which rewards speculation, fuels property booms whilst trashing wages and opportunity may be under threat. Labour is prepared to sacrifice this opportunity for our comrades North of the border because of their real petrification that the Party could never win a majority without Scottish MP’s at Westminster.
Labour are obsessed with safety first politics and playing the Westminster game. Tony Blair DID win a majority in England in 1997 and 2001 because he galvanised people to vote Labour by promising a radical new (false) dawn for Britain. Miliband must do the same and if they don’t feel up to that challenge they should make way. The sight of Labour MPs legging it to Scotland was all about their own personal fears, of not having any prospect of showing off their red boxes and chauffeur driven cars that go with the trappings of power.
An independent Scotland offers the people a chance to re frame politics in the way that they want to. Post war Scotland has seen the “effing Tories” (Cameron’s own words) all but eliminated. Their reward was the wasting of the Black Gold provided by the North Sea on propping up a London centric economy and becoming Thatcher’s guinea pig for the poll tax. The Scottish working class provided the leadership for the rest of the UK and we drove a sitting Prime Minister from Office with the anti poll tax campaign.
The voting system in Scotland provides an opportunity for the Left to shake off the shackles of the tourniquet to Socialism that is applied by the Labour Party. With hard work and an optimistic vision for how life can be better for all with worker’s democratic control of the economy and public services the Left can galvanise the new sense of freedom offered by independence. The political class can be consigned to the dustbin of history to play with their duck houses and dream of what scams they wanted to pull on expenses.
As for the Labour Party in England and Wales…. The vote will have been lost because Labour has failed the working class. The voters saw no chance of the Party delivering meaningful change not only in those desperately poor wards where life expectancy is 11 years below average but also in those outlying isles of Scotland which according to a June 2014 report by Scotland Rural College show “astonishing” levels of social exclusion, lack of access to public services and a 68% under build for affordable housing. (SRUC Briefing 2/6/14).
We cam hope that the Left can build a Scotland that serves the people rather than the capitalists and that this template can be taken up in the rest of the UK.