A people before profit Scotland is the spearhead of change

SSP No To Nato demo-John Lanigan

SOCIALISTS SAY NO TO NATO: pro-Yes parties differ on issues such as corporation tax, monarchy and NATO. PHOTO: John Lanigan

  by Ken Ferguson At the heart of the broad vibrant Yes campaign, which culminated with a massive 45 per cent vote in September’s independence referendum, was the clear belief that independence could open the road to a socially just and sustainable Scotland, putting people before profit.

Astonished unionists have looked on aghast as the Yes campaign, fuelled by this key vision, not only failed to melt away but—in all its aspects—mushroomed in size and activity.

Now the supposed victors of Better Together particularly the sham socialists of the once all conquering Labour Party are staring down the barrel of a political defeat of immense proportions as the reality of the No vote is revealed.

The polls predicting a Labour meltdown underline the chilling reality for them that the old song of it’s us or the Tories is fast losing its magic and more importantly the hard truth that Labour is equally tied to the austerity agenda has been revealed to working class voters.

It was this fact which was hammered home by the left in the Yes campaign in public meetings, mass canvassing, in cyber space and by a myriad of websites and publications from Scottish Socialist Voice to Newsnet Scotland and many others which sealed the Yes deal in working class Scotland.

More importantly, that vote, as we discuss elsewhere in this Voice, has potentially broken the once iron grip of Labour on these communities and is a major factor feeding the vortex of chaos convulsing the so called peoples party.

The key question facing the left in this situation is how to turn that rejection of Labour duplicity into a movement that can turn what are issues backed by the public such as rail nationalisation, public ownership of energy, ending poverty pay into mainstream politics.

Campaigning in our workplaces and communities on the streets and on social media will all be vital parts of building such a movement but it must also find a way to give an electoral expression to the desperate need to take Scotland in a new direction.

Put simply the ideas of the left have to be put at the heart of policy making in order to be translated into concrete change which impacts on the reality of peoples’ lives and this means they have to be part of the mainstream of elected politics.

The debate around the best way forward on this is a live issue with the proposal for a Yes alliance targeting Labour’s unionist No campaign Tory soul mates and significant moves by the SNP to allow non-party members to stand under their banner.

The Yes alliance idea has been welcomed by the SSP, who have also made it clear that they are minded to contest seats in May, while the Greens are already selecting candidates so the entire issue is complex but, as yet, not set in stone.

Unlike the referendum, where the aim was one clear aim—independence—elections bring with them issues of policy where the pro-Yes parties have real and principled difference on issues such as corporation tax, monarchy and NATO making a unified ticket complex but not impossible.

For example, it has been Scottish Socialist Party policy for some time to seek a common programme of progressive demands capable of garnering support from a range of political forces and this approach might be one way of advancing the energy of the Yes campaign in May.

Certainly, the prize of breaking the dead hand of Labour on working class Scotland in the wake of the Yes vote in their heartlands and inserting a large pro-independence bloc of MPs into a hung Westminster is redolent with real possibilities.

Beyond May to next year’s Holyrood elections it will be even more essential that the socialist ideas which played such a part in energising the Yes campaign find elected expression in Holyrood and this must be a key priority in the months ahead.

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