2014: the year that the British mask slipped

cm-better together posh boys-count 2014 by Ken Ferguson, Scottish Socialist Voice editor This will be the last Voice of this historic year and inevitably Voice readers will want to reflect on it. Top of all of course is the indyref, which saw the unionists win only to rapidly see their victory turn to dust as a energised people made it clear that they would not be silenced or abandon the broad progressive vision which underpinned the mass peoples’ movement behind the Yes campaign.

Now as 2015 dawns, a year of potentially massive change lies ahead. In Scotland the battle lines are broadly between a progressive optimistic vision and the “business as usual” politics—primarily of a gravely discredited Labour Party—but also the other Better Together pals Tories and Lib Dems.

While the SNP will be the main motor for the progressive vote, both the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party will also offer their distinctive visions which undoubtedly chime with the views of many who formed the Yes-voting 45 per cent.

In contrast, the politics on display on the brutish benches of Westminster are driven by a hard right politics buttressed by a shrill, hysterical media which long since traded their role as a free press for that of tawdry propaganda sheets.

The largely media-created UKIP, which peddles a politics reminiscent of the 1950s, is now setting the agenda for the Tory Party, and a heady brew of thinly veiled racism over immigration and a hardline determination to dismantle the remainder of the welfare state is the reality behind both cheeky-chappie Farage and posh-boy Cameron.

Labour long ago abandoned any idea of class politics and swallowed whole the neoliberal agenda of privatisation, PFI and zero hours “flexibility”, and sees keeping the rich happy in the hope of winning some crumbs for the rest of us—while keeping their bums on the seats of power—as their answer.

Let there be no doubt that the cruelties visited on people by the Cameron-Clegg gang, from food banks to foreign wars over the past five years, are just the first course for what is the Tory plan in a slightly more humane version, that of Labour.

The script has already been laid out by Osborne’s statement and at its heart is the destruction of major areas of a state spending which will take Britain back to levels not seen since the 1930s, involve massive job loses and reduce the welfare state to a skeleton.

This will run in tandem with a foreign policy which plans to base the rump Royal Navy “East of Suez” as the poet of empire Kipling put it, while squandering billions on Trident.

Seldom has the contrast between a largely pro-public spending ethos of social solidarity favoured by Scots voters and the hard-nosed, slash and burn speculation at the heart of Westminster politics been more clear.

In the short term, a determined drive to defeat these attacks and win gains such as minimum wage of £10-an-hour and defend services and jobs will be essential.

But as the attacks driven by Westminster intensify and the total inadequacy of Smith becomes clear, the question of independence—deferred but not defeated on 18 September—will rapidly return centre stage in Scottish politics.

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