The door is opening to a Scotland of real change

cm sept 2012 indy rally

PRIORITY: win the fullest democratic power and apply it to meeting people’s needs over the interests of the profiteering minority. (Photo: Craig Maclean)

by Ken Ferguson, editor, Scottish Socialist Voice Despite installing supposed street fighter Jim Murphy as leader, the peoples party’s slide continues. As we report elsewhere in this issue, the detailed polling carried out by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft confirms what now looks like a trend showing the once dominant Labour Party staring into an abyss with large scale losses among their current Westminster MPs.

What started as a membership surge for the pro-indy SSP, Greens and, spectacularly, the SNP, increasingly looks like a watershed moment in Scottish political history in which the political landscape could change totally and permanently.

At the heart of this stunning development lies not just the fact that there is widespread disgust with Labour’s role in the fearmongering No campaign—particularly their alliance with the Tories—but that tens of thousands of Scots learned to hope for something better during the Yes campaign.

That optimism was born out of a mass democratic movement in real dialogue not on the braying benches of Westminster but in village halls, demonstrations, social media, in parties and outside parties and a galaxy of other ways.

The problem for the largely identikit Westminster politicians is that they don’t do optimism and change as they see themselves as managers of the system which, increasingly, people recognise offers no real answer to their problems and no serious change.

It is this spirit of optimism which, after the No vote, rather than defeat and despondency produced a surge of energy not just to carry on the indy battle but to press for the type of changes such as an end to austerity, scrapping Trident’s terror weapons, decent homes and jobs for all which make the Westminster suits run a mile.

For the May general election those seeking increased democracy to deliver serious social change are rejecting the New Labour in a kilt on offer from Murphy and moving in huge numbers towards the SNP.

Clearly a defeat for Labour with its pro-austerity and Trident renewal politics wrapped in anti-immigration and benefit claimant bashing rhetoric will cause few tears to any serious socialist.

Indeed as with their allies in Greece, the humiliated PASOK, Labour dance to the bankers tune and offer only crumbs for their traditional base.

The SNP has, at least for now, become the chosen vehicle for many thousands who once shared a Labour vision, reject both Westminster rule and austerity and look to the SNP to deliver some of that change. Although challenging, neither the Greens or SSP are likely to win any MPs.

After May, whoever forms the UK government, it can safely be predicted that Scotland will remain restless for change and face a government committed to continuing cuts and austerity, possible EU exit and almost certainly Trident renewal.

It remains to be seen whether a large SNP group would succeed in wringing concessions from a Miliband minority or what it could do to stay the extremism of a Tory minority backed by UKIP.

As before the indyref the best path for the Scottish left is to fight for the maximum possible powers for Holyrood and to fashion a politics that uses those powers in the interests of both people and planet.

This means the devolution—as per the Vow—of powers over everything short of foreign affairs and defence and then outlawing poverty pay, implementing a £10 minimum wage, extending public ownership of railways and energy, building modern homes for rent and ending the scandal of fuel poverty.

The list is long, the tasks are many but the priority must be to win the fullest democratic power and apply it to meeting people’s needs over the interests of the profiteering minority.

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