Can the left stem the rising tide of Tory barbarism?

george osborne

AXEMAN: Osborne sold off shares in taxpayer-owned RBS at a loss of £1billion

by Ken Ferguson It seems that with each passing day, the hard nosed Tory Etonians—running the UK on a minority of votes cast in May—land further blows on the poor, vulnerable victims of their austerity policies. As they drive to destroy what is left of the welfare state, pinion the unions and silence what remains of a opposition, there can be no question that their plan is to reshape the UK as a market-driven privatised paradise for the rich, with a return to Dickensian charity for the rest. Two events last week serve to skywrite the contrast in treatment for the rich minority on the one hand and the weak and vulnerable on the other.

Overnight, axeman Osborne sold of shares in RBS, owned by the taxpayer, at a loss of £1billion, telling the public that handing such a dripping roast to his City pals was good for business and to be welcomed.

Just days later, the pathbreaking Kids Company charity, which has supported thousands of vulnerable kids for two decades, folded amidst an orchestrated campaign in the usual Tory lapdog newspapers to portray them as spendthrift liberal incompetents wasting public money.

Unlike the shadowy speculators who slunk off with there ill-gotten RBS loot, Kids Company were placed firmly in the harsh spotlight of Tory press “investigations” which served the twin purposes of demonising both the charity and turning the screw on the anti-welfare campaign aimed at the vulnerable.

However, the Tory demonisation is not just confined to the British market but has been given an international dimension with the openly racist rants about “swarms” of migrants and the disgusting diatribe from Essex man Philip Hammond—a Tory cabinet minister—warning that “marauding migrants” are about to undermine European living standards.

This is a lie of ancient vintage which has ben deployed against Irish people, the so called “Yellow Peril”, former colonial peoples and now to east Europeans from the EU.

We look at this issue elsewhere in this Voice but it is was and always will be a blatant cynical lie deployed by the elite to sow division among those they seek to control.

Faced with this growing assault, the response from the so called peoples’ party, Labour, has been cringingly weak, with abstention on the vote on welfare changes a low point, even by the standards of New Labour.
But there are, in this dismal landscape, some signs of a possible fightback.

Hogging the headlines has been the growing prospect that left wing challenger Jeremy Corbyn might just win the election for UK Labour leader.

This is undoubtedly a positive development in the battle to win public purchase for alternative socialist responses to neoliberal austerity, and you can smell the fear it has generated in the polished performers who inhabit the Labour leadership benches at Westminster.

From John McTernan (adviser to abject failure Jim Murphy) defending the wonders of rail privatisation, through Yvette Cooper warning of a return to the ’70s (when we had trade unions, reasonable jobs and a Welfare State) to media thug Alistair Campbell—a cornerstone of Blairism demanding “Anyone but Corbyn”—the attack dogs are loose.

What this tells us is that, should he succeed, Corbyn will face massive hostility from the bulk of Labour MPs, and a sustained campaign of distortion and lies from an overwhelmingly hostile media.

The idea that there can be smooth reconquest of the ex-socialist Labour Party for socialist politics stretches credulity to breaking point.

Here in Scotland, we face the certainty that a plughole-bound Labour Party is about to elect a leader a million miles away from Corbyn’s left politics and even a Corbyn leadership—still lined up in the anti-independence camp—seems unlikely to save them from oblivion.

Faced with an SNP likely to sweep to renewed power in Holyrood, and already dominant as Scottish MPs, the need for a coherent pro-independence left challenge which both keeps the demand for a second referendum on the agenda and fashions a coherent socialist approach to meeting the urgent economic and social challenges facing Scotland’s working people is surely the key need of the hour.

The Corbyn surge notwithstanding, the left analysis and energy which flowed from the indyref campaign must be the cornerstone of the building of a coherent challenge to austerity and war, not putting faith in the dubious politics of a Labour Party steeped in the anti-socialist approach of New Labour.

In this setting, the launch event for a new left alliance hosted by the Scottish Left Project at the end of this month is attracting growing support across he serious left in Scotland, and can form the basis for such a challenge.

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