For people and for planet, Scotland needs real change

LEFT ALLIANCE: at the heart of RISE’s programme will be the urgent need to break with pro-profit neoliberal policies, and place the needs of people and planet front and centre

Editorial by Ken Ferguson If we are to believe the media pundits, Scottish politics is about to be a battle between a leftward moving Scottish Labour squaring up to take on an already left wing SNP. As evidence, we are told that Labour’s vote to scrap Trident along with promises to tax the rich indicates that the party has moved decisively to the left and is about to reconnect with the tens of thousands of voters who left it in utter disgust during the Blair/Brown/Miliband years. Voters however may prove rather harder to convince than the largely spoon-fed Scottish press pack based in Holyrood’s media tower. Labour has a mountain to climb to overcome the dead weight of years of cosying up to the wealthy and big business.

Working people deserted Labour in droves as the one time People’s Party became a wholly owned servant of big money, bent bankers and the rich, ignoring the very people it was formed to serve. This desertion was given its final push by the collaboration with the Tories in Better Together. The wreck that is todays’s Labour Party is the result.

Unlike many, the Voice has never bought into the idea that the SNP was some sort of inheritor of the long tradition of working class socialism in Scotland and, in effect, a replacement for Labour. Certainly, they have adopted some progressive policies on prescription charges (pioneered by the SSP) halting council house sales, grappling with the impact of the Bedroom Tax.

However, just like Labour, the SNP is not a socialist party and unsurprisingly, again like Labour, looks to solve problems within a framework of the current market economy which, at heart, puts profit before people.

It is this system which is now putting the remainder of Scotland’s steel industry at risk as its Indian owner Tata looks to the bottom line and ignores the vital strategic need for steel in a modern industrial economy.

Elsewhere in this Voice we look at the case for public ownership as a solution for steel, which has ben in steep decline under private ownership.

The SNP response has been to set up yet another “task force” and launch a search for a new capitalist owner. It might succeed but the record of this approach is not good.

Further evidence of this approach can be seen with the growing pressure on the SNP government to bow the knee to INEOS and accept fracking. Likewise, their refusal to block rail privatisation and put CalMac ferries out to tender.

Supporters will point to SNP opposition to the latest anti-union laws but they don’t comment of Scottish government subsidies to anti-union tax dodgers like Amazon.

It is against this background that the urgent need for a new radical politics of the left to meet the towering challenges which face working people and are a central part of the neoliberal capitalism which today tells us that there is no alternative is sharply posed.

So thousands languish on housing lists as homes are treated like casino chips to those wealthy enough to own them. Low pay and zero hours contracts, growing pollution, demonisation of the poor, disabled and refugees sit alongside the constant danger of war and terrorism.

On a daily basis we are told by professional politicians reinforced by a corporate owned right wing media that this is a good as it gets. It isn’t.

The reality is that the neoliberal market economies are in deep trouble and their endless drive for profit and growth diverts precious talents and irreplaceable natural resources, impoverishes people and menaces the planet.

That’s why the challenge presented to the neoliberal parties in Holyrood by the formation of RISE is both timely and essential and why the Scottish Socialist Party which was formed as a left unity project, has agreed to affiliate to it and be fully involved in its work.

When it contests the Holyrood polls next May, RISE will do so on an agreed common programme, the priorities of which will be determined at it’s democratic conference next month.

At the heart of that programme will be the urgent need to break with pro-profit neoliberal policies and place the needs of people and planet front and centre.

Issues such as a greatly expanded social housing programme which meets needs and creates jobs, defence of union and democratic rights, a move to production for use not profit and a major switch to green, publicly owned energy are likely to be discussed as some of the ideas before the conference.

The signs to date are that issues such as the need for gender balance in election candidates and a commitment for any RISE MSPs to accept a workers wage are already widely accepted, and with independence one of its central aims, RISE will continue to press for both a second referendum and to win a Yes result from it.

The widespread public discontent with politics can best be answered by a politics which breaks with the rule of profit and war, and moves towards an independent democratic Scottish republic.

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