by Ken Ferguson • Amidst the all enveloping fog of Brexit claim and counter claim, the outline of what lies ahead appears with growing clarity.
In the run up to the June Euro poll, the Voice backed a “reluctant remain” stance fully aware of the neoliberal essence of the EU but equally clear that a leave vote would hand victory to a toxic cocktail of racist, free marketeers desperate to breathe life into the corpse of Thatcherism.
So it has proved as a non-elected Prime Minister May places the far right of her party at the heart of drive to take the UK firmly back to the era of free market capitalism, wrapped in the Union Jack where the workers are kept in check by insecure work and low pay.
Those on the left who translated their criticisms of the EU into support for leave resolutely ignored the very real danger posed by the right wing dominance of the campaign telling us that a left wing version of leave—Lexit—would open up a ‘British road to socialism’. They now have food for thought.
Far from a victory for progressive forces, the June poll has ushered in the world of May and Trump with chauvinists and fascist hovering in the electoral wings across Europe.
However, none of this changes the reality that a leave vote has now put power in the hands of a government that is set on an all out assault on wages benefits and democratic rights. How do we know? They told us so!
Both Chancellor Hammond and Bank of England governor Mark Carney have frankly told us that living standards, and benefits are set to fall for years ahead despite the promises of leave supporters of £350million a week for the NHS and a sea of other lies.
Not that those at the sharp end of the Tory assault need the explanations of the powerful about the challenges they face.
The notices of eye-watering benefit cuts are already landing on doormats, job centre closures face claimants with further harassment, food bank queues grow and Amazon workers are forced to camp out beside their Dunfermline warehouse to save the cost of fares from their meagre pay.
Amidst the media storm over Brexit falling living standards, poverty pay, slashing benefit cuts and hardship for years ahead are the day to day reality facing thousands.
As well as acting as May’s cuts enforcer Hammond was also the chosen messenger to deliver the uncompromising rebuff to the Holyrood government’s pleas to have a special EU deal with the tough message that this is a UK decision so no deal will be allowed unless London wants it.
Amidst the shuttle diplomacy by First Minister Sturgeon, addresses to august gatherings of sympathetic politicians and a stream of “will they wont they” expert opinions one iron clad certainty remains—Scotland voted in September 2014 to remain part of the UK.
Flowing from that is the reality that, as long as that has not ben overturned, Scots voters—even if persuaded by Project Fear—have given the power to the United Kingdom in the shape of May and her hard right extremists.
Recognising that reality of course yet again underscores the fact that Scotland is having policies forced on it that it never voted for but this democratic deficit is nothing new.
We only have to think of the Poll Tax, Trident, pit and steel closures and indeed the long Thatcher nightmare none of which were supported by Scot voters.
Armed with this clarity, it is surely the task of the pro-independence left not to simply reduce a second indyref to a bargaining chip on relations with the EU but to actively campaign for it as an urgent democratic and social necessity.
As the Yes movement gathers to relaunch the independence case therefore that case must stand on a much broader base than simply Brexit and its aftermath.
It needs to renew the case that links independence with radical economic and social change. This means taking up the cudgels for the tens of thousands in low paid insecure work, facing slashed benefits, desperate for secure quality publicly owned homes not private landlord rip offs and who were inspired in 2014 to believe independence meant real change.
Make no mistake, as 2017 beckons, the war on living standards and democracy is both real and—already promised by May and co.—is sure to become more intense, more brutal.
The dangers to peace and the planet posed by the rise of the hard right from Trump to Le Pen makes for a highly volatile, dangerous world which will need a mass people’s movement to defuse it.
Here in Scotland, the renewed case which links the needs of people and planet with winning the democratic tools for action through an independence which breaks with the neoliberal failures of today and opens the way to real progressive change is key to success.
Another Scotland is both necessary and possible but it will have to be fought for on a basis that makes the link between the urgent immediate needs of the moment with a vision of a Scotland that means real change.