By Colin Fox
There are now six months to go until the independence referendum and if you thought the events of the last few weeks were intense you have seen nothing yet. As the contest enters the final straight the opinion polls still have the No side in front, albeit with a lead that has shrunk considerably.
The question on every Yes supporter’s lips therefore is how are we to secure that illusive majority? There are many outstanding factors that can shape the outcome of September’s vote.
Labour’s ‘devo max dilemma’ as it has been dubbed could represent a dramatic turning point. In order to stop large numbers of ‘Don’t knows’ from voting Yes Labour needs to promise significant extra powers for Holyrood. If it doesn’t offer enough it risks losing the Referendum. At the same time their proposals must get through a Westminster Parliament packed full of Labour and Tory MPs hostile to any further ‘devolution’.
Moreover the Labour Party in Scotland is itself deeply split over the correct tactics to employ. Many of their MPs have spoken out against minimal proposals such as devolving income tax and welfare decisions to Edinburgh. Most MSPs on the other hand fear these measures will be insufficient to stop thousands of voters joining the Yes ranks. With the result now on a knife edge these devo max supporters could easily swing the final outcome.
Another issue likely to effect undecided voters in the weeks ahead could be the European Parliament Elections. Where no surprises are anticipated in Scotland – the Liberal Democrats are widely expected to lose their single MEP here to either Labour or the SNP – in England UKIP may emerge as the biggest party with most MEPs.
This outcome would again put into sharp focus the contrasting political climate North and South of the Border. Such right wing anti-immigrant, anti-claimant policies now so prevalent in England are largely abhorrent to Scotland. There is also growing evidence that Yes Scotland’s huge grassroots campaign is having an important impact in winning further independence support.
The biggest campaign since the anti-Poll Tax movement 25 years ago now has hundreds and hundreds of local groups across Scotland out every night of the week organising public meetings, conducting door to door canvassing and street to street persuasion. And if, as many analysts anticipate, the vote in September is close the role of this grass roots movement could be decisive especially as there is no comparable equivalent asset on the No side.
Mobilising the working class – the strongest supporters of independence – to turnout and to persuade others to do likewise will be crucial and involves inspiring people politically and making clear that their interests can be advanced most in a post-Yes Scotland. Scottish Socialist Party activists have been making that case throughout the last 18 months. The fact is the economic, social and political circumstances of working class Scots can be advanced considerably with a vote for independence.
Yes is a vote that allows us to redistribute Scotland’s enormous wealth with priority given to those most in need. It means we can tackle the scandalous child poverty our youngest endure on a daily basis. It means we can eradicate fuel poverty which sees one in three households struggle to pay gas and electricity bills. It means no more food banks – the modern day equivalent of the 1930s ‘soup kitchens’.
It means no more Trident nuclear weapons based on the Clyde, no more hounding the disabled out of their benefits and no more scapegoating immigrants for failures caused by the bankers. Independence gives us the chance to provide affordable housing for all Scots as a right as well as improved conditions at work, increased pay, greater opportunities for our kids and providing the quality public services we desire.
Socialist ideas like these can be decisive in winning more working class voters to Yes. It is a vote for independence but it is also a vote against the economic neoliberalism at the heart of their oppression. Voting Yes means we escape being governed by the Tories again in 2015, we escape further austerity and cuts, and further privatisation, further attacks on our pensions, our pay and conditions, further attacks on trade union rights, further scapegoating of claimants and immigrants, further warmongering.
But independence is not the end it is simply the means to an end. Working class people must continue to resist attacks on their living standards wherever they come from. Progress will continue to require struggle and solidarity and an awareness of the class nature of our society with no illusions in those ultimately out to betray us.
Courtesy of The Scottish Socialist Voice