Thursday, 12 June 2014
Since our formation in 1998, the SSP has consistently fought for an independent socialist Scotland. We are the one and only party to have done so for the past 16 years - tirelessly.
Throughout the two years of the Referendum campaign, we have championed the central argument that the Scottish working class majority are key to the outcome, having least to lose and most to gain - with the potential power to then go on to transform an independent Scotland into a socialist democracy.
It seems the enemies of democratic self-determination - the Unionist parties of Better Together - have woken up to this, in a perverse fashion.
That Tory-funded Fear Factory has been fronted by Labour for the past two years. They've built a cottage industry in the manufacture of lies, scare stories and attempts to intimidate working class Scots with the core message that we are too poor, too small and too thick to handle independence. The crowning glory of this insult has to be Johann Lamont's utterance that "the Scottish people are not genetically programmed to make political decisions".
Change of tack
Now the Unionist cabal are trying to switch tack, in panic at the backlash their insults, negativity, and orchestrated threats (for instance, about currency) has created amongst working class people.
Whilst Alistair Darling (of the rich) still peddles BT's doomsday scenarios about independence, other sections of the Labour hierarchy fear they've been rumbled as Tory collaborators, and have wheeled out Gordon Brown to tempt traditional Labour voters with a different shade of Unionist lies.
Brown is trying to distance Labour from their Tory paymasters in the No camp, by trying to breathe life into United with Labour - the Mini Me Labour offshoot of Better Together.
Like any one of successive Tory and Labour governments, these characters rely on sub-contractors; United with Labour, and figures like Brown, have been hired as sub-contractors to do the Tories' dirty work amidst the working class.
The workers are revolting!!
This move is rooted in the growing revolt within the trade unions at Labour being part of the toxic Better Together. Even the Scottish organiser of ASLEF, the first trade union to rush through affiliation to BT well over a year ago, with no genuine prior debate amongst members, admitted last week "on reflection it might have been better not to have joined Better Together".
He said so at the end of a Yes/No debate called by rank and file members through the Bathgate ASLEF branch, where I spoke for Yes (against a member of Labour's Campaign for Socialism and Red Paper Collective), at the end of which 85-90 per cent of the train drivers present favoured a Yes vote!
Hammer Labour's lies
In the final months of the campaign, Yes Scotland needs to roll up its sleeves, shelve caution and hesitancy, and get struck into Labour's cruel deceit of the Scottish working class. Along with hammering the false Labour promises, Yes Scotland needs to make its positive vision more concrete, on key issues like wages, jobs, services and workers' rights.
The pro-independence movement has worked wonders in canvassing and street activity, and the SSP, RIC and Yes groups have also revived the age of the public meeting, with hundreds cramming into dozens of community halls every night of the week. Another arena we need to systematically target are the workplaces, directly - as well as via where workers live, and through trade union meetings.
But then the crunch question is the message conveyed; the keynote arguments to convince working people they will be better off under independence.
Would you JOIN the UK?
Imagine there'd been no 1707 Act of Union, that Scotland was not part of the so-called 'United' Kingdom. Imagine we were having a referendum in September to JOIN the UK.
Would any self-respecting worker vote to join a United Kingdom with a record number of billionaires -104 - and where the richest 1,000 enjoyed a massive 15 per cent to their incomes last year, to a mind boggling £518billion - whilst many workers haven't had a pay rise in four or five years, and millions more have had 'rises' that are drastic cuts compared to inflation?
Would workers be wise to vote to be part of a state where the richest ten people in Scotland - yes, 10 - have nearly half the wealth of the annual Scottish government's budget for the other 5.3 million of us?
Or where the richest one per cent have as much wealth as the poorest 54 per cent of the population?
Or where billionaires glut on their wealth, with tax cuts for them by Westminster, whilst two million children in the UK are in poverty - an absolute majority of them in families with one or more parent working?
If most workers wouldn't vote to JOIN such a dysfunctional state, why should they vote to REMAIN part of it - which is what a No vote means?
Billionaires' Britain is Breadline Britain. The Channel 4 last week took a rest from preaching the virtues of British rule to expose heartbreaking poverty for families, through a chain of unemployment, benefit sanctions, zero hours contracts and foodbanks. Breadline Kids told the story of a man who had to stop working when his teenage daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia, and then had to scrimp and search for food for his two kids, especially when his benefits were delayed. And like him, the story of the mother on zero hours contracts, a proud woman who nevertheless was forced to turn to foodbanks to avert starvation for her child.
Scotland is a net exporter of food, yet we rely on over 1,000 foodbank to avoid starvation in the 21st century.
Why would we want to give a vote of confidence to that obscene track record, by voting to stay in the UK?
Gordon Brown and others in the Labour hierarchy have awoken to the fact growing numbers of their own traditional working class voters see a Yes vote as a 'get out of Tory jail card', or even a rapid escape route from a real and possible Tory/UKIP jail.
So Labour peddles the line 'vote No in 2014, vote Labour in 2015'. They try to seduce workers with the words of Ed Miliband that "we're only one Christmas away from a Labour government", with promises of "justice under Labour, a sharing of the greater resources of the UK across the regions".
In a recent interview Alistair Darling showed no sign of being ironic when he offered workers "the security of being part of something bigger, with a share of the larger resources".
But what has been the real life experiences of 'justice with Labour', as measured by 13 successive years of British Labour governments?
The most regionally unequal state in the whole of Europe. A state where 87 per cent of all the working cranes right now are in London and the South East. Where London's growth rates in the recent 'recovery' are over twice (nearly five times in some cases) that of other areas of the 'United' Kingdom.
Grand Canyon wealth gap
But this is not just geographical inequality. It's a class divide that dwarfs the Grand Canyon. London sucks in labour and capital, with massive property booms and obscene profiteering in the City of London casino economy. Meantime in the real city of London, a property company called Property Partners has installed metal spikes to stop the homeless from sleeping outside the doorways of their building!
When Gordon Brown tries to scare workers about the security of their jobs and pensions should they vote Yes, we need to remind the same workers it was Labour in government, with Brown at the financial helm, that demolished Final Salary Pension schemes; provoked public sector strikes in defence of pensions; abolished the 10p tax rate for the lowest paid; and announced the slaughter of 100,000 civil service jobs back in July 2004.
That's justice, Labour style!
Things can only get worse.
And worse is yet to come if a majority of workers are conned into staying chained to Westminster rule, the dictatorship of capital. Only an estimated half of the Tory-LibDem's public sector cuts have been implemented. And that's before adding on the additional £25bn of butchery announced by Gideon Osborne before Xmas.
Even if Labour achieves the unlikely by winning office in 2015, they have declared they will sustain the Tories' cuts.
No more money from Labour!
And even the limited concessions on extra devolution verbally promised in recent weeks by Labour, Tories and LibDems are neither guaranteed, nor a route out of the fundamental problems of poverty and inequality we face in Billionaires' Breadline Britain.
If these opportunists were serious about added powers being devolved to a Scottish parliament - as opposed to trying to con us into a No vote with empty verbal gestures as they see workers attracted to the chance of real powers to change things through independence - why wasn't a package of legislation on this included in the recent Queen's Speech at Westminster?
Johann Lamont has at least let the cat out of the bag, in an article in the Northern Echo, where she clarified Labour's promises on pathetically minor extra powers for Holyrood over income tax:
"Scotland will not be getting more money. It will simply be accountable for raising more of its money. I hope that dispels some myths."
And none of their verbal promises offer any power to increase the level of the national minimum wage in a devolved Holyrood. Nor the levels of pensions, nor benefits.
Yet we live in a slave labour economy, one of the root causes of people relying on foodbanks to fend off starvation.
The current 'adult' minimum wage is worth only 35 per cent of average wages in the UK. Even a modest catching up with the 46 per cent of average wages enjoyed in France - hardly a socialist Nirvana! - would mean £8.14 an hour minimum.
And if this country matched New Zealand's national minimum wage as a proportion of average earnings, it would rise to £9.55 an hour. Hardly a king's ransom, but a real transformation of millions of workers' lives.
The Yes campaign has a chance and a duty to focus on issues like a decent living minimum wage for all over 16, with pensions to match: the SSP has campaigned for at least £9 an hour, based on two-thirds of male median earnings.
The Yes campaign likewise needs to make more of a vision of massive re-industrialization of Scotland, centred around house building to tackle the 157,000-strong waiting list, and green jobs in the potential Saudi Arabia of clean, renewable energy that Scotland's offshore conditions alone could create. Well-paid, dignified jobs and apprenticeships.
Diversify to defend and create jobs
And defense industry workers could be guaranteed decent, secure jobs as part of such a plan, by designing and constructing the engineering equipment for the green energy sector.
Instead of relying on war and slaughter for work, the shipbuilders on the Clyde could use their skills to build such equipment, on top of the need to build a fleet of ferries.
Industry experts calculate that the insane £3bn spent to build each aircraft carrier could instead be used to build 200 new ferries, and that that would generate ten times as many jobs in the yards!
And Scotland needs 100 new ferries to replace the aging domestic fleet and meet new EU regulations on clean fuel. As a modest minimum, all that could create five times as many shipyard jobs as now exist, a sharp rebuttal to the vicious scaremongering and blackmail of the Unionists.
But such a plan can only fully succeed if energy in all it's forms, and the shipyards, are taken into democratic public ownership - something the three factions of Thatcherism who dominate Westminster would never countenance.
As we enter the last phase of campaigning, targeting workers with concrete alternatives, explaining how their lives and standards of living could be transformed - provided
independence is used to reshape Scotland from top to bottom - is critical to winning a Yes majority.
And the talent, knowledge of life and work, and the vast levels of thinking and engagement this campaign has stoked up all bode well for the future.
We need to hammer the lies of Labour, remind workers of their real track record, and paint a picture of how Scotland could be if the working class majority seize the chance and then construct a socialist government in an independent state.
Workers have least to lose, most to gain, by breaking from the Billionaires' Breadline Britain.