Archive | April, 2014

How does Scotland stand?

9 Apr

There is a counter-revolution taking place in this (un) United Kingdom un-doing the last vestiges of social democracy, inflicting greater hardship on the have-nots.   We are experiencing ‘uninterrupted disturbances of all our social conditions ….everlasting uncertainty… agitation….al fixed fast frozen relations are swept away…all that is solid melts into air… all that is unholy is profaned and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life.’  This is of course old man Marx, describing an earlier bourgeois revolution.  What is particularly significant about the current one is that in the overthrow of the post -war consensus, the Conservative right has been able to co-opt the Liberal Democrats as allies in this anti-popular agenda. Even more disturbing, is the role of the Labour Party, whose Balls, Darling and Brown, were the deficit’s draughtsmen: whose policies, the Conservative coalition is broadly implementing. The only distinguishing feature is that Labour would inflict the cutting-pain more gradually, over a longer period. Let us be quite clear; Labour no longer seeks to challenge entrenched power and privilege. Labourism is no longer capable/willing to deliver social change or to seek the redistribution of wealth or develop new forms of popular participation. Thus the people across the length and breadth of Scotland are realizing that it is truly time for a change.

One Nation Labour (a concept borrowed from Disraeli) is the vision of Ed Miliband and Balls incorporating an economic paradigm that abandons any attempt to reform neo-liberal capitalism, tackle alienation or formulate any form of greater egalitarian politics.  In Scotland they promote a corporatism in harmony with Cameron’s coalition that will see Scottish social-civic, labour forces atrophy and alienation increase. 

There are currently three political responses. Alienation:  a withdrawing from any engagement leaving a’ nothing can be done’ attitude; a ‘there is no alternative’ syndrome. Let Jimmy Reid remind us of this debilitating political phenomenon.

‘Let me right at the outset define what I mean by alienation. It is the cry of men who feel themselves the victims of blind economic forces beyond their control. It’s the frustration of ordinary people excluded from the processes of decision making. The feeling of despair and hopelessness that pervades people who feel with justification that they have no real say in shaping or determining their own destinies.’

The second option is very much a neo-liberal form of the above: the status quo.  Vote NO in the Referendum and we’ll carry on the same way (but punish Scotland a little more) with little to choose within the three main Unionist parties (tweedledee, tweedledum and tweedledummer). Put your Labour ‘No’ vote in the box and you put it alongside the Tories and the Lib-Dems and the other arch-Unionists. Objectively any ‘No’ vote is for the retention of the failing unionist British State.

 Meanwhile all three of the tweedles are looking behind them at the angry surge of UKIP. (We should not need to be reminded that political crises can create major shifts to the right as well as to the left.)

 The opportunist policy of Labour, wooing the right and centre-right, is seen as vital, particularly in southern England, where outside of London, in approx, 180 southern constituencies, Labour has just 12 seats.  What does this status quo scenario mean to Scotland and the Scottish political process going forward?

     I wish to argue that Scotland under the 1999 devolved administration constitution , is, in my (third) world of  political analysis, a near perfect example of the crown-colony state, attempting to advance the limited constitutional process towards a Home-Rule, self-governing status  within the British state.  Social-democrat Scotland, in this limbo-state of pause, of semi-colon, coloniality reality, will suffer greatly, indeed be punished under the avenging thrust of all three main Westminster parties in a post-No Scotland.   

     Across Scotland, especially in my neck of the woods in Lanark shire, the desperate poor have been conditioned to give their votes to Labour, as others light a candle, in the desperate hope of personal salvation.  Let us be clear; persistent poverty and underdevelopment is the future for Scotland under the hegemony of Westminster unionist power.  Devolution has attempted to alter the power relations within the culture of UK politics. By its much enfeebled nature, Holyrood was born to be self-inhibiting, shorn of autonomous history-making powers.

This can only be answered by major constitutional reform (Independence) supported by economic and social reforms. What is startling is the great wave of popular support demanding change that is moving across Scotland especially in areas of greatest social deprivation.

In my opinion the vital process required for the effective development of Scotland in this 21st Century is best described in the thesis being formulated by Robin McAlpine and the Common- Weal Project.  This political/economic initiative will have to be taken up in some form under the leadership of the Scottish Independent Government post 2016

 This Government of whatever party (or coalition of parties) will be required to turn its back on the Westminster dominating economic strategy.  A ‘jock’ form of neo-liberalism cannot and will not satisfy the demands of this new empowered Scottish electorate. With tenacious urgency they will have defeated the Unionist blandishments. In the absence of  almost all ‘big-media’  support the YES ground campaign a ‘Scot-cong ‘ strategy built with grass-root power will not accept an Edinburgh ‘fur-coat’ (no real political change). 

     What is required is the dismantling of this empire created Westminster – British –state ethos through a progressive transformation, instigated by a programme of greater national political consciousness in Scotland. Already there is a popular national culture ,a kind of ‘epistemic sovereignty’.

     But for all that and all of that, it is not enough. The idea of a Scotland as a sovereign state (albeit in a globalized world) needs more than the idea of a Scotland cut and pasted from the Westminster template. We have over time drawn (relied) heavily on our artists, writers and intellectuals. Collectively they have helped create a national consciousness. Now it has to become a redrawn political and economic movement beyond liberal-nationalism.  This will require fresh approaches of imagiNATION. Much of this new paradigm is being articulated by The Common -Weal team at The Jimmy Reid Foundation. Post YES we just might see a form of Scottish Labour breaking with its London masters and joining in this new democracy.

Wither Scottish Labour post YES?

 I for one ,have come to the conclusion that post-war Scottish Labourism has failed to understand that popular social consciousness in Scotland has embedded in it a nascent political nationalism alongside social-democracy. Popular national conscientization ( Freire) that empowers has never been realized or released by Labour.  Scottish Labour will decline, atrophy, like the Conservatives unless it breaks from its unionist heritage.

     At present the Scottish Labour Party cannot offer Scottish people any option that does not rely on it being thirled to London Labour. (London’s dependency on the Scottish 50 plus seats; in turn London funds Scottish Labour is the deal?).

  Yet national autonomy /independence can no longer rely on the reductionist, simplistic idea of a ‘national economy’.  Whose ‘national economy’ do I hear the cry? Yet, in what is becoming a highly plural yet polarized global economy (BRIC verses the West), Scotland has the opportunity and the ability to negotiate its own future through the effective adoption of fresh economic strategies with new international powers with which to negotiate a better fairer future.  Will Scottish Labour or in some other guise take up that challenge?

     It is surely time that the great swathes of the non-active, voiceless social –forces that are dormant across Scotland (especially those who have felt the pain of the cuts) discover their destiny and seek a popular national sovereignty through Independence.  But there is much more needed. We need to see and hear the genuine promise of greater opportunities for popular participation through the Freirean concepts of community empowerment.   The internet and social-media have offered the YES campaign a powerful weapon. We must not let this popular-power wither.  Rather let us seek to embrace new forms of democratic governance by making regular engagement with the public, part and parcel of enhanced public policy development.(The Brazilian  concept of popular budgetary formation and development is one such innovative proposal.) For make no mistake the awakened social forces harnessed within the YES movement will not sit idly-by while policies inimical to their progress are being implemented.

Let’s win the referendum and move on with new powers for the Scottish Government AND new powers for the Scottish people. Scotland is pregnant with opportunities and awaits deliverance.