No to independence, now let’s talk about socialism (Guest Post)

I’m nonplussed by the decision of the Scottish; the decision rendered me unsurprisingly so, yet the affair rings of an anti-climax. On some level a yes vote would appease the part of me longing for socialism in this country, even though such a result would bring none of the change forty five percent of Scottish people wanted, as well as that willed by the many socialist no voters. Scotland was imposed with a choice it did not ask for. Scotland cried out for an end to the encroaching privatisation of the NHS – a view expressed to a moderate degree by the SNP. But they also cried out for social reform: for structural changes in society which would prevent wealth from flooding into London and into the bank accounts of individuals, thus hiding that wealth from those who created it – this, the SNP would not reflect. The option people requested was not an alternative any party wished to offer.

Salmond’s post-election speech, like Darling’s, was dry and predictable: an accolade for the democratic process and a demand for Westminster to honour its promise of greater devolution for Scotland. No promise of reform or resistance; just let the status quo take its course. Thus it is that a whole generation of young Scots seeking political change through his empty promises become disillusioned and hopeless; optimism replaced with pessimism, idealism replaced with cynicism; a generation of the Scottish left destroyed by the brash, imbecilic decisions of a quasi-socialist.

But the SNP is not responsible for this enormous waste of left wing activism alone. The finger of blame must also be wagged at the members of the left who ought have known better. There are sections of the left who have spent decades organising and campaigning for socialism who blindly supported the yes vote, who pretended a yes vote would make everything better. They would quickly forgot the ideals of working class solidarity, of destroying artificial borders (this particular border created by the Romans almost two millennia ago). Seemingly they pretended a yes vote would magically eradicate Scotland of the vices of centralization and political authoritarianism. They would like to forget Salmond’s dubious expenses claims, and pretend he is revolutionary politician who would buck the trend of careerist statesmen who serve only to protect the status quo that awarded them their own high position. They ignore the SNP’s basis for an economy, the exportation of oil. Suddenly fossil fuels aren’t a bad thing. The SNP promised nothing that the yes voters asked for, much less what the no voters asked for. The British left as a whole should have been united behind a decision to campaign for socialism, no matter the result of the referendum. In fact, they should have refused to take a side; the question asked in the referendum is a red herring, irrelevant to anyone but the most tribal of nationalists and football hooligans.

Truly, the people of Scotland have spoken. An eighty percent turnout is unheard of in elections, as Salmond quite correctly observed. Never have people been so willing to change the status quo. So let us change it. But not just in Scotland, in the North too, and the South, and a great many in London will join fight as well. Remember, a majority of people did not vote for the Tory party. The Tories have been on their way out since the fall of Thatcher. And let us not fight against each other. The working class have no power individually; we must fight collectively as part of trade unions, and as factions of our political parties. The fight for socialism is not a single vote, and should never be viewed as such: socialism will be a constant struggle, but our NHS, welfare system and education are worth the fight.

Jack Pepin | avearguech@gmail.com | facebook.com/jpepsred | twitter.com/jpepsred

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