Saturday, 16 April 2011

Colin Fox - The Election Blog 2011

Colin Fox is National Spokesman of the  

Independence and the managerial road to liberation

The Communist Party used to sell postcards depicting the 1919 Battle of George Square where a speech bubble emerged from the crowd asking ‘Has anyone seen the Parliamentary Road to Socialism?’ That postcard is in my mind now as I ponder why independence hasn’t figured more prominently in this election. I certainly expected it to following the election of another Tory Government [albeit in coalition] down South.

It’s an issue the Independence movement must also be asking itself. An article in the Scotsman on April 12th written by former SNP strategist Ewan Crawford [‘Independence issue off the air but on the horizon’] sheds some light on the subject. ‘For the SNP’ he writes ‘the question of how much to campaign on independence and how much to focus on devolution has always been a dilemma. The SNP has long since decided that it is through government that independence can be achieved….and government has given the SNP more credibility than ever before.’

Although the gap is closing the polls suggest the SNP may be removed from office in May. Labour’s barely credible exclamation ‘It’s the Tories. We need to get rid of the Tories!’ seems to have worked again just as it did last year when all their MP’s in Scotland increased their majorities. Labour, it would appear, has mined the deep seated and visceral hatred of the Tories again despite them being irrelevant in Scotland and despite Labour’s own record of neo-liberal privatizations and warmongering over 13 years. Let alone their support for 80% of Tory cuts.
If the polls are right where does that leave Alex Salmond’s ‘nationalist managerialism’? His record looks little different to his predecessors. Lord McConnell managed Scotland capably for his neo-liberal corporate ‘handlers’ just as Alex Salmond has done. Donald Trump got his luxury golf course without much ado and we can expect pictures of Alex and Jack joining him in a four ball soon.

Doubtless pleased with his ‘area manager of the month’ award Alex Salmond looks to have blown an unprecedented opportunity for the independence cause. Indeed some argue, and persuasively, that the financial collapse severely damaged the entire Salmond ‘narrative’. An independent Scotland under the SNP, claim the unionists, would have suffered the same catastrophic financial consequences as Ireland, Iceland, Greece and Portugal. And whatever else may be said about this contention the SNP has not effectively refuted it. Salmond’s feeble excuse that it would not have happened here because he would have ensured far tighter regulation and control of RBS, HBOS and the others is demonstrably untrue. He, John Swinney and Jim Mather toured Edinburgh’s financial institutions assiduously for 8 years assuring the ‘McMasters of the universe’ that their [then undiscovered] reckless investment strategies, to say nothing of their ‘uber’ profits, would be just as safe under the SNP. He never had the slightest intension of restricting their foolhardy operations. The SNP remains a party that knows its place and it’s apparently in the lap of Edinburgh’s powerful financiers and visiting billionaires. The country’s ‘all too powerful’ bankers are not only ‘less persuaded’ of the case for independence they are its biggest opponents. Furthermore the sound of Sir David Murray endorsing Alex Salmond should set off alarms throughout the independence movement. It shows, not how omnipotent and magisterial Salmond has become, but rather how little industrialists and unionists like Murray worry about the likelihood of independence.

All this has far reaching consequences of course. A BBC poll asked voters to list the most important issues in this election. Independence was nowhere to be seen. Even the potent democratic case for a referendum was relegated to ‘the Vauxhall Conference League’. Thus the key to unlocking Scotland’s economic, social, political and cultural ills cannot be found anywhere. That’s not good news, least of all for poor and disadvantaged Scots who need independence most of all.

For the Scottish Socialist Party independence was up front and centre in our manifesto. [Available to download free via our website]. Independence for us remains a national liberation struggle with the goal of a modern democratic republic utterly opposed to economic neo-liberalism and British military aggression. 


1 comment:

  1. Colin Fox makes some trenchant criticisms of SNP's strategy in recent years without really annalysing the thinking behind SNP's approach. SNP's judgement that the Scots will not vote for independence until they have evidence that the main party advocating independence has a credible record in government is not unreasonable. SNP's chummying up to the banks also reflects a judgement that the SNP needed to demonstrate to a sceptical Scottish public that succesful Scottish businesses were prepared to take SNP seriously. Its failure to foresee the banking crisis was a common failing of politicians throughout the democratic world. Colin is too ready to adopt the stock unionist response that as illustated by the problems of Ireland and Iceland the collapse of the Scottish banks somehow proved that Scottish independence was not viable. That argument offers an easy rhetorical hit but is entirely speculative. It depends on a whole string of assumptions, about when independence was achieved - for the unionists preferably on the very eve of the financial crash, ignores the alternative 'counter factual' narratives - suppose Scotland had become independent in the late 1970s and had used the swelling oil revenues to rebuild Scottish industry (as the SNP was advocating in the 70s and 80s, ignores the existence of £1trn worth of Scottish oil reserves as an 'insurance fund'. It ignores too that the way the Scottish banks developed in the 1990s and 2000s was a product of Mrs. Thatcher's Big Bang in the City and that the responsibility for regulating the Scottish banks as part of a UK wide banking system lay with the UK GOvernment, a failure recently admitted by Brown, Miliband and Balls. The challenge now for all Scottish parties of the left is how to build from the ruins of the Scottish /City banks a banking system that serves Scottish communities and businesses rather than megalomaniac speculators like Goodwin and Hornby. Colin might also have acknowledged common ground with SNP in its rejection of both ConLib and Labour 'worse than Thatcher'cuts strategies, its robust defence of universalism in public services, its opposition to Trident, and to nuclear power stations in Scotland...... The UK corporate bosses that Colin evokes for Salmond as 'area manager north' can't be too pleased with any of that. As for independence being sidelined, that will depend on the collective strength of independence supporting parties after May 5th.