by Ken Ferguson
In one decisive step it was done. Presented with polls showing her main opponent not just on the ropes but out of the ring, Theresa May has called a general election.
It is a classic piece of ruthless politics which grasps control of the political terrain on which the UK’s future direction will be decided and greatly increases the danger of twenty years of hard nosed Tory rule.
In UK terms, the prospects are bleak with all the evidence suggesting that May will sweep Labour aside, shoot UKIP’s fox and marginalise the Lib Dems to cruise to a 100+ Commons majority.
Brutally that is why she did – it’s a moment of maximum advantage for the Tories and therefore one of great danger for everyone else.
Her likely victory opens the way to a consolidation of the populist hard right with the traditional Tory party to create a government which is set to revive Thatcherism with its worship of free markets, anti-working class policies and support for US wars.
There should be no doubt that we stand on the verge of a Britain fashioned not by so called ‘one nation Tories” but headed for a bargain basement economy of insecure work, low taxes on the elite and and growing racism driven by the Liam Fox/Boris Johnston fantasy of a Trident-armed revived imperial greatness.
None of this, of course, will do anything to deal with poverty, low pay, a growing housing crisis and austerity. Despite the hustings rhetoric it isn’t meant to. Rather it sets a course for a deregulated, market dominated economy putting a small elite’s interests at its heart.
May’s move also dramatically alters the terms and conditions of the entire debate about Scotland’s future including a second independence referendum.
Soft, comfortable imagery of sofa talks at Bute House, lobbying in Brussels, policy papers on the EU and votes for Section 30 at Holyrood are all gone. We are in a world of brutal power politics fraught with danger, not just to the prospects of a second referendum on independence but to the entire devolved Scottish Government apparatus.
A UK Tory majority will surely stonewall a second referendum while it will also intensify cuts to bleed Holyrood’s ability to choose an alternative path.
This is the democratic deficit which dogs Scotland’s place in the UK written in monster sized type.
Against this dismal prospect, the SNP and the wider independence movement face the choice between being marginalised spectators in a post-election Commons or going there armed with the power of voters behind them to demand Scotland takes a different path.
The purpose of pro-independence MPs must be to find a way of breaking that blockadeThere is no doubt that the unionist parties – Labour, Lib Dem and Tory – will place opposition to a second referendum at the heart of their campaigns and pro-independence candidates must do the polar opposite.
Indeed, faced with the prospect of a large England based Tory majority stonewalling any second referendum on independence, the purpose of pro-independence MPs must be to find a way of breaking that blockade.
This must mean, as a minimum, that their manifesto – and we are largely speaking of the SNP here – must contain an explicit commitment not just to a referendum but to independence itself to make it clear that Scots voters backed that proposition.
To do otherwise simply hands perpetual power to a Westminster government to bulldoze Scottish voters and impose their abhorrent policies on Scotland irrespective of how much Scots reject them.
As an immediate and urgent task the independence movement must enter the battle for both democracy and transformative change which can only build support for an independent Scotland as an alternative to the Tory nightmare on Downing Street.
This is an editorial published in the most recent Scottish Socialist Voice, issue 493. Subscribe to the Voice, either a paper subscription, or via email. It will be sold at your local street stall or SSP branch.
The Scottish Socialist Voice has been in print for 20 years. Since November 1996, it has provided a platform to the anti-war movement, the anti-cuts movement, the radical independence movement and more.
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Main Photo: Downing Street (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)