At this very moment the streets of central London are packed with protestors who have come together in a spontaneous mass demonstration against government Austerity and the prospect of another five hard years of Conservative rule. Police were caught off guard by the surge of people who made their way towards Downing Street, and only after a liberal use of truncheons were they able to secure the barrier between the Mall and the Prime Minister’s London residence. It is clear that many of the reasons so many Scots are now looking towards national self-determination are the same as the reasons ordinary people across this island have run out of patience. Britain is breaking apart, and it isn’t only the growing rift between Scotland and Westminster that is doing it.
What we know as the United Kingdom is a state polity under the control of a minuscule, but powerful and wealthy elite. This is not the wonderful democracy that it pretends to be. It is the machinery of a nation state driven by and answerable to super rich financial concerns of a truly globalised nature. Since the late 1970s the British Conservative Party has subscribed to a shock economic doctrine that has put the wants of the few over the needs of the many. A 1997 New Labour landslide did not end the application of this economic warfare. In fact it aggravated it. Tony Blair’s New Labour simply adapted to this political theory in order to take power. In effect then the United Kingdom has endured more than thirty-five years of austerity – the continual transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.
David Cameron is the fruition of Thatcherism’s come-back. Successive Tory and Labour governments have taken the fabric of Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland apart piece by piece – ensuring the ease of the wealth transfer with minimum social resistance. Individualism and the profit principle have triumphed over the community and the common good, and right now we are seeing the consequences of this political thinking; the fragmentation of society and the destruction of communities.
None of this matters to the profiteers of this system. They are neither interested in the common good nor in society. They have one simple goal and that is money. We are not talking here about a few quid up on the neighbours. We are talking about hundreds of millions of pounds – even billions – being soaked up from our communities; essential services, healthcare, education and so on, to engorge a tiny number of people – many of whom we do not even know or elect. This system of oppression (and it is oppression) gives rise to the New Politics where public service is no longer seen as a means of achieving genuine political ends but as a career devoid of social concern. To see the truth of this simply take a look at the number of Ministers of State with professional qualifications in political science. This political science is an exercise in spin marketing and vapidity; nowhere is it rooted in an authentic desire to represent the desperate needs of the voting public.
It is out of this soup that we have seen the hunger deepen in Scotland, and to a smaller extent in Wales, for further devolution from the UK – and even complete political separation. Over the past decade in Scotland we have witnessed a groundswell in a new socially conscious activism in response to worsening austerity, and it is from within this; with people thinking through the political and social questions that it raises, that the growing Independence Movement has found its most support. It was never merely a matter of stocking up the foodbanks and the homeless shelters. It was about asking the whys and looking for solutions, and it was not long before the relationship between the misery and the cancer at the heart of Westminster politics was established.
Scotland has its answer, but what of the tens of millions of people south of the border? Owen Jones would have us believe that the answer is in supporting the UK Labour Party with Scottish votes. He is entitled to this opinion, but we have experienced for too long the failure and the cruel indifference of Labour, north and south of the Tweed. Labour could have been the answer. It failed, and it failed for too long. Rather than deal with the suffering at home it leapt into illegal foreign wars only to spread greater suffering abroad. Labour? It is a betrayal of its very name.
Our English neighbours are, right at this moment, exploding due to their frustration. They are so much more trapped than we are, for they have nowhere to turn. Tonight they are protesting at the gates of Downing Street and they are doing it for many of the same reasons that we just packed Westminster’s Scottish seats with SNP MPs. In the weeks and months ahead it will make a great deal of sense for us to reach out and find common ground with this English rebellion. Defeating the Westminster monster on its own turf will require many a fifth column.
Jason Michael, Ayrshire