Wednesday, May 13, 2015
The New Fascist Britain, the Scottish Resistance, and the Lesson for Canada
It couldn't be a worse nightmare. David Cameron's Conservatives have a majority and are preparing to carve up what's left of Britain's welfare state.
They are planning to make massive cuts to welfare payments for the poor and the disabled, continue their privatization of that country's medicare system, and scrap the human rights act.
But while I feel very sorry for those who will suffer from the bestiality of the British Cons, my consolation is that Scotland is now a progressive bastion.
The unabashedly left-wing, anti-austerity Scottish National Party is now the de facto opposition in the British House of Commons.
As Labour begins its own autopsy and remains in a state of disarray, and with the Liberal Democrats reduced to a rump, the SNP is the de facto opposition of a UK parliament it has opposed and attacked for years.
And take them at their word: the group will be defending the most vulnerable people in the country against the coming wave of cuts as the Tories’ ideologically driven welfare changes sweep across the divided kingdom.
And as Susan Delacourt points out, coming so soon after Rachel Notley's victory in Alberta, the victory of another left-wing party lead by a woman SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, is another sign that the ground is shifting.
Is this just a seasonal coincidence? Spring fever breaking out in the northern hemisphere on both sides of the Atlantic? Or do the results in Alberta and Scotland tell us something about voters’ willingness to try something radically new?
For not only does it tells me that the left-wing option is alive and well. How the SNP achieved that extraordinary result should also be a lesson for Canadians.
In Scotland, regardless of where one stands on the Scottish separation question, the nationalists’ new clout at Westminster can be seen as a shot in the arm for the power of democracy.
Rather than be dispirited by their failure to win a Yes majority in last fall’s referendum on separation from Great Britain, Scots appear to have developed a new addiction to democratic engagement. Turnout was over 70 per cent in Scotland in Thursday’s vote.
For as I have explained after witnessing the Scottish referendum campaign last summer, they achieved that result by turning a political party into a movement.
Which as I have also pointed out will always be more powerful than a mere political party. Far more able to survive bitter disappointment...
And one of the ways they did that was by reaching out to young people, including 16 and 17-year-olds, and recruiting them into the political process.
And have been so successful in that regard, they have just sent the youngest MP to the British Parliament in 350 years.
Another way they were able to rally Scots, and overcome the influence of big money and the conservative MSM, was to use social media to overcome that disadvantage.
And by using new and creative ways to get their message by among other things, projecting their messages on the sides of buildings all over the country.
Whether the SNP will succeed in blunting the brutal offensive of the Cameron Tories remains to be seen.
But I was struck by the fact that after the election debate which saw SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon declared the winner, one of the top Google searches in Britain was "Can I vote for the SNP?"
Which although the answer for those who don't live in Scotland was sadly no, does show that there is a large constituency for a left-wing anti-austerity message. Which can only help drive Britain in a more progressive direction.
And of course, whether they succeed or fail, the Scottish people can't lose.
Nicola Sturgeon was telling the truth when she said her campaign wasn’t about winning independence. Scots, submerging the nation under an SNP flood, weren’t seeking independence. They were doing it.
In the course of a few years Scotland changed, grew up, liked what it saw in the mirror. Not just the yes voters in the September referendum. Many no voters felt empowered too. From such “Yes, we can!” moments, there’s no way back.
For if the Cameron Cons turn Britain into a fascist nightmare, and go ahead with their plan to pull Britain out of the E.U. as soon as 2017, something Scots strongly oppose.
There will soon be another independence referendum. And this message by the former SNP leader Alex Salmond on the eve of the last referendum, will turn out to be just a little ahead of its time......
As for me, I will be going to Scotland to attend SNP school later this summer, to try to learn more things we can use against our Cons in the next election.
But in the meantime my message remains the same.
Don't be shy to stand-up for a boldly progressive vision. Go big or go home.
Turn the next election into a movement to save our country.
And stop the Harper Cons...
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