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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Anonymous said...

You know what, Simon? I'm 65 yrs old and this is the first time (seeing oilberta on its way to becoming Alberta again and what happened in Scotland) that I have felt this hopeful that we really can defeat that fascist asshole harper and his criminal cabal in the upcoming election. For good or ill, I am voting for a federal "orange crush" to take over Ottawa and, hopefully, free Canada of her ever-growing fascist fetters. If the young voters here could turn out like they did in Scotland, we really might send this bush league demagogue back to the mailroom where he always belonged, let alone cowering in a goddamn closet!
Fuck the filthy cons!
Fuck fear and police-state surveillance disguised as "patriotism"!
Up Canada!
Vote damnit!
Alberta just proved that the crappy "first past the post" system still works, but ONLY if WE show up!
Good night, all.

Will said...

Mr. Cameron would seem to be a British equivalent to our Republicans here in the US -- I wonder if they will form a transatlantic bond with the PM, a kind of second Thatcher-Reagan love match?

Simon said...

hi anon...that's the spirit. What happened in Alberta should inspire us. I was encouraged to note that in Montreal the other night, the PQ held a leadership debate, which was not attended by many young people, just their aging followers. While an NDP rally with Tom Mulcair held at the same time attracted more people and most of them young. And as I mentioned in my post I saw what can happen when a movement draws in people of all ages, and inspires them with a shining left-wing vision of a better world. We've been too shy about that in this country. And if we are going to motivate more people to vote, we have to sell that vision more creatively and more aggressively...

Anonymous said...

You must be happy. You did predict what happened. I hope the NDP and SNP victories will inspire our parties to do better, but honestly I'm not optimistic.

Simon said...

hi anon...well I didn't predict that they would do as well as they did. What I did predict was that because it was a movement with a strong grassroots organization, it would not die. I've never been able to explain the SNP to people in this country. As soon as I mention the words Scottish independence, many people think Bloc Quebecois, when the two parties are quite different. Although the Bloc under Duceppe was a progressive party, it never managed to create a coalition of nationalists, social democrats, Green party people etc, as the SNP has do. And never was able to project the same shining vision. But what is clear to me since I saw it with my own eyes, that it could teach us how to win if we can put aside our feeling about the Disunited Kingdom and deal with modern reality. Or hopefully understand that the SNP is not a narrow nationalist movement, but a movement trying to build a proudly left wing country in a UK the Cons are turning into a right-wing nightmare...

Marmalade said...

Nicola and Rachel both have the vision of 'letting the people decide'.........what a phenomenon!!!!!!!

Unknown said...

Hi Simon, if Albertans have the guts to take their province back, then the rest of Canada should have the guts to take our country back. Will Canadians in Oct. really let this cowardly tyrant remain as our PM? For heaven sake Canada get out and vote!!

Mogs Moglio said...

Will 5:55 AM what are you doing up this early? He-he...

Did you know Will that the US has not so "secret' plans in their US government 'closet' to take over Canada at the drop of a hat? I liked the majority of Americans when I spent time down there visiting. I did not care for your government or their strict rules and that being said. The self named Harper government is making it a ditto up here. We would become like Scotland were that to happen the US over taking us and making us a territory or a 51st state. Either way I would not be kind to the annex of my country Canada.

They thought they had Alberta then along came 'the orange crush' I bet that sent some twitters through the so called 'Republicans' eh?

Cheers Will cheers,

Simon I do not for the life of me understand why Scotland is not independent. Ireland first declared its sovereignty in 1916 then again in 1921 and 1937. Scotland in history had repeatedly repelled British armies. When the British withdraw social spending I think a revolt will come and independence will be regained through a referendum. I've been in southern England and Wales [which used to be independent also] but never made it to Scotland or Ireland before setting my course of travel south to Europe.


Mogs Moglio said...

Huston we have problem:

The last link we need them now to oversee our election who would ever have thought we needed it in Canada? Here is why:

Scroll down to the graphs and see how the cons are conning Canadians and at the hogs trough of the public purse. Infuriates me it is not a level playing field.

Nothing to cheer about,

Michael Follon said...


Just to give you a bit of info about the position of Wales in the United Kingdom.

Wales became part of the kingdom of England following the culmination of a military conquest in 1282. At this time Wales itself was not one country, but as a collection of princedoms. Wales did come to be regarded as a country during an unsuccessful four year rebellion at the beginning of the fifteenth century. In 1536 the Parliament of England enacted a statute which specified that Wales "stand and continue for ever from and henceforth incorporated united and annexed to and with" the realm of England. When the Treaty of Union in 1707 between England and Scotland came into effect on May 1, 1707, Wales had already been part of the Kingdom of England for over 400 years.