Open a newspaper any day, any week and you’ll read any number of right-wing inspired news smears of the SNP claiming it an authoritarian party, so right-wing it’s fascist. Since newspapers are predominately right-wing you’d think they be very happy about that.
The list of accusations includes cabinet members under threat of expulsion to the Outer Hebrides if they depart from the week’s approved narrative, (exactly what that is nobody knows) power is deliberately centralised, (let’s not talk about London) SNP membership is ignored in favour of Sturgeon’s hobbyhorses, (how do you ignore almost 150,000 members?) and the latest, Salmond is Alex The Barbarian.
The power elite are never short of a hare to set us running to catch it.
The SNP inhabits a parliamentary system rigged to ensure no party has an overall majority, especially not the SNP. Fine for other parties, crippling for the champions of Scotland’s rights. Theoretically a Unionist party has more power running Scotland by the fact its ideologically locked into British rule, harnessed to nurture a British colonial agenda. A Union party can achieve consensus simply by telling people a new law or tax they’re wary off is actually a good thing, welcomed by the ‘rest of the Great Britain’.
No matter what the SNP does to mitigate neo-liberal economic policies forced on Scotland, better known as austerity, opposition politicians can and do portray the SNP’s efforts as wasted, or inept, or not what the majority want. Their tactic is uncomplicated- constant, relentless negative carping creates a climate of acceptance, a conventional wisdom. The public begin to feel there is some truth in the criticism.
As a nation’s elected administration, in a parliament where MSP’s are given seats who were rejected by voters, the SNP has very little power … with one important exception.
Power to the people
The one ability the SNP has to influence the behaviour of others is the one feared most by Unionist parties – it can hand power back to the people of Scotland, overnight, in a single vote. Citizen power is everything in a democracy. That’s the big weapon people have against state authoritarianism. Be advised, democratic power is a very fragile thing.
If the Tory Party in London get their way the SNP will be emasculated once Brexit’s power grab hands a veto to Westminster. The Tories will have successfully taken all power back into its hands, reduced the United Kingdom to a group of vassal provinces, and ensured Scotland won’t regain its independence this century. The British right-wing plans to block the electorate’s right to remain associated with Europe and European culture and ideals.
In that event, like William Wallace, Scotland will be hung drawn and quartered. A second referendum is as good as dead.
On the other hand, the SNP can never morph into an authoritarian party because it has no giant corporate support, no financial institutions in its pocket. The SNP commands no army to impose order. Our regiments went south a decade ago.
The enemy is not the SNP
Real power lies with the wealthy and the politicians who do their dirty work. No wonder we take an instant dislike to them. It saves time. The arrogance of the rich and multinational corporations who stashed almost £20 trillion in offshore bank accounts to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, and now demand that their respective governments impose an austerity agenda on the rest of us is astonishing.
You can tell an authoritarian regime a mile off. To begin with they never offer referendums. The notion the people can overturn anything is at odds with the doctrine of absolute control. They share other key hallmarks: hostility toward democratic norms, antagonism toward a free press, (Scotland does not have a free press, it has an owned press) intolerance toward ethnic and religious minorities, and a belief that government should benefit from their own selfish financial interests. That sounds like Westminster to me. It has gangster toff Jacob Rees-Mogg written all over it.
Tory ideology is deeply connected to a network of multi-billionaire oligarchs who see the world as their economic plaything, self-made men who worship their creator.
The rise of the far-Right
The right-wing has been very successful getting governments to introduce draconian laws to limit free speech, travel, and in Scotland’s case, the right to vote.
Ten years ago political scholars expressed concern about austerity as a means of control, ignoring the unemployed, the withdrawal of state welfare, running down state health services, disenfranchising whole sections of the populace. Who would have imagined the rise of far-right groups in Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Sweden, Hungary or Turkey to the extent some adherents now hold positions of office in governments? They don’t hold power yet, but they are able to infiltrate and influence the democratic process to their own ends. We have to drive them out. It is dangerous to tolerate their existence.
Who would have foreseen the rise of Nigel Farage exploit the disillusioned by invoking the spirit of Oswald Mosley and Enoch Powell, or be aided and abetted in his goals by the nice genteel British Broadcasting Corporation?
The far-Right is a contagion
On the international stage we laughed when a Ronald Reagan, a B-list actor, got to be president of the United States of America, and Arnie Schwarzenegger became governor of California. No surprise, then, that a class narcissist and congenital liar is now president at the United States. We failed to notice they were scouts for what was to come.
It’s also hard to imagine only a year ago that Israel’s cowboy regime of Netanyahu would have moved to pass the recent “nation state law”, which essentially codifies the second-class status of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. Of course, he’s very confident of getting away with racist policies. He has Trump’s support.
In Hungary, the far-right authoritarian leader Viktor Orbán is openly sooking up to Putin. It’s not clear to what extent Putin supports him, but he is listening to him. In China, an inner circle led by Xi Jinping has steadily consolidated power, clamping down on domestic political freedom while it aggressively promotes authoritarian capitalism.
Look carefully at Britain and ask yourself if there is a difference.
The SNP is no one’s performing monkey
The SNP is not in close contact with any of those nations. But those nations, or at least those far-Right groups within them, are in touch with each other. They share tactics and, as in the case of European and American right-wing movements, even share some of the same funders. The Mercer family, for example, supporters of the nefarious Cambridge Analytica, have been key backers of Trump and of Breitbart News.
While the very rich get much richer, people are working longer hours for stagnating wages. We fear for our children’s future. Authoritarians exploit those economic anxieties creating scapegoats which put us at each other’s throats.
Where stands Scotland?
Scotland is surrounded by a cesspool of financialised capitalism. Old school capitalism that believed in the redistribution of wealth where it was made, that was philanthropic, is dead. The only reason to give a portion of your wealth away is to enhance your standing in society, to gain a knighthood, or reduce your taxes.
Where is the SNP’s power its enemies are so keen to disperse? I can answer that. It’s us. We can turn Scotland into a bastion of democratic progress, a contrarian society where endeavour is rewarded, the weak protected, and greed condemned.
It was that socialist turned independence supporter, Jimmy Reid who said he wanted to live in a land where the teacher asks, if you buy ten apples at a £1 each and sell them at £3 pounds each, what do you get, and a pupil answers, three months in jail for profiteering. That’s the society I’d like to live in.
The SNP is a party of all persuasions. Like the way society functions, it takes all sorts. It brings together people from all walks of life. It is collaborative and collegiate. We share a vision of prosperity, security and dignity for all.
Above all, the SNP is our only hope of banishing the bastards from our door.