Neil Mackay: Can Sturgeon harness economic fury to secure Scottish independence?

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Neil Mackay: Can Sturgeon harness economic fury to secure Scottish independence
Neil Mackay: Can Sturgeon harness economic fury to secure Scottish independence

IF Nicola Sturgeon really wants to one day win independence for Scotland, then right now she has the best opportunity of her career. If she can harness the fear and anger that ordinary Scottish people are feeling over the financial catastrophe that faces us all, then she might just be able to change history. Does she have what it takes, though?

We’re about to be swept back to the very worst days of Thatcherism with brutal inflation and interest rates destroying millions of lives, plunging families into poverty. People will lose their jobs, their homes and their dignity.

Our economy is collapsing. Yet, the Tory government does nothing to stop what’s happening. Leadership frontrunner Liz Truss is so economically illiterate, she’ll deepen the misery. We’ve no effective executive branch to the UK government. Boris Johnson has been deposed but remains in office - both with, yet without, power. Either way, he and current chancellor Nadhim Zahawi are on holiday right now, in the midst of an escalating crisis.

The Tories have quite simply aided and abetted what can only be termed the ‘cannibal capitalism’ that’s now eating Britain alive. Energy companies are simply war profiteers, making billions from bloodshed in Ukraine, while pushing oil and gas prices to crippling levels for the public. Their rampant profiteering is the cause of much of the inflation driving people into poverty.

The politicians who’ll come out on top from this will be the ones who campaign for mass nationalisation of energy firms - with profits redistributed to the people - and immediate reduction and capping of energy bills. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to also start talking about jailing corporate bosses who act against the interests of the people.

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Just copy France - that folk devil for Tory Brexiteers. France is passing a €20 billion package of inflation relief including pension and welfare hikes and rent caps. It’s already capped energy prices and is nationalising the EDF power giant. Where do we hear such popular ambition in Britain? Nowhere.

People are scared - you can feel raw anger sweeping the land now. Britain’s approaching financial ruin - and that, horribly, is what’s coming - is going to be so severe that people will seek political alternatives. Clearly, that risks the far right stepping into the vacuum, but a smart politician with a real socially democratic agenda could easily emerge the victor.

Harnessing the rage and fear of Scottish people - in a constructive, not exploitative way, crucially - would be the surest recruiting sergeant for independence. Everyone is going to suffer here: debt collectors and bailiffs don’t care if you vote Yes or No. There’s only one way blame goes at the moment - in the direction of the Tories and the system at Westminster.

If Sturgeon can show that she has the ideas to create an alternative, and the guts to really stand up for Scottish people, then she could push support for independence over the magic 60% figure, thereby making it impossible for a weak, flailing Westminster - regardless of who’s in control - to deny another referendum.

But has the First Minister been corrupted by power? Is she still the left-leaning social democrat she was when she entered government? She certainly remains a canny politician - among the smartest of her generation - but does she remain ideologically equipped to fight this fight. And, unquestionably, this is a fight that will end up on the streets - on picket lines and in mass demonstrations. If Sturgeon cares, and if she wants to win independence, she’ll be there on the streets along with the millions who will soon be demanding change in this country.

 

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