By Ken Ferguson

The sweeping gains by the "fruitcakes" of UKIP - which we look at elsewhere in this Voice - throws a harsh spotlight on the growing chasm between the politics of England and Scotland.

Bluntly put, in the mainstream of Westminster's largely English-based politics, the dominant trend is moving policies increasingly to the hard right backed by shrill campaigns - often racist - in the tabloid press, which in turn set the tone of the debate.

So after the UKIP surge, a promise to take a hard-line on the EU as over 100 Tory MPs press for more right wing policies to counter the damage UKIP could inflict on the Tories.

Media stunts such as taking tellies off English prisoners or pensions from UK pensioners' foreign partners have done little to stem the tide.

Bubbling just under the surface, the truth is that many of those who form the backbone of the Tory organisation have little real differences with UKIP and favour an alliance with them in order to dump the hapless Lib Dems.

This trend was most clearly articulated by Tory grandee and North Somerset MP Jacob Rees Mogg, an establishment figure and son of a former Times editor.


Speaking on Radio 4, Mogg breathlessly backed a pact with the UKIP extremists, pointing out that such a project had the potential to deliver a bigger majority than Thatcher in order to stamp their right wing ideas on the country.

Then, in a Times article, former Thatcher-era Chancellor Nigel Lawson backed an EU pull out. What is clear is that such a scenario would dump both Cameron and his Lib Dem coalition partners. Speculation of a Boris Johnstone/Nigel Farage coalition replacing the ConDems is no longer unthinkable.

Despite attempts by unionists to play all this down, the fact is that Scots, having been fed a relentless diet of vote-Yes-and-die tales, are now seeing the reality that the politics of the union will be the politics of the hard right.

Reinforcing this is the fact that in the elections last week, Labour - the flag bearer for the non-Tory segment of the No camp - performed poorly.

So, beyond the scare stories - mortgages at risk, pensions unpaid and the pound taken off us - what has the No camp got by way of positive reasons to persuade non-Tories to stick with Britain? Apart from appeals to sentiment not a lot.

Welfare "reform" - in reality an assault on the poor - which delivered the detested Bedroom Tax has some way and a lot of unpleasant attacks on people still to go.

Yet the party which Scots used to turn to to rebuff such attacks – Labour - is in a threeway, cross-class alliance with the very parties which are leading the attacks.

Indeed, in a recent media interview New Labour apologist Harriet Harman confirmed that benefits such as elderly travel and winter fuel payment face the chop under a Miliband administration.

In this she was, of course, echoing her Scottish Party chief Johann Lamont who infamously slammed "freebie Scotland" last year.

The real danger for the No campaign is that an increasingly under pressure public grows increasingly unimpressed by scares about frontier posts at Gretna and a ban on Coronation Street as they face the reality of Westminster cuts and sackings.


In the 500 days between now and the referendum, this presents those backing a Yes vote with an opportunity that must be seized and, along with exposing the reality of staying British in an increasingly right wing UK, a coherent picture of how independence can chart a different future can be put front and centre of the campaign.

In the Thatcher era, Scotland decisively rejected her right wing dogma, and that is the foundation of today's progressive consensus, and winning that for a Yes vote must now be the decisive task for independence campaigners.

This article was first published in the Scottish Socialist Voice and is republished here with kind permission.

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