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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

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The tide is high: set sail for progressive politics

This opinion piece is almost 7 years old

Graham Martin argues that the SNP's tack to the left shows the direction of travel is with the third sector

As the old saying goes, when the sea rises, all ships rise with it.

Well, troubled waters seemed to be rising up the necks of Scotland’s ruling party, which has begun leaking support and has seen its plans for indyref2 holed beneath the waterline, with no sign in sight of a patch.

Make no mistake, the source of this tide has been the lunar pull of the Corbyn movement which has dragged political discourse to the left.

Faced with an assault from this flank for the first time in decades, the nationalists had begun to flounder.

Their social democratic zeal seemed tarnished as an increasingly managerial party demobilised its mass base and attempted to claim the centre ground – at exactly the moment that began to sink.

This was hardly Lenin’s April theses, but from a party which has been so timid recently, it felt positively radical

Facing this deluge, the SNP had two choices: stand Canute-like against the tide and drown, or go with the flow.

Thankfully for it and for Scotland’s third sector, it has chosen the latter, or it appears to have going by its Programme for Government.

Let’s not get too carried away – as we mark the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, this was hardly Lenin’s April theses.

But from a party which has been so timid recently, the programme’s contents felt positively radical.

There was much there to make progressives purr – the Scottish National Investment Bank, a public sector rail bid, ending the public sector pay cap, free sanitary products in schools, free personal care to under 65s with dementia, money for research into universal basic income, presumption against jail sentences of under 12 months, money for action on homelessness.

Hovering over this is the possibility of using the Scottish Parliament’s powers over income tax to pay for this and future progressive programmes.

From a third sector perspective, there was a lot to be glad about as much of this is our terrain and it’s where we’ve been making the running. One example – resetting the previously missed fuel poverty targets has been a major demand of Energy Action Scotland.

The third sector is a seed bed of progressive ideas and as the prevailing winds blow from the left these are now finding fertile soil.

But we mustn’t be complacent – the SNP has tacked to the left as a matter of expediency, fearing being overtaken by the Corbyn movement which is threatening to achieve the unthinkable by sending pulses of life through even the Scottish Labour Party.

It’s not clear how much it has acted on principle. The SNP is also notoriously good at announcing consultations and talks which don’t go anywhere.

Pressure must be placed upon it for results, but it’s clear the doors are open.

Charities and campaign groups should seize this opportunity to set a ratchet towards progressive politics that cannot be unturned.

Let’s move ahead while the current is running with us.

Graham Martin is news editor of Third Force News



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almost 7 years ago
Or, charities and campaign groups should seize this opportunity to fight back against socialist policies which have failed multiple times, which impoverish the body, mind and soul, and ratchet back towards free market politics that have been the greatest improver of humankind the world has ever seen.
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