AT a moment in history when our poorest people need their delegates to be strong they find themselves represented by fakes on either side of the Border. Sir Keir Starmer’s latest attempt to portray himself as their champion saw him emerge as the useful idiot of corporate UK. With this chap on look-out duties the Tories and their capitalist donors will be escaping with the loot for years to come.

Sir Keir, the multi-millionaire leader of the UK Labour Party, describes himself as an "Ethical Socialist". In a major speech on Thursday we got to see what “Ethical Socialism’ looks like and behold, it looks just like "Ethical Capitalism". Of course, there was a sufficiency of leftish ideas to justify his employment: austerity was bad and affordable homes were good. He didn’t want to “strip back public services, ignore inequalities and take money out of the pockets of those who need it most”.

Sir Keir’s solution: why it’s savings bonds and increased partnership with business to forge the new deal that Britain needs to aid our recovery from the pandemic. For it seems – unnoticed by many – that business has become all warm and cuddly. Apparently, they “know the days of ignoring their social and climate responsibilities are long gone”. Sadly, he didn’t produce any pictures of those pink unicorns. That would have been nice.

Savings bonds sound nice too. Look, I don’t want to be a curmudgeon, but it usually helps to – you know – actually have savings. Affordable homes sound peachy as well; it’s just that – how can I put this without sounding churlish – you still need a mortgage. And banks have this annoying habit of asking for proof of an actual job. Harsh, I know …

Perhaps the next time Sir Keir makes a speech he’ll show us new research that coronavirus won’t leave millions more unemployed and that all those people in the housing schemes were banking all the money they’d saved not going to pubs and football matches.

The Labour leader’s faith in business is also touching and points to a generous spirit. He’s obviously chosen to overlook all that outsourcing of public services to favoured private firms which gave us a test-and-trace operation that resembled infants trying to pin a tail on a donkey.

Sir Keir obviously didn’t see the UK Government’s Health and Care white paper either. This looked to me like a manifesto for stealth privatisation and de-regulation of those pesky restrictions on free market piracy. We’ve had a flavour of this during lockdown with all those Tory donors making whoopee with the PPE equipment. Sir Keir, kind man that he is, has obviously chosen to see their inner Samaritans.

Putting business at the heart of our economic recovery sounds fine, but only if businesses play by the same rules as you. Perhaps I’m being naïve, but I thought – for the Labour Party at least – this means paying your employees a proper living wage. It also means strong trades union representation so that they have security of employment. These sorts of things tend to give people the confidence to spend money.

Capitalism has had a great wee lockdown. Global operators took the opportunity to shed low-hanging staff and the tactics of fire and re-hire on lower wages was taken out and given a spin. The world’s richest traders increased their fortunes by speculating on disaster.

The potential for bigger overseas markets is also promising. The world’s poorest 50 countries, already struggling with debt to rich Western countries and financial institutions will fall further behind. The chaos will provide great opportunities for military strongmen to step in. That usually means a big pay-day for Western arms manufacturers, oil companies and construction firms.

These people are already protected by their savings, their property portfolios and their investments. But it must be reassuring to know that the leader of the UK Labour Party has their back too and that he won’t be making a fuss about their methods.

The working classes have only two weapons with which to protect themselves: their numbers and their right to withdraw their labour. But rather than restore those rights, Labour, it seems would rather stand on the side of the markets. In Scotland, if Anas Sarwar becomes the next leader of its branch office, the party will be led by a man whose family business failed for many years to pay many of its workers a real living wage or recognise trade unions.

Meanwhile, the UK’s biggest trade unions were falling over themselves to applaud Sir Keir’s speech. Right now this movement is a docile and supine organisation, happy to behave itself in exchange for its leaders’ eye-watering remuneration packages and expense accounts.

Sir Keir’s glove puppets in the trade unions and media dutifully greeted his speech as though it were in the tradition of the great post-war visionaries. It was nothing of the sort. Instead, it signalled business as usual for gangster capitalism to proceed unchallenged in this failed UK state.

This is the principle reason driving the persistently high numbers for independence. Tragically for the Yes movement, the main party of independence has no interest in addressing class-driven inequality either. Thus Scotland’s ruling party, set fair for two decades in power, is persistently in thrall to the blandishments of billionaires, happy to sell off our nation’s natural assets on land and sea.

More alarmingly, this party is now controlled by a misogynistic identity cult, manipulated by a First Minister who uses it as a deflection from her manifest failure to make life better for Scotland’s most vulnerable communities.

Unless UK Labour can rediscover its radical edge we will still be in this place in 2031. And unless the SNP can be rescued from its Salem wing and the fake progressives who lurk there, independence will be a hollow thing too: an opportunity squandered; a mere extension of capitalist UK where the Lion Rampant flies only as a flag of convenience.

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