There was a lot to be sad about in 2014. From the continuing march of austerity, the success of UKIP, the increasingly obvious mainstream media bias, yet another strangely familiar war, the loss of the independence campaign and worse, the conduct of the Better Together side throughout. All of these things were political low points in the last year.
However, despite all that 2014 was a year of great hope. The massive public debate around the independence referendum created unprecedented levels of political engagement in Scotland and all the contributors to that, from National Collective to the Radical Independence Campaign to Yestival and many more made 2014 one of the most compelling years to be a normal person who has an interest in politics that I can remember.
Post referendum, we have seen huge numbers joining the SNP and Greens (the #GreenSurge being a UK wide phenomenon), the creation of the Scottish Left Project, the continuance of the RIC and generally a desire to continue to engage, to continue the struggle for a better Scotland. Lastly, but by no means leastly, we’ve seen Scotland legalise equal marriage and our new First Minister name a 50:50 cabinet.
Elsewhere, we’ve seen the rise of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Russell Brand and Love Activists all getting attention in the fight against neoliberalism’s ills, we’ve seen Caroline Lucas rightly be named MP of the Year, we’ve seen progressive forces like Podemos and Syriza rise to the brink of government in some of the nations worst hit by austerity.
In short, there has been darkness and defeat but the signs are there that the tide is turning, that smaller parties and activist groups can make a dent, make a difference. There is an indication that the voting public are tired of the staus quo and are finally willing to leave tribal loyalties behind and vote for change.
2015 looks to bring us the most closely fought, varied and interesting general election campaign in living memory and will also see the first shots fired of the following year’s
There are battles ahead, with the issues of TTIP and fracking a clear and present danger, the likelihood that the establishment parties and mainstream media will do everything in their power to strangle the movement for change and mass public engagement in it’s cradle.
That’s before we even deal with the looming questions of devolution and independence, the worrying march of privatization and the terrifying populist feeling against immigrants and those on benefits.
We approach a crossroads. 2015 can be the year that the swing towards progressive change towards equality and sustainability begins in earnest or it can be the year when all such dreams are ended and we are locked into a path which ends up with us living in some nightmare society, more akin to a dystopian novel than anything else.
Let’s make bloody sure it’s the former.
Happy New Year, now get angry and get organized!