Scotland: Growing union support for 'Yes' vote

May 4, 2014

Campaigners for Scottish independence have received another boost as a branch of the public sector trade union Unison sided “positively with the Yes side” in a debate on Scotland's September 18 referendum on whether to remain part of Britain.

Nationwide branch Skills Development Scotland held a “Yes/No” debate at their 2014 AGM in March. Richard Leonard, a political officer for the GMB union, represented United for Labour. He went head-to-head with Richie Venton of Trade Unionists for Independence.

The case for voting “Yes” for independence emerged the popular choice of the night.

Skills Development Scotland branch secretary Derek Cheyne said: “It was a really good debate ― I think a lot of people really engaged and we had a great turn out as well.

“I've got to say, I think that most of the questions from the floor were very pro-yes. We've not canvassed on whether our members are yes or no, but I got the feeling tonight Yes was dominant.

“I hope it has energised our members, that they become more involved whether it's yes or no ― that's entirely up to them, because my union has taken a more neutral stance.”

He added: “But as I said ― tonight seemed to be quite positively on the Yes side.”

Venton said: “It was an excellent debate ― there were some forceful arguments, but very respectful. For me, probably the most significant factor is that trade unionists spelt out that the struggle for Yes is driving towards the conclusion that we need radical change in society.

“And that will build the basis for a future shaping of Scotland in an entirely different direction ― to favour the working class.”

[Reprinted from Links International Journal for Socialist Renewal.]