Scotland will vote on independence from Britain September 18. Despite a strong campaign by establishment figures for a “no” vote, polls showing growing support for independence, although still not a majority.
Below, Colin Fox explains why Scottish independence will be a blow to austerity and a win for working people. Fox is the nation spokesperson for Scottish Socialist Party and a former member of Scottish parliament, and sits on the Yes Scotland advisory board.
The SSP is part of Radical Independence Campaign, which unites a range of left groups, such as the Scottish Greens, socialist groups and many individuals, in a campaign for an independent Scotland based on equality and social justice. The article below is reprinted from Morning Star Online.
“Scotland should stand shoulder to shoulder with working people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland,” said Gordon Brown last month, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Tories, Liberal Democrats and the far-right UK Independence Party in opposing Scotland’s independence.
The former prime minister pops up periodically in this debate to lead Labour’s own group “United with Labour”, much to the chagrin of Alistair Darling, his arch rival who represents the official No campaign.
But Brown’s standing is not high. And no wonder, for this is the man who stood “shoulder to shoulder” with Tony Blair over the war in Iraq and privatised so much of Scotland’s public services.
He also left millions of people facing the worst recession in 80 years. His support for reckless, greedy merchant bankers at the point they wrecked the economy is surely the most enduring feature of his political career.
Brown doesn’t have to travel far in these isles to see the scars his pioneering neoliberal policies have left on working-class communities.
Yet this “heavyweight thinker” with “an immense intellect” ― the Daily Record’s terms ― apparently believes Labour stands to the left of the SNP politically nowadays. The evidence suggests otherwise.
Mind you, as a “heavyweight thinker” who disregards the evidence, he has form.
As chancellor, he claimed he had “ended the boom-bust cycle of British capitalism” just before it all went bust. He has not changed much during his four year gardening leave in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.
For Labour now believes, as its Scottish leader Johann Lamont infamously put it, that “universal benefits represent the something-for-nothing culture”.
It also voted against the Scottish National Party’s abolition of NHS prescription charges here in Scotland. It supports further cuts in public services and welfare payments to the poor.
Of course, no-one, whether they have an immense intellect or not, would claim the SNP are socialists, but then neither is the Labour Party. Unlike Brown however, the nationalists did not vote for the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government’s welfare cap.
But again ignoring all the evidence, our soothsayer predicts Scotland will be more right-wing than Labour with independence, more unequal and we would spend “all our resources on cutting corporation tax”.
“Scotland gets the best of both worlds within the union,” insists Brown. “We have a strong Scottish Parliament at Holyrood and vital influence in the UK Government.”
But it’s a “double-dip” delusion. I was an member of Scottish parliament at Holyrood for four years. My daily experience was to be reminded by the presiding officer about what we couldn’t talk about there.
We couldn’t talk about unemployment, we couldn’t talk about the national minimum wage and the low-pay epidemic affecting 680,000 Scots.
We couldn’t talk about social security or pensions, or the worst anti-union laws in the whole of Europe.
We couldn’t talk about Europe or foreign affairs, we couldn’t talk about the Scottish soldiers dying in illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We couldn’t talk about the obscenity of Trident nuclear weapons stationed on our soil ― we couldn’t talk about any of these issues as they were all “reserved” for Westminster.
So we patently don’t have a strong Scottish parliament. Nor do we have “vital influence at Westminster” because the overwhelming majority of Scots wanted the bankers who caused the economic crisis held to account ― but they weren’t.
We rejected the privatisation of the Royal Mail and yet we were lumbered with it. We rejected the bedroom tax and the attacks on the rights of immigrants and claimants but we suffer that too.
Nonetheless, Brown insists we should still vote No in September and wait for a Labour government to come along and challenge the warmongering neoliberalism that destroys our lives.
But we just had three of them and they didn’t challenge neoliberalism in any shape or form ― they advocated it.
The truth is independence offers working people the left-of-centre, social democratic Scotland the majority want.
And we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with working-class people throughout these isles when we get it.
Those like Brown and George Galloway who say independence means we are “abandoning the English working class to permanent Tory rule” are wrong.
They are arithmetically wrong because very few Westminster elections are ever decided by Scottish votes. Labour’s three most recent victories for example would still have been won without its Scottish MPs.
And they are politically wrong too, because we are not “abandoning” anyone. We are leading the fight for social democracy and socialism in these isles, as has often been the case in the past.
The shop stewards movement, for example, came out of the Red Clydeside struggles of the 1900s. The UCS work-in inspired the industrial fight back in the 1970s and the anti-poll tax rebellion began in Scotland in 1988.
We are, however, abandoning the delusion that a Labour government at Westminster will ever implement a social-democratic or socialist program.
Independence will therefore be to the advantage of working-class people across these isles. It represents a defeat for the forces of neoliberalism and imperial warmongering.
And it stands to reason that working-class people in Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, London and elsewhere will also benefit from that. Moreover our solidarity does not stop at the English Channel.
Scotland has a proud record of standing “shoulder to shoulder with working people” in England, Wales, northern Ireland and the rest of the world.
A Yes vote on September 18 will not change that but it will rearrange the political balance of forces across Britain and beyond.
It will embolden working people in the rest of these isles and internationally. Such a defeat for the British ruling classes ― at the forefront of neoliberalism and warmongering the world over ― will assist the struggle for socialism worldwide.
In the last analysis, Brown is not defending the interests of the working class and he never has. He is again “standing shoulder to shoulder” with the neoliberal British state and its political elite.