Scottish socialists back independence referendum

August 17, 2007

On August 14, Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), revealed his minority government's plans for a referendum on Scottish independence.

The August 15 Morning Star reported that a white paper launched by Salmond in Edinburgh "includes a draft ballot paper for an independence referendum, asking voters whether they agree 'that the Scottish government should negotiate a settlement with the government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state'".

Although Salmond's SNP government has the support of the Greens in the Scottish parliament, it has no overall majority. This means the proposal for an independence referendum will almost certainly be defeated by the combined votes of the Labour Party, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) has welcomed the SNP white paper. According to an August 15 SSP statement: "Unlike the three London-controlled parties, the Scottish Socialist Party is not afraid of a wide-ranging debate, followed by a democratic vote on Scotland's future.

"The Scottish Socialist Party supports independence for Scotland. We believe Scotland would be economically, politically, culturally and socially better off making our own decisions and standing on our own two feet. We look forward to outlining our own unique vision, for an independent socialist Scotland.

"In the meantime, the SSP will also support any steps to strengthen the Scottish Parliament short of full independence. We have called, for example, for Holyrood to have control over broadcasting, energy, fiscal policy, drugs and other matters that are currently reserved to Westminster. We would use fiscal autonomy, not to boost the already bloated profits of big business, but to redistribute wealth and narrow the gap between rich and poor.

"However, only full independence can rid Scotland of nuclear weapons, disentangle Scotland from the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan, allow us to welcome refugees fleeing famine and persecution, and enable Scotland to draw up its own democratic constitution fit for the 21st century …

"The SSP believes that the fight for independence involves confronting powerful vested interests at the heart of the British establishment. When they site their nuclear weapons here and rely disproportionately on our sons and daughters to stock their armies and die in their wars, it would be naive to imagine that the British state will be led gently down the slippery slope to full independence.

"We believe that the forces in favour of independence — including the SNP, the SSP, the Greens, the Independence Convention and Independence First — have a major battle on their hands to win the Scottish people decisively to the cause of Scottish independence."

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