As a referendum on Scottish independence gets the go ahead, Keir McKechnie, author of a new pamphlet looking at the arguments, spoke to Socialist Worker
There are two main arguments why socialists should support Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum.
Firstly, it would mean the break up of the British state, with its bloody history. We want to weaken its ability to launch imperialist wars around the world.
Then there’s the question of opposition to Trident nuclear weapons—a central issue for the Yes campaign. Alex Salmond still claims the Scottish National Party (SNP) will write its anti-nuclear position into the constitution.
But he has also said that an independent Scotland would remain part of Nato. It’s naive to imagine that Scotland would be allowed to stay in Nato without nuclear weapons.
And it’s not automatic that independence will benefit the working class. The SNP has also announced its intention to keep the pound and the monarchy. There will be no fundamental change if we simply sign up to Salmond’s vision.
Recently there’s been a dip in support for independence to around 28 percent in polls. This can be explained by the fact that Salmond is trying to dampen down expectations. He’s bending over backwards to show the SNP is pro-big business.
Meanwhile the Labour Party is travelling to the right at a rate of knots. They’re saying essentially the same as the Tories—and it’s creating a major crisis. At freshers’ fairs across Scotland, Labour groups were handing out union jacks!
In the trade union movement we’re beginning to see the opportunity opening up to discuss the question of what kind of Scotland we want. The unions and the Scottish TUC are creating the space to debate these issues and the left must seize the opportunity.
But within that, there’s a danger that these discussions deflect from fighting austerity in the here and now. There’s also a danger that the pro-independence campaign is quite cut off from the trade unions.
Anti-austerity politics are not at the heart of the official Yes campaign. Yet on the pro-independence demonstration last month of 10,000, the most well received points from the rally were anti-austerity ones.
There were cheers when Aamer Anwar called for everyone to join the 20 October demonstration.Around 60 percent of the march was made up of SNP members.
There weren’t really any union banners there, but many union activists were signing up to a recently launched group called Trade Unions for Independence. While there was a minority in military regalia dress, the dominant message was fairly left wing. Salmond talked left.
There needs to be a fight to shape the independence campaign. We don’t want a tartan brand of neoliberalism. Huge cuts have just been announced and the SNP says they must be implemented. We have to be putting demands that they aren’t.