UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Scots Wha Hae?

In the debate over Scotland’s future all contributions are welcome, as those of us ambivalent about independence are willing to be persuaded. So articles in the Morning Star on the subject offering a socialist perspective have a crucial role. Thus last week the Star published “The Scottish Quest for Freedom” by Colin Fox Leader of the Scottish Socialist party http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/124098

It is fair to say that Fox has nailed his colours to the independence mast and his article refers to the alliance that the Scottish Socialists have with the SNP and the Green Party in the Scottish Independence Convention.

They make strange bedfellows, as the SNP has maintained a neo liberal economic outlook and are the favoured party in Scotland of the Murdoch press, to the extent that Alec Salmond would seem to have Rupert on his speed dial.

News International has never been known for its adherence to radical causes, supporting the Tories at the last UK General Election and currently the cheerleader for Romney in the US presidential election – a man who casually writes off fifty per cent of his country as “takers” and “shirkers” and favours maximum tax cuts for his fellow billionaires. No wonder he has become “Mitt the Shit” to most ordinary US voters. Just what is the coincidence of interests between News International and the Independence movement?

Fox’s article however is a mish-mash of assertion, leaps of faith and questionable political commentary. Most Scots acknowledge the unequal nature of the society that they live in and are looking for a politics that reflect that view. Fox comments: “And for the Scottish Socialist Party independence means that Scotland will be free from the neo-liberal stranglehold of the financial speculators that dominate the world economy today.” For his next trick presumably he will make the burns run with whisky and create big rock candy mountains.

External monopolies have a stranglehold on a Scottish economy whose manufacturing base has continued to shrink. Hoping and expecting that those monopolies will vanish is the political equivalent of closing your eyes and making a wish - hardly founded in reality.

The real problems of the Scottish economy were well outlined also in the Star by Richard Leonard http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/content/view/full/114793 . Leonard states: “Giving up a direct vote on the fiscal and monetary policy framework of Scotland's largest market, its biggest economic area and the level where corporate power rests is perfectly possible. The question is, does it make any sense?” Fox does not even face up to that question, let alone provide an answer, and fails entirely to engage with the political context in which his independence project will take place – namely the overtly neo liberal policies of the EU.

Fox’s lack of a viable political imagination is summed up in his entirely false dichotomy quoted in his article: “Do we pin our hopes on another useless Labour government or set sail for independence?” That is hardly a call to arms, more an excuse for political tinkering in preference to building a movement for economic change that will benefit the working people of Scotland.

The independence debate needs to come down from the lofty heights of assertions of nationhood and start to engage with real policies that will benefit the people of Scotland. That is something the STUC has tried to engage with and has been blasted in some quarters as “the apologists for Labour” for its efforts. Such infantile name calling is a distraction from the debate that is necessary and was certainly not on show at the Rally for Independence that took place last Saturday.

See more views on the constitutional debate at http://unisonactive.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Independence