By Alan Bissett

Here we are at the start of Scotland’s great, historic year: 2014, everything building towards the watershed referendum on 18 September.

The No campaign, so long used to a comfortable lead, are feeling their support steadily melt as more people start to question the supposed ‘strength’ and ‘security’ of the UK.

The positive case has been made forcibly by the Yes campaign. Our Unionist media concede this, even as they amplify the No campaign’s attacks on our aspirations.

What has given the Yes campaign momentum lately is the effect of more and more voters weighing a new start for Scotland against what’s on offer from the Better Together campaign: precisely nothing. If a voter is identifying at this stage as a ‘Don’t Know’ – and there are enough of them to swing the balance – it means that independence to them is a vaguely attractive but evanescent concept, well-intentioned, but too much of an unknown in comparison to the familiar here and now of Britain.

The Unionist parties have tried to play to this feeling, by using ‘stability’ of the pound, of defence, of economic size as their main selling-point. But even some No voters are starting to see this as yet another mask for a right-wing agenda.

It should become the task of those in favour of independence to make Westminster’s future for Scotland clear. We must alert working people to reality: our industry, labour and resources have been catastrophically mismanaged by successive UK governments, in hoc to the whims of big business, to our long-term detriment.

Our oil – the vast extent of which was hidden from us by successive Tory and Labour governments – was used by Margaret Thatcher to underwrite the welfare bill caused by her vandalism of the UK economy. Scots found ourselves facing the indignity of having our own oil wealth used by a government we didn’t vote for to decimate our industry. The eventual result can be now witnessed in the opening of food banks in Glasgow, a looming homelessness crisis, rocketing energy costs and widespread poverty.

Not only have the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems shown no will in dealing with these problems, each has exacerbated them when in power. The pro-independence parties of the Scottish Socialists, the Greens and the SNP, while they disagree on vision, at least have plans to reverse this decline.

The ‘Better Together’ campaign, bankrolled by Tories, corrupt interests and wealthy elites, sees Scotland as a political irrelevance, a mere supplier of oil receipts to the UK treasury, an exploitable resource or (in the case of Labour) a source of votes. Retaining the status quo will be the minimum of its efforts: the stealth withdrawal of powers from Holyrood and cuts to Scotland’s budget are its true objective.

Their threats have been cloaked by a compliant media, but various pronouncements from key figures have hinted strongly that if Scotland votes No the status quo is as good as we will ever have it. After all, we were promised rewards if we voted No to devolution in 1979. What we received was Thatcherism. Scottish people are not stupid. Our aspirations- for ourselves, for our families and for our country – have not been matched reality. We are constantly reminded by the No campaign about supposed Britain’s economic might and prosperity, while our living standards and job security continue to falter.

The independence movement must not only confirm that the suspicions of Scots are correct – that only a super-rich minority benefit from the current UK set-up – but also set out a powerful alternative.

Pete Ramand and James Foley’s forthcoming book Yes: The Radical Case For Scottish Independence is a very good place to start. Under no illusions about either the British state or the capitalist intentions of the SNP leadership, it shows the way ahead for a true democracy in which workers and communities properly participate, a nationalised economy, based on Green energy, an oil fund, and a progressive taxation system which ensures that the wealthy – who currently enjoy tax avoidance at our expense – pay their way.

For socialists, we must make clear that independence alone will not solve Scotland’s problems, as ours will still be a state, like any other, vulnerable to predatory capitalism. Backed, however, by the active participation of workers and a strong Left programme, Scotland can meet this challenge.

We could go beyond even the good example of Nordic social democracy and adopt the successful, co-operative models of running industry found in Brazil and the Basque region of Spain, in which profits are reinvested in the communities which produced them. We have nine months to persuade the people of Scotland that the UK economy is irredeemably broken and that a better way is possible.

Let’s make them count.

Courtesy of the Scottish Socialist Voice


2014-01-17 23:07

Good article, eloquent as ever and at least you’ll no be late to the polls Alan. 😉
2014-01-17 23:36

Great article Alan, written with passion.
2014-01-18 00:21

Some good stuff but a load of the proverbial about SNP capitalist intentions. The Nordic countries are capitalist and that is the sort of society I have always thought th SNP aspired too since I got involved in the Nationalist movement in the 1970s.

Regardless of the fora for YES groups , from Business for Scotland to the Radical Independence Conference there is a commitment to the Common Weal. Don’t knock it by gratuitous comments which are easily said but have consequences.

Independence is about self and community belief. If you believe in it you will achieve it from whatever branch of the Cots family you come from.
2014-01-18 07:34

It’s not just a case of Vote No Get Nothing – it’s Vote No Get Less Than Nothing as our Colonial Masters will wreak terrible revenge on us for having the nerve to have an Indpendence Referendum.

Far from the as yet unspecified Jam Tommrrow promises of More Devolution from Project Fear (which of course would require approval by a majority of Westminster MP’s – some hope of that) we shall see moves to abolish The Barnett Formula and even further more drastic reduction of our ‘Pocket Money’ followed by gradual removal of Holyrood’s Powers up to and including abolition of our Devolved Government.

One thing for sure is that they would pass legislation making sure that any future devolved government would not have the powers to hold another Indpendence Referendum leaving the only future hope of Independence being the election of a majority of SNP MPs to Westminster.
2014-01-18 08:00


The Laird
2014-01-18 10:56

Talking of the oil money, I remember the respected journalist Iain McWhirter writing in his Sunday Herald column some years ago stating (and I paraphrase here) “To put it frankly, apart from the oil, Westminster doesn’t give a damn about Scotland”
True then and even more so now.
2014-01-18 12:11

If a conversation I overheard on a bus is anything to go by, Scots are beginning to question why their standard of living is so low.

Two guys, builders I think, judging from their conversation, were comparing their last holidays abroad. They had both scrimped and saved just to make the trips, but were very angry that they had to count every penny when out for a meal or drink with their spouses, while fellow Europeans were throwing money around with no such worries.

As they stated, not just management types from Germany or France, but working class guys from so-called poorer countries. They both bemoaned the fact that their standard of living hadn’t gone up much in 20 years, in spite of being told they live in a wealthy country.

As one of them said, “When the *@#! did we become the poor men of Europe? Neither like Salmond or the SNP, but said they were voting YES, because, “anything’s better than this”.
2014-01-18 12:27

Gentlemen Please! Independence first and politics after! Achieving independence is the most important result and that can only be achieved by standing and voting YES together. How we then build an independent Scotland is for the people and their elected governments thereafter.

Regarding SNP capitalist policy, lets remember this existing Scottish government has to be seen by the wider world, the people of Scotland, Scotland’s industry and big businesses that it is ready and capable of delivering a better life with its model of Independence. Extreme change at this stage would not be wise.
2014-01-18 23:43

Let me echo that sentiment: Keep your eyes on the prize. We should be focused on winning. We can do nothing if we do not win.

The independence movement has embraced and now owns the positive and we have acknowledged that there are uncertainties.

Let us then stake a claim to the corollary, that is, legitimate concern about the known dangers of remaining in this Union.

We should work to spread and to inculcate the following simple meme which has both intellectual and emotional resonance:

Voting YES risks failure; voting NO guarantees it.

Andy Anderson
2014-01-18 15:03

Entirely agree Alan I have also written a book on this subject with Ronnie Morrison which is currently with the printers.

My email address in g.g.anderson@btinte please get in touch Alan and I will send you a copy of our book on the economic case for Scottish Independence.
2014-01-19 00:37

“We have nine months to persuade the people of Scotland that the UK economy is irredeemably broken and that a better way is possible.”

We now have less than eight months to go.
2014-01-19 00:50

A nice eloquent piece Allan.I’m sure it will alert some however there are many who have still to believe in YES. It reminds me of the mother who told her 12 yr old son that if he didn’t stop abusing himself he would go blind. Not heeding her she had to take him to the doctor to confirm. The boy said , can he continue till he needs glasses. I only quit smoking when I couldn’t get a breath then I believed.To get some folks attention it take a feather or a 4×2.So for the don’t knows it may not be easy, maybe they will opt for the glasses.
2014-01-19 14:02

A No vote in our referendum will tell us a couple of things.
Scots do not agree that Scotland is a country (unlikely) and or we do not agree that we should manage our own affairs.
If we accept that the No vote is for continued dependency on another country then we should decide which country would be the best to depend on.
My vote would be for Norway.
Their track record on economic management is light years ahead of Westminster and their culture is similar in outlook to ours.
Of course,the Norwegians might decide to take our oil money and spend it on projects in and around Oslo but we are used to that sort of behaviour so no problem.
Since we will have made a definite statement about not governing ourselves,we wouldn’t even need to send representatives to the Norwegian parliament saving us a lot of money on salaries and expenses.
This would support the No campaign claims for being better together but just not with Westminster.
Vote No.

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