By John McAllion

During his recent televised debate with Jim Sillars, George Galloway warned that an independent Scotland would be “no cold water Cuba”.  It was the only point during the debate that George’s arguments connected to reality.

A Yes vote will herald the break-up of the British state and the birth of a new Scotland.  However, it is no guarantee that politics in the new Scotland will shift decisively to the left.

In the most recent Scottish Parliament elections, Scotland’s four big parties took 98 per cent of the seats and 99 per cent of the constituency vote. By no stretch of the imagination could any of these parties be described as socialist. Arguably, in that election, the SNP fought on the most progressive of the manifestos on offer.

It promised to defend universal benefits, to keep privatisation out of the NHS, to retain Scottish water in public ownership, to preserve free higher education and to oppose Trident renewal.

Yet, at the economic core of the same manifesto, it also promised low and competitive taxes for Scotland’s private sector, not to use the Parliament’s tax varying power, a freeze on local government taxes, a cut to the costs of Scotland’s public and civil services and the imposition of pay limits on Scotland’s public sector workers. It also argued for Scottish control of corporation tax as a means of achieving “…the lower rate needed to maximise the economic benefit for our nation”.

All of Scotland’s mainstream parties are committed to NATO membership, the retention of the monarchy, privatised utilities and deregulated markets in which capital is free to roam the globe in search of private profit.  None of them are committed to repeal of the harshest anti-trade union laws in Europe.  All of them claim to be pro-business and all of them denounce the politics of class warfare.

In the event of a Yes vote, most of the sitting 59 MPs and 129 MSPs will share a sense of entitlement to a seat in the newly independent Parliament.  The party hierarchies and machines that sustain these politicians will still be in place.

The same safety-first civil service will continue to patrol Scotland’s corridors of power.  The print and broadcast media will go on reporting what the big four parties do.  The legal, educational, financial and business establishments will carry on trying to set the limits to political action.

There is a real danger that having campaigned hard for two years and having won a yes majority against the political odds, that some will believe it is job done on the morning of 19 September. If so, they would be making a huge mistake.

The real struggle for a socialist independent Scotland begins after we have secured a Yes vote. If the ruling elites referred to above are allowed to inherit the reins of power in an independent Scotland without serious political challenge, then the Yes campaign will have achieved little more than to put a kilt on the neoliberal status quo.

That cannot be allowed to happen.

One of the most encouraging aspects of the Yes campaign has been the re-energising of politics across the country. Old style political meetings are back. The SSP case for a socialist Scotland has played to packed meetings across the country. The Radical Independence Conference in Glasgow attracted 1000 accredited participants. Yes Scotland are themselves drawing in crowds that are unprecedented for a non-party campaign.

Old style canvassing is also back with 90 activists knocking on the doors of one Glasgow housing scheme on one recent night. A generation that had turned away from party politics in disgust has now re-engaged with a political struggle that has everything to do with building the good society and nothing to do with feathering the nests of politicians on the make.

The vision driving Yes activists across Scotland has nothing to do with ethnic nationalism. It is entirely free of any form of racism. It has no trace of anti-English sentiment.

It is all about building that other possible Scotland in which people come before profit.  It is all about building a more equal, a greener and a socially just society.

That vision can only become a reality in an independent Scotland if Yes activists organise to make it happen. That will mean re-building a mass party of the Left. It will mean re-constituting our trade unions as instruments of radical change.

It will mean devising new models of common, public and democratic ownership and much more besides. It will mean turning the world as we know it upside down. 18 September is not the end. It is just the beginning.

Courtesy of The Scottish Socialist Voice


Auld Rock
2014-04-21 10:49

John seems to have lost sight of the fact that in re-established nation of Scotland we will have for the first time a written Constitution which will not only set out peoples rights and privileges but it will set out their responsibilitie  s. I hope that Trade Unions are treated with greater respect and the German model would seem a good one but there will be no return to bad old days where the TUC thought that it was the Government and no more beer and sandwiches as in Wilson’s days in No. 10. They will be fully involved and consulted before it ever gets to dispute stage. But John should be working on his wayward Scottish New Labour to bring about a new Scottish Labour unfettered from London rule.

Auld Rock
2014-04-21 13:47


Yet, at the economic core of the same manifesto, it also promised low and competitive taxes for Scotland’s private sector, not to use the Parliament’s tax varying power, a freeze on local government taxes, a cut to the costs of Scotland’s public and civil services and the imposition of pay limits on Scotland’s public sector workers.

Sigh, within a credit crunch and pressure on their budget doled out from London. The SNP also want to reform council tax to a local income tax so of course they are preserving the current system in aspic since then.

To suggest in an iScotland with all the levers on the economy and a positive balance of payments that the SNP will act the same are just silly.

2014-04-21 18:02

The SG will be completely committed to negotiations with London between September and the elections in 2016 so I wouldn’t expect any radical new policies being implemented before then.
During that time,political parties are going to have to be formed/reformed and come up with a viable set of proposals as part of their election manifestos.
This will be an opportunity for socialists to put their ideas before the Scottish electorate and see whether they agree or not.
2014-04-22 08:54

Come on, John. Give some credit where it’s due. To even hint that an SNP led Scottish Government would be “neoliberal with a kilt” flies in the face of both reason and recent experience. Because the SNP manifesto didn’t give you everything you want, it gets dismissed and the SNP gets lumped in with the ConDemLabs as just another bunch of neoliberal chancers. I don’t think so and neither would you if you opened your eyes and ears to what’s been happening over the last seven years.
2014-04-22 11:00

John I have no doubt that when Alex Salmond said, at the recent SNP, conference, that those who had contributed to a YES vote would be part of the negotiating team after the 18th Sept he MEANT it. That means you and your party will have your opportunity to make your views known.
Sorry but I have to correct your arithmetic – four big parties – I would hardly call a party with one MP a big party – the Lib/Dems are no more than medium at the moment and will disappear like the Cons when the people take their revenge on them. So for me there is only two and Labour will be split after the YES vote. After that it is up to you and your colleagues to go out and win votes for your party if you want to be No. 3. A great opportunity approaching John.

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