THE Scottish Socialist Party was one of the founders of the Scottish Independence Convention and were at the heart of YES Scotland in 2014 and remain committed to working with our partners in a broad, pluralist campaign to hold a 2nd referendum on Independence when the time is right.
We belive that a second referendum will be even more difficult to win than the first one.
The British state feels it ‘dodged a bullet’ last time and are much better prepared now. They have made it clear they will ‘die in a ditch’ to maintain their Union.
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They have replaced Labour as their main ‘defenders’ realising they cannot be relied upon to deliver support and have begun wooing middle class support back to the Tories.
The country’s leading psephologist Professor John Curtice has shown that 13% of people who voted YES have moved to NO because of worries over the Scottish economy. Meanwhile 14% moved to YES from NO in June 2016 because they saw Independence as the only way to keep Scotland in the European Union.
So, how do we win ‘INDYREF2’? To be blunt, not by tying independence to the EU.
The anger Scots felt over the EU referendum was real but hardly unique. That same ‘democratic deficit’ was felt with the poll tax, the war in Iraq and the ‘bedroom tax’ to name but three issues where we voted one way and the UK as a whole voted another.
But to mistake public anger at this latest democratic insult for support for the EU could have disastrous implications for the Independence movement.
The Scottish Socialist Party voted to ‘Remain’ in the EU last year but as ‘the lesser of two evils’ because we have no illusions in the role it plays.
It is an anti-democratic institution controlled by neo-liberal corporations contemptuous of 550 million people living within its borders.
To paint it as a stalwart of all that is progressive and fair in the world is dangerous nonsense. The EU is not the issue upon which to fight and win a second independence referendum.
We win by stressing Independence means advances on issues of importance to working people The YES campaign presented a conservative prospectus in 2014 promising to keep the pound, keep the Queen, stay in NATO and retain neo-liberal economic policies. It failed to persuade Scotland’s working class majority that independence meant fundamental change.
Next time we must promise they will be economically, socially and politically better off with independence. Among the key issues which need to form part of such a campaign are:
* A break with a low wage economy that delivers meagre growth, poverty pay and insecure employment. The latest figures show 20% of Scots now earn the Scottish Living wage or less
* Eradicate fuel poverty. In an energy rich nation like ours no one should be living without the gas and electricity they need to keep warm and healthy. Today 1 in 3 families in Scotland cannot afford the energy they need. Returning the power companies to public ownership would end this national scandal.
*End the housing shortage: build 100,000 new homes annually in the publicly owned, socially rented sector
*Return our railways to public ownership would guarantee a transport system we can be proud of
*End the economic harassment of benefit sanctions move towards a basic income for all ensuring nobody faces living in poverty.
*No cuts. Those who suggest an Independent Scotland will need to cut public spending and usher in austerity to ‘balance the books’ jeopardise our chances of winning. We need to promise there will be no cuts and no austerity for working people in an independent Scotland.
*Redistributive tax policy to pay for social reforms; increase taxes on the wealthy and end their evasion, replace the Council tax with an income based alternative.
*Extend democracy – for an elected, accountable & representative Head of State in a modern democratic republic
Our support for Scottish independence is based on the conviction that it opens the way to a more just progressive society which puts the needs of people and profiteers before a minority of wealthy fat cats.
Supporting Scotland’s democratic right to self-determination does not make you a nationalist. It makes you a democrat.
Colin Fox is the National Co-Spokesperson for the Scottish Socialist Party