Friday, 19 July 2013


I wrote this article on 22 June 2013 for the Yes Scotland website, at their behest.
Scotland’s egalitarian traditions are captured in the phrase "We're a' Jock Tamson's bairns". But under Westminster capitalist rule, old Jock must have disowned and disinherited the majority of us! 
We live in the 4th most unequal developed country in the world. 
The richest 100 Scots last year increased their wealth by £21billion, to a total of £39 billion. 
So 100 people have substantially more than the annual budget of the Scottish government, covering essential jobs and public services for the other 5.3 million Scots! 
The richest tenth of households are 273 times better off than the poorest tenth. 
And it's not just those on skinflint benefits or pauperised pensions that suffer; the biggest single group in poverty - and growing in number - is the working poor; currently 280,000 of us.
Just a few statistical reminders of the system we need to change; why Scottish workers need socialism.
But likewise, Scotland’s working class majority need to vote for independence to help tackle these obscene inequalities in our rich nation, in part because independence would hasten the prospects of a socialist future where we truly are “a’ Jock Tamson's bairns”, genuinely 'better together', sharing the fruits of our collective efforts in a fashion that would banish poverty, poor housing, mass unemployment and underemployment
As a socialist and internationalist I advocate independence for three main reasons. 
Firstly, as a democratic advance, so the Scottish people actually get the governments they vote for. There's never been a Scottish Tory majority since 1955, yet we've been saddled with Westminster Tory dictatorships for at least 34 of the subsequent years.
Secondly, as a devastating body blow to the power, prestige and imperial arrogance of the British ruling class, who lord it over Scotland like colonial masters (witness the poll tax), use Scotland as the dumping ground for their US masters' nuclear arsenal, and habitually mobilize disproportionate numbers of working class Scots to slaughter and be slaughtered in wars for oil and empire.
Independent self government of Scotland’s land mass, offshore waters, oil and gas, and the removal of Trident, would all undermine the arrogant rule of the rich, and indeed thereby vastly boost the prospects of the people of England and Wales confronting and defeating the same dictatorship of the rich.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, independence would hasten the prospects of radical socialist change, of a fundamental and irreversible transfer of wealth and power to the millions, away from the millionaires.
Contrary to the Tories’ Labour puppets in Better Together, voting YES in 2014 is not the same as voting for indefinite, unchallenged rule by the SNP.
A YES in 2014 would give the working class majority population their first-ever real choice of Scottish government, with the opportunity to elect a government of the left with the powers and political will to transform the lives of millions. 
Such a government could radically redistribute the fabulous wealth of the nation through measures that are way beyond the powers conceded by Westminster under devolution, or even various shades of Devo Max - including progressive taxation of the rich elite and big business; a Living Wage for all at 16, with equal pay for women; a fair benefits system for those unable to work; a state pension and education grant linked to a Living Wage; reversal of privatisation and extension of democratic public ownership into all services, transport, energy (including green energy), big industrial enterprises, construction and banks; reversal of cuts and expansion of public services; scrapping of Trident and an end to bloody imperialist wars. 
It could democratize society, scrapping all anti-union laws and blacklisting; constructing democracy in the workplace and communities; devolving key decisions to local councils, tenants and communities. 
Some in the trade union movement cling to the myths peddled by those on the 'left' of the Labour party - that independence would 'wreck the unity of the working class', and we're 'better together' in a 'redistributive Britain'.
Which particular planet have they inhabited for the past 30-40 years, during which all the post-1945 gains of the NHS and Welfare State have been systematically dismantled, not only by Westminster Tories but also Labour governments?
And if they succeeded in confusing workers into voting No, Westminster would undoubtedly unleash even more savage cuts to jobs and services, emboldened by our failure to seize the chance of democratic self-government. 
That is the grisly spectre under continued Westminster rule, based on the economic and social crisis created by the banks and big business. It would especially confront us if the real and present danger of a Tory or Tory/UKIP government ruled from Westminster, but also even if Labour won in 2015.
Labour have refused to even pledge abolition of the iniquitous Bedroom Tax, let alone the Thatcherite anti-union laws they retained; have abandoned the principle of universal social provision; and have warned that a Labour government will be 'ruthless', with 'iron rule' [their phrases] in carrying on with public sector cuts.
The unity and solidarity of working people has been cynically undermined by successive Westminster governments, and has never depended on one form or other of capitalist government.
Trade unionists share membership - and take joint action - across national government boundaries: in Britain and Ireland, north and south, across Scandinavia, and in North America. It is an insult to the proud internationalist traditions of the Scottish working class to claim they would cease all acts of solidarity with fellow-workers in England, Wales, Ireland, Europe or indeed further afield once we had gained the powers to radically improve the lives and conditions of the Scottish people through self-government.
Every day that we suffer growing poverty, inequality and stunted ambitions for the young generation is an argument for fundamental, socialist change – which is a far more realistic prospect in an independent Scotland than with the ‘choice’ of different factions of the same capitalist, pro-war Westminster machine.
A socialist Scotland will not emerge on 19 September 2014, but if we vote Yes, its time will come far sooner than if we surrender to Westminster rule by the rich. Workers need socialism and independence.

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