Thursday, 30 January 2014


 The ground is shifting beneath the feet of the British and Scottish Labour party leaderships as working class Labour voters begin to move towards support for a Yes vote in September.

The Tory-funded, Labour-fronted Better Together campaign has hired the willing services of the mainstream media for the past year to peddle their central lie: that a vote for Independence is a vote for Alex Salmond and permanent SNP rule. Their myth is starting to melt before the eyes of working class Scots, as not only the socialist vision of Scotland's future persistently advanced by the SSP gains ground, but also the apparent anti-independence Labour monolith cracks and crumbles.


Leading Labour party figures and former Labour activists have boosted the momentum towards a Yes vote amongst Labour voters by openly declaring against the unionist dogma of Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont, Ed Miliband and their party. The biggest meeting called by Labour party members for decades in Glasgow was the recent Labour for Independence rally. Well over 200 jam-packed into the STUC building to hear Labour veterans advocate a Yes vote with the purpose of being able to then elect a Labour government that pursued reforms such as a living wage, abolition of the bedroom tax, investment in public services, repeal of anti-union laws and removal of Trident. 


New analysis by polling firm Ipsos/Mori proves a point identified by the founders of the Scottish Socialist Party over 15 years ago: class is the key determining factor in how people view independence, with the working class and the poorest most in favour, the richest overwhelmingly against.

It is hardly surprising that the rich minority favour continued rule by Westminster. They've been handsomely rewarded for decades by the competing factions of capitalist rule, whether Tory, LibDem or New Labour. When working class people ponder whether independence would improve their living standards, a good staring point is to look at the proven, obscene advantages of UK rule for the rich, which has robbed Scotland's working class majority of the vast wealth we create by our labour.In the decade up to 2009, 75 per cent of the additional wealth produced went to those on above-average incomes. A monstrous 40 per cent of it was grabbed by the richest tenth of the population, those least in need of it. That in a period when wages and benefits were slashed, adding vastly to inequality as well as poverty.

And that wealth redistribution from the poor to the rich can't even be attributed to the hated Tories, whose continued rule at Westminster of course guarantees even worse attacks on working people: the entire decade covered by these figures involved a British Labour government! 


A new term was coined last month: Fat Cat Wednesday. It refers to the fact that by mid-morning on Wednesday 8th January, just two-and-a-half days after they returned to work, the chief executives of the top 100 UK companies had 'earned' more than the entire annual average salary of a worker in Britain - £26,500. These obscenely bloated exploiters have enjoyed a 74 per cent rise in their incomes over the past 10 years - a period straddling both Labour and Coalition governments - whilst workers' wages have seen the slowest rise since 1871!

So much for the mantras of Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont and Ed Miliband about us being 'better together', 'united for Labour', 'sharing social justice'.

No matter which stripe of capitalist party is in charge, Westminster is rule by the rich, the dictatorship of capital, in defiance of the wishes of the Scottish people. Voting Yes is the first step to escaping that endless round of suffering for the working class majority population.


But the SSP regards that as only the start, a means to an end, with a Yes vote kicking the door open to a chance to elect a government of the left, with the powers and political will to tackle poverty and inequality with far-reaching redistribution of wealth and power.

The SSP is helping to forge a force that here and now demands socialist measures after independence is gained, leaving nothing to chance, not relying on the goodwill or whims of any pro-capitalist politicians, but trying to create a movement of working class people that will demand and enforce that change through democratic self-government.

And a socialist vision of Scotland is critical to convincing a majority to vote Yes and thereby win the first ever real chance of socialist change. 


That's why we call on the broad coalition that is Yes Scotland to have the courage to go beyond the boundaries set by the SNP government's White Paper. Of course Yes Scotland cannot be expected to adopt the entire socialist programme of the SSP. But they should acknowledge the growing impact of demands like a guaranteed living minimum wage, abolition of all the anti-trade union laws that have helped drive down workers' living conditions, and public ownership of not only Royal Mail but the likes of transport and energy to banish the atrocities of profiteering and fuel poverty. 


Such a prospectus for independence would sweep aside the vicious myths that voting Yes is voting for separation, isolation and narrow nationalism - the lies peddled by the Labour wing of Better Together in particular, as their unique contribution to confusing and terrifying traditional Labour voters into being saddled with more decades of exploitation by bosses and billionaires whose political parrots rule from Westminster.


Trade union bosses have mostly either remained neutral on the Yes/No choice, or foisted their union's support for the No campaign on members who have not even been asked their opinions in any democratic fashion. 

USDAW leaders didn't even pretend to ask the opinions of Scottish members before affiliating to Better Together. But low paid retail workers, hamstrung by anti-union laws, are wide open to the case for a living wage of £9 an hour as advocated by the SSP, and a charter of workplace rights.

GMB union leaders held a sham consultation before declaring for the No campaign, but are now desperately scrambling to distance themselves from the Tory-funded Better Together, as they realize GMB members are tempted to vote Yes to permanently escape Tory ruination of the NHS, local government and other areas they work in.

The CWU has held a series of debates. They should now respect the opinions expressed at these by members, rather than foist a call for a No vote via the UK-wide CWU conference , as many members fear the leadership plan to do. When the chair of Royal Mail, who worked in tandem with the Tories to privatize it, says independence is "the exact opposite of what we need", surely that adds to the case for a Yes amongst posties?!


The working class holds the key to Scotland's future. They are rightly hostile to the assaults on jobs, pay, benefits, services and our rights from the Etonian bootboys at Westminster. But many are also rightly sceptical of an SNP leadership who pledge Corporation Tax cuts to the multinationals alongside promises of welcome social reforms.But those are not the only choices. Voting Yes does not make you a nationalist nor a supporter of indefinite SNP government. It makes you a democrat who favors the Scottish people actually getting the governments they vote for. And it would kick open the door to radical socialist change that would transform workers' lives.


The SSP will continue to convince working class people and trade unionists to not only vote Yes but get organised to demand such change after a Yes vote. We appeal to the very people with most to gain from independence to see it as a chance to fight for the likes of a £9 national minimum wage at 16; equal pay for women; state pensions and an education grant linked to the minimum wage; abolition of all anti-union laws; democratic public ownership of energy, transport, banks, big business...steps towards an independent, nuclear-free, poverty-free, socialist Scotland.

We will continue to combine with others such as Trade Unionists for Independence, Labour for Independence and RIC to win the working class majority away from the clutches of those who have been their worst exploiters for decades.


The ice is breaking under the feet of those Labour and trade union leaders who prefer the threat of Tory or Tory/UKIP rule at Westminster to the opportunity of a Labour government or a genuine government of the left in an independent Scotland. 

Join forces with the SSP in turning up the heat, melt the myths of the Labour leaders in the eyes of those workers whose loyalty they've abused for decades, and help carve out a socialist future for Scotland and beyond.

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