Sunday, 28 October 2012

This Article Will Appear In The MORNING STAR Newspaper Shortly

‘An Act of Unpardonable Folly’ *

SSP national spokesman Colin Fox attended the SNP Conference last week in Perth and reflects on the vote to join NATO and the contrasting philosophies within the Independence movement

The resignation of two MSP’s in the wake of its vote to enlist an Independent Scotland in NATO last week has shaken the SNP. The decision to overturn existing party policy has been described as its ‘Clause Four’ moment. That may be overstating it since the Labour u-turn saw it ditch its defining commitment altogether. A truly equivalent action therefore would mean the SNP abandoning Independence itself. Nonetheless the SNP has taken another significant step to the right and it is clear that Jean Urquhart MSP and John Finnie MSP will not be the only ones to leave the party.

The SNP apparently believes Scotland can be a member of NATO and force it to abandon its weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde. Good luck with that, you might say!

The SNP now wants an Independent Scotland to keep NATO, keep the Queen, keep the Pound Sterling, keep the EU, keep neo-liberal economic policies and keep close links with Rupert Murdoch. The French have a phrase for it ‘plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose’. Indeed it can appear the only thing the SNP wants to change in an Independent Scotland is the level of Corporation tax for big business, which incidentally they intend to cut in half!

And yet if you took away the ‘payroll vote’ of its MP’s, MSP’s, MEP’s, Councillors and their staff the leadership would certainly have lost the vote last week. Their decision to overturn existing policy and keep an Independent Scotland in NATO was carried by just 29 votes [394 to 365]. Defence spokesman Angus Robertson MP, in moving the motion, argued somewhat spuriously given the lack of evidence, that without the change the 2014 Referendum on Independence could not be won.

Yet as many commentators have pointed out over the past week the SNP is not the only party to support Independence. The Scottish Socialist Party and The Greens are also in favour and yet neither of us intends to change our anti-NATO stance in the face of the SNP’s decision. 

Whilst the SNP believe the way to win the 2014 Referendum is to present a conservative narrative that ‘nothing much will change with Independence’ the SSP by contrast believes working people in Scotland are desperate for changes; an end to Tory rule, no more obscene inequalities, no more fuel poverty, an end to neo-liberal economic policies of privatisation, austerity, cuts, casualisation, no more billions spent on nuclear weapons and no more young Scots ‘economic conscripts’ sent to die in Imperial wars abroad.

And as a poll published in The Sunday Times this week has tantalisingly shown there is everything to play for in this debate. Asked how they would vote if the Tories appeared likely to win the UK election of 2015 some 55% of Scots said Yes to Independence. All of which presents an enormous problem for Scottish Labour. Not only are they part of the ‘three in a bed’ ‘No’ campaign with the treacherous Lib Dems and hated Tories but in a ludicrous desire to placate corporate interests they have launched a full scale assault on the welfare state in Scotland. Lets be clear all the most important and popular achievements of devolution, free prescriptions, free care for the elderly, free travel for the over 60’s and the abolition of student tuition fees, cherished by voters here, have been targeted by Labour and branded unaffordable "Freebies" by its Scottish leader Johann Lamont.
The ‘No to Independence’ camp are now predominately, but not exclusively, on the right with
Scottish Labour now outdoing the Daily Mail in its anti welfare rhetoric. Like Churchill they appear to have ‘nothing to offer but blood, sweat and tears’ to save the bankers. Not to be outdone the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has branded the vast majority of voters as ‘unproductive and lazy’. This seems unlikely to hasten their revival. The Tories lets recall have only one of Scotland’s 56 MP’s.

So as the worst recession in 100 years bites further and further and takes an appalling toll on the living standards of working people the ‘No’ parties each insist there is no alternative to brutal cuts and austerity, these the supposed benefits of being ‘Better Together’.
The key economic and social arguments on cuts, benefits, pensions and jobs see the ‘Yes’ campaign on the high ground in tune with public opinion and this is increasingly the crucial battleground for the Independence debate.

And yet the SNP’s vote on NATO is emblematic of a difference of the approach within the Independence movement. In common with other progressive forces in the ‘Yes’ camp the Scottish Socialist Party takes the view that Independence means transforming Scotland. Why for example should fuel poverty exist in an energy rich Scotland when public ownership of our resources could end it at a stroke?
The demand for independence goes hand in hand with a break with the pro market, pro war consensus embraced by all the unionist parties. Do we really want to be governed by an un-elected, unaccountable monarch who considers us her ‘subjects’ rather than equal citizens of a modern democratic republic?
The SNP NATO vote does not determine what an independent Scotland will do anymore than Salmond's policy of bribing the rich with tax cuts. These issues will be decided by the voters in the first Scottish General Election after independence, an election which will be fought on territory in which left policies in tune with Scottish mainstream opinion will have a major influence. The prospect of transforming Scotland into a modern democratic republic putting people before profit is part of this Independence struggle.

* SNP leader Alex Salmond famously used an SNP Party Political Broadcast to attack Tony Blair’s 1999 military attack on Serbia as ‘an act of dubious legality and unpardonably folly.’

1 comment:

  1. Large majority of Asian and Muslim community dotted all over Scotland find themselves betrayed by SNP's U-turn on NATO. As a result a senior member of SNP Mr Adil Bhatti (who once held responsibilities as Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's branch secretary) has resigned along with two other SNP MSPs.
    More and more people will now see that SNP has degenerated into becoming a party which is keen to protect corporate interests rather than to fight the draconian cut backs that are being orchestrated by the anti-people Con-Dem government.
    Now is the time for collective action from below to ensure that a Scotland will not only free herself geographically but will also become free from the chains of neo-liberalism and destitute.