Last nights Scottish Socialist Party public meeting in Craigentinny, East Edinburgh on the socialist case for Independence was a great success. I thought I might give you a flavour of the issues that arose.
Both speakers John Finnie, MSP [Independent: Highlands and Islands] and John McAllion for the Scottish Socialist Party were in sparkling form.
Unfortunately Sandra Webster, the SSP’s joint national spokeswoman, was unable to join us - her bus from Glasgow broke down en route. John Finnie opened the proceedings by insisting that Scotland was held back by the UK and the different values prevalent in the South East of England. He mentioned for example how the NHS South of the Border is facing further privatisation of services in many areas which he envisages will only worsen in the months and years to come under the Con-Dem Government. And the clear inference was that both the Con-Dems and New Labour have the same intentions for Scotland’s health services should there be a No vote in September 2014!
A key feature of the No campaign’s strategy, suggested John, is to play down the Tories involvement in ‘Better Together’ and by contrast play up Labour’s. They recognise the Tories are a complete liability to the No camp and are urging Cameron, Osborne, Ian Duncan Smith and the others not to come to Scotland over the next 18 months. By the same token they are playing up Ed Milliband’s alleged appeal and his chances of winning the 2015 Westminster General Election.
But even if Labour is elected in 2015, warned John Finnie, and it’s a big if, working people need to remember Labour supports 80% of the Con-Dem cuts, they will not repeal the bedroom tax, and they will keep the Trident nuclear missiles Scotland wants rid of. They too will attack the Scottish working class and people’s standard of living. That was after all the experience between 1997 and 2010 said John. Whilst the prospect of a Labour victory in 2015 may be the No campaigns favoured option, people recognise Labour are now staunch Unionists. They are as wedded to the City of London as the Tories and they will not hesitate to make whatever cuts they deem necessary to ensure working people pay for an economic crisis caused by the bankers and the rich.
John McAllion also took up this theme as he ridiculed the increasingly ‘doom laden’ propaganda coming out of the No campaign HQ. He ridiculed their increasingly gloomy predictions by highlighting how they present a relentless message of fear, panic and impending catastrophe should Scots opt for self-determination.
‘Scotland is too small they argue’ said John sardonically pillorying the No message
‘Scotland is too poor they tell us, we have too many old people, we couldn’t defend ourselves, none of our businesses could survive, we would be an economic basket case which couldn’t survive without the pound, we are vulnerable to financial speculators, cyber attacks and terrorists. And so it goes on. In other words its doom, doom, doom, doom from the No camp.’
But, said John, they need to make their minds up because Alistair Darling, their leader, rather insists on a different line. He says repeatedly ‘Of course Scotland could run its own affairs. Of course Scotland could be one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Of course Scotland could make its own decisions free from UK interference. Its just that we are even better off as part of the UK.’
The truth, insisted John McAllion, is that the UK does not serve Scotland’s needs and hasn’t done for decades. They need us far more than we need them. North Sea oil and gas revenues pour £40bn a year into the UK Treasury, with £1.25 trillion more due in over the next ten years. The UK Treasury and political elite in Whitehall are terrified of losing Scotland. As well as our huge oil and gas reserves, we have vast quantities of renewable energy and we have the highly profitable whisky, engineering and financial services industries too. So, Scotland becoming Independent would be a defeat for the British state itself an enemy of socialism and a warmongering exploiter of peoples worldwide.
Both men agreed the 2014 Referendum result is wide open and that there is every reason to believe working class people will see the advantages Independence brings, not least in avoiding the worst recession in 80 years and the disastrous consequences facing working class people. The UK Government intends to ruthlessly penalise working class people for a crisis caused by the greed and recklessness of the bankers and the rich. An Independence vote in Sept 2014 offers a way to avoid that dreadful fate and to embark on a historic and much more progressive course. Independence, bring it on, both men said as they predicted a Yes majority next year.