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Submitted by Ben T on Sat, 09/01/2021 - 15:24

In reply to by Mike Picken (not verified)

Ok, we were mistaken to believe that Picken had walked out – happy to correct that.

Unfortunately Picken’s representation of our position is also inaccurate. We did not oppose the position of the STUC – that if the Scottish Parliament elections return a majority of MSPs in favour of a referendum, then one should be held. Both AWL activists who spoke on the amendment stated that we agree with that, on the principle of national self-determination. In this we oppose Starmer’s position, contrary to Picken’s accusation. In fact we would go further and say that the ability to call an independence referendum should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament without requiring “permission” from Westminster.

What we argued against is the implication that a referendum would be desirable, and the proposal that AEIP should devote its capacity to actively campaigning for a referendum. As explained in the article above, we believe that focusing public debate in Scotland onto the national question is, at best, a diversion from the real challenges of class, democracy, anti-racism and internationalism. It is on those terrains that AEIP, and the left more broadly, need to fight – not sowing illusions in the creation of what would be another capitalist state in Scotland.

Picken also accuses the AWL of damaging united front efforts by pushing our own “sectarian shibboleths”. But I would remind him that we are not the ones insisting that AEIP cannot credibly go forward without adopting our own position regarding a referendum.

I'd also remind him that his proposals were rejected by a majority in the AEIP conference, within which AWL supporters were a small minority. And indeed, others in AEIP are much further from Picken’s position than we are – at the same conference, leading figures like Mary Kaldor raised doubts about the principle of national self-determination. 

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