On 15 October, Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish Prime Minister Alex Salmond agreed a deal for a Scottish referendum in late 2014 about independence.
It’s good news that the referendum will have one clear-cut question, rather than offering more options and the possibility of an ambiguous outcome. It’s bad news that discussion of Scotland and England, rather than of class against class, will be pushed to the fore in the midst of global crisis and spiralling inequality.
Independence will not help Scottish workers deal with the crisis, any more than it has helped the workers of other small peripheral nations in Europe (Iceland, Ireland, Latvia...)
All other things being equal, socialists prefer larger, more cosmopolitan, political units. A new border cannot but, to some degree, increase division in a British labour movement which is currently more or less united.
Overriding considerations which apply with an oppressed nation, or a nation with large fears of oppression, do not apply here. Solidarity favours voting no to independence. We do not endorse the status quo, any more than by voting against a wage cut we would endorse poor current wage scales.
We have contempt for people like Alistair Darling, who has joined with the Tories to run a “patriotic, cross-party” no campaign, “Better Together”.
We will make our own arguments, and our own case for Britain to be reorganised as a democratic federal republic.
Polls currently show a 2:1 majority against independence, but Salmond must hope that further economic chaos will boost separatist feeling as in Flanders and Catalonia.
His tactic is to “minimise” independence and reassure the cautious. His independent Scotland would retain the Queen and the pound. Together with his deputy Nicola Sturgeon and some of his senior ministers, Salmond is pressing at the SNP conference, in Perth on 18-21 October, for the SNP to agree that an independent Scotland would stay in NATO.
An SNP independent Scotland would, however, he says, be different because it would have lower corporation and business taxes.