After almost a year since the SNP’s landslide victory we have a date – Autumn 2014. The most important referendum in Scottish history, on whether or not we stay in a Union dominated by the right-wing, a state that invaded Iraq, imposes nuclear weapons on the Clyde, destroyed Scotland’s industrial base, or whether we become an independent nation with the power to fundamentally change Scotland for the better and which reflects the left of centre political terrain instead of being dominated by the Tory home counties.
The referendum date has been announced after months of whining from the Unionist parties, all of which have been in disarray since the SNP’s victory. Labour, the Libdems and the Tories all called for a referendum to be held as soon as possible after the SNP’s victory – ignoring that when the SNP was a minority administration they all refused to support the SNP’s call for an independence referendum in 2011.
They must be kicking themselves now – the poll on Scotland’s future will now take place after 2 years of a vicious Tory austerity package that will disproportionately affect Scotland’s economy, which itself has a higher than average public sector employment due to destruction of Scottish industry in the 80′s by Thatcher. If it comes down to choosing between a Government led by Alex Salmond in Holyrood and many years of continued Tory rule in Westminster even non-nationalist Scots may vote Yes as an “exit strategy” from Tory misrule.
This fear of a referendum being held at the height of Tory cuts is probably what motivated Cameron – along with typical Unionist arrogance – to try to bring the referendum under the control of Westminster. After 300 years of Scotland having no say in whether or not we stayed in the Union Westminster is now very concerned that Scots should have a fair say in it, even going as far as to say a referendum held by the Scottish Parliament would be “illegal” and “unconstitutional”. A bit ironic given that the UK has no written constitution – it has Kings, Queens, Princes, Dukes, but no constitution.
At the end of the day, no referendum carried out is “binding” under UK law – all of them are advisory. And if there’s a majority yes vote for independence, it does not matter whether it’s in 2012 or 2014 – politically, the Union is finished. After years of snidey slagging of Scots as “subsidy junkies”, “dole scum”, too wee to go it alone etc, Conservatives in England are beginning to wake up to the reality of Scottish Independence – the British state would be “Shorn of its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and relegated to minnow status in Nato”.
Unfortunately for the Tories who have less MP’s in Scotland than there are Panda’s, they’re unlikely to have any impact in stopping the breakup of the UK. Cameron’s intervention into the timing of the referendum shows he has zero tactical knowledge of the Scottish political scene. The Unionist pillar of political strength in Scotland is the Labour Party, who have still not recovered from their defeat of 2007 let alone last year’s humiliating rout.
Despite the disparity in political strength between the SNP and it’s Unionist opponents, by 2014 you can expect the Honeymoon between the Scottish media and the SNP to be over, if not at least on hiatus for the duration of an Independence Referendum campaign. Expect predictions of the apocalypse if Scotland decides to go it alone.
That’s why we need to organise a grassroots Independence campaign to ensure we have our own media to promote the case for Independence – with Socialists adovcating a Republic, public ownership of oil, and taxes on the super-rich, in contradiction to the SNP’s model of Scotland as a Celtic Tiger like, er, Ireland.
Pro-Independence left-wingers don’t just need to organise to win the referendum, but also to shape the future of a post Independence Scotland – to oppose any moves to keep Scotland inside a “Union lite” with British bases kept in Scotland on lease, or where our economy is run along the same Thatcherite lines that condemns a quarter of Scottish children to poverty.
For the first time in decades we have a chance to fundamentally change Scotland and Scottish politics for the better. Lets get organised to build the Socialist Republic.