The promise of false independence is a trap that will weaken working-class unity, warns BILL GREENSHIELDS chair of the Communist Party, in the Morning Star.
How can it be that in the last few days before the Scottish independence referendum we see the Scottish people divided right down the middle on the question?
Genuine successful struggles for national independence have it in common that they build real unity across the whole people — not divide them into a 50-50 self-defeating confrontation. Something is wrong.
And perhaps what’s wrong is not too hard to see. This is not a real struggle for national independence at all.
The acute problems faced by the Scottish people are not fundamentally national in nature.
The exploitation, oppression and injustice are class-based. The Scottish millionaire class is doing very nicely thank you, alongside their English and Welsh mates.
It is the Scottish working class who are under attack by the whole British capitalist class and its government — the same capitalist class that with its allies in the European Union is attacking all workers in Britain as a whole.
The “nationalism card” is being pulled from the pack to deliberately divert from the ruling-class attacks that will continue whether Scotland votes Yes or No. It is not a liberating struggle … it is a trap.
The ruling class and its Westminster government are determined to “rebalance” the British economy — ie re-establish the rate of profit following the economic crisis by driving down wages, abolishing pensions, undermining working conditions, extending part-time and precarious working, cutting corporate tax and tax of the wealthiest, cutting public spending, privatising everything that will make a profit — throughout Britain. The nationalists offer partial escape from the Westminster government — but no escape from the ruling class.
What is clearly needed by working people is maximum unity in struggle. Stronger links. Greater solidarity between working-class communities. More co-ordinated and generalised resistance in terms of industrial action and community direct action. The growth of the People’s Assembly. The reclamation or re-establishment of a real mass party of the working class. The development of a sustained anti-monopoly alliance. An alternative economic, social and political strategy for all workers in Britain.
What is also needed is a strategy for winning that will divide and weaken the British capitalist class, and remove it from the protection of the European Union neoliberal “austerity” club.
How would a Yes vote strengthen workers and weaken the capitalist attack? It clearly would not.
It is frustration, anger and despair among Scottish workers with the all-too-slow rate of progress in developing a real resistance across Britain that is causing many to look for an easy answer in the form of nationalism. But everyone really knows that this is not a national struggle but a class struggle. Thus the division in terms of a response to the proposals for “independence.”
What would Scottish “White Paper” independence do? Precisely the opposite of what the realities of class struggle demand. It would leave the British capitalist class and all its institutions intact and strengthened, and would organisationally divide and fragment the working-class movement making co-ordinated, generalised and solidarity action even more difficult across the newly drawn national border.
It would leave Scotland with the current domination of its industry and financial services by international monopoly companies.
It would keep the pound and the current monetary set up, with Bank of England oversight of taxation and borrowing.
It would maintain spending cuts and austerity, with the promise of even greater corporation tax cuts and business tax “incentives.”
It would see the seamless continuation of the malevolent all-pervasive control by the City of London. There is no indication of a repeal of anti-union laws. Even the monarchy stays, God bless them!
All this would be enthusiastically reinforced by the European Union and its “austerity police.”
Its enforced cuts and privatisation programme is embodied in its neoliberal Stability Pact (now called the Treaty for Stability, Co-ordination and Governance) which would, without doubt, be built into a new Scottish written constitution. Scotland’s national debt calculated on a per capita basis would immediately place it within the EU excess deficit programme, requiring further measures of austerity — cuts in public spending, downward pressure on wages and more privatisation.
EU regulations give the European Commission prior oversight of the draft budget of every signatory member state. In other words, the EU and the Bank of England would have a double lock on austerity in an “independent” Scotland.
EU membership would also preclude intervention in the economy such as state aid or public ownership of strategic industries — according to the argument that such state aid distorts the market and is anti-competitive.
There would be no more ability than now to challenge the power of big business, bring the economy under democratic control, redistribute wealth and promote public ownership.
With constitutional and legal barriers erected between the Scottish working class and their English and Welsh comrades, in fact those political and economic ambitions — realistically only to be achieved through united and active class organisation and struggle — would be even further away.
Who would be strengthened, and who would be weakened by this? Who would be winning the class war?
The despair and frustration of Scottish workers with the overall slow pace of building resistance to the class attacks on us are reflected among many in the movement in England and Wales too.
But such despair and frustration must not result in the desperate grasping at “easy answers” such as the illusions offered by nationalists — easy answers that are in fact a trap that would strengthen capitalism and weaken our class throughout Scotland, Wales and England.