Oct 28 2012

THE RADICAL INDEPENDENCE CONFERENCE – WHICH WAY FORWARD?

Murdo Richie who runs the blog ( http://murdoritchie.blog.co.uk/argues that the Radical Independence Conference faces a choice of taking one of two political paths – tailending the official SNP campaign or developing the best politicies for an independent Scotland

The Radical Independence Convention can only travel in one of two directions after the Conference of Saturday, November 24th. (1)  It can either become a component in a delivery mechanism for a “Yes” vote in the forthcoming Independence Referendum in 2014 or it can attempt to design the best kind of policies for a future independent Scotland.   It is a great mistake to believe that both are possible.

The Conference can become “mood music” outlining a different kind of Scotland from the one on offer from the trinity of Alex Salmond, the Scottish Government and the Scottish National Party to promote an “aspirational” picture that is unlikely to be achieved by voting for the “Yes” on offer.  Or, it can discuss the kind of Scotland that many of the participants want to build.

The most likely outcome of the impending referendum will be a rejection of the independence on offer.  But it will raise the idea that an alternative Scotland is possible.  It is probable that a platform for a version of national independence may be established.  In many ways, the results of the referendum are less important than the process it develops.  Importantly, for the RIC, the widest political space must be created.  For the trinity, it is necessary to close it down.  That is why previous commitments to end the continuation of the Royal family and membership of NATO have occurred now with even the former fall-back proposal of referenda on these issues swept off the table.  The movers of the successful motion on NATO at the recent SNP Conference were very open about how this change was “part of the preparations for the referendum of 2014.” (2)

The policies they have removed from discussion shape the future of an “independent” Scotland.  By accepting the continuation of monarchy, the class structure of capitalism is structured into the political system as well as the minefields of crown powers that can cripple many important social reforms. Any idea that the monarchy should be subject to popular referenda is so appalling that any political space daring to make such a suggestion is closed down immediately.

Continuing NATO membership keeps a future “independent” Scotland locked under a nuclear weapons umbrella held by others as well as an imperialist global division of the world with its ready-made friends and enemies. (3) Lord NATO, alias former Defence Secretary George Robertson,  has pointed out the many of the conditions required for staying in the club.  (4) The current SNP policy is likely to change even more towards NATO’s militaristic agenda.  Both NATO and the European Union also have stringent economic demands that make the advancement of socialist policies in Scotland impossible.

Just voting “Yes” in these circumstances can easily politically compromise any advocate for different Scotland.  Already, the processes of individual psychological adjustment and political adaption have begun.  Allan Armstrong has already warned another writer who wrote, “’If you don’t have a strategy you are part of someone else’s strategy.’ But  you need to go one step further, and ensure that any strategy you do develop does not also end up as being a sub-plot for someone else’s plan too.  The left in Scotland needs to be careful that it doesn’t end up as ‘useful idiots’ for the organisers of the SNP’s official “Yes” campaign.  In other words we need to develop an independent class strategy.” (5)  And as I have added, “central to that independent working-class strategy is to place national independence as a tactic and not as a principle outside the class struggle.” (6)

Will an “independent” Scotland bring in soviet government and the dictatorship-of-the-proletariat?  Of course not!  Yet some seem to believe this. (7)  National independence means different things to different classes.  Even bourgeois “independence” is still “real.”  It is class power refracted through national perspectives that give the reality to all national identification.  But if socialist revolution is not immediately achievable, landscaping the political terrain for future class conflicts is essential.  To advance this, I have made five proposals. (8)  They are not an exhaustive list but sufficient to lay a foundation for a different vision of Scotland.

1.            It will be necessary to demand a referendum on the continuation of the monarchy.  The SNP’s abandonment of this stance leaves them wide open.  Moreover, any attempt to import Westminster/ 1689 principles, also known as Crown Powers, into government structures should be opposed.  Failure to resist the continuation of the Monarchy will only assist imposing the class-based values of capitalism into the institutions of a future “independent” Scotland;

2.            Pressures to sneak into NATO membership or join the Partners-for-Peace Programme by avoiding public scrutiny should be resisted.  A campaign against NATO should be launched.  Alongside acceptance of the monarchy, this would become a central issue in the Independence Referendum campaign.  NATO membership would locate Scotland in an imperialist military and political alliance that would drastically affect foreign, military and economic policy;

3.            Placing the secular separation of church and state as a key component in the fight for an Independent Secular Socialist Republic.  And, yes, that means facing up to the issue of faith schools so that campaigning for an educational system that does not undermine scientific understanding of geological and biological evolution can occur and can confidently promote sex education that affirms the value of contraception, abortion, and homosexuality without religious based obstruction;

4.            Building a grassroots demand that campaigns for a Right to Referendum triggered by popular representation, usually through a targeted threshold of signatories.  This would allow some mechanisms of popular expression and routes for holding governing parties to account.  Moreover, referenda undermine the continued existence of Crown Powers;

5.            Implied within much of the above is the need to establish a written constitution with provisions that ensure maximum consultations and popular participation such as the Right to Referendum.  Bodies such as the Scottish Constitutional Convention criticise the Scottish Government and SNP leadership for their ambivalence on this issue.  A written constitution immediately addresses the question of the locus of sovereignty.  Does it reside in the people, the crown or even the crown-in-parliament?  No major political party dare even admit this issue exists, let alone address it.

None of these demands will create an independent secular socialist republic, but they do strengthen the hand of workers, students and popular forces from government based arbitrariness.

Simply organising for a “Yes” vote only accepts the assumptions of the bourgeois nationalist trinity.  Offering agreement in advance is the surest way to have any concerns taken for granted, ignored, and abandoned.  It puts no pressures on the referendum’s main organisers to recognise concerns that even many of their own activists have seen as important.  Voting “Yes” must mean real change not just another variant of a modified status quo, otherwise a “Yes” vote becomes a “No” vote in disguise.

The RIC can fight for a “Yes” vote on the independence on offer or it can open the necessary political space to build something better.

27.10.12

References

  1. http://radicalindependence.org/

2.  http://www.moraysnp.org/2012/07/snp-defence-policy-update.html

3.  http://murdoritchie.blog.co.uk/2012/07/21/why-the-independence-referendum-is-being-turned-into-one-on-14164327/

4.  http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/07/30/why-the-independence-referendum-is-being-turned-into-one-on-nat/

5.  http://www.scottishreview.net/GeorgeRobertson28.shtml?utm_source=Sign-Up.to&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=280114-The+forgetful+DG+%2B+George+Robertson+on+the+SNP

6. http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/09/16/britain-must-break-to-defend-real-labour-or-the-break-up-of-the-uk-to-advance-republican-socialism/

7.  http://murdoritchie.blog.co.uk/2012/10/26/radical-independence-convention-why-15131950/

8.  http://www.scottishsocialistvoice.net/2012/10/workers-better-off-with-independence/4054

9.  http://murdoritchie.blog.co.uk/2012/10/26/radical-independence-convention-why-15131950/

This is a shortened version of a longer article by Murdo, which also responds to some of the issues raised by Allan Armstrong of the RCN, in his examination of the potential of the Radical Independence Conference. These articles can be  found at:–

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/09/16/britain-must-break-to-defend-real-labour-or-the-break-up-of-the-uk-to-advance-republican-socialism/

 http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/06/20/the-independence-lite-referendum-and-a-tale-of-two-campaign/

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The RCN has also published another article by Murdo which can be found at:-

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/07/30/why-the-independence-referendum-is-being-turned-into-one-on-nat/

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