The following motion will be placed before the Left Unity Conference in Manchester on March 29th. It was initiated by members of the Republican Socialist Alliance in England. Steve Freeman, of the RSA, addressed the RIC National Conference in Glasgow on November 23rd, 2013.
The Daily Telegraph (16 March 2014) claimed that the 2015 general election would be thrown into turmoil if Scotland voted for independence. It would plunge Britain into a major “constitutional crisis”. It is not ‘merely’ the future of the British Union. The fate of the Cameron coalition government may hang by the result. The Prime Minister who lost Scotland will find it difficult to survive the result, never mind win the general election.
The British Establishment is stepping up its war against the SNP plan for constitutional change. British unionist politicians have come out fighting. Cameron, Clegg, and Miliband are all united in urging a No Vote. In February the Prime Minister launched the government campaign with a speech at the Olympic Park in East London. He appealed to the people of England, Northern Ireland and Wales to support the battle against Scottish independence.
Next George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, threatened to sabotage the Scottish economy by refusing a currency union in the event of a Yes vote. President of the European Commission, Manual Barroso, warned that it would be extremely difficult if not impossible for Scotland to join the EU. Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, said that Scotland would not be able to maintain shipbuilding or avoid redundancies in the defence sector. Shipbuilding on the Clyde would disappear if Scotland voted the wrong way.
Gordon Brown popped up to say Scottish pensions could not be afforded. His “Keep our pensions British” campaign echoes moves among the bankers. Standard Life insurance stated it would leave if Scotland voted ‘Yes’. On 6 March the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group said they would have to exit. The oil companies were nervous too. The boss of Shell wants British regulation and taxes not Scottish ones.
The right to self determination
The right of the Scottish people to self determination is a fundamental democratic right which the left in England claims to uphold. In practice this means the right to a referendum without threats of economic sabotage, military intervention or covert action. The British ruling class have already shown they give only lip service to this right. They have begun a campaign designed to frighten the Scottish electorate into voting No. This campaign will inevitably grow in strength as the September decision day draws closer.
Internationalism means taking serious the right to self determination and building solidarity with the Scottish socialist and green movements organised through the Radical Independence Conference. Left Unity must play the leading role in building solidarity support in the trade union and socialist movement. We should organise public meetings, rallies and demonstrations in towns and cities across the country to get our democratic message over. Working people in England have nothing to loose and everything to gain by helping the left in Scotland defeat the Coalition government in September.
The Republican Vote Yes
“Minister backs vote to axe Queen” railed the Scottish Sunday Post (23 March 2014). This language has echoes from 1649 when the autocrat and civil war monger, Charles Stuart, was axed in Whitehall. This time SNP Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, said “it will be for the people of Scotland to decide” thus contradicting official SNP policy.
Republican socialists in England and Wales have no vote in the referendum. But as Cameron understood, the fight for public opinion and class support is vital down here where by far the largest section of the working class lives and works. Republican internationalists must fight the Tory Coalition and Labour for ‘heart and minds’ of working people.
There is more at stake than solidarity with the Scottish left and fight for the sovereignty of the Scottish people. If the Cameron government is defeated in September this will give a real boost to all those fighting austerity. September can be the month that the government is weakened and the opposition emboldened.
Of course the referendum does not offer the option of a Scottish Republic. But if the majority vote yes, it will provide a republican opportunity for Scotland to continue on the road from a ‘Free State” under the Crown to a sovereign Scottish republic. What then for the left in England and Wales and the plans to revive the 1945 ‘Social monarchy’?