A referendum on whether Scotland should become an independent country will take place in the autumn of 2014. The Scottish National Party (SNP) government in Edinburgh is currently conducting a consultation process, including as to whether 16 and 17 year-olds should get a vote and whether a question on maximum devolution should be included.
The UK Tory Prime Minister David Cameron has demanded that the referendum take place sooner than 2014 and that only one question – for or against independence – be allowed. Cameron’s attempts to control the timing, questions and running of the referendum created a huge backlash in Scotland. The result of this bullying intervention was a 10% spike in backing for independence, currently running at 40%, with higher levels of support among the working-class and young people. A majority in polls say they would support a major transfer of powers to the Scottish parliament from Westminster, including full control over taxation and benefits – the so-called “devo-max” option.
The run-up to the 2014 referendum will see a continuation of savage cuts being implemented by the ConDem government, all of which have been meekly passed onto workers and communities by the SNP in Scotland. Mass youth unemployment and a continuing economic crisis have resulted in an overwhelming majority of people in Scotland now backing devo-max or full independence. The desperation among working class people to escape the capitalist catastrophe and austerity could even see a majority vote for independence in 2014.
But the SNP’s proposals for independence involve a continuation of the profit-hungry capitalist system that has delivered the near-collapse of the banking system and years of cuts and austerity. Under SNP leader Alex Salmond’s plans for Scottish independence, the Queen would remain as head of state and Sterling would be used as the national currency with monetary policy run by the Bank of England. Not a hair on the head of the banks or the multi-national corporations who control the oil and gas reserves would be touched by the SNP. In fact, the SNP are keen to slash corporation tax in an independent Scotland to bolster even further the massive profits of big business.
The SNP’s economic models for a capitalist independent Scotland were, before their collapse, Ireland and Iceland. Now there is more emphasis on the ‘Scandinavian’ model – of Norway, Sweden and Denmark – and this at a time when mass privatisation and deep social cuts are being implemented in Sweden and Denmark.
Socialist Party Scotland has consistently defended the right of the people of Scotland to decide their own relationship with the rest of Britain, up to and including the right of Scotland to form an independent state. A democratic referendum in 2014 must include the options of devo-max and independence. This is the only democratic way to measure the levels of support for the different views among the Scottish people. We will oppose any attempts by Cameron, Labour and others to block a multi-option referendum. We will also demand the right of 16 and 17 year-olds to vote.
Socialist Party Scotland will give critical support to a ‘Yes’ vote for independence in the case of a one-question referendum. A multi-option referendum involving the options of devo-max and independence would see us calling for support for either option as legitimate expressions of the demands for more powers. At the same time, we will counter the illusions that independence based on the SNP’s pro-capitalist ideas can offer any solution. Only an independent socialist Scotland as part of a democratic, voluntary socialist federation with England, Wales and Ireland can offer a way out of the nightmare of cuts and austerity which is all capitalism has to offer.