Communist Party Scotland Statement on Scottish Independence
The Scottish Committee of the CPB defends the right of nations to self-determination and condemns the Coalition government for its threats of non-cooperation. If a majority of the Scottish people vote for independence in the 2014 referendum, then their decision should be respected.
Our commitment to the right to self-determination is one of principle. At the same time, the Communist Party maintains its other principle of judging the exercise of that right in terms of the class interests of the Scottish people and of those of working people in Britain and internationally.
On this basis Communists do not believe independence on the terms proposed is in the interests of working people today any more than it was in the 1970s. At that time Communists and the Left in the trade union led the way in the fight for a Scottish parliament with powers to intervene in the economy, to develop public ownership and increase labour’s power over capital – powers that would in turn strengthen the bargaining power of working people across Britain.
It is our conviction that independence as proposed in the White Paper would weaken such
bargaining power and strengthen that of big business and of its state machine at both British and Scottish level. Membership of the sterling area would subordinate Scotland to current neo-liberal policies without any power to change them – as the same time as seriously eroding the opportunity for united working class action across the nations of Britain to do so. Worse still, membership of the EU would oblige Scotland to incorporate in any written constitution the terms of the 2012 Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance. This Treaty requires even tougher controls on government spending than the Stability and Growth Pact – with the same objective: using unemployment as the market regulator to curb the trade union movement.
While it is conceivable that some of the most reactionary aspects of the White Paper, such as NATO membership and reducing Corporation Tax, might be reversed as a result of subsequent political mobilisation by the Left, we judge it to be extremely unlikely that there would be a reversal of positions on Sterling and EU membership. The transition to independence will take place at a time of diminishing oil revenues and unfavourable economic circumstances – allowing any Scottish government, and the big business controlled media, to call for fiscal ‘stability’ in face of adverse market reactions. Left-wing supporters of independence need to think through the consequences. The socialist Left does not possess anything like mass support in Scotland today. Election results show this. The inevitably rancorous negotiations over the division of resources will harden nationalist attitudes. Yet these years, 2015-2017, will be precisely when the terms of the new written Scottish Constitution will be determined and the SNP’s White Paper demonstrates a clear intent to do so on the terms set by big business and Scotland’s own finance capital sector.
This is why Communists oppose this White Paper on Independence. Instead we continue to call for radical federalism as the best way of developing class cohesion across the nations of Britain: national parliaments with powers of economic intervention, ownership and control and a federal parliament with overall powers over economic policy and a constitutional obligation to redistribute in terms of social need.
We believe that this provides the best framework for uniting working people on class terms against the state power of big business. Currently that power is concentrated at British level and represents above all the interests of the City of London. Under a ‘White Paper’ Scottish Constitution big business will continue to exercise this power through its disproportionate ownership of the Scottish economy and the binding requirements of its instruments, the Bank of England and the EU Treaties.
A No vote in the referendum has to be made the springboard for remobilising the working class movement at British level to demand real constitutional change. The fight for radical federalism, as outlined in Red Paper, must begin now. At the same time the fight for the objectives of the People’s Charter and the People’s Assembly, backed by the united trade union movement in England, Scotland and Wales, must be stepped up. Radical Federalism will only be won on the basis of class mobilisation across the nations of Britain.