Scotland has voted “No” – while it is a pity that it is Salmond and not Cameron who is out of a job at the moment, there is still grounds for optimism. Whatever the result – we would still have to fight against austerity, be it from the SNP in Scotland, the Tories in Westminster, or Labour locally. We would still have to fight to build a mass movement for the working class and to break from Labour, which surely must be massively damaged by being the cheerleaders in Scotland of the Tories’ No campaign. There is much to hope for too, because the overwhelming majority of young people voted for change.
In some ways the referendum on the future of Scotland is hugely historic, in other ways it is not.
On the one hand, it could represent break from 307 years of union with the United Kingdom, a break from Tory Westminster rule and a chance for Scotland to become independent – a once in a lifetime opportunity.
On the other, whichever of the main parties are in power – SNP or Labour – for the people of Scotland, austerity will still continue. There will still be cuts to vital services, poverty and inequality. Independence on its own won’t change that.
Yet, independence opens up a space to discuss socialist ideas – voting for independence is pointless, unless we have independence from food banks, unless we can nationalise the utilities and transport of Scotland, to run these ourselves in our own interest.
Oil has much preoccupied the debate on independence, with Tommy Sheridan positing the revenue this would provide an independent Scotland. However, Scotland also has vast untapped resources of renewable energy and reliance on oil merely exacerbates the threat of climate change. We could, if we had a socialist society, choose to become independent from fossil fuels, to give real energy security and a carbon neutral future to the people of Scotland.
The BBC has been completely biased in its coverage of the independence campaign, showing little of the grass-roots support for Yes that is springing up in cities and towns across Scotland, and with outright lies and distortion. Yet the movement behind Yes did not come from nowhere. It arose from the victory over the bedroom tax, and anger at all three establishment parties. Paul Mason, Newsnight economics editor, said that he had not seen the BBC in “full-on propaganda mode” since 2003 and the Iraq War.
In 2003, the BBC went as far as banning a showing of “Carry On Up The Khyber”, as it “made fun of the British Army”. If you are unfamiliar with the plot of this masterpiece of film-making, it centres around a Scottish regiment in the mountains of Afghanistan. Set in the days of Empire, the British Army are reputed to be invincible, yet word gets out of their fallibility – they are wearing underpants underneath their kilts, putting the very existence of the Empire at risk!
During the referendum campaign, Milliband and a host of Labour MPs were met with someone on a tricycle following them around the centre of Glasgow, with the Death March from Star Wars at full blare. “Bow down to your Imperial Masters! They have come from Westminster, at taxpayers’ expense to tell us how to vote. Bow down to your Imperial Masters!” One poll came up with combined approval ratings for the leaders of the three main parties is at a staggering -92%! However, Alex Salmond’s approval rating is also low at -20% – showing general dissatisfaction with all mainstream politicians, and a movement against austerity.
A survey in The Mirror showed that support for the Yes campaign was highest amongst those who have least to lose: the poor, the unemployed and the working class. We need to break from Labour and build a new political voice to represent our own interests.
Don’t despair – build a socialist future!
Socialist Party Scotland – http://www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk/