Rob Jones has been living in Scotland for the last nine or ten years. Below he comments on the election outcome. His comments reinforce the point made in an earlier article here on the issue: From here in the US, it’s impossible to really say as far as whether to argue for a “yes” or a “no” vote, but the main point is this: For any working class force, especially for socialists, the main point should have been that no matter which way the election turns out, workers’ wages, jobs, and social services will continue to be attacked and workers and young people have to use the election campaign to organize to defend their interests. Hopefully, that will still come out of this election campaign.
A couple of points for those not familiar with Scottish politics: The SNP is the Scottish National Party, which is the party that has been raising Scottish independence for years. Salmond, who Rob refers to, is the leader of that party.
Rob Jones writes:
Firstly, the nature of the SNP. It is a classic populist nationalist party, trying to please everyone- from business to the desperate. That is why people imagining a workers’ republic coexist with those seeing the SNP as a vehicle to creating a low tax tiger economy. It has been well described as promising Scandinavian welfare and security on the basis of a US level of taxation. In essence it has a` right wing programme- expressly neo liberal in its White Paper for Scotland and promising to make a bonfire of regulations and controls on business. Sounds familiar? Its only concrete economic commitment is to lower corporation tax, and provoke a race to the bottom, and doubtless further erode cross border worker’s solidarity. Even against the much (and often justly) maligned Labour Party, it consistently has come out against raising taxes on the wealthy, mansion tax, levy on banks etc etc. While making great play of its commitment to the NHS, it has refused to use discretionary power to raise income tax to alleviate the issue. In short, they are an unsavoury rag bag, only getting support because of the record of the UK Governing parties.
More voted against them, because of justified fears about jobs and pensions. They effectively bullshited all questions about the economic future, currency and austerity as ‘scaremongering’. You only have to read Michael Robert’s blog on the question to see that issued around currency and deficits are deadly serious and deserve an answer. No point in voting for formal political independence to being in effect an economic colony of England through fiscal controls. Answers were not provided and that is why 28 out of the 32 Electoral districts voted No, and why the final margin was so decisive. You cannot compare Scotland with exploited New York fast food workers. Yes, there are devastatingly poor areas, particularly around Glasgow. But the facts are that a generation ago, as measured by GDP per head of population, Scotland was 10% below the UK average. Today, Scotland is the most prosperous region of the UK, apart from London and the South East of England. This is not being an apologist for the status quo, or ignoring the catastrophic areas of much of Glasgow. It is just facts. That is all, and an indication that many folk have jobs and savings to preserve and were not swayed by talk of not being strong and courageous, not being ‘real Scots’ and the rest of the nationalist rhetoric. They wanted more substance than that. And the tail ending lefts like the SSP were a joke.
Even in the areas like Glasgow, where the majority votes Yes, it was far more uneven than that. Even here, 47% voted No, and like other areas, they would have been many workers and even Labour voters…. [It is useful to look at a stronghold of the Scottish working class: the Strathclyde shipyard workers.] Unless the situation changed dramatically in the last few days, I would wager that a decisive majority of Strathclyde shipyard workers voted No. Why? Their major contracts are with the UK Government, particularly in defence, and they have legitimate concerns about jobs and closures. So they and their union reps demanded a meeting with Salmond. He consistently refused to show up, leaving the distinct impression that he had nothing to offer and that he had bottled it. Unless he dramatically showed up and saved the day, all they had was a meeting with Labour Party reps and Vote No and No thanks posters and stickers- as seen on TV. They just sent him a letter on the last occasion. And what was our beloved First Minister doing at the time? In a Conference Suite at Edinburgh Airport having a meeting with business leaders to reassure them about his plans on independence.
I know about the bankruptcy of the No campaign and the reasons for so many coming into political activity for the first time -not just on one side. But they are being diverted into a potentially sectarian channel. Parts of Scotland is now truly a ‘House Divided’ . When a majority of Scots are denounced as not real Scots, and even as ‘traitors’ and ‘quislings’, not as a one off but repeatedly by Nat outriders, then poison has entered the national bloodstream. Hopefully that will subside, and the positive side of this great event will prevail. I can only hope so, and that class issues on both sides of the border will prevail over sectarian constitutional preoccupations, that could suck in the English as well. Otherwise it will only prove that nationalism in advanced countries, that are not the victims of a repressive regime, is a reactionary vacuity.