Cameron referendum conditions anger Scotland

11 January 2012

David Cameron has stirred up a hornets nest of indignation in Scotland by announcing that he intends to force the Scottish people to answer his question in the referendum on independence and to hold it when he decides – i.e. soon.
The criterion set out for the vote by Cameron would likely refuse to include options favoured by the Scottish National Party (SNP) such as the ‘devolution-lite’ option of providing more powers to Holyrood short of full independence, and inclusion of 16 and 17 year olds in the vote.
Quite rightly many Scots – both those in favour of separation and those in favour of maintaining the union who support the right of Scots to have a democratic vote on the question – have told him to “butt out” of their affairs. One SNP spokesperson replied, “…the Conservatives have less Members of Parliament [in Scotland] than there are giant pandas in Edinburgh zoo”.
If a nation wishes to decide whether to separate from another it must be able to frame its own question and decide when to answer it. But Cameron’s aim is not motivated by any such principle – rather it is a shallow attempt to ‘get one over’ on the SNP, and weaken its authority in Holyrood.
Under current law Scotland does not have a “legal or constitutional right” to hold a decisive referendum but only a consultative one. Indeed no referendum in Britain would be binding on parliament –just as none of the so-called constitutional laws (e.g. Bill of Rights) are immune from repeal. The real power to action it or not still lies with the Westminster Parliament which is dominated by English MPs.
Of course were the Scots to vote clearly and unequivocally for separation it would be difficult for the Tories to refuse, and indeed all the Westminster parties have pledged not to do so. But a referendum result might not be so clear cut and doubtless would be accompanied by loads of scare stories and media hype.
Whilst believing strongly in the right of Scottish people to be able to vote on independence, Workers Power has never believed that it would be of any benefit for the Scottish people – especially its working class, and we would call for a “no” vote. Dividing a large capitalist and imperialist state into two will not change the character of either nor weaken imperialism overall. It will unnecessarily divide the working class in Britain across new borders.
The SNP is hastening to assure the ruling class that it will not touch the 1603 union of the crowns even if it dissolves the 1702 union of the parliaments – so the royal family can continue to play their tartan kitch games around Balmoral and have a Scottish coronation perhaps. What a step forward! Nor will the Scottish regiments abandon their “role” abroad.
The SNP – despite using its limited autonomy not to implement some of the cuts – is no radical alterative for workers and youth in Scotland, nor will its policies tackle unemployment and a grinding era of stagnation and austerity.
The way to combat the horrors of austerity, cuts and poverty on both sides of the border remain the same –standing up to the bosses and bringing down the Tories with a general strike.
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