Now is not the time,” declared British Prime Minister Theresa May on the announcement of the Scottish parliament’s vote for a second referendum, “because we’ve got to be coming together, not pulling apart…”
The Scottish people would be “asked to make a crucial decision without necessary information. I don’t think that would be fair. This union that we have, I believe, is very precious.”
It would not be the first time a haughty prime minister is (potentially) brought down by her own hubris. If any response to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a second independence referendum was designed to rankle with Scots, this was it.
The Scottish parliament ratified the SNP’s call for a second referendum, IndyRef2, by 69 votes to 59, albeit with the support of the Greens. The referendum is proposed to take place “between autumn 2018 and spring 2019”.
Blairite leader of the Scottish Labour Party Kezia Dugdale gave her full backing to the Tories: “There absolutely should not be another independence referendum until after Brexit.”
This is ridiculous in that it envisages Scots will only be allowed to take such a decision when it is too late to affect Brexit, which a large majority of them were opposed to.
Fortunately Jeremy Corbyn has been much more democratic. He told BBC’s Andrew Marr that it was up to the Scottish people to decide whether and when to have a second referendum. Quite right – and if it makes Brexit more difficult, then so be it. Corbyn must keep up his support.
That said, Red Flag agrees with comrade McBurney and with what Corbyn has said in the past: that Scottish workers are better off fighting for socialism with the closest possible ties to workers of other nations, including England and Wales, as well as with other nationals working in Scotland.
Scottish trade with the rest of the UK is worth £50 billion, with the rest of the EU £12 billion. In or out of the EU, an independent Scotland would face barriers to its economy. Workers would be called upon to pay “their share” (i.e. most) of the inevitable austerity – for the sake of the nation, of course.
Resistance to these attacks will be undermined by the growth of national chauvinism and patriotism – on both sides of the border – that any attempt to establish a new nation inevitably produces.
Like Sandy, we believe that the class struggle is more effective when workers combine across borders and tear them down – together. Better to stay in the UK, fighting to stop Brexit and striving for a British federal workers’ republic.
However Scottish people should have a say on whatever Brexit deal the Tories come up – with a veto if you like – over whether it applies to them. If Labour and the Trade unions support this right it will help promote solidarity between Scottish, English Welsh and Northern Irish workers and even scupper the hard Brexit many Tories want.