Scotland’s Road to Socialism, edited by Professor Gregor Gall, includes contributions from left-wing figures who write on their views to “move forward a socialist Scotland” ahead of the referendum next year. It includes figures from both sides of the Yes-No divide.
Colin Fox: ‘There is every chance socialist ideals can take hold’
Yes Scotland advisory board member and Scottish Socialist Party spokesman Colin Fox Argues that a Yes vote next year would represent a “significant defeat for the British state and its stranglehold over our economy, society, culture and politics.”
He argues it is wrong to believe that an independent Scotland would become a businessman’s playground, saying big business is the “fiercest opponent” of a Yes vote next year.
He argues that a Yes vote can advance socialism “provided it involves a complete repudiation of neo-liberalism, corporatism, the financialisation of our economy and existing class relations. And that’s the essence of the debate inside the YesScotland movement. The referendum can be won if it offers independence as change, not dressing up the political status quo as radical.”
He adds: “I fully expect the 2014 independence referendum to be won. I am increasingly confident a majority of Scots will realise they can be better off and I see them swinging behind the burgeoning independence movement over the next two years. I believe the referendum can be won by persuading our fellow Scots of independence’s transformational potential. The prospect of an SNP government employing the same economic and political levers as any other Western European state to exploit the working-class majority will clearly do nothing to ensure success in 2014. But if socialist ideals are raised clearly and unequivocally in the independence debate, there is every chance real change can take hold.”
John McAllion: ‘Yes campaign must distance itself from SNP strategy’
Pro-independence ex-Labour MP and MSP John McAllion argues that the SNP has sought to “reassure worried voters that independence will not change anything much”.
He writes: “The SNP’s independent Scotland will retain the monarchy, the pound sterling, military bases along with membership of nuclear-armed Nato and the European Union. It will be fiscally responsible. It will be pro-business. People’s everyday lives will go on as usual. The only real difference will be that we choose to embrace neo-liberalism ourselves rather than having it imposed upon us from the outside.”
He argues that socialists “cannot be fellow travellers on such an SNP road to independence” and calls on the Yes Scotland campaign to “distance itself from the SNP strategy”. He adds that the pro-independence campaign will also “need to allow space for socialists and greens to articulate very different visions of what independence will mean. In articulating that different vision, socialists now need to come up with specifics of what an independent Scottish socialist republic will look like”.
Dave Watson: ‘I’m not prepared for a leap into the dark’
Leading union leader and former chair of the Scottish Labour Party Dave Watson warns that under the SNP’s plan to keep the pound there “is less influence on monetary and fiscal policy than under devolution” because the key economic levers would be in “the hands of another country”.
But he says that main problem with the SNP’s plan is its “Celtic Tiger strategy” – as symbolised by its plan to cut corporation tax by 3 per cent below the UK level in order to give Scotland a competitive edge over the rest of the UK.
The Unison chief declares: “The evidence that tax cuts pay for themselves (Laffer curve) is simply not there.
“Any saving goes into profit, not investment and many of our companies are sitting on vast cash reserves already.
“There will certainly be a huge hit on public finances that is unsustainable. A better way is actually higher taxation to fund investment in people, plant, infrastructure and research.”
He declares: “So does all this look like the road to socialism? So far, I’m afraid not.
“Nor am I prepared to leap into the dark on the basis that we can turn it all around post-independence.
“At its worst, it looks like a strategy of Scotland the tax haven. Far from freeing Scotland from the ‘neo-liberal stranglehold’, it looks like we would be a welcoming home for that ideology.”