All The More Reason

A Socialist Case for Unionism.
January 13, 2007, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I think it highly unlikely that a referendum on Scottish independence would deliver a secessionist verdict for the Scottish National Party. Even in the absence of any proper debate on the pitfalls, not to mention the sheer pointlessness, of withdrawal from the Union, Scottish opinion seems to be more or less evenly divided.

One can understand why the government is so keen to take Scottish nationalism head on at the May elections. A Westminster parliament consisting of English, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs would not be in a position to deliver a Labour government. But in a more fundamental sense, secessionism is inimical to the cause of social justice. The United Kingdom is a structurally redistributive entity. Breaking away from its rich English neighbour would deny some of the poorest members of the Union a share of the UK’ joint wealth; a wealth that has served Scotland extremely well; particularly, since 1997, in the shape of record investment in the National Health Service and schools. Scotsmen cannot live on North Sea oil alone (and, one wonders, is this the most germaine cause for the SNP to be espousing at a time when climate change had infiltrated so much of the British, and indeed global, political debate?)

How queer then, that the SNP are joined in their shrill demand for a referendum by the Scottish Socialist Party! I would not be so naughty as to suggest that the SSP’s stance is motivated by anything other than a quaint adherence to the Stalinist doctrine of ‘Socialism in one country’, but one cannot help but wonder whether the Wee Scotlander mentality has a more opportunistic edge. As long as no more of their leaders are investigated for perjury, a close contest could well give them the balance of power in the Scottish Executive. The alliance of socialism and nationalism has seldom worked out for the best. It’s yet another example of the naval-gazing, parochial sentiments that have infested a once proudly internationalist Left.


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