Some afterthoughts on the indy referendum

  • Although the final result of Scotland’s independence referendum was extremely disappointing, it was hugely inspiring to see the Yes campaign mobilise a coalition of over 1.6 million people to vote for self-determination and a positive vision of the future.
  • Early analysis of voting demographics reveals that the majority of people under the age of 55 voted Yes. This bodes well for a future independence referendum. Research into why people voted No shows that fear about the risks of leaving the UK, particularly over pensions and the pound, were major factors (much more so than any emotional attachment to the United Kingdom). The areas with the biggest Yes votes had a high concentration of low income voters. Better Together aka Project Fear won by blackmailing pensioners and the well-off into rejecting self-determination.edit-21288-1411118881-21

 

  • The moral bankruptcy and self-serving nature of the Labour Party has been laid bare for all to see. The reactionary influence of Ed Miliband and his party colleagues comes as no surprise to those of us who view politics from a radical and independent Left perspective. We hope voters rightly punish them in future elections north and south of the border.
  • It would be wrong to suggest that the shameful behaviour of Loyalist mobs in Glasgow following the referendum result was representative of all Unionists. We should acknowledge, however, that the same emotional triggers that led to the No majority also fuel Loyalism: fear, pessimism, reactionary ideas and insecurity. The pro-Union media and political parties should hang their heads in shame.
  • Despite the result, the Yes campaign – and particularly groups like the Radical Independence Campaign – should be an inspiration to those who believe that progressive politics is dead. Contrary to the claims of some in the Labour movement, they have shown that aspiring to independence and self-determination is not the same as being a narrow-minded nationalist. The rest of the Left in Britain will remain irrelevant unless it learns to become an engaging and inspiring force for positive change.
  • We never viewed Alex Salmond as a Messiah figure. However his dignified departure as First Minister removes from front-line politics one of the few progressive politicians to take on and frighten the cosy Westminster elite. We hope his successor continues where he left off. As he said in his resignation speech, the dream shall never die.
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Scotland Decides – a message of solidarity

Today Scotland exercises sovereign power as a nation. We congratulate the pro-independence movement for running a positive, inspiring and inclusive campaign in the face of scaremongering and blackmail from the No camp and the British political class, as well as almost completely hostile media coverage. Whichever way the vote goes, Scotland can be proud of what it has achieved so far, showing the rest of the UK there is an alternative to passively accepting the stifling and oppressive rule of Westminster. Good luck, and solidarity from your friends in the North!

cropped-scotland_bighqdefaultImage from the Solidarity with Scotland group.

Solidarity, Socialism & Self-Determination

It was disappointing to see a good socialist like Dennis Skinner characterise supporters of Scottish independence as narrow-minded fools. Speaking to the Daily Mirror, he said: “I can’t understand some of the trade unionists falling for flag-waving in Scotland […] Nationalists divide working people when we should be united.” In the same staunchly pro-Labour newspaper, London-based hack Kevin Maguire wrote: “Instead of seeking alliances with the working class in Northern England and South Wales to create a better, fairer, decent Britain, a parochial Left fringe in Scotland is allying itself to Alex Salmond that would abandon the low paid and jobless from Cornwall to Cumbria.” Meanwhile, Nick Cohen, the left-wing political commentator who supported the invasion of Iraq, asks: “How can a union official call for English workers to support Scottish workers if England and Scotland are separate countries?”

The idea that Scottish self-determination is somehow a betrayal of the rest of the British working-class suffering under Tory austerity is, of course, patronising and ridiculous. Scotland has been solidly not voting for the Conservatives for decades. Despite this they have had numerous Tory governments imposed on them thanks to voters largely concentrated in the south of England. Why should they continue to suffer just because the English Left can’t get its act together?

Skinner, Maguire and Cohen completely miss the point about how solidarity actually works. The miners’ strike of 1984-85 saw huge international support for the NUM’s struggle against pit closures, showing that real solidarity is internationalist and not confined by national boundaries. They also seem to forget that there is already an autonomous Scottish TUC because Scotland is actually a separate country within the ‘political union’ known as the United Kingdom.

Scotland has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a nation based on social justice and immunise itself against Conservative rule forever. This could reinvigorate British socialism and force the Labour Party to stop taking its working-class supporters for granted. Recently it’s been encouraging to see that calls for devolution of power to Northern England are now being taken seriously. This would not have happened without the debate about Scottish independence. An independent Scotland would give us the confidence to demand greater autonomy from London rule and build decentralised socialism at a grassroots, municipal and regional level. Continuing with the status quo will get us all nowhere.

An Open Letter to the People of Scotland

Dear brothers & sisters,

It’s not often we agree with anything David Cameron says, but when he said “It would be wrong to suggest that Scotland could not be another such successful, independent country”, we couldn’t agree more with him.

Even the most ardent supporters of the status quo know that Scotland will do just fine if it opts for self-determination. Equally, supporters of the Yes campaign know that independence will not bring about a Utopia in Scotland, but it will ensure that you never have another neo-Thatcherite Conservative government imposed on you by voters in the South of England.

Apart from the patronising and cringeworthy appeals by English celebrities, the official No campaign has relied on pessimism, scare-mongering and blackmail to save the Union. But what is the real agenda of the Westminster parties who are the driving force behind the campaign for a No vote? Far from wanting to protect the best interests of the Scottish people, the truth is that:

1. The Tories are only interested in saving what remains of the old Empire. They fear that Britain’s geopolitical relevance (along with their ruling class pride) will be greatly diminished with the loss of Scotland.
2. Labour wants to save the 40 Scottish MPs it has in Westminster. Without these it could be frozen out of power for decades. When they were in power, the votes of Scottish MPs were also crucial in passing legislation that brought in foundation hospitals and tuition fees, both of which did not affect Scotland.
3. Both parties want to ensure that North Sea Oil remains an asset of the UK state.

On September 18th you have the chance to make history. We will respect whatever decision you make. We do believe, however, that Scottish independence would rank alongside the introduction of universal suffrage and the creation of the welfare state as another great progressive landmark in the history of these islands. It would also show the rest of the country that there is an alternative to London rule and “socialism for the rich, austerity for everyone else” policies.

This opportunity belongs to you, we hope to you take it!

Yours fraternally,

The Free North Campaign.

Preston event: The radical case for Scottish independence

There’s an event taking place on August 12th in Preston that may be of interest to supporters of the FNC. Red Pepper magazine and the Hannah Mitchell Foundation are hosting a meeting about the radical case for Scottish independence and what it could mean for the North of England.

For more info, visit: http://www.redpepper.org.uk/preston-event-the-radical-case-for-scottish-independence/

Other links that may be of interest:

Radical Independence Campaign
http://radicalindependence.org/

Hannah Mitchell Foundation
http://www.hannahmitchell.org.uk/

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Norman Cornish 1919 – 2014

The Durham-born artist Norman Cornish has died at the age of 94. The last surviving Pitman Painter, Cornish began working down the
mines when he was 14 years old. In the 1930s he joined the Spennymoor Settlement, an arts and recreation centre, where he painted scenes of typically Northern industrial working-class life. A celebration of this great Northern artist will take place in the town of Spennymoor in September.

For more info, visit: www.normancornish.com.

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Yes to Scottish independence! Yes to Northern independence!

It is being reported that MPs from the North of England are to be given a prominent role in the campaign opposing Scottish independence. So far, the No campaign has relied on scare-mongering and belittling the idea that Scotland can survive by unshackling itself from Westminster and governing in its own interests. In contrast, the message of the Yes campaign has been one of hope and confidence in Scotland’s ability to manage its own affairs and build a society based on social justice.

For us the concept of independence is a totally logical step for Scotland, and the North of England. For decades both have had governments and policies imposed on them that their electorates did not vote for. The fact that political power and economic prosperity are concentrated in London is a self-fulfilling prophecy that will remain unchanged until a radical redistribution of political and economic decision-making takes place.

The Northern MPs who have become partisans of the status quo are motivated purely by party political interests. Whereas the Tories support the Union because it represents the last vestige of Empire and allows the Treasury to benefit from Scotland’s oil revenues, Labour are concerned at the potential loss of around 40 Scottish MPs that could tip the balance of power in Westminster against them for decades.

It should be pointed out that while the Conservatives are almost unanimous in their opposition to Scottish independence, there is a strong Labour for Independence campaign that is admirably refusing to follow the party line.

It goes without saying that Scotland is more than capable of governing itself. Even David Cameron is quoted as saying: “Supporters of independence will always cite examples of small, independent and thriving economies, such as Switzerland and Norway. It would be wrong to suggest that Scotland could not be another such successful, independent country.

The Free North Campaign extends solidarity to the Yes campaign and calls on MPs in the North of England to start putting the interests of people in Scotland and the North before the needs of their political parties.