Something’s going on in Scotland

Pat Smith, from the International Socialists Scotland and the Radical Independence Campaign in Edinburgh, makes a case for why socialists should support Scottish Independence

(Originally published in the autumn 2014 issue of the rs21 magazine)


Something quite remarkable is happening in Scotland. Most active socialists in Scotland, outside of the Labour Party, have been involved in the Yes campaign and are re-energised by the mood of hope and optimism. Large numbers of people are engaged in politics in a way we have not seen for a long time.

Of course independence would not automatically deliver equality and social justice but I believe that it would give us a better chance to fight for those things.

Westminster governments, both Labour and Tory, have shown the utmost contempt for the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society. Over the last four decades they have been systematically redistributing wealth from poor people to the rich. We have a chance to reverse this but this means socialists need to argue for the kind of Scotland we want to see after independence.

Most importantly, Scottish independence would begin the break-up of the UK. Independence would reduce the UK’s significance as a world power and its support for US imperialism.

We could stop subsidising the arms industry, which spreads misery around the world. The SNP is already committed to removing Trident from the Clyde. Scotland would become nuclear-weapon free and save much expenditure in the process. Socialists argue that this has to backed-up by also leaving NATO.

Within a few years, Scotland can become self-sufficient in a set of diverse renewable energy sources, and have enough to spare to export. At the same time, Scotland could get rid of its dependence on future imported fossil fuels, and reduce its carbon footprint.

Self-determination and the control of taxation, benefits and government expenditure is an essential condition for creating the more compassionate, fairer, more prosperous, healthier and greener society that the people living in Scotland want for themselves. We don’t think that the Scotland we hope to achieve will be won without a struggle. Whatever the result of the referendum the fight for a better Scotland and a better world will continue.


  1. I’m not at all convinced by the yes campaign, and I was origionally a yes. As an ex SWP member who always agreed with the break up of the UK and independence for the regions, I have been increasingly felt alienated from the yes people. Salmond is a weasil (I know that’s a given), but I see no reason to believe there will be increased opportunities for the rev left after a yes vote. I think the 2nd debate convinced me of the paucity of the yes arguments. Contrary to the view of Salmond winning, I thought his arguments very poor. Presuming we are not having illusions in a future Scottish government being radical, and knowing the economy will not be conducive to this, support for yes rests on future opportunities and growth for the left based on the “carnival” of democracy and radicalization. I think this is an illusion. I hope I am wrong, but I see division of the working class, and a move to nationalism in both Scotland and England as a result.
    I was also hoping to see more discussion on this site. There has been none to speak of.

  2. I think you’re wrong to identify the Yes arguments with Salmond. Of course he is a weasel. The strength of the Yes campaign has been that it isn’t just the SNP, but many other more radical forces, most notably in the Radical Independence Campaign. There are plenty of good resources on this e.g. the “related link”s at the bottom of the article and Neil Davidson’s excellent piece in the Jacobin:

    It’s an unfortunate fact that most online debate now takes place on Facebook and Twitter rather than on the comments pages of web sites, but I agree it would be good to see more here.

    I think the most powerful arguments for Yes are that it would be a blow to British nationalism, to the British state’s warmongering and Trident, and to the establishment which has overwhelmingly defended the status quo. I think RIC has already rejuvenated the Scottish left. Whereas in England UKIP is capturing much of the anti-establishment mood for the right, RIC has succeeded in doing this for the left in Scotland. No, independence won’t mean socialism, but it would help.

  3. Yes I find much to agree with in Neil’s article. Pity I would never have found it if you had not brought it to my attention. I have added it to the comments after a good Billy Bragg article in today’s Guardian online.
    Again, a pity the Guardian site seems the best for any debate.
    I have read a good argument on a Communist Party site (can’t remember which one or where now), but that was argueing no.
    I gave up on Facebook over a year ago, and find twitter to be pretty useless I am afraid.


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