by Colin Fox and Natalie Reid
The Scottish Socialist Party will not be standing in the General Election on June 8, but that does not mean we will not be campaigning.
Our annual conference in Glasgow last weekend committed all SSP members across Scotland to spend the next six weeks making the case for independence and helping to ensure this becomes the “independence election”. Why is that so important?
Well, if all the opinion polls are correct, and we see no reason to doubt their common conclusion, Theresa May is heading for a victory at Westminster. And Labour is heading for a hiding.
Such a result is not a good one for working class people anywhere in Britain. It will mean further attacks on the vulnerable, further commercial pressure on our NHS, further austerity – making the poor pay for a crisis caused by the bankers – further casualisation of a workforce facing poverty wage rates and insecurity.
For Scotland it means “the mother of all democratic deficits” is heading our way. We will be faced with yet another Tory Government we did not elect. There are no polls we have seen that suggest the Tories will win a majority of seats, or the most votes, in Scotland.
The only way to stop working class people in Scotland suffering at the hands of another Tory Government we did not elect therefore is via independence.
Supporting our inalienable democratic right to self-determination does not make you a Scottish nationalist, it makes you a democrat.
The SNP have no monopoly on independence. John Maclean, the great Clydeside revolutionary socialist leader supported independence for Scotland twenty years before the SNP was even founded.
And that is why the SSP urges Corbyn voters in Scotland to recognise and seize the profound opportunity independence offers here.
We can prevent 20 years of Tory rule and the damage that will do to working class communities here and at the same time construct the socialist Scotland we all wish to see.
Winning that aim will require a mass social movement for transformational change to take the fight into workplaces and communities rather than confining it to Holyrood and Westminster. Socialists should be at the heart of that movement.
The Scottish Socialist Party has advocated independence since its inception in 1998.
We want an independent socialist Scotland, a modern democratic republic. Our message to voters across Scotland, therefore, is to make June 8 the “independence election”. Vote against the Tories to build the case for independence and socialism.
We will spend the next six weeks making the case for independence on the streets of urban Scotland. Our executive committee meeting committed us to produce a mini-manifesto outlining our case for independence and socialism and to distribute it throughout the country; to organise another Scottish Socialist Voice Forum on independence and socialism – similar to the one we held in March with colleagues in the RMT union, Labour for Independence and Commonweal – with international guest speakers joining us in supporting this goal; and to raise the money to help fund these initiatives during this election period.
In the very important debate Alex Salmond initiated on LBC Radio last week between him and Nicola Sturgeon about this being ‘the independence election’ we are bound to say we agree with Alex.
We realise Sturgeon’s reluctance to follow his advice since a third of SNP voters don’t support independence. But putting seats before causes is extremely short-sighted.
It is surely better to have 40 MPs with an unequivocal and indisputable mandate capable of facing down May for independence than 50 with nothing more than a vague, deniable suggestion of the same.
We will, therefore, press the SNP to put just such an unequivocal commitment to independence in its manifesto. And we will criticise them if they do not.
The independence movement faces a unionist opposition in Scotland emboldened and with growing momentum. The need to counter their arguments is now. The situation Scotland likely faces after June 8 demands nothing less.
Colin Fox and Natalie Reid are the joint national spokespeople of the Scottish Socialist Party. This article was printed in the 2nd May issue of The National.
Main Photo: Craig Maclean