18 September sign

Brian Heron: The new ‘powers’ granted to Holyrood do nothing to reduce poverty, to reign in inequality, to remove Trident or to save the health service

1The pattern of yes votes did not conform to the SNP’s main bases of electoral support. The biggest yes votes came in areas most associated with traditional Labour; Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Dundee etc. Previous elections were therefore not a guide to who voted for independence in Scotland. It was working class areas that wanted the most radical solution available and on offer to deal with their problems.

2Besides the historical myriad of fissures in the left, there was a new and major split. Virtually all of the official movement backed a vote for the union. Most of the trade unions (with the honourable exception of the RMT who held a ballot among their scottish members) the Labour Party and the Communist Party argued that a yes vote would divide the british working class. In the event, their claim was rejected and contradicted in practice by a million or so Scottish working class people. The official movement’s leadership was unable to lead a large section of the class that they purport to represent in Scotland. They became the sectarians.

3The referendum campaign has turned the independence issue into a class issue. The genie will not go back into the bottle. (See blogs from 8 & 14/9.) The national question is no longer ‘a dangerous diversion’ but will be picked up again by the Scottish working class as the new ‘powers’ granted to Holyrood do nothing to reduce poverty, to reign in inequality, to remove Trident or to save the health service. The reaction of the national and international ‘markets’ to Scotland’s no vote were not a result of their relief that we still had ‘class unity’ in the UK. The response of big Capital was a gut reaction to the continued unity of the British state which they had (correctly) seen as the main issue in the referendum. 

It is also of note that Cameron echoed Salmond’s own words in his speech commenting on last night’s vote. He said the issue of independence was settled ‘for a generation.’ Unlikely. As austerity conditions bite deeper courtesy of whichever combination of the mainstream parties occupy the House of Commons from May 2015, so the Scottish working class will demand a rerun. They will seek whatever instruments they feel are available to resist. And they will remember the mass movement that was built and the possibilities for deep and rapid change that they had felt were in their grasp. It is also clear that the SNP, as well as the traditional British labour movement chiefs, have barred themselves from leading such a struggle and so another leadership will need to be built.

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