Scottish Independence Rally, George Square, Glasgow Scottish Independence Rally. Photo: Bob Shand / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

We need a radical Scottish independence movement that can challenge the SNP’s assumption of a Scotland with a future in the EU, argues Lewis Akers

In early September 2023, outside the Scottish parliament, supporters of a vision of Scottish independence in the EU gathered. Compared to the independence marches and demonstrations of yester-years, this was a small and staid affair.

Although turnout at the demo addressed by high pro-independ­ence figures, such as the Scot­tish First Minister Humza Yousaf and Scottish Greens leader Lorna Slater was poor, support for the EU amongst independence sup­porters remains strong.

Despite the high level of sup­port for a post-Indy Scotland within the EU, the SNP – which dominates the independence movement and currently sits in the Scottish Government – has laid out no coherent plan actually to deliver independence, let alone independence in the EU.

The Scottish public hears, time and time again, platitudes from Scottish government ministers, like Mike Russell, that not only is another independence referendum round the corner but that the ‘path is open’ to Scotland rejoining the EU post-independence.

However, as some on the left, such as Jonathon Shafi, have con­tended, the Scottish Government’s plans for independence in the EU don’t hold water. Their intention to keep Scotland tied to the Bank of England and its monetary poli­cies, and for an independent Scot­land to have no central bank of its own, means that Scotland would be unable to meet the accession criteria outlined by the EU.

Yet, despite this fundamental incoherence in their independence strategy, countless policy failures and the well-publicised scandals of recent months, the Scottish Government remains largely unchallenged. This is the time for the left to move, and class must be at the heart of an oppositional project.

If Scottish independence is to be part of this, then its founda­tions must also be built on criti­cal, combative politics. Taking on the question of EU membership will need to be part of such a pro­cess, and the argument that even if it was practicable for Scotland to join the EU, it is not desirable, must be advanced.

Recent memory shows us that the EU is inherently anti-demo­cratic and anti-working-class: the Greek people mounted a coura­geous anti-austerity campaign in 2016 against the Troikas’ auster­ity package but were eviscerated by the EU. If the EU can do that to Greece, then Scotland, a less populous nation, would not be immune from the same treatment.

If Scottish independence is about sovereignty and reclaiming democracy, then rejoining the EU post-independence is incompat­ible with those aspirations. Our aim as socialists should always be to bring economic and political power as close to working-class people as possible, and that means opposing both Brussels and Westminster.

The gaps in the Scottish Government’s prospectus offer us the space to outline an alter­native strategy and vision for independence.

Although those who stand against the EU are in the minority on the independence left, critical voices are the need of the hour.

Before you go

Counterfire is growing faster than ever before

We need to raise £20,000 as we are having to expand operations. We are moving to a bigger, better central office, upping our print run and distribution, buying a new printer, new computers and employing more staff.

Please give generously.

Tagged under: