Friday, 31 July 2015

A second Independence Referendum



Alex Salmond is wrong: a second Independence Referendum is not inevitable.

A second referendum is not assured, certain, destined, fated, ineluctable, inescapable, inexorable, ordained, sure or unavoidable.  Therefore, it is not inevitable.

However, Salmond knew exactly what he was doing when he made his ‘inevitable’ comment last week to the BBC.  It resulted in the British Unionist media having a collective hissy-fit.

Predictably, headlines in right-wing English newspapers (including those claiming to be Scottish when sold in Scotland) screamed about ‘arrogant Nats’ and the SNP ‘making demands’ despite the ‘YES’ side losing the referendum just 10 months ago.  Tory Prime Minister David Cameron responded by stating he would not allow a second referendum.  This, from a man who leads a party with just one MP in Scotland. 

Alex Salmond knows there is nothing inevitable about another referendum on independence.  He knows it will happen only if the people of Scotland vote for political parties offering such a policy.  What the former First Minister was actually setting-out was the likelihood that the SNP will include in its manifesto for next year’s Scottish Parliament Election a commitment to offer Scots a new opportunity to back independence.

It would be very strange indeed if the party of independence, to quote a past SNP slogan, went into an election not supporting a policy that Scotland should become a sovereign state. 

Of course the SNP manifesto will commit the party to holding an independence referendum if sufficient numbers of Scots vote for the party next May.  That is what the SNP exists to deliver – an independent Scotland – so why would the party drop its core policy at a time when it is experiencing unprecedented support?

What Alex Salmond meant by his ‘inevitable’ comment was that it is extremely likely the SNP will offer a second referendum and that the people of Scotland will accept.

The reason for the British Unionist backlash is that they know it is also very likely that the outcome of a second referendum would be a resounding ‘YES’ to independence.

In a new referendum campaign the Brits could not rely on ‘Better Together’ nonsense.  We are currently living the reality of Scotland remaining within the British Union: increased austerity, the poor made even poorer, proposals by Scottish MPs thrown-out by English MPs, 56 of Scotland’s 59 MPs representing the SNP but a party with just one Scottish MP running the country.

The Labour Party was also reduced to having just one MP in Scotland partly because it stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories in the last referendum campaign.  Labour told Scots we could safely remain within the British Union because they would protect us from the Tories.  Last week Labour MPs, including the one from Scotland, failed to oppose Tory welfare cuts that will hit hardest those who are poorest and most vulnerable in communities across the country.

In the ongoing contest to replace Ed Miliband as British Labour Party leader, the one candidate with genuine socialist beliefs is ridiculed and attacked by the right-wing Blairite majority in the parliamentary party.  Labour is simply a pale imitation of the Tories, endorsing further austerity and claiming someone like Jeremy Corbyn would be a disaster as leader because he actually opposes right-wing Tory policies.

The Labour Party offers nothing but another way to vote for Tory policies…and if we have learned anything over the past 50 years, it is that Scotland does not vote Tory.

Labour betrayed Scotland by indulging in scare-stories during the last referendum, and by backing Tory attacks that belittled the ability of Scots to successfully run our own country.  The party paid the price of its actions at the UK Election and can expect to suffer a similar fate at next year’s Scottish Parliament Election.  Political wipe-out is all Labour deserves for embracing Tory ideology and for betraying the trust of the people of Scotland.

With the likelihood of another SNP majority government after May’s election, in a parliament possibly containing other pro-independence MSPs, such as Greens, it is easy to see why Alex Salmond used the word ‘inevitable’ to describe the prospect of a second independence referendum.

Thousands of people who voted ‘No’ last September now realise they were duped.  The reality of UK Government policies proves we are not ‘better together’.  Voting ‘No’ simply handed power to David Cameron and a Tory Party that Scots rejected at the ballot box.  The only reason Cameron, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith can impose their austerity on Scotland is because there was a 10% British Unionist majority in the last referendum.

Thousands of people who voted ‘No’ last September have already switched to the pro-independence side.  If that were not the case, the SNP could not have recorded an unprecedented landslide victory at May’s UK Election.

It is now transparently clear that remaining within the British Union means Scotland having governments imposed on us, even when we reject them.  Remaining in the British Union means neo-liberal governments (Tory or Labour) that force the poor to pay the debts of bankers and big business.  This is not an assertion on my part, it is a provable fact.  It is the reality delivered to us by the ‘No’ vote in the last referendum.

The angry, hissy-fit reaction of the English media and politicians to Alex Salmond talking about a second referendum was because they know it is very likely to happen and that Scotland is very likely to grasp the opportunity and re-take our political independence.

The British Unionists used-up their lies and scare-stories in the last referendum: they won’t get away with it next time.

A new independence referendum isn’t inevitable, but if I was a betting man, like Alex Salmond, I’d put money on it.

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