THE NEW WORKER

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 17th March 2017


The Neverendum

by our Scottish political correspondent

IN POLITICS there are many quaint traditions, such as Black Rod banging on the door of the House of Commons at the state opening of Parliament and Dennis Skinner making a rude remark on the same occasion.

Yet another quaint tradition is that of the Scottish National Party (SNP) making regular demands for a rerun of the 2014 referendum, followed by an equally ritual squashing of the idea by her opponents who regularly remind her that the ‘once in a generation’ (the SNP’s term) vote was less than three years ago. That made on Monday was somewhat different because Sturgeon announced that the SNP minority government would formally bid to get Westminster to use its reserved powers under the Scotland Act to allow it to take place. Although the SNP is a minority at Holyrood, they have the Greens as an ally on this matter (which is why the SNP have not yet given the go-ahead for fracking). It is likely that they will get what they want when it is voted on at Holyrood despite opposition from Labour, the LibDems and the Tories.

It is difficult to know if Ms Sturgeon really wants another referendum actually to take place. Some unworthy cynics think it is possible that the call was made simply to dangle a carrot in front of SNP members to dip into their pockets and go out on the knock in the forthcoming local elections. One anonymous businessman has reported that shortly after the speech a minister phoned him to say that the SNP do not really want a referendum before Brexit but in fact want one afterwards. Some detect the hand of Alex Salmond behind the move so that Sturgeon can lose a referendum, thus forcing her to resign and allow him to resume his rightful place as First Minister.

There are good reasons for Ms Sturgeon privately wanting to be denied a referendum by Theresa May, so that she can moan publicly about the injustice of being denied it by Mrs May. One of the most notable achievements of Ms Sturgeon’s time as First Minister is her personal popularity dropping below that of the Scottish Tory leader. So she hopes that having another grievance to complain about will put that right.

In her statement Sturgeon said: “I will now take the steps necessary to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process — a choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit or to become an independent country, able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK and our own relationship with Europe.”

desperate

So there we have it: she is desperate to remain in the European Union (EU). The bit about “partnership of equals” with Europe is simply a joke; the EU does not want an “independent” Scotland on its books. Before the ink was dry on Sturgeon’s announcement the Spanish Foreign, Minister Alfonso Dastis, poured cold water on Sturgeon’s claims, saying: “Spain supports the integrity of the United Kingdom and does not encourage secessions or divisions in any of the member states. We prefer things to stay as they are.”

Spain has active separatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country that Dastis does not want to encourage — and because Spain will become a net contributor to the EU when Britain leaves, Spain will not want another small country to subsidise.

As reported last week, not all SNP members, from former leaders and deputy leaders to the 36 per cent of the membership, share the First Minister’s infatuation with the EU. One group of their allies in the 2014 referendum, the former Trotskyist Scottish Socialist Party is equally wary. Their leader, Colin Fox, denounced Ms Sturgeon for presenting “the myth that the EU is some Garden of Eden where privileges are bestowed on Scotland from on high by some guardian angel in Brussels when it is in fact an anti-democratic bureaucracy entirely in the grip of a neoliberal corporate elite.” This must be a different EU from the one they campaigned to remain inside in June.

Another problem Ms Sturgeon has is the Scottish electorate. Whereas the majority were conned into voting to remain in the EU last June, it will be far more difficult to make a positive case for the EU this time round given growing post-Brexit sentiment against EU immigration north and south of the border.

Despite what nationalist journalists like to think, there is very little difference between English and Scottish views on free mobility of labour within the EU. Likewise, SNP-voting fishermen who strongly voted to repudiate the Common Fisheries Policy will see no reason to vote for its return.

Everyone knows that Scotland would have to adopt the Euro to remain within the EU. The only person who refuses (publicly at least) to recognise this fact is Nicola Sturgeon, who on Monday loftily dismissed the question by stating she “should not be expected to have all the answers at this stage.”

key issue

These things cannot be rushed, after all, the SNP has only been in existence for 83 years and in government for a mere 10 years. The EU rules on deficits do not apply to big countries but are imposed on smaller countries such as Greece and would certainly apply to Scotland, which would have to impose draconian cuts in public services. All matters that would not be overlooked if a second referendum ever takes place. But the key issue is the demand for independence, which is not the property of the Scottish nationalists, and not whether Scotland remains in the EU.

The New Communist Party’s policy is clear. Whilst maintaining our call to vote Labour in Westminster, Scottish, Welsh and local elections, the New Communist Party supports Scottish demands for the right to preserve and develop their culture and national identity. We support the demand for genuine self-governing powers for the Scottish Parliament. We support the Scottish people’s right to possess and control all the physical and other resources present on their land and territorial waters, and we support the rights of the Scottish nation to full national self-determination and independence.