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Alex Miller

On August 14 Scotland’s First Minister and Scottish Nationalist Party leader, Alex Salmond, revealed his minority government’s plans for a referendum on Scottish independence.

The August 15 Morning Star reported that the white paper launched by Salmond in Edinburgh “includes a draft ballot paper for an independence referendum, asking voters whether they agree ‘that the Scottish government should negotiate a settlement with the government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state’”.

Although Salmond’s SNP government has the support of the Scottish Greens in the Scottish Parliament it has no overall majority, so that the proposal for an independence referendum will almost certainly be defeated by the combined votes of the Labour Party, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

The August 15 Guardian reported that Scotland’s previous First Minister, Jack McConnell, had resigned as leader of the Labour Party in Scotland. McConnell led the Labour Party to its first-ever national defeat at the hands of the SNP in the May parliamentary elections.

A measure of the high regard in which the Scottish Labour Party is held by its paymasters in London is provided by the fact, that as the Guardian reported, “within hours of his resignation McConnell was appointed as the next British high commissioner to Malawi by the prime minister”.

The Guardian quoted McConnell as saying “The Scottish Labour party needs to respond to the election defeat in May and hear what the Scottish people had to tell us. We need to re-engage with our people to develop the policies and the approach which will rebuild our support, because those with the least need us to be successful”. However, McConnell failed to explain how his taking up a diplomatic post in Malawi would help Labour re-engage with the Scottish people.

In contrast to the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems, the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) welcomed the SNP white paper on an independence referendum. According to a statement posted on the SSP website on August 15: “Unlike the three London-controlled parties, the Scottish Socialist Party is not afraid of a wide-ranging debate, followed by a democratic vote on Scotland’s future”.

“The Scottish Socialist Party supports independence for Scotland. We believe Scotland would be economically, politically, culturally and socially better off making our own decisions and standing on our own two feet. We look forward to outlining our own unique vision, for an independent socialist Scotland”.
“In the meantime, the SSP will also support any steps to strengthen the Scottish Parliament short of full independence. We have called, for example, for Holyrood to have control over broadcasting, energy, fiscal policy, drugs and other matters that are currently reserved to Westminster. We would use fiscal autonomy, not to boost the already bloated profits of big business, but to redistribute wealth and narrow the gap between rich and poor”.

“However, only full independence can rid Scotland of nuclear weapons, disentangle Scotland from the killing fields of Iraq and Afghanistan, allow us to welcome refugees fleeing famine and persecution, and enable Scotland to draw up its own democratic constitution fit for the 21st century”.

“We note that the SNP's vision for independence would involve a 'Union of the Crowns'. The SSP, in contrast, believes in sweeping away the remnants of feudalism, inherited power and class privilege which the monarchy symbolises. We believe that neither the 300-year old Union of Parliaments, nor the 400 year-old Union of Crowns meet Scotland’s needs in the new world of the 21st century. In the coming national conversation, we will be arguing strongly for an independent Scottish republic. The SSP believes that the fight for independence involves confronting powerful vested interests at the heart of the British establishment. When they site their nuclear weapons here and rely disproportionately on our sons and daughters to stock their armies and die in their wars, it would be naïve to imagine that the British state will be led gently down the slippery slope to full independence”.

“We believe that the forces in favour of independence - including the SNP, the SSP, the Greens, the Independence Convention and Independence First - have a major battle on their hands to win the Scottish people decisively to the cause of Scottish independence”.

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