Referendum on independence for Scotland

In the referendum held on September 18 for the people of Scotland to decide whether they wanted independence from the United Kingdom, a full 45% of those who voted showed that they preferred to separate.

In the referendum held on September 18 for the people of Scotland to decide whether they wanted independence from the United Kingdom, a full 45% of those who voted showed that they preferred to separate. Glasgow, the main working class city of Scotland returned a vote in favour of independence.  Although the majority of the Scottish people voted to remain within the United Kingdom for the time being (along with England, Wales and Northern Ireland), the narrowness of the margin and the widespread popular enthusiasm for the “Yes” (pro-independence) campaign before the referendum shows that the working class and people of Scotland are seeking new arrangements that will ensure sovereignty for Scotland, and empowerment of the people.

The union of Scotland with England to form Great Britain took place more than 300 years ago, but the Scottish nation has never reconciled itself to being subjugated by the chauvinist monopoly capitalist ruling class based in Westminster (London). Although Scotland has rich resources, including huge reserves of North Sea oil and gas, a strong industrial base and educated population, its destiny has always been controlled by London, and the Scottish people have had very little say.

The wrecking activity carried out by British and international finance capital over the past thirty years has resulted in the decline of Scotland’s industry, in growing unemployment, mounting taxes on the working people, and threats to the system of public health and other aspects crucial to the well-being of the working class and people. During the campaign before the referendum, it was very clear that a large section of the population detested this anti worker, anti national course and wanted change. They wanted to use the wealth and resources of their land for the benefit of their people and not to fill the coffers of the monopoly capitalists. There was also strong opposition to being dragged into unjust wars by aggressive Anglo-American imperialism. One of the demands of those in favour of independence was that the nuclear submarines which form part of British imperialism’s arsenal of war no longer be stationed in Scotland.

As the draft constitution drawn up for an independent Scotland made clear, the core of the campaign for independence was to establish in clear terms that sovereignty lay with the people of Scotland. One of the remarkable features of the campaign was the unprecedentedly large numbers of people who were drawn into active thinking and discussion about what kind of state and society they wanted to build for themselves. This is exactly what the British ruling class is afraid of.

The British monopoly capitalist ruling class pulled out all the stops in an effort to sow fear and confusion in the minds of the Scottish people who were deliberating on such an issue of significance for their future. The  political establishment of the British state, that includes the three largest political parties, got together to run a very negative high-profile scare campaign about the dangers that allegedly would face Scotland if it broke away from the UK. Finance capitalists and monopoly corporations blatantly threatened the people of Scotland with dire consequences of a “YES” vote. The Bank of England raised doubts about the currency of an independent Scotland, while Standard Life, Clydesdale, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds announced plans to relocate or establish legal entities in England in the event of a Yes vote. Monopoly retail corporations warned the Scottish people that they would face higher prices in an independent Scotland. Deutsche Bank contributed to exacerbate fears by claiming that independence would be a “historic” mistake and send Scotland into a “Great Depression”. US imperialism threw its weight behind the “No” effort. 

Progressive forces in Britain, such as the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) called on the working class and people to fully support the struggle for sovereignty of the Scottish people. The RCPB(ML) has pointed out that "The high pitch of the debate around the issue of Scotland’s independence has shown that the people can conceive of an alternative to the dictate of capital and its programme of paying the rich and the wrecking of all aspects of society which serve the public good. It is an alternative which conceives of the future as defending the rights of all."The working class and people of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, which together constitute the United Kingdom, are fighting to vest sovereignty in the people. The struggle of the Scottish people for self determination is a constituent part of this struggle.

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