Following Miliband’s speech, Scottish Labour must now embrace independence as the only way out of austerity

Herald and Sunday Scotland




‘Labour should embrace independence as the only way out of austerity’

By Cailean Gallagher – a member of the Labour Party


SOME economists would have us believe that gloomy economic forecasts make the present a bad place to start working for a Yes vote next September. 

Professor David Bell says that the timing of the Scottish referendum could hardly be worse for those promoting independence. But he is wrong to assume that bright prospects in personal life, and confidence in Scotland’s capacity to generate plenty of wealth, are the only important motives for voting Yes.

Another powerful driver is the fact that life is difficult and the belief that only independence offers a route out of austerity. If the weather is bad, you don’t take a day trip. But if the longer-term climate is bad you begin to wonder about what you need to do to tackle the root causes.

One course is to sit tight and hope things change eventually. But when people live with the reality of austerity in their own lives many turn to a political solution. They reject Tory austerity, and seek a better way.

Until this week, the hope was that a Labour government at Westminster would respond with a cure. Now Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have disclosed Labour’s response to austerity: more austerity. No use sitting tight and hoping for change at Westminster – even with Labour we get a party in thrall to austerity.

So people realise austerity is not just a Tory policy, but an inevitability of the Westminster system. Alternating Labour and Tory governments at Westminster are not a route out of austerity. After 13 years of Labour, Britain is the fourth most unequal country in the developed world. It is on course to being the most unequal.

People value decent communities and public services. They realise that once institutions have broken down, they are difficult to rebuild. So they urgently begin to ask: Is there another way?

Here is an opportunity for those promoting independence. The debate on realistic steps a small country could take, with full powers, to govern based on those specific values that are used to defend society from austerity, is now beginning. This work should be done to encourage and release social aspirations.

The SNP will set out some plans, but these should not assume that people need to feel good before they vote; this can only garner so much support, as the economists are right to assume. Green arguments chime with certain social values, though without much current resonance; while the organised Left has yet to develop a plan, even if growing activism and demonstrations prove the sentiment is there.

Organisations and activists who document and challenge the impact of austerity have useful material, as well as key networks and organisations: the Poverty Alliance, SCVO, STUC. But will they translate this research into a demand for constitutional change?

This is where a Labour case for independence would be most effective: to drive the debate and promote change based on those values under attack from austerity: fair welfare, public services, the power of trades unions, social solidarity, community, equality, and social justice.

Independence is a viable route to building a country based on the common weal, if you will. If this is our purpose, the present crisis is not the worst place to start making a case for independence – it’s the best.

If we wait too long – if we let austerity “work” – we end up in a poorer society, where an acceptance of the inevitability of austerity could permanently damage social cohesion. If the economy eventually improves, and independence arguments sought to draw chiefly on economic arguments of economic security, market endorsement and self-confidence, these values would be the ones shaping a future nation.

Put them up against the values currently underpinning the movements across Scotland resisting the austerity agenda, values of a labour movement fighting for a better way, and I know which I favour as the founding values of a newly independent nation.

Cailean Gallagher is Researcher for Yes Scotland and a member of the Labour Party.

The Herald Scotland

10 thoughts on “Following Miliband’s speech, Scottish Labour must now embrace independence as the only way out of austerity

  1. Prola Tariat says:

    I can see absolutely no reason whatsoever for a”NO” campaign,ever since the Thatcher era Scotland has been viewed, in the eyes of the national government as a second class Nation,as is Wales. Labour when in power gave us devolution,although a step in the right direction,is not enough. We need total control of our own economy,If we stick with the sterling currency England will have some power over our fiscal policy,but that need not be the case for ever more as we could over time introduce our own currency.We would be leaving the UK but we are still part of Britain.

  2. George says:

    What brick up the centre of the universe,better build a brick wall South of the Watford Gap and keep all the Southerners in there.

    1. disabled-dave says:

      Why blame the Southerners? Down here anyone with a measurable IQ hates the politicians as much as the rest of the country. Although if you built a wall South of the Watford gap that would keep the Bilderberg group your side of the wall, which I would certainly support.

      I’m not normally a fan of the Mail but at least they are letting everyone know who is involved:

      And this is one journalist’s view on why you should be worried:

  3. kelpiemare says:

    Up to now, I believed Ed Miliband would stand and get labour working for those who have absolutely zero control off their circumstances. The sick, disabled, the vulnerable, the unemployed and, with those totally dependent on everyone else, the children.

    He hasn’t. He has chosen to vent as much gas as Iain Duncan Smith. They all support, aund reiterate the same lies, the same bullshit. Except, Ed now hides his neoslavery stance behind the truth of Tory excess and squander. Really sorry, Ed, but that doesn’t hold even a drip of water. You could say labour would face up to tax avoidance/evasion….but no. You chose to pick on the 99% to allow the 1% to carry on with their greedy, grasping thievary.

    Well, Ed, f*** you too.

    Ps…Scotland pays more to Westminster in oil revenue than we get from there.Thatcher squandered the cash oil surged into the treasury in her day. So stuff your little England rhetoric, Robert, it is uncalled for, divisive and based on untruth.

    1. John Lanigan says:

      Milliband has confirmed what I’ve been trying to tell people for ages.
      Maybe now you’ll all realise that Labour are never going to change, nor will they ever change things for the working class.
      The only sensible move for Scotland is to vote Yes for a new Scotland.Why would anyone want to stay tied to Westminster politics, whether that be Labour or Tory. Scotland does not need either.

  4. Serenity says:

    Will the SNP be any better though if they grab power! I seriously doubt it!
    I think we should stick together and fight this government together and and make a better society for all of our people in this Britain of ours.
    Labour are now a irrelevance.

    1. John Lanigan says:

      In case you haven’t realised, SNP are in power in Scotland and have won two elections. They have done more for Scotland in that time than Labour have in umpteen years of rule.
      In any case, if Scotland achieved independence it would be up to the people in Scotland to decide what politics they want. That would be be a much better situation for Scotland than to be forever tied to Westminster rule and the continuation of being treated to second best. Scotland should stick together and get rid of Westminster next September.
      England and Wales should consider doing the same.

  5. John Lanigan says:

    There is no such thing as Scottish Labour. In Scotland Labour pretend to be different but Labour are ruled from London and always have been, that’s why they don’t give a damn for Scotland, and continue to obey every word from their London masters.

  6. Serenity says:

    Yes I do know the SNP are in power in Scotland and that is my point!
    What have they done? Blindly follow the Westminster constitution apart from no student fees for all and sundry in the EU except the English, clearly done too upset the English and cause division, free prescriptions which other devolved locations also do.
    If they get independence there will be no change and the sop’s given too bribe the voters withdawn without further ado!
    United we stand divided we fall!

Leave a Reply