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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The missing question at the heart of the Scottish debate

There is a missing question at the heart of the debate about independence which has, for the past 2 years, been gripping my homeland, the small nation of Scotland – and that is how to avoid the savage judgement which “the markets” (ie global capital) would almost certainly inflict in the aftermath of a yes vote  - as per the experience of Francois Mitterand’s government almost 30 years ago when it tried to implement its left-wing manifesto commitments..
The government which has had majority support in the Scottish Parliament since 2007 was wary of putting their commitment to independence to the vote but has played a canny game since then – judging that Scotland’s experience of right-wing Coalition cuts since 2011 gave them the best opportunity to realise the dream of Scottish independence.
Since the Scottish Parliament was reconstituted in 1999 (after almost 300 years of silence) – with considerable independent powers but within a budget transferred from London – the “Scottish Executive” (of whatever political colour) has played with a social democrat bat. 

The neo-liberal agenda has been strongly resisted – as indicated in a variety of measures relating to health, education and social care – let alone the commitment to expelling the British nuclear submarines from the River Clyde. Indeed for Scottish Nationalist spokesmen, this last would seem to be the only thing that would change in a post-yes Scotland.
Membership of the European Union, of NATO, of the pound – somehow – would magically remain….

It is this simple statement which exposes the weakness of the case for independence. Who could resist voting for continued free health care; free university education (now for half of the relevant peer group); almost free sheltered accommodation for the elderly and many other things? They no longer exist in England but have been voted in by the 15 year-old Sottish Parliament - all paid for by the block transfer payment which comes from the UK exchequer. 

I have just watched a powerful speech by an ex-MSP (member of the Scottish Parliament) from the Scottish Socialist Party – typical of the sort of discussions which have been taking place the length and breadth of this small country over the past 2 years since the date of the referendum was at last set.
Francis Curran speaks of her experience - first as a researcher at Westminster and then as a Scottish parliamentarian - of being besieged by the lobbyists for companies wanting to cash in on the cash bonanza enjoyed by companies from the privatisation and marketization agenda of London governments - an agenda which successive Scottish governments have been able to resist under their devolved powers….. She convinces the listener of the agenda being strongly pursued by monied interests – but then fails to ask how that same capital will deal with the uncertainties in the next 2 years as country which, having broken away, has then  to negotiate a deal with various international bodies. 

It is not enough to ask whether Scotland is rich enough to be independent – patently it is. The question is how much of that richness will be discounted negatively by global capital. 
Only leftist economists can try to deal with such a question…..and the media exclude them from the discussion. 

It could be said that this evening is make or break for the United Kingdom. The second of two debates will take place between Scotland’s First Minister and the Leader of the Yes Campaign – Alaister Darling who has the disadvantage of having been Chancellor of the Exchequer during the Global Crisis. The main focus will apparently be the National Health Service – with Darling in the unenviable position of trying to explain how an independent Scotland will be in a better position to withstand such neo-liberalism. Those of you wishing to follow the latest strands of the argument which will play out on 18 September should read this post from a yes-voter; also hereand here

The Guardian Leader of 26 August takes the same line as this post.
On a personal note, I have 3 daughters – all brought up in Scotland only one of whom will be able to vote…my ex-wife and I are barred by virtue of no longer having any residence in the country……I feel angry...and disenfranchised. My only consolation is that the 2 votes of my first wife and daughter will probably cancel one another.... 

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