Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/736/15348
Thousands march for an independent Scotland
Matt Dobson and Ryan Stuart, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI, Scotland)
Over 10,000 people took part in the March and Rally for Scottish Independence in Edinburgh on Saturday 22 September.
Many were Scottish National Party (SNP) activists and supporters. However, the demonstration was also a broad cross-section of Scottish society, with a significant mobilisation of workers, trade unionists and young people.
Socialist Party Scotland activists spoke to many young people who were on their first ever political demonstration.
Young people especially are being denied a future by the Con-Dem cuts aided by the SNP and the other big business parties.
Understandably, with an agree-ment likely between the Tories and the SNP leadership for a single question referendum, many young people will back independence as a way of changing society and fighting back against the savage austerity attacks.
But their voice will, on Saturday's evidence, find a very pale reflection in the Yes campaign.
The turnout showed that although support for independence is still based on a minority, (according to latest polls 30-40%), it is growing and is gaining ground among radicalised sections of the population who have borne the brunt of austerity cuts.
Socialists on the march as thousands march for an independent Scotland, photo by M Dobson (Click to enlarge)
First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond, opening the rally, contrasted the record of the SNP in power, with no tuition fees for Scottish students, free NHS prescriptions and protection from the "worst of the austerity cuts", with that of the Con-Dems in Westminster.
Salmond spoke to his audience with a radical speech that tacked to the left. After spending the last few months making overtures to big business, promising low corporation tax and a haven for business investment, he instead focused on attacking the Tories and presented a social democratic image of an independent Scotland.
Understandably this got an enthusiastic response from the crowd, as did every anti-austerity point made by other speakers.
The content of the rally, although full of anti-Tory rhetoric, showed the lack of a clear and independent voice to represent the interests of the working class in the Yes campaign.
Critical reference was made to the SNP leadership's U-turn over an independent Scotland being part of Nato.
But none of the speakers highlighted the record of the SNP in government in passing on the almost £4 billion of the Con-Dems cuts.
The demonstration was held two days after the SNP's draft budget was put to the Scottish Parliament which included yet another effective pay cut for public sector workers and other cuts.
It is clear that constituent parts of the Yes campaign are buckling to the pressure not to criticise the SNP or the campaign's pro-big business orientation in the hope that 'unity' will win a Yes vote. This includes the Greens and the remnants of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP).
Despite the SSP's material calling for an "independent Scottish socialist republic" and opposition to austerity cuts, co-convenor Colin Fox's speech would have reinforced illusions that an independent Scotland under the SNP would be free from austerity.
Fox even claimed that all Scotland's wealth and resources would be "in the hands of the people" if a Yes vote was delivered, without raising demands for public ownership and nationalisation.
This comes after the SNP leadership has bent over backwards to reassure the oil and gas multinationals that their investments would be protected and that profits would be easier to make with lower taxation!
Workers and young people, through their own experience of the SNP's forthcoming austerity plans, will increasingly question the SNP and those giving them radical cover.
In the run up to the 2014 referendum, the SNP leadership's pro-capitalist policies and their preparedness to pass on the Con-Dem cuts can limit the impact of the Yes campaign and may become a barrier to a swing behind a Yes vote.
To read the above in full and other articles on the independence question in Scotland, see
Socialist Party Scotland's leaflets got a positive response. We called for an independent socialist Scotland, and proposed a conference to set up a mass campaign involving trade unionists, young people and community campaigns to demand the powers of independence are used for the '99%', the majority in society.
We also called for a political alternative to the main parties of cuts, a mass working class party that would stand for public ownership of the economy, wealth redistribution, an end to the anti-union laws and a massive programme of job creation.
Many of the people present at events like this, who have been recently politicised, could be drawn towards the idea of socialism and the building of a new workers' party as an alternative to the parties of big business, including the SNP.
In The Socialist 3 October 2012:
Education news & analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaigning
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party news and analysis