Friday, August 07, 2009

Voices for Scottish Independence


By Robert Laurie

Communist Party of Scotland Independent Scotland – A Left Perspective pp. 38. Available from CPS/Alert Scotland, PO Box 7311, Glasgow G46 9B2. £2.00 plus 50 postage and packing.

On the 9th November last year the Communist Party of Scotland held a conference aimed at “uniting the left in Scotland around a number of shared political positions on Scottish independence”. This pamphlet is the result of that conference. Well produced and reasonably priced it provides an account of the views of various groups, mostly on the left, seeking Scottish independence.
A firmer editorial pen might have cut out the contributions which are clearly not relevant to the subject of the cause of Scottish independence: there is a contribution from a Communist Party of India (Marxist) representative describing the reasons for his party recently leaving India’s governing coalition. Given the conference was about independence the CPIM could have more productively made some observations about India’s complex national questions such as the status of Kashmir. Another irrelevant piece is that from a speaker from Action for Southern Africa, the successor to the Anti-Apartheid.
There is also a brief piece on the short history of the Scottish Workers Republican Party. Presumably the author considers this to be an example to be followed, but his outline merely demonstrates how irrelevant the SWRP was to the Scottish working class. It was founded in 1922 by John MacLean, a popular Marxist speaker and writer who refused to join the recently formed Communist Party of Great Britain which he absurdly saw as the product of a cunning plot by the British Government to create a tame dead end organization to ensnare genuine revolutionaries.
What of the main contributions? A Scottish Green Party representative presents a shopping list of policies on renewable energy, and poverty related issues but fails to make clear why an independent Scottish government would improve things or a British wide government cannot do the same. Mike Danson, a Professor Economics at the University of the West of Scotland sees the example of the capitalist Scandinavian countries as an inspiring model. Another academic, Chris Harvey, who has returned from being Professor of British and Irish Studies at the University of Tübingen to be a Scottish Nationalist list MSP seems to think imagine that the Scottish economy can be rescued by German banks funding huge Scottish tidal energy projects which could power much of Europe. Strangely none of the speakers has anything to say about the European Union. Although all speakers denounce “Thatcherite” neoliberalism they are silence about its Brussels variety.
The main Communist Party of Scotland’s speaker Maggie Chetty attacks the Labour Party for betraying its values but then goes on to praise the good work down by race relations bodies which it established, lamenting only that they are inadequately funded. She praises France and Spain for being “more successful than we have in resisting Coca Cola and Big Mac culture which is a very venal aspect of America’s cultural imperialism”. This is unfair to Scotland. The traditional Scottish diet of Irn Bru and haggis and chips keeps these deplorable American influences at bay.
Was the conference a success? Not entirely. While it briefly brought together speakers from both the rump of the Scottish Socialist Party and its breakaway Solidarity the war between these two tiny sects continues. At the recent Euro-Elections Solidarity joined the Communist Party of Britain in the No2EU alliance. The CPB are roundly denounced earlier in the pamphlet for acting as a “Trojan Horse in the heart of the Labour Movement”.