I recently recorded my first ever podcast, for the Sunday Times. They asked me to discuss the 300th anniversary of the act of union and the case for an independent socialist Scotland.
You can read my "script" below and view the podcast via the Sunday Times website in the coming weeks.
Hi , I’m Colin Fox. I’m the National Convenor of the Scottish Socialist Party and I’ve been asked to speak to you on the 300th anniversary of the act of union, about the case for an Independent Socialist Scotland
ITS ‘AYE BEEN’
There is a saying in the Scottish Borders -‘its aye been’.
It’s a phrase signifying a certain resignation, a sense that things always stay the same and it’s quite useless trying to change them.
It seems ironic then sitting in the Scottish Parliament because there were those who said throughout the 80’s and 90’s we would never have our own Scottish Parliament and never be able to make our own decisions.
This anniversary of the union offers us a chance to look at the present day political arrangements and consider how we can improve them.
DEMOCRACY and SOCIAL PROGRESS
The case for independence it seems to me is based on two fundamental pillars –democracy and social progress.
I believe Scotland as a sovereign nation is entitled to exercise democratic control of our economy and I am confident we are quite capable of running our own affairs. Dozens of countries big and small have gained their independence in my lifetime.
This period of reflection on the union then for me is not an abstract historic or dry constitutional debate. I believe Scotland would be much better off economically, culturally and politically if we were making our own decisions.
And you know I sense a very different kind of debate today on Independence from that which first raged around me as a 15 year old schoolboy in Motherwell in the late 70’s when ‘Its oor oil’ was unveiled as the slogan of the time.
Defenders of the union argued then that Scotland was too poor to stand on our own two feet. Of course the discovery of North Sea oil changed all that. And nowadays the argument has shifted considerably. Even unionists now accept that Scotland is a rich country. They now concede that we could go it alone but we are better off under the union, allegedly subsidized by England and safe from instability and violent threats inherent in the modern world.
A DEMOCRATIC SCOTLAND - SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC
I scoffed at those who told me when I returned after 8 years in London that ‘Scotland is essentially a socialist country’, but I would concede that our political centre of gravity is certainly social democratic by instinct, left of centre politically. The evidence of this all around us. Today Scottish public opinion is well to the left of New Labour.
Opposition to Trident is stark, privatization is despised, there is much greater support for public ownership here, a stronger sense of community, greater support for redistribution of wealth, we are much less monarchist and more internationalist in outlook , than the dominant South East of England.
Furthermore I have no doubt whatsoever that an Independent Scotland would not have sent our troops to IRAQ.
Neither do I believe Scots would spend billions promoting British and American imperial aspirations. Not when the option to spend the money on our much needed social services was posed instead.
Nor would Scots spend up to £75billions on more nuclear weapons of mass destruction, labeling our small country amongst the ‘notorious nuclear nine’: the 9 countries of the world armed with nuclear weapons.
All this is important in defining modern Scotland.
For me Independence is a democratic question. Support for Independence is growing and growing. I see support amongst the young and amongst the working classes as a whole twice as strong as in other groups. And the hideous but very real prospect of a Cameron /Tory victory at the next Westminster elections will I believe accelerate the momentum towards Independence considerably.
Remember how the ‘democratic deficit’ which developed under Thatcher and Major led inexorably to the creation of a Scottish Parliament? Well multiply that force ten fold and see the irresistible force really push aside the immovable object. !!!!!!!
I fully acknowledge that the case for independence must arouse and uplift Scots, enough for them to appreciate fully that it must fought for. Our opponents are not merely the unionist Tories of New Labour but the British ruling classes who see in the United Kingdom a power which they do not want to lose.
I want an Independent Socialist Scotland because I want to see all our revenues used for the best egalitarian interests of the people of Scotland, a planning of production, distribution and exchange based on need not profit.
A Scotland independent of the Bank of England yes but independent of the Royal Bank of Scotland too.
Since I started with a phrase from the Borders let me finish with another which I love for all the wrong messages it sends out.
They say ‘A day out of Hawick is a day wasted.’
My vision of an independent socialist Scotland has little truck with such narrow nationalism. I see a Scotland which is outward looking, forward looking, ambitious, welcoming and internationalist, one that is better known for its fun loving, friendly ‘tartan army’ than its warmongering armies decked in tartan.