Thank you for the invitation to join you here this afternoon at this Independence Rally in The Inch. Shame about the weather.
I have just come from the SSP’s now famous campaign stall on Princes Street where we champion the need for a £10/hour wage. And I know you will all want to sign the petition on our stall over here.
Friends, the Independence movement has reached a crossroads with the publication of the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission report recently because it shows we still need to decide what Independence is actually for, what kind of nation we are out to build, and which Scots will benefit most.
Some see Independence as the continuation of what we have now with economic and political power transferred from one wealthy elite to another. I don’t.
Some believe we need to water down our commitments to the most deprived and vulnerable Scots to please the moneymen and the selfish middle class. I don’t.
Some think we need to stress how little will change with Independence to placate those most reluctant to embrace it. I don’t.
For me Independence is all about change. That is its greatest asset. It’s about transforming the Scotland we all see today; about eradicating the grotesque inequalities and intolerable deprivation that blights places like The Inch, about dumping economic & social attitudes and laws that hold back millions of people and shackles us to a rotten, exploitative system that forces misery on most and ugly opulence for an out of touch elite.
That Britain is a failing state. I’m not out to win the great prize of Independence against all odds and after great sacrifice just to establish a replica of it just to please financiers and aristocrats.
The Sustainable Growth Commission poses a vision of Independence I do not support.
It promises ten years of austerity after Independence.
It promises to leave us vulnerable to economic decisions others take with no control over our currency, interest rates or flights of capital. That’s not Independence.
It seeks to ‘transition’ Scotland to Independence by changing very little; keeping the Pound, staying in NATO, maintaining a feudal monarchy with its divine right of Queens and hereditary principles over a meritocracy with democracy and equality.
It’s that conservatism that lost us the last Referendum. And it will lose us the next one too. It’s not ‘transition’ we need its transformation.
I am not a nationalist. I am a socialist who supports Independence as a democratic right of a free people held back by a political union that oppresses working class people. I do not support a prospectus that makes Scotland’s working-class majority worse off.
Independence must be about something better.
It must be about redistributing this country’s vast wealth, taking some of it from those who have too much to give to those who have too little. It must be about public ownership and satisfying universal need not feeding private greed. It must be about unleashing the enormous technological and scientific riches humankind has bestowed on us for everyone’s benefit!
I agree with Nicola Sturgeon when she says we need to spend more time persuading our fellow Scots about the merits of Independence rather than obsessing over the timing of INDYREF2.
But we also need to stop obsessing over Brexit and accept that the majority of Scots who voted to Remain did so without any great love for an institution that does not serve their interests nor the peoples of Europe.
I see the hand of big business behind that obsession because Brexit poses the loss of cheap labour and easy profits for them. They wouldn’t have a labour shortage if they paid the Living wage!
We are behind in the opinion polls as things stand and will not win a second vote unless we spell out more persuasively what Independence is for. Victory can only be achieved by painting a much better economic and political prospectus!
And to those who say
‘But Colin, let’s get Independence first, then settle all these other questions later’ I say
‘No. It is not possible to win Independence without first explaining what it is for and what it will look like. Otherwise you are asking people to sign a blank cheque! That will never happen.
And to those who say
‘But, we start at 45% support today. When the campaign really gets going we can race ahead just as we did between 2012-14.’
That’s not a persuasive argument either. I was around in 2012-14. That period is gone forever. Political battles are not like some TV repeat where the same plot develops over & over & over.
A 2nd Referendum, whenever we have it, will look nothing like the last one. The dynamics will be completely different. Some people who voted YES last time will vote NO now & vice versa.
Losing a second time however will kill our movement stone dead like it did in Quebec. I don’t want that.
Our movement remains at a huge disadvantage until we are clear about what we want. We have skirted too many fundamental issues in an attempt to build unity. But unity for unity’s sake is not enough. Victory lies ahead only if we agree on the need for profound improvement for working people. Maintaining the status quo is not a victory option.
We have time so let’s use it. Let’s stop running around like headless chickens waving flags and mumbling mindless platitudes. Let’s start finding solutions to the challenges that confront us.
OUR CASE NOT STRONG ENOUGH YET
The need for Independence is as strong as ever. But the truth is, as we all know, our case is not strong enough, not yet. We have still not persuaded the majority of Scots to back our case. We trail in all the polls. We still talk to ourselves too much and do too little to build extra support.
REMAIN POSITIVE BUT WORK ON MORE PERSUASIVE ARGUMENTS
The case for Independence is powerful. Britain is a failing state. Working people in Scotland can be persuaded of our case if we offer them the promise of a better world without insecurity and exploitation, where the nations enormous assets belong to us all and the fruits are shared out between us all, where the people are sovereign and we are at peace with the rest of this world.
I want an independent socialist Scotland, a modern democratic republic, and I believe that remains a powerfully attractive goal. We need to turn that dream into a reality. END