By James Marr

Campaigners against independence are keen to scare voters with visions of Scotland as an indebted impoverished hellhole that would be unable to defend itself from the hordes of Taliban and North Koreans only held at bay by the British Army.
The Yes campaign by contrast has strained itself to be overwhelmingly positive in its message. As a result, perhaps enough attention hasn’t been focused on the incredible stakes at play in the referendum, and quite how bad a No vote could be for Scotland.

The first key point to make is that the UK is a whole is about to be ravaged by the Tory led withdrawal of the social safety net. For generations we have prevented the worst excesses of destitution and homelessness by supporting the incomes of the poorest.

But now the UK government has declared war on the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

The Bedroom Tax and cuts to Housing Benefit will inevitably lead to evictions.  In Scotland, we are campaigning for the Scottish Government to amend the Housing Act, to prevent evictions for Bedroom Tax arrears.  This is a vital step that would allow the Scottish Government to demonstrate the possibilities of independence by using the powers we already have.

If successful, this means the struggle will be completely different up here without evictions to resist. But it’s only a stop gap measure, and without independence, the levels of debt that will result for tenants won’t be sustainable.

The introduction of Universal Credit also means sanctions being applied to working people, forcing people to apply online and more cuts to people’s incomes.  The completely mad cap policies that are changed week in week out by Iain Duncan Smith point to where the UK is headed - the complete dismantling of the welfare state, and a return to a Dickensian Britain.

Without independence, this will be imposed on us as well.

The great hope of the Unionist left is that Ed Miliband will reverse some of these changes if Labour is elected in 2015. Of course, a Labour government then is far from certain. But even if that were a prospect of hope, is it really enough to pin all our hopes on a party that has dithered in the face of the Tory’s attack on the poorest?

Although Labour has attacked some aspects of welfare reform, they remain committed to cutting universal benefits and expanding workfare.

The UK as a whole is hopelessly unwilling to face off the power of the banks and finance industry to set government policy. Like the rest of Europe, this has led to the imposition of an insane austerity programme that kills people, is not supported by the population and will not succeed in its aims.  The only possibility of a serious break with these economics comes with the establishment of a separate Scottish welfare state.

All the British parties have been avoiding talking about the future of the Scottish Parliament and Scottish democracy following a No vote.

It’s extremely unclear whether there will be any further devolution as some have claimed. It’s conceivable the Tories might want Scottish MPs out of Westminster, and cut a deal for greater autonomy on that basis - perhaps the worst of all possible worlds.

But there’s also been talk from some in Labour about creating powerful regions (which would likely be gerrymandered so as to ensure Labour control) in order to undercut the Scottish Parliament.

The basic truth is that, to Westminster, the Scottish Parliament is just another government department that will have to take its unpleasant austerity medicine and make cuts. This will ultimately remain the case under Labour as well, as they follow the austerity agenda in power.

In the ’70s, the Tories opposed the Scottish Assembly referendum because they promised to introduce better devolution. But in fact what we got was a decade of centralised power under a Thatcher government that Scotland never elected.
Ultimately though, the most powerful reason for breaking the British state goes beyond the current economic crisis and any particular party’s policy. When you’re greeted by headlines like “David Cameron says fight in North Africa could last decades” it’s good reason to fear for the future.

Britain has always been, and remains, one of the world’s leading imperialist countries. Our prosperity has been made possible by the looting of what is now the Third World.

As climate change shrinks the habitable land surface of the world, and natural resources become ever more scarce, energy, water and food wars are erupting across the planet. These are made far worse by the selfish policies of countries like Britain, which then use the ensuing chaos to intervene and use deadly force to ensure that international investors and British corporations remain able to extract profits from the rest of the world.

Writing in the New Statesman, Shadow Labour Defence Secretary Jim Murphy recently wrote of the need for Labour to “discover a new interventionism”. Whichever party is in power in Westminster, they both remain committed to Britain’s imperial mission to ensure “trade and prosperity” on the other side of the planet.

A great deal of the opposition to independence rests on fear and psychological inadequacy. Many don’t really believe we can be a proper country, and the No campaign ruthlessly promotes this self loathing. To try and scare people, they claim that Scotland couldn’t afford to defend itself.

Our answer is that surely we should be trying not to make enemies? A recent Unionist propaganda image featured two aircraft carriers, claiming these were indispensable for modern defence and Scotland couldn’t afford them.

But the truth is we only need to pay for aircraft carriers, or nuclear weapons, if we intend to use them to batter far away countries into submission.  If we have a foreign policy that doesn’t aim at subjugation we can more than afford to keep our own land safe.  If on the other hand we vote No in the independence referendum, we are facing a lost future of endless austerity and war.

Courtesy of the Scottish Socialist Voice


# Marian 2013-03-03 23:46
Aircraft carriers are essentially offensive weapons which are only required if Westminster intends to pursue and attack "enemies" well away from the unsinkable aircraft carrier called Britain.

The fact that the UK puts such store in possessing these tells you all you need to know about the Westminster unionist imperial mindset.
# jurist 2013-03-03 23:50
and the crazy thing is; they're vunerable to being sunk by submarines!!!!
# call me dave 2013-03-04 00:18
Why . . We go on of course! Because we must!

The pig in the poke with the unionist jam will have been seen as a hoax (again)'

Meanwhile in the present we have an open goal and all to play for. . We cant afford to vote no

Money wise and morally we have our children to think about.
# tartanfever 2013-03-04 00:47
Three things will happen.

Firstly, any future referendum's on Scottish independence will be 'withheld' for generations, if not forever. This will be passed overwhelmingly in a Westminster vote by limiting Section 30 approvals.

2015 - 2017 will show the real cuts begin to bite (remember, we are still adding £9bn a month to the debt, we haven't even stopped borrowing yet). Unionist voters in Scotland will finally begin to scratch their heads and question their decision to remain within the UK when every last benefit has been reduced and bankers still take home huge bonuses.

Tories will win a Westminster election in 2015, depending on the state of Europe, the EU referendum may or may not take place.
# Breeks 2013-03-04 07:57
Whether the result is a YES or a No, there are certain things which will never be the same again.

The media has the blood and sinew of it's shameless bias exposed. I don't believe it will ever be trusted again, nor forgiven.

I don't see two campaigns running parallel courses here. The YES campaign has vision, direction, and a positive objective. The NO campaign it seems has forfeited the substance of principled argument already, and sees it's objective being to discredit, smear and heap scorn on the YES campaign and it personalities.

The unionist message is that the pill to cure whatever ails Scotland is such a very, very bitter pill that we dare not take the risk of swallowing it. Their message is there's no cure for the condition we've got.

Each and every brokenhearted Nationalist will understand what Scotland loses if the result is a NO, but I don't hear anybody singing out what the Unionists will be celebrating if they 'win'.
# Leader of the Pack 2013-03-04 08:36
If Scotland as a nation votes No then Scotland will be voting to end its status as a nation once and for all.
Never again will Westminster allow the people of Scotland a chance to vote on their own constitutional status within the UK. The only reason Scotland is getting this chance is because the SNP caught them on the hop by acheiving what was beleived to be the impossible at a time when there is a gap in the legal consititutional construction of the UK. A gap which will be quickly closed with a no vote.
# farrochie 2013-03-04 10:23
"If on the other hand we vote No in the independence referendum, we are facing a lost future of endless austerity and war."

This is a too pessimistic point of view. Following the referendum, we will know the Scots view of Independence.

A YES vote takes us along that road on a timeline that has been broadly defined.

It has taken a long time to get to this point, from the disappointment of 1979. Not many would have predicted the 1997 referendum would be followed by an Independence referendum so soon. A NO vote may be a further delay, but Independence is inevitable.

In 1997 we voted for our Parliament,74.3% to 25.7%

This is the type of result we need to aim for in 2014.

Our Parliament, in offering us a referendum, has clearly established its sovereignty.
# Macart 2013-03-04 12:06
OK let's have a look at our own version of instilling fear in the electorate.

Vote NO and....

Retain the bedroom tax, welfare reform, PFI, ATOS, Austerity Osborne, Aa1 credit rating, Wars in countries you've barely heard of for resources that aren't ours, tradition, elitism, corruption, expense scandals, democratic defecit, electoral disempowerment, social unrest and disenfranchisem ent, extinguishing Scotland as a nation.

Vote NO and this is what you will face, because it's happening now.
# MAcandroid 2013-03-04 13:09
Let's add:
  • Privatisation of the NHS in Scotland, the police force, Scottish Water, and anything else where profits can be made and diverted to shareholders.
  • Higher education numbers falling as the fees increase to match England's.
  • Being charged more for supplying electricity to England than we are paid.
# Macart 2013-03-04 13:49
The more examples the merrier MAcandroid. Its oh so easy to revert to BTs 'these are the facts' revelations tack. Unlike their scaremongering on possible future scenarios, we have the hard proof of what a no vote means right in front of us.
# Mad Jock McMad 2013-03-04 15:18
Just wrote about NHS Privatisation today..

# tartanfever 2013-03-04 16:14
Don't forget Trident renewal at an estimated cost of £100bn through it's lifetime.

More defence jobs cut in Scotland

The possibility of leaving Europe if the EU referendum happens.

An additional 70 hanger's on into the HoL if current plans go ahead, on top of the £4m this arcane institution already costs us per week

Our share of a £32b price tag for high speed rail that will never get anywhere near Scotland.
# Macart 2013-03-04 20:42
@ tartanfever

As I posted above, none of the things we've listed are supposition or what ifs. They're not flights of fancy on possible future scenarios, they are happening now. This is what awaits the Scottish electorate in the event of a no vote.

We've got a chance to do something about that next year.
# Macart 2013-03-04 16:18
A very relevant article MJM, consider it emailed. Probably of all the inherent disastrous consequences of voting no, the thought of our health service under threat from successive Westminster governments slash and burn cuts to our handout??????

All too real.
# chicmac 2013-03-04 22:28
As I posted some time a go, the saddest four words possible after a NO vote will be "We told you so."
# Clelland1 2013-03-06 20:19
If Independence means a lot to those of us that want it then the fight will go on for it but I believe that the fight has been unfair and if the unionist win it will lead to real problems for the Westminster government and you can take what you want from that.
# cokynutjoe 2013-03-08 11:36
If Scotland votes no it could be the end of the national football team. Folk who prefer to be British can hardly object to a British team.
# farrochie 2013-03-08 12:59
In the event of a No vote, the next step is DevoMax. I doubt if anyone would have an appetite for a further referendum, so I believe parties would present their manifestos with their proposals.

By holding the referendum,we have established a certain sovereignty for our parliament, though we "allowed" Westminster to legislate so that it could be "legal" rather than advisory. We would have held it in any event.

Always remember these words: "the Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on March 25, 1707, is hereby reconvened."
# Training Day 2013-03-08 15:54
"In the event of a No vote, the next step is DevoMax"

Except that none of the Unionist parties are offering to implement devo max. The chances of them doing so following a No vote are zero. A No vote will be taken at best as a vote for the status quo. More likely, Holyrood will be stripped of powers.
# theunicorn 2013-03-08 22:14
I don't think we can under estimate the fallout from a NO vote. It would be seen as a mandate to deconstruct any semblance of resistance to the British state. Expect a new rash of boundary changes and the plundering of green energy initiatives including an accelerated programme of extraction of our oil and our geopolitical valuable assets such as water.. In the meantime the prols will be fed a daily diet of how super intelligent we were to make the right decision. Think tuition fees, loss of the so called free personal care , privatisation of parts(at least initially) of the NHS, bye bye free prescriptions, introduction of road tolls, council tax increases, higher national insurance contributions etc. We will be swept away as an nation and become part of a greater England like Wales.
# staypos+ve 2013-03-10 10:57
The greatest population exit/brain drain of our young talent ever to effect Scotland , that's what I predict will happen if the unionists win. Those who remain 'no' voters will truly experience a harsh legacy and deservedly reap the lifestyle rewards that prolonged continued Wesminster austerity will deliver.

Reality check this is an unlikely,unthin kable scenario !

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