Sunday, 26 March 2017

Defend Scots Democratic Rights - Part 6 of 6

To claim, as the Tories do, that Scots could only hold a referendum when the full details of the Brexit settlement is known is nonsense. The Tories have just carried through an EU referendum with the British people, as a whole, having no idea what the settlement will be, and largely based on a whole series of lies told by the Brexiters, such as the promise of £350 million a week for the NHS. The Scots had demanded continued membership of the single market and customs union, and continued right of free movement. Whatever happens with the Brexit negotiations, it is already known that these demands will form no part of it, because the Tories have already ruled out even asking for them.

With the Tories not wanting to be a member of the single market or customs union, and their driving principle being to end the free movement of labour, it is not as if the EU is going to voluntarily offer membership of the single union or customs union, or impose it on Britain, as part of such a settlement. The Scots already know that their demand for membership of the single market and customs union, and for free movement will not be part of any settlement because the Tories have already ruled out even seeking it.

As things stand, I am still inclined to believe that socialists should place the unity of Scots, Welsh and English workers, in a unitary British state, above the importance of seeking the unity of Scots workers with other EU workers within what is still only a loose, confederate, proto-state. For one thing, its not clear that Brexit will ultimately occur, and a decisive campaign by British workers, could prevent it. Even if it does occur, the consequences are likely to be such that Britain will again have to supplicate itself in applying for readmission, and that will be driven by the needs of capital.

But, a Britain driven by an increasingly authoritarian and reactionary English nationalism, responding to right-wing populism, and with a Labour Party apparently being carried along on its coat-tails, may change that calculation. At the same time, the demise of the Dutch Labour Party, which adopted a popular frontist strategy similar to that of the British Labour Party, whilst the pro-EU, pro-immigration parties, such as D66, and the Green Left, made significant advances, indicates again that England and Europe are moving in different directions.

In England, the Tories are embracing bigotry, whilst Labour is accommodating to it. In Europe, new social forces and parties are responding, by fighting it, and promoting a positive and progressive alternative future for Europe.

Socialists should be on the side of those whose sights are on that progressive future, not those whose misty eyes are locked on their memories of the past.

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