Socialist Worker

We need a radical vision for Scotland

by Iain Ferguson
Issue No. 2371

The Common Weal Project, set up by the left wing Jimmy Reid Foundation thinktank, offers one of the few practical visions of what independence might be like. 

It calls for “a distinctively Scottish version of the type of society that has been achieved in the Nordic area”.

It is widely supported—for instance it was recently unanimously endorsed by SNP councillors. 

Common Weal is rightly angry at obscene levels of poverty and inequality in Scotland where the top 10 percent are 273 times better off than the poorest 10 percent.

It argues for a “society built on fairness, equality, inclusion and coherence” to deliver “higher levels of equity, economic development and standards of living”.

However, it is a very limited strategy for challenging neoliberalism and austerity. Whatever the past strengths of the Nordic welfare states they are not a model for the left today.

A recent study of Norway’s welfare state said it, “along with the Nordic countries in general, is maintaining its position on the upper deck—but it is the upper deck of the Titanic!”

And welfare services in Denmark are only better than Britain if you are white and Danish. It has the harshest asylum seeker laws in Western Europe. 

These are the product of a capitalist society divided by class and exploitation. Yet Common Weal writers blame them on wrong economic policies and said, “All sectors of society need to act—civil society, business and government”.  

But it’s fantasy to think millionaires such as Brian Souter, owner of Stagecoach, would support policies to pay more tax and share power with workers.

It will take different forces to achieve a more equal society and a properly-funded welfare state.

It will need those in workplaces and communities that are struggling against low pay, austerity and the bedroom tax. 

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