Socialist Worker

Scottish independence - Alex Salmond's tack left is good news for the yes vote

Working class issues trump financial nitpicking, argues Carlo Morelli

Issue No. 2418

Alex Salmond and David Cameron after signing the accord that paved the way for the Scottish independence referendum

Alex Salmond and David Cameron after signing the accord that paved the way for the Scottish independence referendum (Pic: Scottish Government/flickr)


Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond won the televised debate on Scottish independence on Monday of this week.

Some 71 percent of viewers judged Salmond had won the debate with the “Better Together” No campaign’s Alistair Darling. He did so because he stressed the issues that connect with working class people.

Last time Salmond lost, trapped in detailed financial issues. This time he focused on child poverty, cuts to disability benefits, the bedroom tax and the tens of billions wasted on Trident nuclear weapons.

It was a breath of fresh air to hear a major politician denounce nuclear weapons on mainstream TV.  

The potential for a challenge to the austerity and rotten politics of the Tories, and its Labour apologists, is what can win a yes vote. It hit home when Salmond repeatedly accused Darling, chancellor in Gordon Brown’s government, of “being in bed with the Tories”. 

The independence referendum on 18 September is less than three weeks away. Around 700,000 postal votes went out this week—a fifth of the electorate. The independence campaign has to win over more and more people who voted Labour in 2010.

Many Labour supporters would have been disgusted to hear Darling’s denials that the NHS was in danger and his support for replacement of nuclear weapons. And he showed disregard for people facing cuts or children living in poverty.

The No campaign bleats on about the risk and uncertainty of independence.

It doesn’t talk about the uncertainty facing workers of whether the pay packet or benefits will last, or the uncertainty of whether to eat properly or heat your home. The only uncertainty mentioned is how business will be sure it can prosper.

Yes campaigners need to step up their activity in the last few weeks of the campaign. We must fight for every vote in the housing schemes, the workplaces and the streets.

The more votes won on a class basis now, the better it will be after 18 September.

It is clear that parliament, either in Westminster or Edinburgh, will not bring real change unless we fight for it.


Week of action over welfare

Radical independence campaigners are holding five days of action this week to save the welfare state.

Activists are targeting job centres. They will argue that a Yes vote will encourage the fight to end benefit cuts, raise the minimum wage and create jobs.

A No vote will please the leaders of all the main parties who are committed to austerity and attacks on the poor.

Activists in Glasgow also plan a “takeover” of the city centre this Saturday. Stalls will act as hubs for debate and activity to mobilise the radical yes vote.

To get involved in Glasgow, meet at 12pm on Saturday 30 August at the top of Buchanan Street.


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