Socialist Worker

Scottish National Party nervy about another referendum

Issue No. 2526

Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader

Nicola Sturgeon, SNP leader (Pic: Kenneth Halley)

Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon told the party’s conference last week that there will be a consultation on plans for a second independence referendum.

An Independence Referendum Bill was due to be published this week amid speculation that this is the first step to holding a second vote.

In fact Sturgeon’s pledge was very carefully worded. She said, “Scotland will have the ability to reconsider the question of independence and to do so before the UK leaves the EU—if that is necessary to protect our country’s interests.

These “interests” centre on Scotland being allowed access to the EU single market, whose rules preclude any serious increase in public ownership or fundamental restrictions on capital.

However, it will be impossible for one part of the British state to be in the single market and other parts to be outside it. So Sturgeon hopes to inch towards a new referendum on the basis of thoroughly pro-capitalist policies.

But Sturgeon and the SNP’s problem is that it’s very hard to see any road to independence soon if they work within the parameters of mainstream politics.

The fall in the oil price has undermined—for the bosses—many of the economic calculations made at the time of the 2014 vote.Opinion polls are stubbornly against independence.

Radical independence campaigner Robin McAlpine commented after Sturgeon’s speech, “The referendum bill was meat for the party, but I’m not sure how many calories it had in it”.

An independence campaign can have meaning only if it is linked to anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist politics.

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