Socialist Worker

Labour has to back Scottish independence, not just a second referendum

Issue No. 2545

Jeremy Corbyn in Glasgow yesterday with right wing Labour council leader Frank McAveety, who has pushed through vicious cuts

Jeremy Corbyn in Glasgow yesterday with right wing Labour council leader Frank McAveety, who has pushed through vicious cuts (Pic: @jeremycorbyn)


The Labour Party is trying to face two ways over Scottish independence—and the result will be disastrous.

Campaigning in Glasgow yesterday, Saturday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was asked if a second independence referendum was inevitable. He said, "If a referendum is held then it is absolutely fine, it should be held.”

He added that the Westminster parliament should not seek to block a referendum if Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon demands one.

That’s right—but it runs directly counter to Labour’s position in Scotland.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale is opposed to a new vote and will seek to prevent a call for one being passed by the Scottish Parliament.

Later in the day a “source close to Jeremy Corbyn” told the media, “Kezia Dugdale is absolutely right to oppose a second referendum at Holyrood and to keep the pressure on Nicola Sturgeon to rule one out.”

Corbyn’s comments led to bitter denunciations from other MPs.

Scotland's only Labour MP, Ian Murray, tweeted: "Often asked why I resigned from Shadow Cabinet.

"Ladies & Gentlemen I give u Jeremy Corbyn. He's destroying the party that so many need."

East London Labour MP Wes Streeting tweeted, “It takes a special type of idiocy to back an independence referendum. Slow clap @jeremycorbyn. Enough.”

Labour once completely dominated Scottish politics. It has now been pushed into third place in the opinion polls behind the SNP and the Tories.

Why doesn’t Labour stand up and fight the cuts, hurling the SNP—and the Tories—on to the defensive?

This is the legacy of the rotten record of New Labour under Tony Blair and then its campaign to save the British Union alongside the Tories in the 2014 referendum. 

There is no sure way back except to back independence on a radical, anti-austerity, anti-Trident, anti-racist basis.

This could start to reveal the SNP in its true colour—speaking to the left but implementing pro-capitalist polices.

But nearly everyone in Labour, including Corbyn, remains committed to the British Union.

The same muddled line applies to the council cuts. Corbyn campaigned yesterday against “£377 million of cuts to Glasgow by the SNP”.

But those cuts are being implemented by a Labour council, a council that has presided over a long-term transfer of Glasgow’s council housing out of public hands.

It is a council that tried to scrap public holidays for council workers and free school buses for the poorest children. Funding cuts have also gutted mental health services.

Glasgow Labour council has been involved in near-permanent attacks on its workers, leading to repeated strikes.

Why doesn’t Labour stand up and fight the cuts, hurling the SNP—and the Tories—on to the defensive?

Corbyn was right to say Labour won’t stand in the way of a new referendum. He needs to be more radical to end up with a coherent policy to win back working class voters. That means confronting the Labour right.


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