Socialist Worker

The Scottish budget and the independence struggle

by Bob Fotheringham
Issue No. 2740

Kate Forbes budget was anything but radical

Kate Forbes' budget was anything but radical


The need for radical change in Scotland was highlighted by the Scottish government’s budget plans set out last Thursday.

Despite the fact that the wealthiest in Society have benefited massively from the pandemic, while those at the bottom have been hit the hardest, the budget maintained tax rates and bands at their current levels.

There was tax relief for businesses, and public sector workers pay rises were limited to 3 percent for workers earning below £25,000 a year and 1 percent for those earning more.

Larry Flanagan, the EIS union general secretary, described this as “an effective pay freeze” for teachers.

The fact that the budget was welcomed by the leader of the bosses’ CBI Scotland should give us a flavour of its lack of even mildly progressive content.

This also points to how the SNP will go about challenging the British State and organising for independence. This will be done in a way that makes sure the bosses are kept on board.

Contested

However, the union with Britain is increasingly contested.

Twenty opinion polls in a row have shown that a majority of Scots would vote for independence and now a majority of voters in the north of Ireland have said that a poll on Irish unity should take place in the next five years.

The Scottish government’s recent 11-point plan to potentially hold its own referendum on Scottish independence continues to generate heated debate.

Despite the limited nature of this development, there are a number of reasons to view it in a positive light.

Scotland has a democratic right to have a choice on whether it should be independent. It is an outrage that the Tories, with little support in Scotland should be able to block this.

The fact that first minister Nicola Sturgeon has to consider alternatives to her earlier plans is due to pressure from the grassroots of the SNP and the wider independence movement.

In recent weeks All Under One Banner (AUOB) has run a number of successful online forums debating the way forward for the independence movement. There have been very few, if any, voices supporting the SNP leadership’s previous strategy at these.

The imminent launch by AUOB of a new independence supporting group, opens up the possibility of a radical campaigning organisation, not controlled by the SNP leadership, taking to the streets.

The movement needs to make links with the social forces in society, such as the trade unions, that have the potential power to force a second referendum


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