Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2424

After the Scottish referendum – the left must harness the class anger against Tories

This article is over 9 years, 8 months old
Jim Main argues the left must seize the moment and carry the spirit of the radical Yes vote into the fight against austerity
Issue 2424
Crowds in st George Square, Glasgow
Crowds in George Square, Glasgow (Pic: Andrew McGowan)

More than a fortnight after the No vote, the spirit of the radical independence movement in Scotland is bubbling away.

Huge meetings are still taking place where campaigners old and new are discussing the next steps to win social justice. 

The pro-independence parties have seen their memberships surge. 

And there is still a palpable anger towards the Westminster politicians who promised so much, but look set to deliver very little.

The Yes movement’s arguments to break the union only seem strengthened since the referendum.

Britain is now at war. Yes activists argued that Scottish independence could break apart the British imperialist state, hindering its ability to wage foreign wars.  

We now need to redouble our efforts and oppose the West bombing the Middle East again.

We said we didn’t want to demonise and punish poor people for the economic crisis caused by the rich

But now the Tories promise us more swingeing cuts to welfare. And Labour wants to freeze child benefit—that’s no alternative.

It was radical class arguments that inspired and convinced working class voters in traditional Labour Party strongholds to vote Yes. 

Labour members and many more of its voters broke with the party and supported independence.

The Yes campaign lost the vote, but in many places it won the argument that we need an end to austerity, not more of it. 

The Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership claims an astonishing 50,000 new members since the vote. It is keenly aware of the high expectations many new members will have.

That’s why we need to carry forward the spirit of the Yes campaign into the struggles against austerity.


Next weekend local Yes groups should mobilise to join the 18 October STUC trade union march in Glasgow. 

We should lay down a marker to the politicians who want our vote next year.

This autumn local authorities begin to set their budgets for next year. 

They need to know we won’t accept more cuts—working class people have suffered enough.

Local SNP and Labour councils should be made to feel that pressure. 

It’s good that one of Scotland’s biggest union branches—Glasgow City Council Unison—has called a lobby of the SNP’s conference in Perth next month over defending jobs and services.

And the strike of local government workers in Unison in Scotland is part of that same fight—everyone should show solidarity with these workers fighting back.

But there are also debates about how this movement and the left in Scotland develop. The Radical Independence Campaign conference in November will be an important venue for that debate.

The thousands set to rally in Glasgow at the Hope Over Fear event also have a crucial part to play in shaping the debate, as could the thousands of Labour supporters of independence.

The Labour Party has suffered a blow in Scotland but it will take more than calls to back the SNP to see them off. 

We need to build a left alternative to Labour and the SNP in Scotland. 

We need a party that truly represents the interests of the working class.

Marxism in Scotland takes place this Saturday in Glasgow. Find out more.

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