Comment

It is difficult to maintain constitutional neutrality at this tail-end of 2013. Of course we will continue to do our best to keep the SLR open as a space for anyone on the Scottish left, a place where they can feel at home and contribute to a debate that stretches beyond the boundaries of party or constitutional position. That is our duty as a magazine created expressly for that purpose.

But the duty lies not only on us to keep that space open but on all sides to fill that space. Because it can surely not be possible for us to face the desolation which lies across Scottish society in the dog-days of this unlucky year without some sort of answer to what lies all around us.

An opinion that provides a reason not to do one thing is hopelessly insufficient if it is not matched with an idea of something else that can be done instead. Tell us how these things can be done – this space is open for you

What answer to Grangemouth? Facile talk of ‘the need to work together’ is an insult to the collective intelligence. All it states is that if we keep the fork and let others keep the knife, it will be impossible for us to eat on our own. That may not be a bad thing, but someone needs to explain why. How is the capacity for Westminster to offer a loan guarantee of £120m because the Scottish Parliament doesn’t have the power to do it a convincing answer to the problem of that national crisis? We watched as a part of our key national infrastructure was bought by an equity company controlled by one man who borrowed the money to own it. We watched as that man, again and again across the UK and internationally, sought to subject both governments and working men and women to his will. We have seen again and again that failure to capitulate to his demands is met with agressive attempts to undermine democracy and sabotage the economic wellbeing of the economies and societies that created these vast enterprises in the first place. We observed a decade-long campaign to defeat any vestiges of industrial democracy which, in his eyes, blighted his divine right to run ‘his’ businesses as dictatorships of one. We watched as this culminated in a coordinated attempt to bring Scotland close to its knees as just another gambit in his totalitarian approach to nation and citizen. Then we watched as a defeated union was – still is – subjected to a vast smear and hate campaign run by a rabidly right-wing media cheered on by a rabidly right-wing government.

How is a £120m bung to this man a response, an answer? How?

We need proper media ownership laws, proper industrial relations legislation, a national strategy on the ownership of key industries, a stronger position on the practices of the equity ownership model, an industrial diversification strategy to make us less reliant on one large enterprise, a finance system that makes these things possible. We, in our ‘partnership’ are offered none of these things. Jim Radcliffe is offered free money.

How is this an answer?

What answer to Govan and shipbuilding? How is a UK industry sector declining before our eyes with no remedial action a reason to celebrate ‘partnership’? How do we come to terms with what is an entirely state-dependent business which survives on state funding (but only to build weapons) but over which we seem to have no democratic control at all? The voices which shout ‘they’ll reopen Portsmouth if you vote Yes’ do not seem to understand capitalism. Who is it that will open Portsmouth? Much as English MPs might like it to be so, are they proposing to nationalise BAE Systems? Don’t they understand that they gave up all right to guide British industry for political purposes when they privatised it all?

If we did have any control over our industry there are lots of things we might do, from encouraging diversification to targetting non-military sources of contracts. But we don’t. It would certainly make more sense (marginally) to keep building useless aircraft carriers (which have no purpose but create jobs) than to build the useless Trident replacement (that has no purpose and doesn’t create jobs in Britain). The result of Trident replacement is that we are consigned to sit here and watch as military orders dry up and shipyards close. There is absolutely no Plan B.

How is this an answer?

Food banks are the latest symbol of outrage that politicians who want to appear ‘progressive’ or compassionate troop out when needed. They are all horrified by the sight of ‘hard working people having to beg for handouts to be able to eat’. Fine; but how is austerity an answer to this? We know that the economy is not fixing itself in a way that will end low pay (virtually none of the ‘recovery’ is in industrial production which might give some reason for optimism). Yes, Ed Milliband has mentioned ‘living wage’ more recently. But he offers only a marginal tax credit to companies for a limited period if they will only ‘do the decent thing’ and pay the wage. Most won’t, and for the legions of Britons for whom the problem is that they can’t get enough hours or who can’t raise a family by earning living wage, nothing is proposed. We shall plough on and hope that the City of London and the housing market get us relected on the basis of the illusion of competence.

How is this an answer? How is any of this an answer to the dire mess that is Britain today?

Now, the standard response to this from the pro-union left is ‘but Alex Salmond is a bad man and the SNP is even more right-wing’. People are free to hold that opinion if they wish. But an opinion that provides a reason not to do one thing is hopelessly insufficient if it is not matched with an idea of something else that can be done instead. Saying (for example) ‘only electing a Labour government will put the power needed in the hands of the people who will use it well’ is again fine. Except the needed power could lie anywhere which takes full sovereign control, so the answer is not ‘where’ but ‘who and how’? So who and how? Before we vote in September next year, explain how Scotland can be protected from the Jim Ratcliffes of this world. Explain how we rebuild an industry in our country. Explain how we challenge the political doctrine of ‘austerity’ which is nothing more than a term for the dismantling of the welfare state. Tell us how these things can be done – this space is open for you; we will publish your ideas.

In the meantime, this issue looks at the transformations that could provide answers to these questions but from the perspective of what would happen after independence. It looks at a process of rebuilding post-Yes and explores the potential – and the risks – inherent in that process.

No, that our five writers can write it does not mean it will happen. But it is at least a path, a hint of a way forward. We must build our decision on possibility. So let us populate the land of possibility. All are welcome.

at space open but on all sides to fill that space. Because it can surely not be possible for us to face the desolation which lies across Scottish society in the dog-days of this unlucky year without some sort of answer to what lies all around us.

An opinion that provides a reason not to do one thing is hopelessly insufficient if it is not matched with an idea of something else that can be done instead. Tell us how these things can be done – this space is open for you

What answer to Grangemouth? Facile talk of ‘the need to work together’ is an insult to the collective intelligence. All it states is that if we keep the fork and let others keep the knife, it will be impossible for us to eat on our own. That may not be a bad thing, but someone needs to explain why. How is the capacity for Westminster to offer a loan guarantee of £120m because the Scottish Parliament doesn’t have the power to do it a convincing answer to the problem of that national crisis? We watched as a part of our key national infrastructure was bought by an equity company controlled by one man who borrowed the money to own it. We watched as that man, again and again across the UK and internationally, sought to subject both governments and working men and women to his will. We have seen again and again that failure to capitulate to his demands is met with agressive attempts to undermine democracy and sabotage the economic wellbeing of the economies and societies that created these vast enterprises in the first place. We observed a decade-long campaign to defeat any vestiges of industrial democracy which, in his eyes, blighted his divine right to run ‘his’ businesses as dictatorships of one. We watched as this culminated in a coordinated attempt to bring Scotland close to its knees as just another gambit in his totalitarian approach to nation and citizen. Then we watched as a defeated union was – still is – subjected to a vast smear and hate campaign run by a rabidly right-wing media cheered on by a rabidly right-wing government.

How is a £120m bung to this man a response, an answer? How?

We need proper media ownership laws, proper industrial relations legislation, a national strategy on the ownership of key industries, a stronger position on the practices of the equity ownership model, an industrial diversification strategy to make us less reliant on one large enterprise, a finance system that makes these things possible. We, in our ‘partnership’ are offered none of these things. Jim Radcliffe is offered free money.

How is this an answer?

What answer to Govan and shipbuilding? How is a UK industry sector declining before our eyes with no remedial action a reason to celebrate ‘partnership’? How do we come to terms with what is an entirely state-dependent business which survives on state funding (but only to build weapons) but over which we seem to have no democratic control at all? The voices which shout ‘they’ll reopen Portsmouth if you vote Yes’ do not seem to understand capitalism. Who is it that will open Portsmouth? Much as English MPs might like it to be so, are they proposing to nationalise BAE Systems? Don’t they understand that they gave up all right to guide British industry for political purposes when they privatised it all?

If we did have any control over our industry there are lots of things we might do, from encouraging diversification to targetting non-military sources of contracts. But we don’t. It would certainly make more sense (marginally) to keep building useless aircraft carriers (which have no purpose but create jobs) than to build the useless Trident replacement (that has no purpose and doesn’t create jobs in Britain). The result of Trident replacement is that we are consigned to sit here and watch as military orders dry up and shipyards close. There is absolutely no Plan B.

How is this an answer?

Food banks are the latest symbol of outrage that politicians who want to appear ‘progressive’ or compassionate troop out when needed. They are all horrified by the sight of ‘hard working people having to beg for handouts to be able to eat’. Fine; but how is austerity an answer to this? We know that the economy is not fixing itself in a way that will end low pay (virtually none of the ‘recovery’ is in industrial production which might give some reason for optimism). Yes, Ed Milliband has mentioned ‘living wage’ more recently. But he offers only a marginal tax credit to companies for a limited period if they will only ‘do the decent thing’ and pay the wage. Most won’t, and for the legions of Britons for whom the problem is that they can’t get enough hours or who can’t raise a family by earning living wage, nothing is proposed. We shall plough on and hope that the City of London and the housing market get us relected on the basis of the illusion of competence.

How is this an answer? How is any of this an answer to the dire mess that is Britain today?

Now, the standard response to this from the pro-union left is ‘but Alex Salmond is a bad man and the SNP is even more right-wing’. People are free to hold that opinion if they wish. But an opinion that provides a reason not to do one thing is hopelessly insufficient if it is not matched with an idea of something else that can be done instead. Saying (for example) ‘only electing a Labour government will put the power needed in the hands of the people who will use it well’ is again fine. Except the needed power could lie anywhere which takes full sovereign control, so the answer is not ‘where’ but ‘who and how’? So who and how? Before we vote in September next year, explain how Scotland can be protected from the Jim Ratcliffes of this world. Explain how we rebuild an industry in our country. Explain how we challenge the political doctrine of ‘austerity’ which is nothing more than a term for the dismantling of the welfare state. Tell us how these things can be done – this space is open for you; we will publish your ideas.

In the meantime, this issue looks at the transformations that could provide answers to these questions but from the perspective of what would happen after independence. It looks at a process of rebuilding post-Yes and explores the potential – and the risks – inherent in that process.

No, that our five writers can write it does not mean it will happen. But it is at least a path, a hint of a way forward. We must build our decision on possibility. So let us populate the land of possibility. All are welcome.

Photograph

This website is free to access.
Help us keep it that way.

Please give a donation.