Matt Dobson reports
The 62% to 38% vote for Scotland to remain in the EU led to First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon to immediately declare that another independence referendum was “on the table”.
While a second independence referendum is likely in the next period, the political reality now confronting Sturgeon and the SNP is full of complications and sees them at their most vulnerable since the surge in support for the SNP in late 2014.
Polls did show a spike in support for independence in the days after Brexit at the end of June, rising up to 54% (Survation Poll the Scotsman 29th June).
However, even this increase is too small for Sturgeon and the SNP, who would want polling of around 60% to be confident to call and then hope to win a second referendum.
Polls over the last two months, with the crisis over Brexit showing no signs of abating, have shown no increase in this, and even evidence of a fall back in support for independence. A You Gov poll on July 29th showed support for independence back down to 47%.
Concerned voices have now been heard against the idea of Sturgeon and the SNP jumping through the “post Brexit window” (the two-year period following the triggering of Article 50).
Ex SNP cabinet minister Alex Neil recently warned “We need to convincingly address the fiscal position of an independent Scotland, our currency plans post-independence, the impact of the recent dramatic fall in oil prices and the need for a more ambitious plan for transforming the economic and social life of Scotland. To hold a referendum before all these issues are addressed would be a high risk strategy”.
Pro-independence columnist Iain MacWhirter (Herald 15/8/16 “Timing is crucial and now is not the time for Indy ref two”) states these issues could affect the outcome of independence referendum negatively “for a generation” and aren’t worth the risk even if it means waiting until the 2020s.
The SNP costed their pro-independence campaign on North Sea oil being at $100 a barrel in 2014, now it has dropped to $40 with no sign of immediate recovery.
Even before the shock of Brexit, the economic indicators showed the slide towards recession in Scotland. The Scottish Chamber of Commerce (15/8/16) reported weaker growth than the rest of the UK in the first two quarters of this year. Uncertainty post Brexit has also increased over the issue of the currency.
The dramatic fall in sterling has raised concerns that a run on the banks would take place after another political shock like independence. Neither sterling (the SNP’s option in 2014) with monetary policy controlled by the Bank of England or the Euro are seen as a break from austerity and crisis.
Pro-independence radical groups like the Common Weal have proposed the creation of a “Scotpound” that could redistribute wealth, but have not answered the reality of the ruthless capitalist bond markets internationally who would undermine such a currency.
Only bold socialist policies backed by struggle from the working class, taking the major companies and banks into public ownership, which the SNP is fundamentally opposed too, could protect a new currency from the capitalist vultures.
A majority of independence supporters and significant sections of radical workers and youth voted remain, out of revulsion at the pro big business racist character of the official leave campaign. Yet an estimated 400,000 (40% of the 1 million that voted leave) YES supporters voted to leave the EU. (David Torrance Herald 16/8/16).
The reality of the EU being a ruthless bosses club with austerity built into its DNA, will have been apparent to many and will become more so as the institution’s crisis continues with likely political and economic shocks coming over the next few months.
The developing Eurozone banking crisis, continuing sovereign debt crisis in Southern Europe and the politically explosive referendum over Italy’s constitution can further undermine the EU. Socialist Party Scotland, TUSC and unions like the RMT put forward a socialist case for EU exit.
Brexit has provoked a further shift to the right by the SNP leadership. Taking it’s increased post referendum support from working class and young people for granted, they are focusing on trying to win over more middle class layers and sections of big business. This has led to internal SNP discussions in an effort to “redesign” independence more openly in favour of business interests.
As Socialist Party Scotland has consistently raised since 2014, a sense of betrayal towards the SNP leadership would develop over time, leaving a colossal vacuum for a genuine anti austerity socialist alternative.
We support the democratic right for a second independence referendum which could potentially be an even more profound revolt against austerity, with more far reaching aspirations in a socialist direction, than in 2014.
An independent socialist Scotland and a free and voluntary socialist confederation of Scotland with England, Wales and Ireland towards a socialist Europe.