By the strength of our common endeavour, we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few.
Those are the words of clause 4 of the Labour constitution, which while many will lament the loss the previous version, the current one still highlights one of the fundamental values, not just of the Labour party, but of the whole Labour movement, especially the trade unions and the co-operative movement.
Contrast that with the fundamental tenets of Scottish Independence. We are better off without the rest of the UK. We are different to them and they do things we don’t want. We didn’t vote for this Government, and we don’t like its policies.
I can’t see anything more diametrically opposed to the fundamental values of the Labour movement than that. It’s an “I’m all right Jack” attitude that is, at best selfish, and at worst dishonest.
There’s also the misguided feeling that somehow we will have a socialist government in charge after independence. Well, not once in its history has there been a majority in Scotland for socialist or left-wing parties, and there definitely isn’t now. I’m not sure what is going to happen to change that, simply by dint of voting for independence. Are we expecting that large numbers of centrist and right-wing Scots will move south? Are we going to have a flood of refugees from the deprived cities of northern England? Of course not!
If anything, Scotland is a conservative country – with a small ‘c’, and we are equally likely – if not more likely – to become a conservative tax haven, with lower top rates of tax and low corporation tax rates than neighbouring countries. The only party to have ever achieved a majority of votes in Scotland was the Conservatives, and it is quite possible that they will recover votes after independence.
By working together, across the UK the Labour movement has made some truly great achievements. The NHS. The Welfare State. The National Minimum Wage. By splitting off, we deny people, north and south of the border the benefits of our work together as a force for good, as we fail to achieve them in our individual countries – its why we as socialists should support working together with colleagues across the EU to bring in policies such as the Working Time Directive.
I don’t like the benefit reforms that the UK Government are bringing in. I’m not convinced that Labour at a UK level has the right response. But that doesn’t mean I want to abandon friends and family living south of an imaginary line to policies that I find deeply abhorrent. Where’s the Socialist Solidarity in that?