Go forward and choose Yes

Labour for Independence by Bob Thomson, former chair of the Labour Party in Scotland and member Labour for Independence I have been a Labour Party member for over 51 years, holding a range of positions from branch minute secretary to Scottish Chairman, from chapping on doors to negotiating with a Labour Prime Minister. Where are we now? It says Labour on the tin, but when you open it, it is a very pale imitation of what it should be.

My membership card states that it is a democratic socialist party but the impartial observer would be hard put to justify calling it a social democratic party. Three events emphasise the party leadership’s betrayal of its founding principles. Voting with the ConDem Coalition for a cap on welfare benefits, the commitment to further austerity cuts and forcing through changes reducing the party’s historic relations with affiliated trade unions.

These events confirm my realisation that there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of reclaiming Labour at Westminster for working people in the foreseeable future. New Labour! My old pal Jimmy Reid described them as “non-Labour”. Better Together have spent the last 18 months running Scotland down. If Scotland is such a basket case economy, why are the unionist parties so desperate to keep Scotland in the Union?

The answer is that the biggest threat to Scotland’s prosperity is remaining in the UK whose economy has been going down the plughole since the 1970s, with an almost continuous deficit on the balance of payments, an increasing national debt now one of the biggest in Europe and the destruction of our manufacturing, steel and mining industries with the resultant devastation of entire communities.

Some comrades on the left argue that supporting independence is a betrayal of the working class in the rest of the UK. I firmly believe that Scottish independence will lead to constitutional change in the rest of the UK. But should we go through the upheaval of separation to create a mini UK economy with its myriad social inequalities?

I will be voting Yes for a fairer, more equal society where gross domestic happiness is at least as important as gross domestic product. The Yes campaign is not just the SNP but socialist parties, the Greens and non-aligned individuals. I am campaigning with comrades in Labour for Independence to campaign to encourage the 800,000 plus Scots who voted Labour in the 2010 general election to vote Yes.

The referendum is about the future of Scotland, not the SNP or Alex Salmond. Jean-Paul Sartre said in his book, Roads to Freedom, “you have not only the right to choose but the duty to choose, and if you are not surrounded by poverty, by war, by oppression, by cruelty – that is what you have chosen”. Let us go forward – choose Yes.

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