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Scottish Independence Referendum

11 Feb

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I am a federalist, and very much in favor of individual countries coming together voluntarily in federations/confederations leading ultimately to some sort of world confederation. This should end wars and lead to the establishment of some sort of world security force to protect the population from would-be dictators and those who would commit atrocities and genocide.

Having said that, every country has the right to independence. Also groups of states or countries have the right to break away from a bigger federation. Therefore the American Civil War was quite unjustified because the Southern states which formed the Confederate States of America had every right to break away from the Union. This is regardless of their policies on slavery, etc. which was a separate issue. You cannot deny a state/states independence because you don’t agree with some of their policies. In any case, like South Africa, eventually slavery and segregation would have been abolished in the Southern states anyway.

I still regard the break-up of the Soviet Union and the Yugoslav federation as tragic, as I feel there was great potential for them to become more democratic once they got rid of their bureaucratic dictatorships. No doubt some states would have left these federations, such as the three Baltic states (Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia) annexed after the Second World War.

So why am I in favor of Scottish independence? For several reasons. Firstly, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to give it the correct full title, is not a democratic federation. Unlike the United States, for example, there are no state legislatures in every country of the UK with devolved powers. England has no state legislature for example, and the Welsh Assembly has less powers that the Scottish one or Stormont in Northern Ireland. Secondly, I am a republican, so reject the monarchy and therefore the whole idea of a United Kingdom. Thirdly, Northern Ireland should be re-united with the Irish Republic. When the Irish Free State (as it then was) was granted independence the northern province of Ulster was carved up so the six counties with a Protestant/Loyalist majority were kept in the UK, while three provinces of Ulster joined the rest of Ireland. This was gerrymandering of the worst kind, and led to the troubles which followed for decades.

We now have the European Union, which is like an embryonic federation. It has some of the elements of a federation such as a flag, an anthem, a parliament and a single currency in some of the member states. It must surely develop into a fully fledged federation or else eventually be disbanded as a failure, like the short-lived United Arab Republic. The problems with the Euro just indicate how impossible it is to have a single currency in many different independent states each with their own fiscal policy. There has to be central control at a federal level and a uniform structure on prices and wages. Imagine the chaos if some of the wealthier states in the USA had to regularly bail out the poorer states because they ran up huge dollar debts. The federal control over the economy insures this cannot happen.

Scotland has every right to vote for independence if it wishes, as do the other countries of the UK, though with Northern Ireland it would make more sense for it to re-unite with the rest of Ireland. Even counties like Cornwall and the Isle of Wight which have nationalist movements have the right to independence if they wish it. Since the Scottish parliament was established, Scottish politics have been markedly different from those of the government in Westminster.

For me the biggest question at the moment is the British government’s intention to  replace the Trident submarine-based nuclear weapons system, which is totally useless as well as being an illegal weapons system of mass destruction targeting civilian populations alive now and yet unborn. It has not deterred anyone, and most countries feel no need of such a so-called ‘deterrent’. It certainly did not deter General Galtieri from his adventure to capture the Falklands/Malvinas, nor did nuclear weapons prevent the USA from losing the Vietnam War or the Soviet Union from having to withdraw from Afghanistan. Even the two atomic bombs on Japan did not end the Second World War in the Far East – that was only achieved after Emperor Hirohito was allowed to remain on the throne and avoid a war crimes tribunal.

Trident is the only last vestige of the so-called British independent nuclear deterrent, which is neither British, independent nor a deterrent. It relies on the USA for much of the obscene technology, and they could pull the plug at any moment despite the Burghfield/Aldermaston establishments in Berkshire desgining the new warheads.

The sole reason for keeping the obsolete, militarily useless and obscene ‘nuclear deterrent’ is to give the British government a permanent seat in the undemocratic UN Security Council and a permanent veto of democratic resolutions of the UN General Assembly. The five original nuclear powers (the Russian Federation representing the old USSR), have this permanent membership and veto, the other four being the UK, France, the People’s Republic of China and the USA.

If Scotland opts for independence it will still have the Trident nuclear submarine base stationed at Faslane on the Gareloch, far too close to Glasgow for comfort. This will not give any Scottish Prime Minister a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, even if they wanted one. So an independent Scotland has two options: to charge the UK government for keeping the base on Scottish soil or, and this is what I would hope and expect to happen, telling the UK it must close the base down. Practically this would mean the UK government abadoning Trident replacement, which is the best reason I can think of for us to support Scottish independence at this time, saving the UK taxpayers £100 billion at a time of drastic public spending cuts.

In the longer term, I see no reason for keeping the mish-mash which is the United Kingdom which has no written constitution and no proper federal structure. The various countries of the British Isles (excluding the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) are already member states of the EU, so if this eventually becomes a federation the individual member states have the option whether to join the federal structure or stay outside.

As a Socialist it could be argued that we should not be in favor of a capitalist federal Europe, but the nature of the European Union could change in time. Alternatively there would be nothing to stop  a group of states from breaking away from the EU and forming a United Socialist States of Europe, or some similar new federation.

So Scottish independence yes, but I would hope like most of the rest of Europe we would all come together eventually in a European federation or federations which would draw us closer together and insure wars never again break out in our continent and engulf the globe in any more world wars. That, more than anything, is why I am an internationalist in favor of independent states voluntarily joining with others in federations/confederations leading ultimately to some sort of world government.



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