Colin Fox to address the Oxford Union


SSP national spokesman Colin Fox has been invited to address the Oxford Union next week on the motion ‘This House believes Scotland should be an Independent country’. His invitation gives the Scottish Socialist Party the chance to take our case for an independent socialist Scotland to students at Britain’s elite university. This is a preview of his speech.

By Colin Fox

With the Independence referendum just five months away and the polls now showing that the contest is neck and neck, Scotland is gripped by this debate in a way never seen before.

The same polls used to show a double-digit lead for the No campaign, not any more. That is because support for independence is far higher amongst the working class and the poor than it is amongst the wealthy.

And I bring news to the Oxford Union that the sons and daughters of Britain’s privileged elite will not be the biggest beneficiaries of Scottish independence. No, working class Scots stand to gain most as Scotland’s wealth is distributed far more equitably to ensure the appalling inequalities that destroy the life chances of so many are eradicated.

There are thousands of youngsters in Scotland bright enough to earn a degree at Oxford but who will never get the chance. One in three children in Scotland’s biggest city live in poverty. We suffer sickening inequalities under Westminster rule that lead to such profound unfairness, and our top priority in September is to bring that to an end.

The No side suggests supporting the democratic rights of nations like Scotland to self-determination makes you a nationalist. It doesn’t. It makes you a democrat. Scotland is a nation, a country. We are not a region or province of anywhere else, not Britain and certainly not England. We are therefore entitled to the same rights to self-determination that all 260 other nations in the world enjoy.

Labour opponents of independence put forward the view that it means abandoning the working class in the rest of these isles to ‘permanent Tory rule’. This is an argument George Galloway and Douglas Alexander foolishly present. (Mind you, their concern for working class solidarity is rather undermined by lining up alongside the Tories, the Lib Dems and UKIP in this debate.)

The electoral facts show that Scottish seats seldom decide Westminster general elections as they infer. Tony Blair’s three general election victories for example would still have been won without a single seat going to Labour in Scotland. He had a 168-seat majority in 1997 when there were only 72 Scottish MP’s [56 of them Labour].

Moreover with independence, Scotland will again be leading the fight for ‘social justice’ in these isles not abandoning it.

We will be leading the way to a social democratic nation with public ownership preferred over privatisation, wealth redistribution from the rich to the poor not the other way round, higher taxes for the better off, peace-mongering not warmongering, scrapping Trident, refusing to blame claimants and immigrants for an economic and social crisis that was caused by the bankers and with no more working class kids being sent to die in illegal wars. Those days are over.

These are objectives working class people throughout these isles support – despite Labours attacks on such values – and their achievement in Scotland will benefit all of us.

Campaigning on the high streets of Scotland, as I do every week, and speaking to people at Yes public meetings across the country, as I do three or four times a week now, I sense a dramatic groundswell of support that was simply not there six months ago.

It is noticeable how young Scots are much more inclined towards independence. This is a generation that no longer considers itself British nor considers Westminster relevant to them.

I will tell the students of Oxford University that we are going to win this referendum in September not least because Yes Scotland, with the Scottish Socialist Party’s help, has struck a chord in this debate.

A Yes vote will mean working class Scots will be better off – economically better off, socially better off and politically better off. It is not only a vote for independence it is a vote against the neoliberal, warmongering philosophy of Westminster, Whitehall, the Bank of England and the City of London.

We shall win a famous victory on 18 September because we have also built the biggest and most extensive grassroots political campaign Scotland has seen since the anti-Poll Tax movement 25 years ago.

The British ruling classes lost that battle and they will lose this one too. On the other hand, working class people throughout these isles stand to gain enormously.

Courtesy of
The Scottish Socialist Voice