By Richie Venton
For trade unionists and workers suffering the viciousness of the unelected Westminster Coalition, the Yes Scotland campaign’s report ‘Yes to a Just Scotland’ is a welcome step forward compared to being told for months to vote Yes so that little or nothing will change!
It rightly highlights the greater likelihood of the historic aims of the trade union movement – social justice, wealth redistribution and equality – being achieved under independence.
The response of some self-styled ‘lefts’ in the New Labour camp is as spurious as it is predictable. By focusing on what the SNP has to say on taxation of the rich, they cynically avoid the fact the pro-independence movement consists of far more than just Alex Salmond and John Swinney.
Trade Unionists for Independence (TUFI) is a broad, inclusive campaign embracing workers from all parties and none, with the core belief that independence is the best means of radically improving the living conditions of Scotland’s working class majority.
We see independence as a means not of just changing flags and emblems, but of giving the Scottish people the democratic opportunity to wield the powers to achieve a fundamental and irreversible redistribution of power and wealth in favour of working people, their families and communities. To build a Scotland where the needs and interests of the working class millions displace the greed and dictatorship of the multinationals and millionaires.
Those like Labour MSP Neil Findlay who favour progressive taxation to redistribute wealth should stop peddling the deceitful myth that this can be best achieved under Westminster rule, perhaps with a few extra powers graciously handed down to Holyrood.
Given their real-life track records on Planet Earth, which of the Tories, LibDems or New Labour does Neil imagine will pursue such progressive policies? He should instead join TUFI in demanding, as our Statement of Aims includes: “Jobs for all – including through massive public investment in clean, green energy; housing; integrated public transport – paid for by collecting the tax evaded and avoided by big business and the super-rich, and restoration of taxation levels of big business and the rich elite to their historic highest.”
Nothing short of the powers that go with independence would allow repeal of the most repressive package of anti-union laws in western Europe – initiated by Thatcher’s Tories, sustained by 13 years of New Labour governments, added to by the current Tory-LibDem Coalition with barely a whimper from the timid Labour opposition at Westminster.
Likewise, not even the Devo Max version of Westminster rule favoured by the likes of Neil Findlay would allow a Scottish government to tackle the national disgrace of poverty pay. And it’s not even a choice on offer in 2014 – just a red-herring for the ‘left’ face of Unionism.
A guaranteed Living Wage for all can only be applied to the public and private sector alike (where, for instance, retail – the nation’s second-biggest employer – is notorious for low pay) with the powers won through independence.
Reversal of privatisation by successive Tory and Labour government; reversal of the assaults on benefits (including abolition of the Bedroom Tax) and an end to demonisation of the sick, disabled and unemployed, with a living income for all those unable to work; these and other concrete measures for an economically and socially just Scotland are way beyond the powers of a devolved semi-parliament. They require independence, full self-government, granting the Scottish working class the right to elect a government of our own choice, ending the abomination of rule by Westminster governments that we never elected.
TUFI appeals to the STUC and individual trade unionists to seize the moment and crusade for a Yes vote so that the trade union agenda of social justice, equality and internationalism can prevail, rather than rule by Westminster governments that all and always put profit before people.
Richie Venton is a member of Trade Unionists for Independence [TUFI] steering group