Scotland’s Communists are fighting for Progressive Federalism

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The CP response to the Labour Party’s commission on the Britain’s Future

The Communist Party defends the right of the Scottish people to self determination and to hold a referendum on their constitutional future. We reject anti-democratic manoeuvrings by the Tories or use of ruling class courts to frustrate this right. At the same time, we insist that the exercise of this democratic right must be judged in class terms.

If a further referendum were to be held it must include a third option. Working people cannot once again be presented with a binary choice between the current Tory status quo and the ‘independence’ in name only proposed by the SNP, which is premised on the same right wing economic policies and surrendering more power than ever before the to the anti-democratic and anti-worker European Union.

The Communist Party believes that this third option should be defined in terms of membership of a federation of nations that is legally committed to the progressive development of their economies and the redistribution of wealth in which democratic control and public ownership can ensure a real equality of resources and potential.

In this context, Communist Party’s Scottish Committee welcomes some aspects of the Report of the Labour Party’s Commission on the Britain’s Future released this week.

These aspects include the proposal to replace the House of Lords by an elected Assembly of Nations and Regions with a remit to rebalance the economy so that ‘prosperity and investment can be spread more equally between different parts of the[Britain]’.  It also welcomes its call to give the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd greater borrowing powers as well as control over economic and industrial policy by according the Sewell convention constitutional status.

These are important steps towards restoring the powers of the Scottish Parliament as envisaged by the trade union movement in the 1980s and 1990s.

Other aspects of the report flash warning signals for all those who want to see a decisive break with pro-big business and neo-liberal policies responsible for past and current crises.  In discussing the great inequalities of development across the nations of Britain, as well as the collapse of economic growth across the whole economy, it makes no mention of the destructive grip of finance companies and big monopolies over investment policy.  Nor does it mention the role of public ownership, democratic control and the rights of trade unions on company boards in order to overcome these problems – as outlined in the manifesto of the Labour Party in the last general election.

It is notable that the Report appears to have been written without consultation with the trade union movement or, in Scotland, with the STUC which played such a critical part in the original establishment of the Scottish Parliament.

In order to defend existing and future jobs and ensure the development of our regional and national economies these omissions must be urgently corrected if the Report is to win wider credibility and support.

The campaign for a progressive third option to break the right wing nationalist and unionist binary must be broadly based, far beyond the Labour Party leadership, however the Labour Party could help win the support for such a third option, if it returns to the original perspectives developed by Scotland’s trade union movement in the 1980s and 1990s.

Any campaign for a third option must be accompanied by a broad movement across Britain, grounded in the trade union movement, demanding the radical redistribution of power and wealth away from the City of London to Scotland and Wales and the regions of England, Progressive Federalism.