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Scotland needs a better debate

BP wade into debate on Scotland's referendum on independence

The boss of BP is the latest business figure to wade in against a Yes vote in Scotland's forthcoming referendum on independence.

Bob Dudley is warning of "big uncertainties" ahead should Scots vote Yes, although his company would continue to invest in their country.

Of course it will, unless it can perform a technological miracle and relocate North Sea oil and gas deposits elsewhere.

Dudley also makes clear his personal view that "Great Britain is great and it ought to stay together."

His remarks epitomise the weaknesses of both the pro- and anti-independence campaigns.

His apparent fears are for a separate Scotland's future currency arrangements. Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond has made it clear that his party would wish to retain sterling should it win the vote in September.

At the same time, Bank of England chief Mark Carney insists that retention would come at a price to Scottish sovereignty.

In a blatant breach of Civil Service neutrality, a Treasury analysis confirms his stance.

A Scottish government would not be free to set its own taxing, borrowing and spending levels or issue its own chosen volume of sterling-denominated bonds without the supervision and approval of the Bank of England and Treasury in London.

And that's before taking into account the inevitable and detailed interference of the unelected European Commission and the unaccountable European Central Bank in the financial and economic affairs of an independent Scotland.

Here lies a fatal weakness in the Yes camp.

Its vision of independence is a mirage. And while a mirage can look very attractive to a weary traveller, sooner or later reality reveals itself.

A genuinely free and self-governing Scotland would have its own currency - even if it decided to track the pound sterling - and its own economic and financial policies.

It would decide its own defence and foreign policy, not allow it to be dictated by Nato chiefs and EU High Commissioner Baroness Ashton.

If the primary purpose of independence is to serve the interests of the mass of Scottish people, Yes campaigners should make clear their willingness to reconsider membership of the EU and Nato, which serve the interests of transnational corporations such as BP.

In fact, they should raise the issue of ownership and control of Scotland's natural resources, not least those beneath its territorial waters.

At the same time, emotional appeals to a British patriotism blighted by the crimes of imperialism are no guarantee of a No result in September.

Nor do they deserve to be, any more than the other reactionary and scaremongering slops being served up by Better Together.

There is a progressive case for maintaining the unity of the peoples of Scotland, England and Wales, based on their common interests and working-class organisations.

The corporate unity of BP and other monopolies will continue regardless, utilising British state power and playing countries and workers off against each other.

There is also a progressive case for maximising devolved powers to parliaments in Scotland, Wales and to the English regions so that they can act in people's real interests without splitting us apart in the face of monopoly capital.

The failure of both official campaigns to advance them is why neither deserves victory on September 18 this year.


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