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Why we’re campaigning for a third option on any second referendum ballot paper

Any future vote on Scotland’s constitutional future must present more than just a Yes/No choice between independence and the status quo, argue NEIL FINDLAY and PAULINE BRYAN

THE UK’s economic, political and constitutional status quo is broken. The Westminster system is failing the people of Scotland. But so too is Holyrood.

Both Westminster and Holyrood governments have centralised services, enriched private interests, imposed heavy cuts on local government and presided over a decade of plant closures and deindustrialisation.

The call for an “independent” Scotland to immediately rejoin an EU shackled to its neoliberal agenda would rob it of precisely those sovereign powers that we all want; the power to intervene democratically in our own economy. We must also escape the Tories Internal Market Act which inhibits state aid. 

When thinking about the type of fair, just and prosperous Scotland we need, it is clear that neither option in the current sterile, binary debate is acceptable. 

We are being forced to choose between the SNP’s “Growth Commission” and the Tories’ “Global Britain” and neither will deliver a Scotland of full employment and fairness based on equality and redistribution. 

We believe that any position on the future of Scotland should start with the question: what type of Scotland do we want to create and what offers the best potential for social progress? 

Socialist change

We believe in socialist change and that in a post-Covid Scotland we must rebuild our society based on a sustainable economic revolution, full employment and by fundamentally redistributing wealth and power. 

Essential public services must be owned and run democratically and financed through a redistributive tax system.

For popular sovereignty

We believe in the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and best able to deliver the socialist transformation of our society.

For socialist unity 

Whatever your view on whether radical change will be delivered through independence or enhanced powers, to win a majority for such change we need to build unity. 

Radical change will not be delivered by parliamentary activity alone, whether at Westminster or at Holyrood. 

But we cannot mobilise people across Scotland in every community, trade union, voluntary group and campaigning organisation when working-class people are divided by a binary constitutional choice.  

For progressive constitutional change 

The status quo works against radical reform and must be challenged. If there is to be a second referendum there should be a third option on the ballot paper which brings more powers to Scotland but still pools and redistributes resources based on social need across the UK. 

Such an option could create a coalition of all those opposed to the current constitutional settlement. 

This could be done by amending the current draft Referendum Bill likely to be put before the Scottish Parliament after the May 2021 elections which as it stands would have one Yes/No question.

The campaign for a third option seeks to bring together all those who believe the status quo is untenable and who want to see more powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament, Scotland’s councils and Scotland’s communities. 

It seeks to unite Yes and No voters in support of greater democratic choice.

Professor James Mitchell of Edinburgh University explained: “A third option must be on the ballot paper in any future referendum if we are truly to understand the views and aspirations of the Scottish people. 

“Instead of one simple binary option, the question of whether people want change could be asked, and then, assuming an affirmative vote, two change options would be offered, independence or more powers. 

“This broadens choice and avoids forcing voters to choose between the lesser of two evils.”

If you want a socialist Scotland based on popular sovereignty and democratic choice you can sign the petition at www.change.org/ThirdOption.

We believe that Scottish people have the sovereign right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and the freedom to achieve an equal relationship between nations and regions based on social justice and redistribution.

A post-Covid Scotland must move in a socialist direction, building a sustainable economy based on full employment and a fundamental redistribution of wealth and power. 

We want a Scotland where every person can contribute to the best of their ability and satisfy their needs on the basis human dignity and respect, where essential public services are owned and run democratically and financed through a redistributive tax system.

To build the biggest, most inclusive coalition for change any future referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future must present more than just a Yes/No choice between independence and the status quo. 

We need an option that gives Scotland the powers to transform our society and the freedom to seek a more equal relationship between nations and regions based on social justice and redistribution. 

If you support any alternative to the status quo you can support this option. No-one should be afraid of allowing Scots more democratic choice.

Neil Findlay is was MSP for Lothian from 2011 until 2021 and Pauline Bryan is a Labour peer.

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