|Year 2009 No. 72, November 30, 2009||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBBOOKS||SUBSCRIBE|
White Paper on Scotland:
Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :
White Paper on Scotland:
The Scottish People Must Decide the Future of Scotland
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White Paper on Scotland:
On November 25, the government published its White Paper on Scotland’s future within the “United Kingdom”. One of its key proposals is to cut the UK rate of income tax by 10p in Scotland and give the Scottish government tax-raising powers. The White Paper proposals are being presented by Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy, as strengthening the devolution settlement, following the final report of the Commission on Scottish Devolution led by Sir Ken Calman. However, Michael Russell, the Scottish government’s Constitution Minister, accused Westminster of playing “student politics”, noting how the White Paper came just days before the Scottish government’s own proposals for an independence referendum. As commentators have pointed out, the political reality is that the issue of more tax powers for Holyrood and the issue of Scottish sovereignty are aimed at making a “stronger Scotland in a stronger United Kingdom” a key battle ground at the forthcoming Westminster General Election.
The issue for the Scottish people and the working class in Scotland does not present itself as separatism versus unionism. That is a context that is redolent with the chauvinism of the attempts at fostering the values of Britishness that had its hey-day in the empire building of 19th century Britain, and were grounded in the forcible conquest of Wales, incorporating it into England, and the union of the Crowns and the subsequent Act of Union of Scotland and England. Scotland has retained its nationhood, and the issue facing the people of Scotland is their empowerment to take control over their lives, in the context of their own nation-building project.
The ridicule poured by the Labour and Conservative parties on the Scottish National Party does not sit well with the fact that the SNP forms the government in Scotland, to the extent that devolution allows the Scottish people to have their own parliament. The powers that the Scottish parliament needs are the powers that allow the Scottish people to have control over their lives and engage in their nation-building project. This cannot be portrayed as “separatism” except in the sense of the self-determination of nations and peoples. This is a cause of the working class of England, Scotland and Wales. That it is not an empty phrase is proved by life itself, in the right of the Scottish people to take the decisions which affect their lives in the course of building and strengthening the Scottish nation, and which has found expression in the formation of a Parliament for Scotland. The Scottish people have the right to a sovereign state, and have the opportunity to fight for and build it along modern lines. The aspirations of the people of Scotland, as well as Wales, and the working class of the whole of Britain have been fashioned in struggle for their rights and interests, against exploitation and for the concerns of human beings to be put at the centre of all considerations. In this context, the people of Scotland have the opportunity to build a democracy based on these considerations, and resolve the ongoing constitutional crisis, one aspect of which is the archaic nature of Westminster political processes.
That this archaic system should not continue to have sway over Scotland and Wales, not to mention the north of Ireland, was underlined by many of the Bills outlined in the Queen’s Speech, which in scope do not extent to the whole of the “United Kingdom”. For example, Children, Schools and Families Bill, where the whole bill applies to England, while other parts cover Wales and it only extends in part to Northern Ireland; Personal Care at Home Bill, which applies to England only, and so on.
That the Westminster government should attempt to rouse passions against a modern sovereign Scotland in this context, while introducing a White Paper which proposes greater powers for the Scottish Parliament, notably tax-raising powers, is an indication of its bad faith. It is at odds with the demand that people and not parties should be empowered, and is at one with the attempt to impose a “one-nation politics” that stems from the ideology of New Labour, which is increasingly being rejected, not least by the peoples of Scotland and also Wales, in particular the repeated references by the government to “the nation” and “British values”. In other words, at the heart of this “one-nation politics” is am anglo-centric Britain which denies the rights of nations and peoples in a cosmopolitan ideology, based on values enshrined in the Paris Charter. This is the successor to the empire-building project of English colonialism, which the government attempts to pass off as “Britishness” or the “British nation”. It is a project which both denies that all have rights by virtue of being human, and at the same time condemns national identity and national traditions as being backward.
The so-called “unionist consensus” that exists among the cartel of parties who form the Westminster government is an attempt to deny decision-making power to the people both of Scotland and to Britain as a whole. Any union which respects national rights and national sovereignty cannot be within a “kingdom” whose authority does not constitutionally come from the people but from the royal prerogative. It can only be a voluntary union whose authority comes from the sovereignty, the decision-making power, of the peoples of England, Scotland and Wales.
The working class and people of Scotland are working towards a sovereign self-reliant economy, in which it is the working class and people themselves who decide the direction of the economy. It is absurd to suggest that this economy would be “separate” from other economies. But what the people of Scotland do not want and will not accept is an economy and political system which is dictated by and whose direction is decided by Westminster and by criteria which supposedly are of benefit to the “United Kingdom”, but which are in reality are dictated by the concerns of the monopolies.
The cartel of Westminster parties would like to suggest that their consensus is not self-interested, but nothing could be further from the truth. Their invective against the nation-building project of the Scottish people seeks to deny to the Scottish nation its right to determine its own affairs, as well as actually covering over the reality of the class unity of the workers of Scotland, England and Wales, as well as internationally.
The issue for the working class and people of Scotland is achieving the power to make the decisions in those matters which affect their lives. They have not accepted the old status quo of the union of Scotland and England and that fact is embodied in a Scottish parliament. But neither will they accept a new status quo in which their sovereignty remains compromised. Sovereignty must be vested in the workers and people of Scotland.
The illegitimate November 29 alleged presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections in Honduras are attempts by the most reactionary forces within Honduras and the US, as well as internationally, to give permanency to the US-backed coup dictatorship by claiming they are now democratically elected. This coup regime has been exposed and vigorously condemned by democratic forces internationally and, most importantly, by the Honduran people.
The National Front of Resistance Against the Coup d'Etat as part of its mobilisations of the Honduran people and in expectation of such a turn of events has been calling on its forces to boycott the elections.
On November 13, Prensa Latina reported that San Pedro Sula's Mayor Rodolfo Padilla joined the list of candidates refusing to participate in the elections. Padilla, who was seeking re-election in the country's second most important city, asserted that if institutionality is not restored, it would be impossible to hold transparent elections as demanded by the people and the international community.
"As the situation in the country does not meet the conditions noted, it is contrary to my principles, convictions and values to legitimate electioneering processes that intend to consolidate abuse, crimes, and outrages perpetrated by those responsible for the coup," he asserted.
As of mid-November, those candidates boycotting the election to protest the putschists' regime included some 110 mayoral candidates and 55 candidates for deputies of different parties, as well as some presidential candidates.
The first to withdraw was independent presidential candidate Carlos H Reyes, after denouncing the present electoral process as an ongoing farce to legitimate the de facto regime.
"Definitively, constitutional order has not been restored nor President Manuel Zelaya reinstated and we can not participate in the elections under such conditions. This would be legitimising the putschists," Reyes explained.
At the insistence of the US State Department, representatives of the constitutional government and the de facto regime on October 30 signed an agreement in favour of restoring of President Zelaya to office and the formation of a national unity government to be approved by Congress.
However, the Accord failed because Congress manoeuvred to delay the vote and coup leader Roberto Micheletti unilaterally tried to form a cabinet.
Zelaya said that without the necessary conditions to guarantee the citizenry the universal right to vote directly, secretly and free of coercion or threats, the electoral process is unviable and unlawful.
The Brazilian government has stated no date has been set for Zelaya to leave its diplomatic mission in Tegucigalpa, where he can stay for as long as it is necessary, Brazilian website UOL reported November 26.
Zelaya, criticising the US government for its recognition of the coup regime, said he will impugn Sunday's elections because when legal order and constitutional order is broken by a coup, no process can be legalised under this condition. Therefore, "if a dictatorship promotes, runs, coordinates an election, it becomes illegal. It is a precedent that had never been set in Latin America, which has already witnessed 80 coups, but they culminated in a new Constitution, not in an illegitimate call for elections, like this," he added.
Venezuela's Minster of Foreign Affairs Nicolás Maduro on November 26 remarked to the press, "The Venezuelan government will not recognise the electoral process and its results. We instead call on the international community to make efforts and support President Zelaya and the Honduran people to organise free elections." Likewise, he referred to the pre-electoral process in Honduras as "rigged and offers no guarantees to the people. There is not freedom of expression in Honduras. They control the press and radio and TV stations. There is brutal repression against social and political leaders and no guarantees that a natural process can be developed with transparency."
Maduro questioned the US government's stance regarding the Honduran elections as it is the first to criticise elections for perceived faults in different South American countries. "It is very serious that the right in this continent thinks it can violate and break the rules of democracy, destroy and subjugate a progressive people," he added.
A letter from President Zelaya addressed to US President Barack Obama on November 14 calling for Obama to take prompt and proper action by taking a stand for new US relations with Latin America by opposing the coup has only received the indirect reply that the US will be recognising the election and its results.
WDIE calls on the working class and people to join in and give weight to the actions and protests in support of the Honduran people and their struggle for empowerment, the rule of law and their resistance to the US-backed coup.
No to Illegitimate November 29 Elections!
No to US Interference in Latin America and the Caribbean!
Long Live the People's Resistance!
Solidarity with workers in Honduras:
Public letter, November 28, 2009
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber and many other trade unionists co-signed a letter published in the Guardian on Friday 27 November, calling on Governments not to recognise Sunday's fake election in Honduras. The TUC has echoed the calls of the Honduran trade union movement for tougher action against the dictatorship that seized power earlier this year.
The full letter reads:
“Latin America faces the greatest threat to its democracy in decades (International, 7 November). The military coup that overthrew elected president Manual Zelaya and seized power in Honduras in June is now seeking to legitimise its illegal government through the international recognition of elections on 29 November. Such recognition would give a green light to opponents of democracy throughout the continent that military coups will be tolerated. Free and fair elections on November 29 are impossible. Human rights, freedom of assembly and of the press have all been under attack in Honduras. Repression under the coup regime has seen at least 20 people killed, more than 600 people injured and 3,500 people detained.
“The legitimate Honduran president, Manual Zelaya, has called for supporters of democracy not to recognise the elections under the military coup regime. Nearly all of Latin America's governments have declared that they will not do so. Worryingly the US has indicated it will recognise these illegitimate elections. We call on all governments, including the Obama administration, to not recognise the elections on 29 November under the military coup regime.”
The trade union signatories, as well as Brendan Barber, were
Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson, Joint General Secretaries, Unite the Union
Sally Hunt, General Secretary, UCU
Alan Ritchie, General Secretary, UCATT
Mick Shaw, President, FBU
Matt Wrack, General Secretary, FBU
Gerry Doherty, General Secretary, TSSA
Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT
Luke Crawley, Assistant General Secretary, BECTU
Steve Hart, Regional Secretary, Unite the Union
Other signatories included: Colin Burgon MP Chair, all-party parliamentary groups on Cuba and Venezuela, Jon Cruddas MP, Ken Livingstone, Baroness Gibson Chair APPG on Latin America, Jamie Hepburn MSP (SNP), Adam Price MP (Plaid Cymru), Caroline Lucas MEP Leader, Green party, Bruce Kent, David Hare, John Pilger, Lowkey (Musician), Brian Eno, Dr J Buxton Centre for International Co-operation and Security, University of Bradford
The full list of signatories is on the Guardian's website.
Following the request by President Zelaya for international non recognition of the elections scheduled for 29 November, the Cuba Solidarity Campaign is also supporting the statement by Colin Burgon MP.
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