Scotland - a vote of no confidence against Westminster

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24 September 2014

So, after all, there won't be a border north of Hadrian's Wall, between Scotland and England. At least, not as a result of last week's Scottish referendum, which went against independence. In this respect, no-one should shed any tears over the failure of the Scottish nationalist project.

The nature of any referendum, in this parody of democracy in which we live, is that the cards are always stacked against us: voters are only allowed to choose between two bad options - like in this case, between "Independence" and the "Union". This was no real choice at all!

"Independence" was a mirage for the Scottish people, because an independent Scotland would have remained dependent on City of London sharks, on top of being ripped off by its own home-grown sharks.

As to the "Union", it was and remains a mirage for everyone in Britain, as long as a handful of filthy rich can bust the financial system, get governments to bail them out and decide, at the stroke of a pen, to write off tens of thousands of jobs.

There may be territorial "unity" between the various bits and pieces that make up Britain, but there will never be any "unity" between the tiny minority of super-rich and the working class majority whose labour feeds their bank accounts while producing all the wealth in society.

What's in a vote?

In any case, the "no" vote won the Scottish referendum, by a narrow majority - just 55.3% against 44.7% for the "yes" vote. Nevertheless, after the ground lost in the last few opinion polls by their "Better Together" campaign, the three main Westminster parties were quick to claim "victory" - and, with great relief. But what sort of "victory" can they really claim?

Imagine an opinion poll conducted in any part of Britain, which would involve ticking a "yes" or a "no" box next to one single question: "Do you believe that your interests are represented by any of the political parties and institutions based in London?"

Leaving aside the rhetoric surrounding the issue of independence, the Scottish referendum really amounted to just such an opinion poll - because, in fact, no tangible change was expected to happen for years, regardless of its outcome.

Seen in this light, the answer the three main parties got from the referendum is hardly a "victory": almost half of Scotland's residents just do not feel represented by them! And the fact that over 55% do, doesn't change anything to this reality.

Not only that, but an unprecedented 97% of those entitled to vote made sure they got onto the electoral register to take part in the poll. And, among them, a record 84.6% actually turned out to vote. It's been decades since any vote has raised such a level of interest in this country!

From one ballot to the next

Cameron and Miliband are now focusing their attention on next year's election - it was never far from their manoeuvres, anyway - each trying to use the result of the Scottish referendum to his own advantage.

So, while keeping quiet over his past promises to Scottish voters on devolution, Cameron is toying with the idea of giving English-based MPs more exclusive power over decisions concerning England - something that is aimed primarily at weakening Labour in the Commons and winning back potential UKIP voters. Meanwhile, Miliband is promising a "constitutional conference" to co-ordinate the extension of existing devolved powers. Both postpone the implementation of their proposals to beyond the next election, provided they are elected, of course!

This is just the usual politicking. But it already reminds us that, like in the past, there is nothing to expect from next year's general election.

It is true that workers may feel that the ballot paper is a way of expressing something. This seems to have happened in Scotland, since the areas where the anti-Westminster vote came first, include Dundee and greater Glasgow, which are Scotland's largest working class concentrations, as well as the places most heavily affected by the crisis.

In fact, if a similar poll was organised on a national scale, in the rest of Britain, the odds are that a large number of workers would also grab this chance to vote against Westminster, its institutions and its pro-business parties!

But in next year's general election, workers won't have such a choice - let alone the chance to vote for candidates representing their interests. This is why our future won't be decided next year with a ballot paper, but in the streets and by using the methods of class struggle.