Complacent indifference

Peter Manson on the session 'Scotland - on the road to independence?'

If comrade Davidson was disappointed that the debate in response to his 'Scotland, union and empire' session was dominated by the question of independence, at least he can take comfort that the session that was supposed to deal with it hardly touched upon the issue.

Veteran Scottish SWPer Jimmy Ross spoke at great length, overrunning by a good 15 minutes, but he only reached the actual subject - 'Scotland - on the road to independence?' - at the very end of his talk (to the amusement of the audience). He concentrated mainly on the political balance between the main bourgeois parties ("We neither welcome nor condemn the SNP"), not forgetting to plug Tommy Sheridan's Solidarity as the undisputed "leading socialist force" north of the border.

When he did eventually reach the subject he was supposed to be addressing, he remarked: "As socialists we don't stand up and defend the imperial state. Neither would an independent Scotland be naturally leftwing." Instead of getting "fixated" with independence, socialists should attempt to "use the struggles" between unionist and nationalist parties to our advantage. In other words, economistic complacency, which views questions of high politics as a matter of total indifference to the working class.

Because comrade Ross spoke for so long, the time left for the floor was truncated and I was not called to speak. However, comrade Davidson did come to the microphone and appeared at first to be adopting something of a principled position against independence.

There was nothing whatsoever to be gained by simply "rearranging the deckchairs", he said, and those who think independence was a way of "smashing the UK state" were perpetrating a "total myth, a fantasy". What is more, this is basically a "reformist idea", where independence acts as a substitute for working class action and there is "no need for workers' councils", etc.

However, comrade Davidson ended his remarks by doing his bit to add to the mood of economistic indifference - "in certain circumstances" (he did not elaborate) socialists would "support independence"