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Scottish Independence Referendum

Monday, June 3, 2013

GMB Congress Refers Decision On Union Stance On Scottish Independence Referendum To GMB Members In Scotland

Over the next few months the last leg of our second consultation tour will conclude in a final political forum in Glasgow and at the end of this process GMB Scotland will set out our position Congress told

Harry Donaldson Secretary GMB Scotland spoke today at GMB Congress in Plymouth on the motion 247 on an independent Scotland which was referred back pending a decision by GMB members in Scotland. See notes to editors for copy of the speech.

Harry Donaldson said “GMB Scotland embarked on a process of consultation across Scotland engaging with our members in informed debates, listening to their thoughts, views, anxieties and aspirations.

Holding meetings from Kilmarnock to Inverness in the north of Scotland with additional political debates with guest speakers in Glasgow.

Post Congress we will over the next few months conclude the last leg of our second consultation tour concluding in a final political forum in Glasgow.

Following the conclusion of this process GMB Scotland will set out our position. This is in line with the decision of General Secretary endorsed by the Central Executive Council that the democratic mandate lay with GMB Scotland in this decision.”

End

Contact Harry Donaldson 07885 456 726 or Richard Leonard 07703 465 447 or Mick Conroy 07921 289 737

Notes to editors

Speech by Harry Donaldson – speaking on behalf of the CEC and asking congress to refer Motion 247.

Congress to set this Motion in context let me remind you that on the 18th September 2014 the people of Scotland will be asked to vote in the referendum to decide if Scotland becomes an independent country

A decision that for Scottish people will be the most significant in their lifetime

Alex Salmond the first minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish national party are campaigning for a yes vote setting out their economic case for independence

The launch of their vision for a future independent Scotland has drawn significant criticism from the Scottish media as being high on rhetoric but less on detail. Their vision is all about what possibilities would exist in an independent Scotland when they had control of the tools and levers of fiscal powers free from the constraints of a Westminster government and how a vote for independence would deliver a socially just Scotland, a Scotland of growth and prosperity.

How can the SNP promote a socially just Scotland when their key policy is built on slashing corporation tax to attract big business.

Creating tax havens for global corporate businesses, a proposed policy will end up in a race to the bottom as Scotland tries to cut the rate to the lowest in the western world.

There are no details of any substance on key issues such as banking, finance, defence, mortgages, NATO, energy in their document for a future Scotland which has not gone unnoticed by the Scottish press and media

Congress this is all about how best Scotland's interest and long term future will be best served.

But as trade unionists and Scots we also ask ourselves what's in the best interest of the united kingdom, our members, their jobs, and future.

Scottish independence would not only break up the united kingdom as we know it – a union of four countries all represented here today in congress but would also change the face of the political landscape forever.

Congress do not underestimate the significance of this referendum on the rest of the UK and our ability to return a labour government to power.

If Scotland became independent in September 2014 there would be a loss of 40 labour mp's at Westminster a major blow for the labour party achieving the return of a labour government in the next general election on 7th, May 2015 throwing doubt on the rest of the UK and its future political direction

The motion also highlights that members jobs may be at risk if Scotland becomes independent and refers to the example that this could be the case for our members employed by the M.O.D. in Scotland.

This understates the reality of the potential Scotland could face in terms of job losses when we realise that the majority of control in the Scottish economy is based outside Scotland especially within our manufacturing base and the impact on Scotland’s public services.

Congress, the motion also calls on GMB to join the “better together campaign” to join in collaboration with the tories the architects of austerity and that excuse for a party the lib dems.

Do we really expect the Scottish people to be convinced that by labour joining in with this group it provides any credibility to the Scottish people

Congress let me be quite clear this was an own goal by the labour party in Scotland and a position GMB Scotland made known to the party

As Richard Leonard, GMB political officer stated in his speech to the Scottish Labour party conference

“the coalition governments attempts to destroy the NHS in England and to dismantle the welfare state across the united kingdom has nothing to do with their Englishness but everything to do with their tory ideology”

“raids on our members public sector pensions

Attacks on the weakest in society

The removal of protection against unfair dismissal and Cameron's plan to kill of the health and safety culture for good are not anti-scottish

what they really are is anti-working class and anti-trade union

Congress we are not against the sentiments of “better together”

But to join with the tories and lib dems would be to betray all that we stand for and have campaigned against in this proud union of ours.

GMB Scotland have been lobbying the party that what Scotland needs is a separate and distinctive labour message from the party in Scotland setting out a vision of a Scotland within the united kingdom with social justice at the heart of the message.

I am happy to report to congress that the labour party have at last listened and have now launched “united with labour” setting out a vision of Scotland within the united kingdom underpinned by social justice and that this would best be achieved by pooling and sharing of all of our joint resources.

As I stated this will be the most important decision people in Scotland have faced in a generation

A decision that may fundamentally change the future of Scotland and the UK as we know it.

GMB Scotland embarked on a process of consultation across Scotland engaging with our members in informed debates, listening to their thoughts, views, anxieties and aspirations

Holding meetings from Kilmarnock to Inverness in the north of Scotland with additional political debates with guest speakers in Glasgow.

Post congress we will over the next few months conclude the last leg of our second consultation tour concluding in a final political forum in Glasgow.

Following the conclusion of this process GMB Scotland will set out our position in line with the decision of general secretary endorsed by the central executive council.

That the democratic mandate lay with GMB Scotland in this decision.

Congress let there be no illusion there are those voices within our membership who think that “things couldn’t get any worse under an independent Scotland or that we could give independence a try

“You can’t just try independence”

There is no second chance- no turning back

There are also those labour party members campaigning for a yes vote for an independent Scotland.

Their view is that an independent Scotland will provide the platform to build a socialist Scotland in the belief that a post-independent Scotland would lead to the creation of a socialist state.

This is at best naive, and at worst delusional

If only this was the case!

Congress what is the point of independence if you then hand over monetary policy to a foreign bank - the bank of England who would then be the central bank lender of last resort, with no Scottish MP's in Westminster to influence policy.

The SNP tell us that

· We would remain part of the UK energy systems

· We will remain in NATO

· Remain within the European Union

· Maintain the queen as the head of state

I ask you what is the point of independence if the SNP vision of a socially just Scotland is built on a key policy of slashing corporation tax to attract major international businesses to Scotland- creating a Scottish tax haven for corporate tax dodgers as we have seen over recent months with Google, Starbucks and Amazon

I'll finish on this story told by the leader of the Scottish labour party, Johan Lamont at the Scottish labour party conference

Congress support the executives recommendation and refer motion 247

 

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