Home rule

Scottish Independence: Why Trade Unionists and Nationalists Should Consider ‘Home Rule’ – Kenny MacAskill MP

Calls for self-reliance for Scotland have a long tradition, as these 1951 posters show. Some ‘Red Clydesiders’ also supported the idea around a century ago (Photo: Chris Ware / Getty Images)

Many on both sides of the constitutional divide don’t care or laugh at it and it is not without difficulties, either in the delivery or even in the definition.

These two pillars aside, however, it has a long tradition. The Independent Labor Party’s “Red Clydesiders” laid it out a century ago with George Buchanan and Reverend James Barr tabling bills in Westminster to make it happen.

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Then, as now, a lot was left unspoken or unspecified, with defense and foreign affairs remaining in the hands of the UK, but everything else literally vested in a Scottish parliament. Even these powers were to evolve at some point as the institution deepened and the world developed.

This is not my first preference as I remain committed to the sovereignty of Scotland, including the right to choose on critical defense and foreign policy issues. The withdrawal of nuclear weapons and even membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) or the EU are restricted or even prohibited.

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Having said that, we are at a constitutional stalemate in Scotland where not only is the nation deeply divided, as polls continually show, but Scottish politics are mind-numbing because of it. Indyref2 remains the main debate but was rejected by Westminster and postponed indefinitely by Holyrood.

Something needs to be done to break the deadlock and move the country forward because the weekly cycle of “we demand it” and “you don’t get it” is not doing anyone any good. There is work to be done and if there is a time to think outside the box, it’s now. If recovery from the coronavirus is the problem, the powers to address it are needed and the status quo is inadequate.

Building a coalition to extend the powers of the Scottish Parliament without breaking the Union must surely be possible. It also has the advantage of allowing supporters of the two absolute positions to see it as a basis for moving forward gradually or for anchoring the foundations more firmly.

It is clear that there is dissatisfaction in Scotland with the status quo and a disinterest in the UK for the issues Scotland faces. Let Scotland tackle these social and economic issues, as Jimmy Maxton passionately asked a century ago. This would show Westminster’s willingness to learn about Scottish democracy.

However you interpret the results of the recent elections, Scotland is not happy with its current rules. On the other side, work on currency, borders and other issues has yet to be done, let alone a deal.

It is certainly the moment to build a coalition for such a proposal, not undermining neither independence nor the Union, but facilitating the necessary progress for our country.

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Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera