Welcome to my Blog

I am a semi-retired former Scottish trade union policy wonk, now working on a range of projects. This includes the Director of the Jimmy Reid Foundation. All views are my own, not any of the organisations I work with. You can also follow me on Twitter. Or on Threads @davewatson1683. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Class, Nation and Socialism

'Class, Nation and Socialism: The Red Paper on Scotland 2014' is a new book by the Red Paper Collective. It is focused on the constitutional debate, but has a wider application in the battle of ideas for a fairer Scotland.

I was at the book launch tonight together with many of the long list of fellow contributors to this publication. They include politicians, trade unionists and academics who have contributed a chapter on their own area of expertise.

This is a book about the politics of social and economic change rather than constitutional change - the politics of class, not nationalism. There is plenty of vision and ideas, but laced with a pragmatic view of the possible, not the improbable. It also seeks to do what is often missing in the current national dialogue – putting the debate in a UK context. In the introduction, Owen Jones sets out why the outcome of the current debate in Scottish politics has clear ramifications in Britain and elsewhere.

I have contributed two chapters to the book. Not sure how I got talked into that and apologies to my loved ones for the lost Easter holiday! In the first, I challenge the neo-liberal economic orthodoxies that drive the constitutional position of most of those on both sides of the debate. In the second, I deal with energy policy and offer a different way of delivering our energy needs.

As the book has some hard messages for both nationalists and unionists, we expect criticism from all sides. That’s fine, even if it would be better if they read it first! This book challenges those who look to constitutional change rather than political change.  Posing nation against class is a blind alley which will only reinforce Scotland’s exposure to the power of multinational capitalism.  If there is to be a lasting settlement for devolution, the status quo cannot be the only alternative. Along with the Labour Movements in other parts of the UK we should explore the best constitutional solution to enable fairer redistribution of wealth and greater democratic control of our economies.

The Herald ran a series of articles on the book this week and I have written a summary for the forthcoming edition of Scottish Left Review. The book ,as they say, is available in all good bookshops or through the website.



  1. Unlike some I have read it, well I did skip a few chapters, but that is beauty of a book like this. Can't say I agreed with it all. However, there are some really good ideas here, as well as some quality analysis.

  2. I am minded towards voting for indy, but I don't think that will be the outcome. Even if it was we still need some thinking about what happens next. A lot of what passes for debate so far is written from a right wing or far left fringe perspective. A bit of sensible left thinking very welcome.

  3. Haven't yet purchased as I am put off by the obviously biased cover.

    I am interested though in the notion that it is only in relation to the independence referendum that nation is posed against class.

    The UK is a multinational construct that asks all of us to sign up to a dominant British identity, more successfully in some parts of the UK than others.

    Much of the debate advanced by left unionists is that sticking with this Britishness is somehow more inclusive and internationalist than 'going off' to make our own decisions in our parochial Scottish Parliament.

    However, it is in defence of this Britishness that arguments about the retention of nuclear weapons, projection of military power, and defence of neoliberal values are clustered. Deconstructing Britishness undermines the justification for these positions.

    It will be the biggest wake up call to voters in England in a generation if Scotland votes Yes. It would certainly see the return of a Labour Government in Westminster - without the need for its Scottish MPs - if the Conservative Party was to 'lose Scotland'.

    For us to validate British 'pooling and sharing' controlled from Westminster is simply a recipe for continued growth of inequality across the UK. So, why would anyone with the interest of Scottish (or English, Welsh, or Northern Irish) workers at heart be asking for a No vote in September 2014.