Is the bottle half full or half empty?
Review by Alex Miller
Gregor Gall, The Political Economy of Scotland: Red Scotland? Radical Scotland? University of Wales Press, 2005.
This is not the time for the empty conceits of vainglorious demagogues, but the occasion for well-grounded marxians smartly able to seize the upsurging opportunities to rouse and lead our class to victory. English labour is bound to respond to our call if we in Scotland strike out boldly for political conquest.â€”John MacLean, 19201
As a Scot, I know much about national oppression whether at home or abroad. In Scotland for generations people have had to leave their homes and families to find work while the natural wealth of our country is sucked out by the multi-national corporations. Long before the Scottish National Party, the Communist Party was demanding a Scottish parliament, national rights for the Scottish people, as well as for the rights of the people of Wales and Ireland, and for others deprived by imperialism of their nationhood.â€”Michael McGahey, 19872
As war and crisis deepen, it becomes clearer every day that, far from being any vehicle for progress, the British state and its economic and military power are a major prop of us imperialism and the enemy of millions across the globe. Thatâ€™s why socialists should welcome the growing support for independence and why the ssp is right to back an independent, socialist Scotland and campaign for it on the streets, in parliament and with allies in the independence convention. Breaking the back of the British state is, without doubt, a historic task facing socialists serious about turning anti-imperialist slogans into reality.â€”Scottish Socialist Voice, 20063
Gregor Gall is a leading member of the Scottish Socialist Party and professor of industrial relations at the University of Hertfordshire. In this stimulating and highly interesting volume, Gall investigates the relationship between trade union militancy in Scotland and Scottish national identity and national consciousness. No short review can do justice to Gallâ€™s illuminating and open-minded approach to the controversial issues he discusses. Below I set out the four central questions that Gall seeks to answer, summarise Gallâ€™s answers to those questions and venture some critical remarks, plus some comments on Tommy Sheridanâ€™s ill-tempered and inaccurate foreword to the book.
The central questions that Gall seeks to answer can be subdivided into what I shall call descriptive and explanatory questions. For ease of reference I set these out below. There are two main descriptive questions:
Question 1: â€œIs the labour movement more radical in Scotland than the labour movement in England and Wales or more radical than those in South Wales, Merseyside, Yorkshire and north-east England?â€
Question 2: Is the labour movement in Scotland generally believed or represented to be more radical or militant than the labour movement in England and Wales?
The first question concerns the actual level of radicalism or militancy of the labour movement in Scotland relative to the labour movement in other parts of the uk, while the second question concerns perceptions of the relative levels of radicalism or militancy. Corresponding to the two descriptive questions are two explanatory questions:
Question 3: What explains the level of radicalism of the labour movement in Scotland relative to that of the labour movement in other parts of the uk? In other words, what explains the answer to question 1?
Question 4: What explains commonly held perceptions or representations of the radicalism and militancy of the labour movement in Scotland relative to the radicalism and militancy of the labour movement in other parts of the uk? In other words, what explains the answer to question 2?
Taking question 2 to begin with, in the first chapter of the book Gall draws on a number of sourcesâ€”journalists, academics, public policy analysts and political activistsâ€”to show:
Workers in Scotland are often popularly seen by other workers, and portrayed by the media, as being more â€œleft-wingâ€, more â€œradicalâ€ and more â€œmilitantâ€ than their counterparts in many other parts of Britain â€¦ workers in Scotland are also believed to be more strongly organized in union terms than those in many other parts of Britain.
Overall, â€œthere is a fairly widespread notion of worker radicalism in Scotland, indeed, of Scottish-worker radicalismâ€.
Radicalism and militancy
Having answered question 2 in the affirmative, in chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5, Gall is concerned mainly with question 1.
Gall notes that, given â€œthe positive association of frequency of striking with militancy, strikes are a useful starting point to consider the relation of Scotland to the rest of Britain with regard to radicalism, difference and distinctivenessâ€.
In this context, â€œunion militancy is characterized by tendencies towards extensive goal-setting and resistance, membership mobilization, and superordination underpinned by an ideology of conflicting interests between employers and workersâ€. Thus, militant unionism is characterised by the making of demands ambitious in both scale and scope while moderate unionism tends in the direction of moderate demands with a willingness to make some or many concessions; militant unionism is characterised by a strong reliance on the mobilisation of the union membership, while moderate unionism tends to rely more on employers, third parties and the law; militant unionism is characterised by a reliance on collective bargaining while moderate unionism is characterised by a willingness to experiment with non-bargaining institutions; militant unionism is characterised by a willingness to threaten or use industrial action, while moderate unionism is characterised by an unwillingness to do so; militant unionism fosters an ideology of conflicting interests between workers and employers, while moderate unionism fosters an ideology of partnership.
With union militancy thus understood, in chapter 2 Gall examines a range of data concerning strikes and strike-propensity, unofficial strikes and industrial tactics. He concludes that on the basis of the available data, â€œworkers in Scotland may seem more radical and militant than workers elsewhere in Britain when analyzing strike activity if the comparison is between workers in Scotland and those in the rest of Britainâ€. However, â€œthis difference is not maintained when the strike activity of workers in Scotland is compared to those in similar regions in terms of industrial structure such as north-west Englandâ€. For instance, with respect to the resort to â€œmilitantâ€ industrial tactics, â€œOccupations, flying pickets and mass picketing are not statistically more common or significant amongst workers in Scotland than amongst workers in other parts of Britain such as Wales, the north-east and north-west of Englandâ€.
In noting that Scotland and some other regions of Britain are more strike-prone than the average, Gall also stresses a number of qualifications and caveats:
First, using the unit of analysis of â€œScotlandâ€ masks several significant internal differences. When talking of Scotland, we are really talking of the central belt and, in particular, Strathclyde. Secondly, although differences can be identified between regions of Britain, these are within the compass of significant decline in strike activity [since the 1970s]. Third, most strike activity is now located in the public sector and is thus not a marked feature of the whole economy. Fourthly, the differences between regions are maintained in the period of decline [since the 1970s].
In chapter 3, Gall approaches question 1 by considering data on union membership, union recognition and collective bargaining. He concludes that the data suggest:
â€¦ workers in Scotland are more â€œradicalâ€ and â€œmilitantâ€ than many other workers in Britain where union membership, union recognition and collective bargaining are concerned. But workers in Scotland are not any more radical than the most radical or militant workers in the rest of Britainâ€”these being found in Wales and the northern regions of England.
As in the analysis of strike activity, caveats and qualifications need to be entered. Firstly, union membership, union recognition and collective bargaining â€œhave declined considerably throughout Britain [since the late 1970s]. Secondly, the disproportionate influence of the public sector means that non-unionism is now a major problem in the private sector. Thirdly, the differences between regions have been maintained during a period of decline in union presence and bargainingâ€.
Chapter 4 approaches question 1 by considering data on workersâ€™ industrial and social attitudes and on union policies in the industrial and social spheres.
Industrial attitudes are attitudes about the degree of influence of trade unions, government legislation regulating trade union activity, democracy in the workplace, the minimum wage and nationalisation. According to Gall, the available data suggest that â€œâ€˜industrialâ€™ attitudes of workers in Scotland are among the most radical or left-wing in Britain â€¦ when these attitudes are compared to those in England or the rest of Britain, although the difference is not always great. This is not the case when these attitudes in Scotland are compared to those in Walesâ€.
Social attitudes are attitudes about things like the relative importance of unemployment and inflation, wealth redistribution, regulation of big business and the desirability of public-private partnership deals. Some of the available data indicate â€œthe considerably more left-wing inclined nature of views on social issues in Scotland compared to the rest of Britainâ€, but also that â€œwhen Scotland is compared to the sub-units of England, i.e. its regions, social attitudes are more â€˜radicalâ€™ but much less so compared to other similar areas such as the north of England, the Midlands and Walesâ€. Other sources of data suggest that â€œusing a socialist (social democratic)/laissez-faire value scale, Scotland is more left-wing than other areas in Britain apart from Walesâ€. It also needs to be noted, though, that â€œnorth-west England and Yorkshire/Humberside are also markedly â€˜socialistâ€™ inclinedâ€ and that â€œWithin Scotland, the west coast, that is Strathclyde, stands out as particularly noticeable in its left inclinationâ€.
Pretty much the same goes for union policies relating to employment, welfare provision, redistribution of wealth and the like: the extent to which Scottish unions, Scottish regions of unions and Scottish lay activists/full-time officials have been at the forefront of radical demands and movements concerning these issues is no greater â€œthan that for similar regions elsewhere in Britain such as London, Merseyside and the Midlandsâ€. Gall adds that (as of 2005) â€œthe Scottish Socialist Party (ssp) does not as yet constitute a significant development for trade unionism and industrial relations in Scotlandâ€.
Other aspects in which Scotland and its economy and industrial relations may differ from the rest of Britain include social structure, relative levels of unemployment, the predominance of the oil industry, electronics and call centres in the local economy, matters relating to health and safety at work and specifically Scottish organisations such as the Scottish Trade Union Congress (stuc) and Scottish-only unions, the Scottish National Party (snp) and the ssp. Gall devotes chapter 5 to these matters. Drawing on a number of different sources, he concludes:
In terms of social-group and social-class segmentation, Scotland appears more working-class and less middle class than Britain as a whole. However, it is unlikely that compared to other similar regions such as the north of England and Wales, this would remain significant. The same is true of voting patterns save for the existence of the snp.4
Moreover, with the exception of the stuc, there is no convincing case to be made for viewing labour organisations in Scotland as especially distinctive or radical in comparison with their counterparts elsewhere in Britain. On the ssp, Gall argues that â€œwhile [it] is a significant political development, it does not (as yet) constitute a significant development for trade unionism and industrial relations in Scotlandâ€. He concludes that â€œit remains to be seen whether the ssp carves out for itself a genuinely influential role akin to the Communist Party of the period 1960-80â€.5
Explaining radicalism, militancy and their perception
Having answered questions 1 and 2, Gall moves on in chapter 6 to address the two explanatory questions, questions 3 and 4. It is here that Gall discerns the role of Scottish national identity and Scottish national consciousness. Both of these are cited as explanatory factors providing at least part of the answers to questions 3 and 4.6 With regard to question 3, Gall identifies Scottish national identity as playing a key role in cementing the coalition of anti-Conservative forces during the Thatcherist era: â€œThe dominant social democratic impulse was projected in, and refracted through, the anti-Thatcherite alliance of Scottish nationalism and Scottish identityâ€. Correlatively, in explaining how the forces of socialism in Scotland â€œtransmutedâ€ into the forces of Scottish socialism as they actually are, Gall writes: â€œthis was not because of the strength of the forces of socialism but their relative weakness, requiring that they relate to the more omnipotent forces of Scottish national identity and Scottish nationalism in an accommodating way that accepts much of the latterâ€™s foundations as a way of trying to extend socialismâ€™s influence and supportâ€.
Likewise, Scottish national consciousness and Scottish national identity are implicated in the answer to question 4:
â€¦ take the equally well-entrenched traditions of social democracy in Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Tyne and Wear, and South Yorkshire. With a weaker form of identity, that is, a regional rather than a national one, supported by less well-defined public institutions distinct to those regions, the associations with radicalism for those populaces within their geographical confines are often not too sharp or deep-seated.
Again: â€œThe reason why Scotland, rather than other areas, takes on a noticeable â€˜radical veneerâ€™ is because of the fusion of national identity and consciousness with [trade-union] oppositionalism. It is the missing ingredient that other regions do not have or do not have so stronglyâ€.
Is this refraction of worker radicalism through national identity a good thing or a bad thing from the point of view of the left? Gall concludes that, for the moment at least, the refraction of worker radicalism through national identity is at least â€œnot retrogradeâ€:
What can be said in regard of Scotland is that the evidence of radicalism as it exists, as well as the way in which the evidence is perceived and deployed, does indicate that the currents and culture of left thought are well-implanted within certain milieux in Scotland, making it a relatively fertile soil for the future growth of the forces of radical social democratic or socialist projects. This is to conclude that the existence of national identity and low-level nationalism as they exist in Scotland currently are not retrograde forces.
Half full or half empty?
Question 1 actually consists of two separate questions:
Question 1a: Is the labour movement in Scotland more radical than the labour movement in the rest of Britain considered as a whole?
Question 1b: Is the labour movement in Scotland more radical than the labour movement in comparable regions of Britain such as Wales and north-west and north-east England?
Gall gives an affirmative answer to question 1a: â€œWorkers and their unions in Scotland are more â€˜militantâ€™ and â€˜radicalâ€™ in industrial and political terms than their counterparts in the rest of Britainâ€ when we take what happens in Scotland and compare it with what happens on average in the rest of Britain. However, Gall gives a negative answer to question 1b:
If Scotland as a unit of analysis is compared to other regions of Britain, it is more strike-prone and so on than a number of regions such as south-west and south-east England and the east Midlands. But it is not any more so when compared with Wales and north-west and north-east England on a consistent basis across the issues and indicators examined.
Likewise, question 2 actually consists of two separate questions:
Question 2a: Is the labour movement in Scotland commonly perceived or represented to be more radical than the labour movement in the rest of Britain considered as a whole?
Question 2b: Is the labour movement in Scotland commonly perceived or represented as more radical than the labour movement in comparable regions of Britain such as Wales and north-west and north-east England?
Gall clearly takes the answer to question 2a to be affirmative: the labour movement in Scotland is indeed commonly perceived or represented to be more radical than the labour movement in the rest of Britain considered as a whole. No problem there, as in this case the common perception or representation matches reality, given the answer to question 1a, namely that the labour movement is more radical in Scotland than the labour movement in the rest of Britain considered as a whole.
But what of question 2b? Gall clearly thinks that this should be answered affirmatively as well:
â€¦ because it is believed by many (workers and non-workers alike) that workers in Scotland (or Scottish workers) are more radical than those elsewhere, this has a salience because it becomes not a â€œrealityâ€ as such but a significant socially constructed phenomenon for many. Thus, the most convincing sense in which Scotland is distinctive and different is through this type of self-ascribed radicalism.
Now, however, we have a problem. Given that question 2b is to be answered affirmatively while question 1b is to be answered negatively, it follows that the â€œself-ascribed radicalismâ€ imputed to Scottish workers is a form of false consciousness. This is borne out by the language Gall uses when describing the propensity of Scottish workers to â€œself-ascribed radicalismâ€: at various places in the book Gall speaks of notions of popular and political radicalism â€œcarrying more social weight than they might strictly meritâ€, of â€œimagined radicalism in Scotlandâ€, of â€œoverestimating the degree of current radicalismâ€, of a â€œradical veneerâ€ and of the â€œassociation and conflation of exaggerated militancy and national identityâ€. Thus, Scottish workers believe that they are more radical than workers in Wales, Merseyside or Tyneside when in fact they are not. But if the fusion of Scottish national identity and worker radicalism emerges in this way in a form of false consciousness, how can we view this fusion as anything other than â€œretrogradeâ€?
I think there are two points to be made here. First, while it is fairly clear that the evidence Gall considers in chapter 2 suggests an affirmative answer to question 2 when it is read as question 2a, it is much less clearâ€”to me at leastâ€”that it justifies an affirmative answer to question 2 when it is read in the much narrower sense as question 2b. Indeed, a review of the twenty-odd sources of data that Gall relies on in chapter 2 suggests that very few (if any) of them warrant an affirmative answer to question 2b in addition to an affirmative answer to 2a. So it may be that Gall can avoid the imputation of false consciousness to Scottish workers by readjusting his views on what the available data tell us about the proper response to question 2b. This, however, will necessitate some revision elsewhere in Gallâ€™s narrative: for one thing, the talk of â€œimaginedâ€, â€œexaggeratedâ€ radicalism and the like will have to go.
Secondly, even if Gall can make out a case of some sort for giving an affirmative answer to question 2b, there may still be a way to blunt the charge of false consciousness. Consider an analogy. Suppose that Jones in Liverpool and Smith in Glasgow are both six feet tall. Suppose also that Smith self-ascribes being six feet tall: that is, he believes that he is six feet tall. Suppose too that Jones self-ascribes being five feet six inches tall. Then there is a clear sense in which the degree of height self-ascribed by Smith is greater than the degree of height self-ascribed by Jones. However, even though the degree of height self-ascribed by Smith is greater than the degree of height self-ascribed by Jones, and Smith and Jones are in fact the same height, Smith is not necessarily guilty of false consciousness: the degree of height self-ascribed by Smith can be greater than the degree of height self-ascribed by Jones even though Smith has no determinate consciousness, and hence no false consciousness, of how the degree of height he ascribes to himself compares to the degree of height self-ascribed by Jones.
Clearly, the same kind of situation might obtain with respect to degrees of self-ascribed radicalism. Imagine a situation in which Jones in Liverpool and Smith in Glasgow are approximately equally radical. Suppose that Smith self-ascribes a high degree of radicalism while Jones self-ascribes a moderate degree of radicalism. Then there is a clear sense in which the degree of radicalism self-ascribed by Smith is greater than the degree of radicalism self-ascribed by Jones, even thoughâ€”as in the height example aboveâ€”Smith is not prey to false consciousness even though in fact the degree of radicalism exhibited by Smith and Jones is approximately equal. That is to say, even though Jones and Smith are equally radical, the fact that Smith self-ascribes a high degree of radicalism while Jones self-ascribes a moderate degree of radicalism neednâ€™t imply that it is Smith who is prey to false consciousness, since the false consciousness is clearly exhibited on the part of Jones.
It seems to me that for all Gall argues in chapter 2, this may well be the actual situation. Workers in Merseyside and Glasgow may be equally radical in fact. Workers in Glasgow self-ascribe a higher degree of radicalism than that self-ascribed in Merseyside, yet it is not the Glasgow workers who succumb to false consciousness in their self-ascription of a high degree of radicalism but rather the Merseyside workers who succumb to false consciousness in self-ascribing a moderate degree of radicalism.
To put it more generally: when there is a disparity in the degree of radicalism self-ascribed by workers in Scotland and that self-ascribed by workers in a particular region of England or Wales, why assume that it is the former rather than the latter who are prey to a form of false consciousness? Why accuse Scottish workers of overestimating their militancy when it could be the English workers who are underestimating theirs? Why see the bottle half empty rather than half full?
Scottish socialism fused with national consciousness: more than not retrograde
Gall describes the fusion of socialism with national consciousness in contemporary Scotland as â€œnot retrogradeâ€. In doing this, he distances himself from the attitude to Scottish nationalism that is a feature of the London-controlled Socialist Workers Partyâ€™s views on this matter (Gall himself is a former member of the swp). Gall is to be commended for this departure from what many on the left in Scotland would view as a sterile â€œBritleftâ€ perspective on the national question. However, one wonders why he describes the fusion of socialism and national consciousness in contemporary Scotland as merely â€œnot retrogradeâ€?
Iâ€™ll now argue that Gall would be justified in going beyond this and describing the fusion of socialism and national consciousness in modern Scotland as deeply progressive. Without wishing to create too much of an air of paradox, I will do so by using some of the work of one of the leading swp scholars on the issue of Scottish nationalism and nationhood, Neil Davidson. According to Davidson:
What is rarely recognised is that for the Scots, their British and Scottish identities do not merely exist in parallel, but interpenetrate each other at every point. In other words, Scottishness as we know it today not only emerged at the same time as Britishness, but is part of Britishness, and could not exist (at least in the same form) without it.7
Davidson continues, â€œThe Scottish nation was itself partly formed through our participation in British imperialismâ€, and he infers, â€œIf â€˜Scottishnessâ€™ itself is at least partly the product of imperialism and ethnic cleansing, then it is futile to imagine that merely setting up a Scottish nation state will by itself remove the attendant poisons of racism and hostility towards cultures which are perceived to be differentâ€.8
One wonders whether anyone ever seriously thought that merely achieving Scottish independence would have that effect. For example, a leading proponent of progressive or socialist nationalism, Alan McCombes, is clear that the immediate effect of achieving Scottish independence as conceived by the ssp would not be the removal of all of the poisons attendant on imperialism, but the break-up of the British state and thus a symbolic but powerful blow struck on behalf of the forces of progress. He writes:
A declaration of independence by Scotland may not slay the beast, but it would weaken it. The exit of Scotland from the United Kingdom would not just mean the British state seceding a big chunk of land mass; it would mean losing control of the country which contains NATOâ€™s major nuclear arsenal, its strategic key air bases plus 80 per cent of EU oil reserves. On top of that, the rupturing of the 300 year old British state would be as potent in its symbolism as the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.9
Does Davidsonâ€™s account of the origins of Scottish national consciousness invalidate McCombesâ€™ strategy towards gaining Scottish independence? Davidson himself clearly thinks that it does, as is evident in his recent review of the book by Gall that is the subject of the present article. Davidson claims that national identity â€œis not compatible with revolutionary socialismâ€ and that â€œthe radicalism of Scottish national identity [is] an alternative to or substitute for genuine socialist internationalismâ€.10
But if Davidson is right about the history (which we can grant him for the sake of argument), progressive nationalism is indeed compatible with revolutionary socialism: if Scottishness is an integral part of British imperial identity in the way that Davidson describes, the attainment of Scottish independence under progressive political leadership would constitute not just an external blow against British imperialism, but a blow at its very heart and at the seat of its own identity.11 The declaration of a progressive republic in Scotland in the early decades of the twenty-first century, therefore, could have consequences for the survival of British imperialism (or Britainâ€™s capacity to service us imperialism) far more fatal than the consequences for British imperialism of the attainment of Irish independence in 1922.12 Davidsonâ€™s historical analysis thus strengthens rather than weakens the appeal of the fusion of socialism and national consciousness in contemporary Scotland. This suggests that Gall should complete his break with Britleft sterility by going the whole way and describing the fusion as genuinely progressive rather than merely â€œnot retrogradeâ€. Again, why see the bottle as half empty rather than half full?
Postscript on a poor foreword
The brief summary above perhaps masks the degree of care and attention Gall devotes to interpreting his sources of data. Gall himself emphasises the tentative and provisional nature of his findings:
â€¦ these conclusions must be regarded as relatively cautious ones for they only set out the issues in broad measure. Further extensive and detailed research and investigation are needed to examine and flesh out many of the issues â€¦ With this, debate and discussion could be more fully informed. That said, this book has had to work with the materials currently available.
Given the careful scientific approach that Gall adopts, it is a shame that the book is marred by a belligerent and inaccurate foreword by former ssp parliamentarian Tommy Sheridan. Sheridan writes: â€œEssentially underpinning this work is an outdated and redundant British left analysis of Scotland. Annoyingly throughout, Scotland is referred to as another â€˜regionâ€™ of Britainâ€.
Although I think Sheridan is right to castigate the standard â€œBritish leftâ€ analysis of Scotland as â€œoutdated and redundantâ€, it should be clear from the preceding sections that Gall is not proposing a British left style view. True, Gall does refer to Scotland as a region of Britain, but nowhere does he refer to Scotland as a mere region of Britain. Indeed, Gall himself writes that â€œScotland is a nation and society, separate, different and distinctive from that found elsewhere in Britainâ€, and as we saw earlier, Gall does not hold the standard British left view according to which demands for Scottish independence are necessarily retrograde. One is therefore forced to the conclusion that Sheridan wrote the foreword without even bothering to have a serious read of the book, perhaps not even reading as far as the second page. His lazy and superficial performance in the foreword may well have been a portent of the moral and political degeneration to which he has since succumbed.13
1. John MacLean (1879-1923) was Scotlandâ€™s most famous socialist agitator. In 1918 he was appointed Soviet consul to Scotland. Along with Lenin, Trotsky, Liebknecht and others, he was made an honorary president of the first All-Russian Congress of Soviets. The quote is taken from his selected writings, In the Rapids of Revolution (Tramp Trust Unlimited, 2005).
2. Michael (â€œMickâ€) McGahey (1925-1999), a life-long Communist, was Scottish area president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), 1967-1972, and NUM vice-president, 1972-1986. The quote is taken from Michael McGahey: A Trade Union Tribute (Midlothian TUC, 2006).
3. The weekly paper of the Scottish Socialist Party. The quote is taken from the September 1, 2006 issue.
4. It should be noted that Gall employs a non-Marxist, non-structural notion of class (so that employeesâ€™ class is determined by the nature of their work rather than the nature of the relation between them and their employer).
5. Gallâ€™s book was published before the crisis of 2006 precipitated by Tommy Sheridanâ€™s defamation case against the News of the World.
6. In chapter 6 Gall provides an illuminating discussion of the other explanatory factorsâ€”these include social democracy, the relative â€œsmallnessâ€ of Scottish society, characteristics of the Scottish media and national press and previous instances of radical formations among workers (such as e.g. â€œRed Clydesideâ€).
7. Neil Davidson, The Origins of Scottish Nationhood, London, Pluto Press, 2000, pp. 201-202.
8. Ibid., p. 202.
9. Alan McCombes, Two Worlds Collide: Power, Plunder and Resistance in a Divided Planet, ssp, 2005, pp. 54-55.
10. Neil Davidson, â€œScotland: Almost Afraid to Know Itself?â€, International Socialism 109, Winter 2006. Gall replies to Davidsonâ€™s review in Frontline, Vol. 2, Issue 1 (2006).
11. McCombes himself is under no illusions about the connections between â€œScottishnessâ€ and British imperialism, acknowledging â€œthe historic role played by Scotland in the imperial conquest and subjugation of millions on behalf of the British ruling classesâ€. Two Worlds Collide, p. 51.
12. Davidson sees the historical relationship between Britain and Ireland is genuinely colonial, in contrast with the historical relationship between England and Scotland. See The Origins of Scottish Nationhood, p. 100.
13. See â€œSheridan sparks crisis in the Scottish Socialist Partyâ€, Green Left Weekly 679 (August 16, 2006), â€œSheridan faction announces split from sspâ€, Green Left Weekly 682 (September 6, 2006). It is ironic, to say the least, that Sheridan has left the ssp to set up a new organisation, â€œSolidarityâ€, in the company of two groups (the swp and Committee for a Workers International) that are fully committed to the â€œoutdated and redundantâ€ British left analysis that Sheridan erroneously ascribes to Gall.
[Alex Miller is a member of the Scottish Socialist Party and of the Democratic Socialist Perspective in the Australian Socialist Alliance.]