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Scotland & Wales

The creation of the Scottish Parliament and the Assembly for Wales in 1999 have not altered the nature of capitalism in Scotland and Wales and the need for Socialist policies that apply to those countries as well as England.

Whilst in both countries there have been significant policy decisions - particularly in Scotland - these in themselves are not enough. The Scotland Act which established the Scottish Parliament does not seriously affect Westminster's firm grip on the purse strings that control funding.

In Wales, devolution has not brought primary law-making powers. During the past 26 years, Wales has lost nearly all its coal industry, an industry which at its height employed 140,000 people and which was the envy of the world, producing the finest anthracite coal available anywhere.

Alongside this destruction, thousands of other jobs have been butchered, first by the privatisation of British Steel and then by decisions of the new private steel industry owners to close plants throughout Wales.

We have seen a similar picture in Scotland with the butchery of the coal and steel industries, including the closure of the giant steel plant at Ravenscraig. Ship-building in Scotland - also once the envy of the world - is now a rump. Docklands in Scotland as in Wales and the North East of England have become theme parks rather than bustling centres of international trade.

In both Scotland and Wales, as in England, health care, education, housing, employment and community life have continued to deteriorate.

In 1997 the Socialist Labour Party warned that the policies of both the Tories and New Labour would lead to more closures and lost jobs in Wales, Scotland, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the North East. Tragically, our predictions have proved to be accurate, as New Labour has followed the Tories and slavishly adopted the so-called 'free market' system - a 'free market' which has destroyed not only people's jobs but their communities and ways of life.

The Socialist Labour Party is opposed to Scotland or Wales joining the European Union in the same way as we oppose Britain's continued membership of the EU. It would be a nonsense to argue for more or complete independence, whilst at the same time agreeing to give away that independence to the European Union, thereby having the affairs of Scotland and Wales controlled by Brussels.

Whilst the Socialist Labour Party acknowledges and celebrates the history of both Scotland and Wales with their rich and specific cultures, ours is a Socialist and not a nationalist perspective. We believe that the people of Scotland and Wales must have the right to vote for or against full independence.

A decision of such profound importance must rest with those who are directly involved and whose lives would be most affected by the consequences - but we know that for all people, fulfilling the need for self-determination can only come alongside fundamental economic change.