There is no point having a Scottish independence referendum unless social improvement is on the agenda.
No amount of constitutional or political tinkering and no amount of flag switching above public buildings will improve material conditions for people in Scotland.
Independence stands or falls by whether it can deliver improvements in things like working conditions, employment security, educational opportunities and well-being and mortality rates.
The ability of independence to deliver is a possibility - not a probability.
This is because the SNP has so dominated the independence campaign so far that radical voices are drowned out.
The SNP's approach is built upon maintaining the status quo, which is something an irony because has no hope of achieving its main goal while it merely offers more of the same.
The SNP sees independence as defending the current social fabric of Scotland from the austerity attacks by the Westminster Parliament.
Part of this means defending the advances obtained under devolution - free prescriptions, no tuition fees, free care for the elderly and so on.
But even with these recent gains, there is still massive poverty and inequality in Scotland.
It is a measure of the timidity of devolution and SNP policy that this has become the upper limit of progress.
We can only envisage an end to the poverty and inequality that stalk Scotland if more radical policies are on offer.
Pro-independence radicals cannot rely on the SNP.
Let's remind ourselves of what would stay the same under the SNP vision of an independent Scotland - the monarchy, Nato membership, sterling, the Bank of England setting inflation rates and the FSA's light regulation of finance capital.
This massively limits the potential for social change because maintaining the current financial regime means maintaining the dominance of finance capital.
The SNP's economic policy is thoroughly neoliberal and is based on trickle-down, free-market economics - witness its intention to reduce corporation tax to a Celtic Tiger level.
The idea is to stimulate economic growth in order to fund the limited social programme of the devolution settlement through tax receipts.
But there are two problems here. First is that economic growth is far from assured under the biggest depression since the 1930s, which has no end in sight.
Second is that neoliberal deregulation to give capital even greater freedom would be a repeat of the mistakes of the recent past. The free market will dictate, as it has before, that social programmes are slashed in order to create the "right" conditions for the economy.
Under the SNP's favoured capitalist regime, the social will always come second to the economic and we will be no further forward.
Alex Salmond's appeal for independence is that the people of Scotland are best placed to decide what happens in Scotland. That's fair enough and represents a basic tenet of democracy.
But it does not presuppose a fairer, more equal society because, under Salmond's vision, Scotland's economy would not be changed by a vote for independence.
That requires a set of politics that the SNP does not hold and does not want to hold.
Social justice can only be attained by limiting the operation of the market - by socialising the market so that it is regulated in some parts and converted into public ownership in others.
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