We think it is time for the Yes movement to take a look at itself and this article is a ‘note to self’ if you will , on some observations of where we are now. Having just read Tommy Sheppard’s excellent Thomas Muir lecture it was reassuring to read about all the factors leading up to where we currently find ourselves.
2014 was the most amazing awakening of political debate in Scotland.We were clear about what we wanted to do- change Scotland for the better by ‘talking up the potential for a new progressive country, arguing for better public services, equality of opportunity, and a fair distribution of wealth.’
2015 and the landslide victory of the SNP winning 59 seats followed quickly but was never going to be repeated in 2017.Despite still being the largest party the SNP lost seats and Tories and Labour made gains. Factors at play such as division over Brexit surely contributed to this. So did the so called Corbyn ‘bounce’, which was more of a factor in England, it did exist in Scotland. However when seats were lost to Labour in Scotland the MP’s elected were not progressive Corbynistas, they were more likely to be right wing parliamentary opponents of Corbyn. We should also never forget that Kezia Dugdale publicly declared that it would be a good thing if people voted tactically in support of ‘other parties’ an act that probably cost Jeremy Corbyn dearly and is something he has still to deal with.
Since June 2017 we have seen BREXIT unravelling before our eyes with the many promises made to the NHS, fishing communities and farmers bursting like the bubbles in Boris Johnson’s champagne glass.
Meanwhile in the media it is as if we are still being bombarded with Better Together propaganda. A whole three years on from the Independence referendum the level of flawed information and biased media coverage is constant. Switching radio stations between BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio Scotland is like experiencing a stark contrast of lively pop music and hilarity compared to hours of politically loaded and all persuasive ‘SNP bad’ news coverage more like ‘opinion’ than news. In media terms we are a country under occupation from a foreign power.
Stop your messing around.
In the social media there have been various attempts to expose this over the years.Part of the problem however is impatience over when the next Independence referendum is likely to be.
Circumstances have led to Independence being put on hold, like a plane unable to land, just constantly circling. Things can get frustrating and on-line discussions can get messy with counter claims of on-line abuse and enraged arguments.
Yes supporting Facebook pages have to some extent stopped being places where rational debate takes place. Social media twitter storms are common and things can soon get completely out of hand. Yes Scotlands Future is a Facebook page which tries very hard to ‘keep it clean’ and does not tolerate on-line abuse of any kind
We are soon likely to be coming out of the holding pattern and we need to get our act together in order to land our movement safely and in a good condition to build from 45% of the population who would still vote Yes to significantly higher than that.
The Yes campaign in 2014 provided a focus for anyone who wanted change. It brought together those who had long campaigned for national autonomy with those who increasingly saw independence as a more pragmatic and immediate route to social and economic reform than staying in the UK. Although a lot has happened since 2014 nothing has really changed to make us view independence any differently. If anything Brexit and the Tories mishandling of it only accentuates the benefits of independence
Those who would split the Yes movement should be swept away in the rebirth of the movement when we have concrete plans for Indyref2. Arguments over the EU will become secondary again as they should be until our national sovereignty is sorted out once and for all.
The SNP government despite media distortions has done well and has made significant changes to modern Scotland in terms of policy relating to health and well being, community empowerment, road and rail infrastructure and equalities. We need to have more powers and control of all of our resources to make Scotlands economy really work for all of Scotlands people. Only independence can bring that about.
Corbyn may be bouncing in England but in Scotland all his manifesto fine words look like they have come from what the SNP has already put in place or would put in place if we had the power to do so. The Labour leader visited Scotland this week but he didn’t attack the Tories instead he went to SNP seats to attack the SNP.
Instead of being open to progressive partnerships with other anti-austerity parties, Labour despite the more left leaning rhetoric remains a Unionist party working with all other Unionist parties to maintain the status quo. These last two weeks have seen an embattled Scottish Labour North Lanarkshire Council leader being propped up by the support of local Tories when there was an attempt to make him stand down while criminal investigations were taking place.
Another whitewash in local government and a sign that little has changed. Labour is no longer the saviour of the central belt and it very much never was. Labour helped to prop up Labour in Westminster but as we all know throughout the last several cycles of parliamentary elections the ‘Vote Labour, get Tory’ pattern repeats for Scottish voters.Labour elected the same MP’s to Westminster for decades in some of the areas Corbyn visited and very little change was brought to bear in Scotlands towns worst affected by unemployment and industrial decline.
Better think of our future
Labour and the Tories accuse the SNP of being obsessed with constitutional reform and not getting on with the day job. They have been doing the day job better than any other government in living memory. Now that we are in the morass of Brexit talks now is perhaps the time to start talking about independence. We are sick of seeing people close down debates on social media and elsewhere about what kind of Scotland we want to see. This is precisely the kind of debate we should be having.What gains have we made and they are considerable, and what else can we do? What is the picture inside our heads when we visualise living in an independent Scotland. Critics accuse ‘Nationalism’ of focussing on identity, or flag waving nationalism.Nothing could be further from the truth. I want to live in an independent country so that we can all decide what type of government we have and how we relate to neighbouring countries and the rest of the world. Scotland also needs more people than we currently have or our economy will stagnate so I do not want to live in an inward looking xenophobic Britain.
Tommy Sheppard- Thomas Muir Lecture 2017-
Nationalism may mean different things to many people, but usually it is the assertion that there is a national interest which transcends any other division in society.
But actually, if you care to converse with a Scottish nationalist of today, you quickly realise that their concern is not about their wee bit hill and glen but about the injustice and inequality suffered by the communities around them.
So the national interest is in fact the public interest.
This is the civic nationalism espoused by many in the SNP and is both inclusive and progressive. It is concerned with empowerment, not identity, and it makes no judgment about where you come from, simply about where we ought to go.
Such visioning is above political parties, its about people thinking about the care of their elders, or parents hoping their children can have better life chances than they had.Its also about feeling part of making change happen.
Time to straighten right out
We think it needs to be stated that it is time to take the gloves off in the fight for independence. In saying this we need to be clear that we don’t advocate violence or abuse of any kind but that we must fight back as vocally and effectively as we can against the Unionist slurs, lies and propaganda. We have taken waves of abuse , lies and false reporting and now is the time to stand up and reject it.
Independence is a prize worth standing up for and it is never going to simply drop in our laps. We need to educate ourselves more about how to debate rationally not hurl abuse at each other. Many people use our Facebook page to do just that and being critically aware and able to fact check and refute falsehoods is a skill the Yes movement needs to get better at if we are all to do our very best at peacefully and rationally make the case for ‘Yes’
Else we’ll wind up in jail
The press and other media have ways of lashing out to damage people and under mine them especially when they are effective at communicating. The Yes movement is a very broad movement and we need to tolerate differences more under the one big priority of gaining independence. After that has been achieved we can then decide how we will go forward. But the Tories may have other ideas. The Great Repeal Bill lays out the legislative basis for Brexit but also creates devices to repeal existing devolution arrangements. Nicola Sturgeon is aware of this and proposes along with the Welsh FM to oppose it. So the significance of Brexit is more than about coming out of the EU , it is a hostile austerity mad Tory government lining up all their forces to take away our hard won freedoms.
We wish the Govanhill-against-racism event happening Saturday and Sunday this weekend every success.Still some tickets left. We would like to thank the original Specials with Gerry Dammers and Rico Rodriguez for the inspiration.
Have a great weekend folks. G.