Strong Roots

Lillians Kinsman-Blake

Lillians Kinsman-Blake

 

By Mike Small
Looking back at our posters now has a different feel. In new circumstances they take on new perspective. Some are just unbearably sad now, others come into their own, like this, above. The referendum was supposed to settle things once and for all. The ‘settled will’ is a handy off-the-peg political cliché. Nationalist foxes are notoriously riddled with bullets but there’s seems little for the victorious No contingent to celebrate as the Yes movement begins to morph into something far stronger. Strangely the No’s seem mired in existential uncertainty. The victors seem to visibly diminish while the vanquished are emboldened. 
 
What the hell’s going on?
 
Key factors mean that defeat has galvanised not crushed the independence movement. 

The credibility of Scottish Labour, after it’s Death-Pact-of-Unity with the Tories in Better Together is in tatters, helped none by Miliband’s conference amnesia. While pundits cooed over Gordon Brown’s Dunkirk spirit, his bravery, acumen and speechifying have led to nothing. His lauded Vow, once branded as ‘Devo Max’ ‘Home Rule’ and ‘as close to Federalism as you’ll get’ now seems to be worthy only of a petition. Land campaigner Andy Wightman characterised it as: “I’ve set up a petition 2 ask folk 2 ask me 2 do what I said I’d do when I asked them 2 vote for thing I’d do if they voted (or something)”. 

The SNP’s MP Pete Wishart has written to the Speaker pointing out that the debate secured by Brown for the 16th October is an end of day adjournment debate, which will last (at most) half an hour, is un-amendable and cannot be voted on or even discussed.
 
This is Brown’s Tuition Fees moment.

As Scottish Labour faces disarray and a potential rout if a talked-about cross-party independence electoral pact is forthcoming, other parties are in revival.
 
The SNP, which was supposed to split asunder in defeat has been re-born with over 75,000 members, dwarfing it’s nearest rival Labour’s supposed 13,000. Neither Hampden nor Murrayfield could hold them. The Scottish Green Party, almost more remarkably, has seen it’s membership more than quadruple with an increase now totalling almost 6,000 members and the SSP’s membership has increased from 1,000 to almost 4,000.
 
It’s not just the political parties that are resurgent.
 
Almost all of the alternative media outlets are announcing major expansion plans, radical ‘think and do’ tank Commonweal have ambitious development plans, discussion is under way about the potential for a Podemos-style party of the left, and RIC have had to consider using both Indy Cities (Glasgow and Dundee) for a simultaneous double-conference to cope with the demand as there’s no venue big enough to hold them. Women for Independence are meeting tomorrow in Perth a 1000 strong sell-out.

What’s motivating everyone?      
 
A sort of gallus adrenalin fuels much of the Yes movement, still reeling from a historic and tragic loss, many crashing from dizzy idealism to the prosaic brutality of The Smith Commission. No voters muttering ‘reconciliation’ and repeating the mantra ‘we all share the same values really’ are appearing out of the darkness, their hair matted with the guano of chickens coming home to roost.
 
Other motivating factors include the reality of George Osborne’s gleefully announced austerity package, promising the poorest 10 million households they would face real-world cuts and his sinister pronouncement that you don’t ‘set the poor free by giving them more money’. 
 
Bojo’s ‘permission to purr’ evoked a permission to puke response.
 
But whilst the Yes movement may seem oddly ascendant (a You Gov poll by John Curtice claiming the SNP could return 26 MPs at the General Election next year), the question remains: to do what? Polling at 49% of the vote suggests that the SNP are far more likely to hold the balance of power than UKIP after the general election.  
 
But can the wider Yes movement beyond the SNP realign, recompose itself and develop a strategy to take forward into the General Election and beyond? 
 
Yes if independence campaigners can move beyond the bitter disappointment of what they perceive as having our countries future thrown away by selfishness, fear and stupidity, and instead reach out to the very people they feel culpable for that folly.
Yes if Nicola Sturgeon can harness the amazing new energy within the SNP.
Yes is the Scottish left can recapture the drive and imagination from within such disappointment and steer the parties new and old to an agenda for real change. 
This thrawn celtic stoicism gives a strange kind of hope. Hope too from the reality that 45%+ of people don’t want to be part of Britain, and of the remainder many were driven to vote No by a campaign of fear and intimidation. That’s an unsustainable way to govern a country.


Categories: Commentary

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34 replies

  1. The UK government terrifies the life out of me.

    They have the entire media and big business at their disposal.

    Osborne’s phrase you don’t ‘set the poor free by giving them more money’ – has a horrible ring about it – ‘work makes you free’.

  2. Andy Wightman says it well but for the fact that G Brown did not set up the petition- 38 degrees did so on 19 September and I have an email from them to the effect that it was non party political until hijacked by Mr Brown

  3. Depending on whose in charge, democracy can be liberating or a noose around the neck.

  4. I think the non political party side of the YES movement should unite to discuss and agree strategy. Then present it to the political parties.

  5. I’m waiting for an explanation as to why the Scottish Government has not taken the UK Government to court over the illegal violation of the Edinburgh Agreement by the promise of new “more powers” for Holyrood during the purdah period. I know when challenged the NOs claimed that they did not promise more powers during this period, that they merely proposed a timetable. Yet they kept on repeating the promise of more powers as something new. I wrote to the First Minister about it I received this reply from an officer in Strategy and Constitution Directorate, Elections and Constitution Division :

    I have noted that you have concerns about UK Government activity in the lead up to the
    referendum.
    Schedule 4, para 26(2) of the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 places
    restrictions on certain Scottish public bodies on publishing material related to the referendum
    in the 28 days before the poll. While the UK Government are not bound by the Act they
    committed (in signing the Edinburgh Agreement) to adhere to the same restrictions.
    The Electoral Commission has produced guidance on public bodies and the publication
    referendum material at
    http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/164433/ep-ris-publicbodies-
    referendum.pdf. This guidance advises that any queries about the pre-referendum
    restrictions or concerns about their operation should be raised with the relevant government.
    As your concern relates to the actions of the UK Government you should contact the Cabinet
    Office at Propriety&ethicsteam@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk.
    I hope you find this information useful.

    Is it worthwhile writing to a department of the UK government to complain about illegal promises the Prime Minister made? I doubt it. If someone wants to send me some advice, I’ll be happy to receive it at:

    habibbarri@live.ca

    • well there is a certain ‘Yes minister’ feel to this this response. aren’t THEY (not you) responsible to ensure the probity of electoral processes?

  6. Democracy is where someone you know, grew up with and trust, ( because they have your best interests at heart), from your town is elected by the people of your town in fair voting.

    What we have is a person, belonging to a political part and tows the party line will be selected by the party that you may re-select the person as your representative of your town, although the said person may not even know where your town is.

    This is what we have rammed down our throats by the controlling establishment, multi-national engineered MPs.

    This is called wrong thinking, not democracy.

    One route to democracy has to be through independence and to gain independence we must stick together and vote tactically in the next general election, putting as many SNP s as possible, because only they can and will fight for the people of Scotland. …………………………..I generally vote green.

  7. Can we persuade the no voters to join our cause ? The (sometimes) visceral hatred displayed towards both the SNP and the Yes campaign was palpable at times.

    The UK needs enemies, it diverts attention. In the cold war it was the Soviets, after that it turned towards Saddam and Gaddafi quickly followed by Islam. Nearer to home it became the EU after they announced a plan to introduce banking regulation that threatened the Tory funders in the City, so they altered the argument with the help of the press to turn it into an ‘immigration’ crisis and now one of the general meddling from the EU.

    Next up was us, the Scots, and we all witnessed daily the rising ridicule coming from establishment media.

    And what has happened during this time ? The Occupy and Student protests of three years ago are long gone, attention from the economic basket case the UK has become has been successfully diverted and we are told to hate/blame everyone else – ungrateful Jocks, ISIS, Syria, Palestine, the EU – anyone as long as it’s not Westminster.

    We have to make some kind of tear into the fabric of state and that is going to require full commitment and compromise from all involved.

  8. This analysis: “1979 | 1997 | 2014: why the received wisdom on Scotland’s three referendums is wrong” at bit.ly/ZBqkF1 doesn’t tell us much about the DKs who came out to vote NO, but it’s certainly food for thought. Can we find out what motivates them, apart from funk at Project Fear? Are they pro or anti EU? What do they make of Eton rule, and do they think SG can shield them from the full impact of it? A mystery to be investigated.

  9. Kick the union where it hurts most: in the pocket.
    Refuse to pay the BBC tax. Boycott all newspapers, except the Sunday Herald. Boycott businesses which openly supported a No vote. Refuse to buy anything that has a union flag on its wrapping.
    Join pro-indy parties.
    Support sites like Bella.
    Wait for the inevitable – unionist parties reneging on their “vow” – then march and protest.
    Don’t vote for any unionist party in May 2015.

    • Wholeheartedly agree

      Remember to buy the other Scottish newspaper, the Scots Independent.

      Remember not to buy anything with “British” in its title.

  10. Dear Liz and everyone else who fears Whitehall. DON’T.
    It’s only been two weeks and in that time, mindbogglingly, so much has happened -all to the positive.
    NO VOTER’S come and join us. You have absolutely nothing to lose. There are too many people changing their minds on a daily basis because they now see that Scotland can have control over change. As can Wales, Northern Ireland, England too ( millions of English people do not appreciate Whitehall’s idea of government ). Could even include Southern Ireland, it would surely improve their economy and would be brilliant to truly become a United Kingdom once again before the few loaded witless greedy tyrants were allowed to fuck up again and again and again. Now they are reeling in shock as they realise they are not as invincible as they thought. Indeed to the contrary they have never been so transparent and must now get out and go. Old dogs do not change their spots.
    WE can determine how best to look after each and everyone of us. We are the only ones who seem to realise what a reasonable standard of living is. The Government haven’t a clue, small minded dinosaurs that they are. We don’t have to wait for them to die out though, they have and are still doing a damn, fine job of shooting themselves down in flames at every opportunity.

  11. The longer it goes the more certain I am that yes did win.Surely liars cant be democratic and to have people fooled is not democratic,but then I am sure many wont admit being fooled too stupid to realise it,just my opinion.

    • It’s the topic no one really wants to discuss, but I’m as skeptical as you are, Charles. The UK security services/establishment are capable of anything, as they’ve shown countless times over the years. I’m quite surprised that people think they wouldn’t or couldn’t rig it, and it’s pretty sad that anyone who mentions it gets attacked and labelled “deluded” or “paranoid”. Those videos don’t, on their own, prove wrongdoing (certainly not widespread wrongdoing), but there are enough strange stories from the counts to merit a full investigation (not only by the police, but by Yes Scotland). It won’t happen, of course, but there you go. The one thing that raised my suspicion was the fact that the BBC mentioned nothing of the ‘rigging’ reports that were coming thru in the first few days after the vote, but they ran a (top) headline the other day saying that people working at the ballot counts had, apparently, booed the No votes as they were counted. Given that the referendum is over, it’s a little strange that they’d pretend the reports about rigging were not rife on the net, but they regarded alleged ‘booing’ as a top headline. But, of course, that doesn’t prove anything, I know. I wonder how many of those people who think it’s ridiculous to suggest the vote MIGHT have been rigged also believe that pro-Russia rebels shot down flight MH17? In case anyone thinks the rebels did do it, I’d recommend they dig a bit deeper into the news.

    • aye the elephant in the room for sure….

  12. In my own country there is no TV channel, no newspaper and no radio channel that I trust to deliver news that is trustworthy and unbiased. I never thought as a young man that I would ever make such a statement.
    Thank Heavens for Newsnet Scotland, Wings and Bella and to those who run and contribute to them.

  13. We could do with some strategy for the future from the YES leadership in response to the massive will to fight back that is rising within the YES supporters and activists.

    Come on guys – your country needs you!

  14. We are now 2 weeks or so past the result of the independence referendum. Looking over the events of the last 3 years, from the results of the May 2011 elections to the 18th September 2014 and its immediate aftermath, in hindsight I beginning to wonder if the referendum came around too quickly. The SNP only took national office for the first time in 2007, and while they did well as a minority government, and ran an excellent campaign in 2011, perhaps the result and its repercussions came as a surprise. Although in the end it was a fairly comfortable victory for the No campaign, there are some very significant gains to take from a Yes point of view, in the events of the last three years.

    It feels as though Scottish politics in general has taken a giant leap forward in terms of its maturity. Although we lost the independence itself, we still went through the formal independence process; the Agreement on 2012, the launch of the White Paper late last year, all the debates, the campaigning, the development and efforts of all the different groups (mostly campaigning for Yes), and the increasing capabilities of the new forms of media in Scotland. I think collectively we have not properly understood yet the extent of the changes in Scotland in the last 3 years, to a great extent because they have been probably unprecedented in Scottish political life (maybe only rivalled by the great Labour government of 1945-51). Even if you just take one or two elements of the change, such as the rise of the new media in Scotland, and the construction of a broad based, grassroots, independence movement, these things were really impossible to imagine 10 years ago, perhaps as short a time ago as 5 years ago.

    It really is noteworthy that in May 2011, when we knew there would be a referendum on independence, the significant pro-independence websites were probably NewsNet Scotland and Bella Caledonia. Having read Bella since 2011 or so, I know the extent to which this website has expanded. In May 2011, I don’t think Wings Over Scotland, Derek Bateman’s site, and National Collective existed. On the Yes campaigning front, neither did Women of Independence, the RIC etc, while Common Weal looks like it is going to continue to grow as well. Lastly, since the referendum defeat the pro-independence parties, the Scottish Greens, the SNP, and the SSP have all seen very significant increases in their membership. The scale of change in Scottish politics in the last 3 years has been phenomenal, particularly compared to its normal seemingly glacial advance. The trick is to continue to push for, and also too achieve, more significant change in the years ahead of us.

    • ‘I beginning to wonder if the referendum came around too quickly.’

      So when should the vote have been held ? It was either now or next year, and holding it next year would have meant negotiations with Westminster (on the event of a Yes vote) during a Scottish election (May 2016)

      I thought the exact opposite, I thought it should have been held earlier.

      • In a way, if the referendum occurred in 2016, for example, then the Con-dem-labs would have already had one hell of an election campaign, (the start of which we are witnessing right now), scrapping ECHR, benefits for under 24s, slashing pensions and privatising the NHS (and whatever other wonderful things they have in store for us), that the result would far more likely be a Yes. Or that may be naive since Cameron doesn’t strike me as a fool. But it would offer a dire predicament for his chances as next pm-not that they are stunningly good now.

  15. The Yes campaign was a template for other independence movements, notably the Catalans. The future hope of independence must now be seen through the prism of the Quebec experience, and the likely ugly side of the repression of Catalan independence aspirations. Although momentum is building, next time will be harder. The British establishment misjudged and miscalculated and is unlikely to do so again. Questions arise as to whether a new referendum will be granted (as the Spanish Government’s position and Jack Straw’s intervention on creating an indissoluble Union). Whether a higher percentage will be required for the dissolution of the Union (‘most areas voted ‘no’, should Scotland’s status be dictated to by the cities?’). A Scottish Government may not be allowed to determine the timing of a second referendum, which in many ways was favourable to Yes last time. There have already been grumbles about the wording of the question, and the difficulty of those advocating No being positive. The wording may well be less favourable next time. Stronger barriers and higher hurdles to EU membership are likely to be introduced by existing EU states who fear their own nationalist movements.
    I see two key strategies for the way ahead
    The challenge for the nationalist movement is to remain a broad church that does not exclude. Jim Sillars call for a radical approach, a republic, the abandonment of Nato and a Scottish currency are unnecessarily divisive. These debates and decisions can be made after independence is achieved. Unity of purpose in achieving the goal is what is important. It may even be that the radical agenda, although successful in persuading Glasgow and Dundee, may have alienated people who are conservative (with a small c), and who might coalesce to a Fianna Fail-type party after independence.
    There needs to be a paradigm shift in attitudes to the Scottish Parliament and the Westminster Parliament. Nationalist MPs need to declare themselves delegates of the Scottish Parliament, mandated by the Scottish Parliament to act and vote. The primacy of the Scottish Parliament needs to be assumed and proclaimed. Irish republican parliamentary abstentionism in the nineteenth century achieved its goal by not recognising British rule, and by not sending MPs to Westminster. For the present that would be damaging to Scotland’s cause, but Scotland has its Parliament, and that Parliament should become the centre of gravity of Scottish politics. Ways should be sought to demonstrate that. What follows will then be inevitable.

  16. When David Cameron agreed to have a referendum, he was certain that the Scots would vote no overwhelmingly. That is why he refused to allow the ‘Devo Max’ third alternative on the ballot paper. He had no intention of giving Scotland any more powers than Westminster and the English MPs would allow. Living and working within the confines of the M25, he, his cabinet, the Tory and Lib-Dem MPs hadn’t a clue about political feelings north of the border. Nor did he expect the drive and influence of the social media. So that when the polls showed an YES lead shortly before the 18th, he panicked and illegally broke the ‘purdah’ before the vote, promising the Scots the earth.
    Now, if the poll has been ‘fixed’ to give a false 55/45 result and the true result is nearer 50/50, or even a YES majority, There will be many more angry and bitter punters railing against this ‘Chimps’ Tea Party’( as Derek Bateman refers to them) of a government than they would ever believe and the movement against them will be even more fervent. Just remember through all this that it’s not the English we wish to split with, but their corrupt, lying and increasingly totalitarian government. Just note: human rights to go next – as if we haven’t lost enough already.

  17. one day the people will have a voice.

  18. On the referendum result:-
    The figures don’t add up. a yes vote moves ahead in the polls to 53%.
    97% of voters register to vote yet only 83 % turnout? that’s 14% of the voting populace, where did they go?
    In Glasgow, only 70% bothered to vote, where did the other 27% go?
    Now I’m from the west coast and know Glasgow well and I don’t see 1/4 million Glaswegians refusing the chance of freedom from westminster corruption after 97% bothered to register.
    Somethings not right.
    If I were in government in westminster, with the jewel in the crown of Europe, I would have instringency plans put in place over the 2 year period of campaining, just in case Scotland voted for independence.
    They got a shock when they saw the postal votes and had to implement the plans by the train load, but Glasgow still managed, with a 70% turnout, against all odds, to decide YES.
    And the cat seems out of the bag.

    • My guess is that many enrolled long before the the referendum – and have long since been disengaged to such a level that they never has any intention of voting in the referendum.

      It takes nothing away from those who exercised their right to vote for the first time ever….’

      As for Glasgow’s poor turnout, if you probed that …it would be likely that there would be many older people previously active voters who just thought ‘well I want independence away from westminster – but I am afraid I will lose my pension. The idea of being ‘revolutionary’ at 70 isn’t quite as easy when you are 100% dependent on the state, and you are getting less and less self reliant every day..
      So the best thing to do was to abstain.

      An independent media could have made a huge difference to those people

      But also your other scenario of funny business is conceivable… the entire process did not exactly engender trust

  19. That is the vision we want to be reading. It certainly looks like the current momentum can be held to make this the follow through. Discord in the independence movement will melt away. It will take time, but as it comes to realise its strength rather than its perceived humiliation it will settle.

  20. I think all the Yes groups and pro-indy parties should form a constitutional convention of their own to determine the way forward.

  21. “This is Brown’s Tuition Fees moment.” – Lol, and either way, it seems the end point will be independence, even if not by name. Butterfly Rebellion I agree, this slight internecine strive will eventually disappear, and I think one way for that to happen is for those who did not feel their voices were heard the last time, or who for whatever reason jus sat back and observed and let the ‘big shots’ do the talking, to come to the fore. That in itself, I believe, would be more representative of the Indy community as a whole. Because more than a community, it’s a family really.

  22. Lets be realistic I doubt that a future referendum will ever be sanctioned , so let’s not waste time talking about that kind of scenario, The 2016 election must be based on the SNP standing for An Independence Settlement . Should the electorate not be won over by that time then let them suffer the consequences of a period of Labour administration at Holyrood. The only way to influence people who voted no is to either win them over during the 2016 Scottish Election Campaign or let them experience firsthand how a unionist party performs , I don’t want to see a future SNP government requiring to deliver Westminster’s austerity. Let the unionist coalition do their own dirty work .

    So no more Referendums let there be SNP Branch motions to this effect at the next conference.

    By 2016 the Scottish Electorate will be all the wiser.

    • A few years back there was a wee debate on a Nationalist forum about whether it was better to hold a Referendum and lose or to not hold it at all. I came away with the opinion that we were better to fight and lose.

      Fortunately, this isn’t 1296 – 1357. Our hopes might be dashed but nobody died; in spite of the BNP’s best efforts.

      The electorate has gained enormously in interest and insight and many are cursing themselves for the error they now know that they made on September 18th. These people have to face themselves in the mirror knowing that they put a cross in the wrong box.

      The movement to YES continues. This isn’t over.

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