Continuity Yes is a powerful movement but we need to move into new spaces with new ideas and a new focus.
We said Yes. They said No. They won.
No amount of rigged votes, dodgy ballots, lies, deceptions, proof of media bias, breaking of purdah, makes any difference. We lost the democratic vote.
In many ways their victory was an empty desolate one. But that is the reality.
This is not to say that there weren’t huge victories achieved throughout the campaign. Five stand out:
1. Political education of hundreds of thousands of people by an amazing vibrant radical campaign based on live public events, but charged and co-ordinated by social media.
2. The re-establishment of some base principles about gender equality and putting a feminist analysis and women’s voice at the heart of the new politics.
3. Smashing the myths about apathy and young people and, practically, gaining the vote for 16 and 17 year olds. None of this would have happened without the independence movement. This is a significant gain for democracy.
4. Re-engaging with the disaffected disillusioned and disenfranchised non-voter and whole communities of people turned-off politics of any kind. None of this would have happened without the independence movement.
5. We created new alternative media and communication spaces and institutions to give voice to this movement. Much of this will endure and thrive in the coming years.
We need to move into new territory not fight yesterday’s battles over and over. We need to move beyond ‘Yes’.
We have a problem of obsessing with ‘the enemy’ and not developing our own arguments and strategies. I’ve heard Rev Stu talk of ‘hounding No activists’, I’ve heard pleas to ‘take over the old Yes Facebook group’ and I’ve heard people talk of demanding a new referendum next year.
This is all delusional and unhelpful.
Just creating mass membership of the SNP or the welcome surge for the SGP isn’t, in itself, a strategy for anything. One could easily find itself at Westminster with a huge new lineup of MPs but little power, the other could find very little traction to gain new MSPs.
As the dust settles and everyone picks themselves up, new ideas and organisations are forming. Between now and the RIC conference in Glasgow a lot more will become into share focus.
On Saturday 25th I’ll focus on just one of the achievements of the referendum campaign – No. 5 – how we collectively created a whole platform of media voices to challenge the one dimensionality of the mainstream:
‘New Media in the Independence Referendum’ is a multimedia talk at the 18th Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair.