Three years on from the Scottish Independence referendum

On the 18th September 2014 the people of Scotland went to the polls to decide their future. The choice was between being an independent country or remaining part of the UK, though the vote itself was never a vote on things staying stagnant as politicians on the Better Together side defending the Union promised real, defined change.

Near federalism was promised. Scotland’s voice would be heard like never before in the Union. Powers would be devolved. The UK’s entire structure would be changed for the good of all and the democratic deficit closed forever as we enter a new Golden Age.  This lie died a horrible death in the early hours of the 19th September 2014 when David Cameron brushed everything said and done over the long referendum campaign to one side and announced plans for EVEL-English votes for English laws. That demoted Scottish based MP’s to second class MP’s, bodyswerved the democratic deficit and all of Gordon Brown’s promises of ‘near federalism’ were seen as the bollocks they always were.

Three years later all those party leaders are now yesterday’s men having all left and been replaced. Brexit threatens he devolution settlement itself and the UK of 2014 which at least had a semblance of sanity has been replaced with a country full of people who think Brexit will work because the EU ‘needs us more than them’, and that is one of the saner opinions on Brexit out there.

The UK is being pulled to the edge of a cliff gleefully by Theresa May’s Tories, and more insanely, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party even though Brexit isn’t really about trade or democracy, its about ethnic nationalism and British exceptionalism. Basically everything independence supporters are accused of.

So on this third anniversary of the vote we have David Mundell saying Indyref 2 must be ‘decoupled’ from Brexit while the Labour Party put party first in propping up the Tories on Brexit. A second independence vote could well be the only way for Scotland to have a voice about where Brexit is going and both main Westminster parties are fighting to deny that chance. The UK today is not the UK of 2014. Things have changed for the worst and things will get much, much worse, so remember all the promises of 2014 and how they were unfulfilled as we enter the next phase of Brexit as promises are made which will never be executed and realise the only thing left is independence.

It won’t be easy. It’ll be hard but we need to ask people what sort of country and what sort of people they want to be in the future.

 

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The trouble with Corbyn

I’ve voiced concerns about Jeremy Corbyn a lot of late, especially since seeing him at the Pyramid Stage at this year’s Glastonbury Festival where I saw a crowd cheering on someone who I think is setting people up for an almighty fall. I’ve never been able to fully pin down just quite what the problem with Corbyn is outwith of the fact he’s not what he pretends to be and Labour are still a party mired in policies of austerity and a faux radicalism that just tweaks round the edges while keeping the establishment machine in place.

Alan Bissett manages to articulate everything I couldn’t in this video from the excellent Phantom Power. It’s an excellent, and damning, critique of Labour and especially Jeremy Corbyn in relation to Scotland and is essential viewing.

For a revolution to succeed it needs to be more fun than the alternative

There’s lots of people saying their piece on the Scottish Independence movement’s civil war with some wise comments, and in the case of Ross Greer of the Greens, some less than wise comments. Even Greer makes good points but it strikes me as more like someone demanding an ideological purity in the Yes Movement with all this talks of people being ‘cast out‘ and the demonisation of ‘older white men‘ than someone writing a piece asking for this civil war to end.Greer points at others with snobbish glee and doesn’t seem to realise that in doing so he’s given the opponents of independence exactly what they want.

And then there’s no sign of this dispute ending…

Part of the problem is that there’s some on the left who see independence not just as something that needs to be done in a certain way, but that they should be at the centre of it. Or to quote Orwell, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents. I want independence because I want free of the confines of the British state to create a better, fairer country for everyone. I won’t get that if we don’t win independence and we won’t win independence if we’re busy trying to make it clear that only a certain type of independence is desirable. That won’t help anyone as it won’t happen.

I, like hundreds of thousands of independence supporters are frankly, fucked off with all of this when right now there’s a clear battle to be fought and people suffering. Now,I’m not suggesting people like each other but perhaps people could put aside their own career prospects and dump the faux purity for the battle we’re in? We don’t fight as one we’ll never get anywhere and frankly for a revolution to succeed it needs to be more fun than the alternative, and right now the independence movement isn’t fun but some are offering sage advice.

Fact is the Unionists love this. They’re the only one’s who benefit from this, barring of course, the occasional media career of some fighting to show themselves more pure than anyone else. So I think people need to ask what they’re doing here. Do they really want self-determination and a better place, or do they just want to endlessly whine while allowing the real bastards to get away with what they’re doing to people right now?

The myth of Labour’s radicalism

There’s been a load of discussion in Scotland about commentator and pro-independence left wing activist Cat Boyd’s comments about why she ”voted for Corbyn” due to his socialist credentials and how she preferred him to May.

The problem is that Corbyn doesn’t present a ‘big political change’. Corbyn presents a tweak to the existing system, and with Brexit, backs a policy which will ensure the weakest in society pays for it. I agree with Boyd (who I normally find to be at least an interesting commentator) in that Corbyn is preferable to May, but I disagree with the rest of her reasoning, and I do think she’s provided the establishment she rails against with a useful example to harm the independence movement.

But this is a problem with those who support left wing ideologically pure politics. They’ll see Labour being ‘radical’ but in fact, the ideas Corbyn presented are perfectly reasonable socially democratic ideas. The problem is that as someone who has worked within the system for several decades, Corbyn isn’t proposing changing the system except with Brexit where he, and the Tories, advocate leaving under a cloud (Labour’s vaunted internationalism clearly doesn’t extend to EU citizens) to rewrite the UK in their image. We now have a situation where the Corbyn supporting left now speak like Brexiters they sneered at prior to April, and we’re being dragged off the edge of a cliff for what? The chance that we might, perhaps, possibly, maybe see Corbyn in power and for Scotland to get maybe control of something Labour have spent years fighting to deny Scotland control of?

The fact is the system is broken. The British state is a state with blood on its hands and we’ll never know how much because the state ensures it always covers it’s tracks be it Operation Legacy, or a compliant UK media that paints the British state as an always benevolent one. And here’s another point, were Corbyn truly radical he’d be pushing to tear all this down but instead we’re promised another ‘discussion’ as frankly, all Labour want is your vote and to have the idea of radicalism as it manages your expectations from being of the left, to now supporting ideas that are making the wealthy cream themselves because Brexit will involve swingeing cuts be it May or Corbyn in power. True, it’ll be less painful under Corbyn only if you consider Labour figures and people like Owen Jones putting on their sad faces when they’re talking of job losses and families broken up, but hey, for the many right? We’ve got your vote sucker!

And here’s my problem with anyone wanting independence voting Labour. You’re supporting all this. I agree Corbyn is the lesser worse option for the UK, but you’re still voting for a party that’s spent nearly four years comparing you to Nazis, calling you a virus, filth and worse who only want your vote. They won’t give a fuck about you and we know that Labour are there to keep Scotland in check because that’s their job. How can you reconcile your position as of the ‘radical left’ by voting for a party that fights to keep the systems you’ve been fighting to break??

It’s illogical and while the SNP and Greens aren’t also as radical as they seem, both support ending the British state, which is as radical a policy as you’ll get in the UK in 2017. So if you want to go back to the days of Labour forming a government once a generation, promising jam aplenty, before the Tories come back in then great. Vote Labour. You’ll never, ever get independence and you’ll doom the most vulnerable to perjury when Brexit kicks in hard and any escape route is closed off.I’m all for sticking to principles but having seen fellow left wingers adopt messiah’s so often, I’m used to seeing crushing disappointment when people realise they’ve been had. I’m just now at the point where both personally for myself, and for those generations coming after me and yet to be born that I can’t live with the idea that we were denied self-determination and the end of the British state because of people being attracted by shiny things and rhetoric.

We do need a more inclusive vision for independence that brings people in from all political opinions but voting Labour isn’t going to achieve that. All you’ll do is empower a party that at the core only wants power for power’s sake. That won’t help the working class will it?

Does the SNP and the Independence movement’s ”Scottishness” frighten people in the rest of the UK?

I was following a Twitter conversation the other day and it hit an interesting point.

I’ll explain what I mean but it does involve a bit of a read to get there so be warned…

Barring Labour supporters outside of Scotland angry they’ll never ‘win Scotland back’, there’s a chunk of people in England (and much of this is anecdotal on my part but it supports what others have found) who do look at the SNP (and Plaid Cymru in Wales) as something alien.

I spent 28 years living in England. Until the advent of the internet I could only pick up what was going on in Scotland via visits or more normally, though second, third, fourth, etc hand reports. Upon visiting Scotland in 1999 I was amazed there was any serious support for the SNP as although by this time my eyes were opened to the shitshow that was Tony Blair’s Labour, I’d shuffled over to nominally voting for the Lib Dems. The SNP for me, were ‘Tartan Tories’. Independence was a joke and barring the odd shining star like Margo McDonald the SNP were as much a threat as the Tories or Labour.

At this point I was a nominal supporter for the Union. True, I wanted full devolution, even a form of federalism, but independence seemed divisive as I truly felt the people of the UK worked better together. I had seen the slow destruction of Scotland continue on visits home (the sight of seeing the blue towers of Ravenscraig gone still shock me) but I was seeing the Tory destruction of parts of London, the Midlands and the South West. I thought the only way to fight the Tories was finding a UK alternative to them yet I never really included the SNP as part of that because I saw them as a ”Other’. They didn’t want solidarity, and the idea that cultural identity was as important as beating the Tories meant that had I lived in Scotland at the time, I’d be against the SNP.

For years I’d lived in England and never (bar one time in Staines with a drunken arsehole) had any xenophobic abuse. Yeah, there was banter with mates, but that was what mates do when they’re having a drunken session and it was both ways, not to mention it wasn’t serious. It wasn’t real, actual, xenophobic abuse. Around 2009 I had UKIP supporters in Bristol speak of Scots as a second-class race essentially. Then their bottom-feeders, the English Democrats, produced an election broadcast which was so xenophobic towards Scots that I complained to Ofcom. Everything changed & I blame a lot of that on UKIP. I no longer felt there was a level of equality in the UK, and my eyes were opened that for a section of people in England they clung onto a form of imperialism where Scotland was the property of an Empire. What I found equally extraordinary is that this wasn’t now coming from the right, but friends of mine who I knew were lefties were pushing a similar line.

Then the Scottish independence referendum campaign happened and the concept of even a Scottish identity in the UK was challenged. You didn’t accept a version of the UK where you plead fealty to the UK and suppress any lingering cultural identity of your own. For some on the left in England especially, multiculturalism didn’t extend to people from the UK as your identity as a Scot threatened the UK identity. That was the default as after all, as I’ve said, if you live in England you’re not exposed to the daily routine of Scottish politics and life. Sure, the advent of the internet meant it was easier to catch up with what was going on but you never experienced it first hand.

Last November I returned to Scotland to mainly recuperate from a stroke and deal with cancer. I saw the day-to-day life of Scotland. I saw ‘Scotishness’ first hand and some reactions were initially that some of it felt parochial however this was a relic of my thinking that the default situation for these islands is the UK. The SNP’s inability to conform to the default position and thinking of many in England antagonises people, in the same way some people are antagonised by Muslims wearing veils or speaking Polish in the street. It’s a failure to accept there’s other cultures in the UK and a reluctance to accept that Unionism (because this is what I’m really talking about) naturally involves crushing other cultures to be assimilated like some red, white and blue Borg.

So the SNP could be a right wing party that supported independence and promoted a Scottish identity separate from a Unionist one. They’d be equally despised by some. It’s the independence that rankles them because it challenges their own default identity. Their centre-left platform isn’t that much different from Tony Blair’s early days when he dabbled with social democracy but because they propose that there’s alternatives in these islands to Unionism (and everything that comes with it) they rile people up to the point of blind hatred. I’ve come to see independence as a political solution and a natural state for all countries to have, so although I won’t vote SNP (except in the general election as I think they’re the only way we’ll fight off the Tories in a Westminster election) I don’t see them as scary bogeymen any more.

And that’s where we are in this election campaign. Identity and culture will play a massive part of this election not just in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but across the UK as a whole because this is where we are thanks to Brexit. Corbyn’s Labour haven’t realised this, but Theresa May has hence why she’s called this election when a default position for many is a form of uber-Unionism that sees the UK as the centre of the world.That position may not be popular when the realities of Brexit kick in, so in Scotland I think we get what’s at stake here. Back in England any attempt to fight this solely on policies without dealing with Brexit (and everything that comes with it) hands the Tories an advantage. In this election identity is all, and it’s a straight fight between a hard/far right Unionist one and one Yes supporters offer. Make your choice.

Should there be a second Scottish independence referendum?

Brexit is coming and a second Scottish independence referendum is on the cards, assuming of course UK Prime Minister Theresa May doesn’t block it, though that opens up a massive constitutional crisis as effectively that would be a UK PM denying the right of Holyrood to make democratic decisions. It effectively destroys the principle of devolution and that may well be something the Tories want to avoid as that would drive people to supporting independence based upon the principle of self-determination.

Yet there’s a hardening of attitudes from some Unionists. Here’s a quite astonishing interview between a Labour activist, Jon Proctor (opposing independence) and David Jamieson, a journalist who supports independence.

Watching Proctor steam furiously is entertaining but the fact is this is the level of debate. One side says they have a mandate (and they do), while the other goes on about ‘division’ which in itself seems extraordinary for people involved in politics to complain about division when the entire idea of democratic political debate is division. It’s about opposing views. Those places with a singular point of view tend to be run by people with moustaches or bad haircuts.

But the point is whether we in Scotland should have a second referendum to decide not just whether to be an independent country, but whether we support whatever deal is proposed for Brexit? Yes we should.It’s clear from May’s actions and lack of transparency that the intention is to ram things through with as little democratic accountability as possible. That should be deeply concerning to any democrat regardless of where you stand in the independence/Brexit debate. The fact so many are intent on ignoring that worries the hell out of me and here we are on the verge of the biggest thing a UK government has done outwith of a war and there’s little democratic accountability.

So yes, let’s have a second referendum. Let the people of Scotland at least have a say in their future rather than be railroaded into something we don’t want.

A second Scottish independence referendum is on

A second referendum on Scottish independence was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this morning. It has caused Tories to spit out their tea in apoplexy and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale’s mind to implode.

The line about ‘division’ is bollocks. You can’t sit there a cry about a ”one-party state” and then moan about ‘division’? What do you actually want? 100% of a population to agree with you or is it about denying a choice to people whether they want to remain part of a political union that sees us on the verge of doing a damaging act such as Brexit? Because this is what Dugdale and company are arguing about; stay in the UK and be part of a Tory government’s anti-immigrant, new era of empire building or vote for an independent Scotland that looks to the future rather than constantly look to the past for inspiration.

There’s going to be no ”love-bombing” this time round. It’s also a lot more at stake as when Sturgeon spoke about deciding what kind of country we live in that for me is the important question. What sort of country do we want to live in, die in, and have our friends, family, children, etc do the same in? Do we want a country that hates immigrants and looks to people like Donald Trump or worse for close allies, or do we reach to Europe and beyond to make our allies as well as making our own successes and failures?

Or do we want perpetual Tory governments opposed or supported by a weak Labour Party that shows no sign of gaining power, or even being able to make a better place should they ever somehow win an election again?

I wasn’t in Scotland in 2014. I rightfully didn’t have a say. I live in Scotland now and do have a say and I’ll be voting yes to ensure Scotland becomes independent and breaks free of a political union that’s damaging and backward. I’ll be very firmly campaigning and engaging undecided and soft No voters to make sure as many others join me in trying to make an independent Scotland a better place. It’ll be hard work but it can be done.