The Future is Independent 157


Trident, Austerity and Dentures. Those are the key components of the Labour brand in Scotland. The unionists demographic is overwhelmingly old. Independence had a majority in every age group except the over 55s.

Unionism is not a factor of age in the sense that once people reach 55 they turn into Unionists. People over 55 were the only Unionist age group, because they are also the only age group which predominantly does not use social media, buys deadtree newspapers and watches the regular BBC news bulletins. They are also influenced by residual memories of Empire and Second World War (old Tories). They remember the days when banks were viewed as respectable institutions, when the Labour Party helped the poor rather than supported the rich, and when public figures were widely believed not to lie.

There are very few replacement adults coming along with those kind of beliefs. Unionism is dying out. That is why Jack Straw has launched an initiative to try to outlaw future secession (at the same time contradicting his own position on Kosovan independence against the will of Serbia). Straw as one of the architects of the Iraq War has a strong track record of causing violence that kills many people. His idea of blocking the constitutional road to independence would cause violence beyond doubt.

The high energy community campaign for independence needs no encouragement from me to keep going. There seems general agreement that the May 2015 UK general election provides an immediate campaigning focus. I agree with that, and will address it, but it is also important that we are not corralled purely into the institutional agenda when our great virtue is that we are unconfined and extra-institutional. So I suggest a second vital focus, and that is Trident. Opposition to Trident unites everybody. Let us launch a great movement of protest aimed at Trident, including demonstration and direct action, and let us invite those in the rest of the UK who also oppose Trident to join us in that campaign. This should be a priority.

On the Westminster elections, there seems immediate consensus we should have a single pro-independence candidate per constituency. I strongly support that. There will be difficulties on how to achieve it, and I hope these can be worked through quickly. Tommy Sheridan has suggested that everybody should support the existing SNP candidates, which is very self-denying of him. I see virtue in this. But the Yes campaign was very much wider than the SNP, and I think the momentum could much better be maintained if we start with a clean sheet and local Yes groups choose their candidates through an open selection protest – in which the SNP candidates are welcome to participate, as are Greens and SSP and Solidarity and individuals, and the people will decide.

This is not institutionally neat – there is no clear membership of Yes groups. It requires self-abnegation on the part of existing party candidates. It removes the power of men in suits to screen candidates for acceptability. But those are good things.

I described the independence movement as having a revolutionary spirit. We should nurture that, not try to hammer it into the shape of a regular political party. In the long term there are some very good ideas on a new kind of participative project from the Common Weal. In the short term we need to keep the spirit moving, and go with the flow,


157 thoughts on “The Future is Independent

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  • lysias

    Just don’t call the party “SNP” outside Scotland. Call it the “UK Federal Party”, and have it call for a maximum of devolution for all parts of the United Kingdon. The SNP could be its Scottish branch.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Yes, Lysias. I was wondering about that – and yes, that goes in the right direction. Though I’m not sure the SNP would agree to a namechange. Or indeed an apparent dilution of its main aim. HQ would have to be in Edinburgh, I’m thinking. No. Sorry. Considering the high turnout of dismal Embra No voters last week, Glasgow.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    A variant on the old saying that a man who is not a liberal at twenty has no heart, an man who is not a conservative at 30 has no brain.

    “I never dared to be radical when young
    For fear it would make me conservative when old.”

    Robert Frost, ‘Ten Mills,’ A Further Range, 1936

  • lysias

    SNP wouldn’t have to change its name in Scotland. The CSU is the branch of the CDU in Bavaria, and, despite the different name, it’s part of the same party.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    No one is talking about throwing away the SNP Clyde Built, but if you expect other pro-independence parties to just vote SNP in every election without the SNP doing anything in return, that is not likely to be an alliance that would last.

    And while the SNP has great strengths (especially in excellent organisation and many active members) and is the largest pro-independence party, the amount the SNP dominated the Yes campaign in the referendum was also a weakness, because to win a majority for independence we need to convert Labour voters, and there are some who could be converted to backing independence, but not if their adversaries the SNP are seen to be likely to be the sole beneficiaries.

    The Labour party members from Labour for independence and others from small parties and no party added more than their numbers would suggest to the campaign for that reason.

    A Yes movement needs to give some prominence to non-SNP figures to maximise the chances of converting a majority of Scottish voters to Yes.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Duncan McFarlane –
    Surely it would make sense for all supporters of independence to join the only pro-independence party? Or at least to formally affiliate themselves to the SNP if only on the one issue?
    I was a member, some time ago, (and if I had remained in Scotland would certainly have rejoined for the referendum campaign), and the policy at the time was that having achieved independence, the SNP would not, could not, prevent diversity of political expression, and was prepared to refragment into shades of opinion.

    Shouldn’t unity of purpose imply unity of organisation?

  • CaperAsh

    Fine. But I think you need one over-arching something along with no end of independent, multi-faceted initiatives – such as yr excellent blog. The political process is necessary but boondoggled with bureaucracy ad infinitum. So the first step is media. A central independence media outlet. Bellacaledonia seems to be nudging towards something like that. I have suggested a Yes Group (however named… how about Free Scotland?) website, with regular monthly donations from widespread supporters, and perhaps also taking out a 4-page pull-out spread each week in the Sunday Herald which can feature no end of things including articles, notices of meetings, classifieds, surveys, food bank initiatives, local chapter formations and so forth. Embedded within existing cultural infrastructure, part of mainstream culture but different and so forth, and not aligned with any existing political parties or process. It relates with them but is not beholden to any of the processes. Rather it channels the aspirations and intelligence of an existing, mainstream community within the Scottish culture, namely a movement towards being independent and self-governing.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    In fact it seems inevitable to me.

    Hmmm…

    I was thinking the same myself, to be honest. 🙂

  • OldMark

    ‘I have no grievance with the good folk of England, and neither do many of my countrymen, their government however is a different matter’

    Another cracker from RoS – FYI we English do not have our own parliament or government, although many of us would like to have one.

  • Tony M

    I think David Cameron is entirely correct, a far-sighted statesman indeed, to take further steps down the road towards war with Russia; previously British governemnts had only fought with people who were weak and defenceless. The people of London particularly will greatly enjoy the camaraderie of eating spam, dried eggs and living in a hole in the ground with some corrugated iron for a roof, as they’ve spent the last seventy years telling us in plummy BBC tones just how wonderful it was. The ladies of the WI can begin now knitting scarves, embroidered with the queen’s likeness, with which to cover their mouths and noses, to avoid inhalation of radioactive particles.

    Three cheers for plucky Mr Cameron. Gord bless her maj.

  • David

    If as the post suggests it was exclusively the over 55’s that swung the vote then by implication more than 50% of Scotland’s population is over 55. I find that hard to believe. If it is true then it would also imply that the No campaigns claims of problems with funding an ageing population are correct.

    Why is everyone looking for someone to blame for a result they don’t like ? That is what drives division and polarization of views. Attack the issues, not the people. Its ok saying “oh well they are stupid they believed project fear…. ” but I’m certain that it will be a lot more complex than that. After all Alex Salmond and the YES campaign could not tell them what an independent Scotland would actually look like, only words and promises that he was unable to back up in any real way. You cant blame people for sticking with what they know Vs a totally unknown situation. The negotiations should have been done before the vote. Salmond should have gone and got definitive answers from Europe and set a time scale for entry in agreement with them rather than just telling the rest of Europe what was going to happen. He should have negotiated his currency options before the vote. Remember this is a man who said sterling was a millstone around the neck of Scotland.

    Alex Salmond has actually done a lot of good for this country, he’s opened up the debate across the whole nation and its a debate that has been needed for a long time, not just about Scotland but the whole UK. Rather than everyone working for independence surely the better solution is us all working together to create the change that sees our union fit for purpose for the next 300 years.

    Divide and conquer, but from unity comes strength.

  • Tony M

    I’ll file you under unionist troll David.

    I’d settle for democracy first and foremeost. Let the next 300 years take care of themselves. At least you’re admitting their campaign was Project Fear.

    There were no difficulties with an Independent Scotland remaining in Europe, no mechanism exists by which peoples cease to be members, but exit from Europe with a UK wide referendum on Europe, is a certainty, which will devastate the remainder of productive industries clinging on out there. If the bankers who sit behind Cameron and Miliband want out of the EU, to keep their crooked rackets operating, then out we will come, even if the English majority driven to xenophobia and national self-harm, by a dysfunctional press, by some sudden infusion of sanity, voted to stay in, the result will still be fixed to deliver the exit the bankers desire, the people of England are only required now as slaves to serve the elite.

    No uncertainty with currency either, Scotland does not own a population percentage share of the BoE, but a 50:50 share. It would have been the pound, our pound, or a clean departure with no liabilites and a share of BoE reserves in compensation for shared assets.

    The matter is far from resolved you know, the result isn’t even offical until six weeks have passed, a very long time in politics.

  • Tony M

    Until six weeks have passed without legal challenges, challenges which are now coming thick and fast.

  • David

    Ahh so any one who has an opinion that doesn’t meet yours is a unionist troll. How fascinating. You really think people want to engage with individuals who hold your mentality. I don’t brand separatists, I listened to their opinion. For the record I was a no to start but after listening to the separatists I wanted Scotland to vote YES, and I’m English. But they didn’t, they voted no. So why keep banging on about something that now isn’t going to happen. Challenge the result all you want. Craig was there and his opinion is that whilst there may have been some rigging ( and I’m sure it went both ways to some degree) it was not enough to influence the overall result. Seeing as he has a fair amount of experience in these matters I’m quite prepared to accept Craig’s view

    Hopefully sensible people will be the ones who make the decisions, people who support unity, respect and fairness for everyone. Not just those in the South East.

    You are blinded if you think he answered those two big questions, he didn’t. Europe said no, categorically no. Shout foul if you wish, but that was their answer even if Scotland pursued it through the various European courts it would have taken years. As to the pound again shout foul if you wish but the answer was no to a union.

    I suspect that you just wish to see the breakup of the UK at all costs, instead what we have RIGHT NOW is the opportunity to make OUR democracy work for all of us.

    Shame your so bitter you cant see that…. but hey you called me a name, so I feel like a proper part of the discussion after all the YES campaign on this forum really did like handing out abuse to those that had the tenacity to disagree

    Oh and just one last thing, democracy is about being able to discuss differences without abuse and name calling, to agree a route that works for the majority ( usually indicated with a vote)and then see it through. You start with an insult and then declare you’d settle for democracy – strange world you want to live in.

  • Iain Orr

    To the extent that the unionist parties in Scotland wish to influence current UK politics, their best course would be to declare against bombing Iraq or Syria; and against Trident. It’s almost certainly what the majority of Scottish Labour and Scottish LibDem voters want. Scottish political parties that continue to be subservient to their UK parent parties are in effect giving up engagement on major political issues that matter whether one wants Scotland to be independent or to continue as part of the UK.

  • Tony M

    David: Would you call what we have right now democracy or a simulacrum of the same?

    I’ve seen enough disingenuous behaviour on here and on other places, harping on about the same things, before during and after the vote, and find you doing the same, albeit in a more reasoned manner: the EU and currency -it was exactly this attempt to set the terms of the debate to these non-issues pounded by the No campaigners which without the complete support of the media bigging them up, would have fallen flat, the negativity – by those many of who are now deserting in droves, disgusted with those discredited unionist parties, posting pictures of their cut up Labour membership cards online – to recognise it at a glance.

    Negotiations beforehand … with the other party determinedly acting in bad faith?

    Assumptions about voting patterns based on age are specious, based on a unrepresentative poll, by suspect characters, but they are the age group the No troughers targetted hardest with their foul campaign. You mention bitterness. I would say the unionist thugs who descended on George Square were somewhat bitter, wouldn’t you think, and that was having ‘won’, how would things have looked if as they deserved, and still deserve and will in time, lose?

    As it is relations between the different countries of the British Isles are now incomparably worse than they would be if Scotland was given the independence it needs and its people desperately need to break from race to the bottom neo-liberalism, environmental despoilation, human misery and international belligerence and disgrace. The expected horror of permanent Tory or UKIP rule at Westminster, if Scotland won, will now take place regardless as the Labour Party in Scotland is in meltdown and that party’s similar course in the rest of country, also is inevitable.

    For the rest of the UK outside the banking-finance elite, the present situation is intolerable, as RUK’s (as that is one the outcomes, the break has happened nevertheless), disintegration is unstoppable and as the cracks widen the UK becomes ungovernable. I think in your naivete, you underestimate the malice of the ruling establishment milking the people and resources of this enslaved island for their own ends. A corner has been turned, it will not ever be (dirty) business as usual for Westminster, the City or the media, we’re moving on whilst they still dream of empire.

  • fred

    I’ve got an idea. The bits of Scotland which voted that they would rather be independent let them. Let’s face it, it was just the bits where racism and sectarianism is rife, the bits with separate football teams for Catholics. Surely we could manage fine without them.

  • Ben E. Geserit Muad'Dib Further Confounding Gender Speculators

    We’ll see if Catalonia says YES. Over 60% polling for that.

  • david

    @Tony.. Do we have democracy now ? Not in any real form. We are given a vote every 5 years and I suppose in some parts of the world they would view that as democracy. Sadly what do we have to choose from ? Not much is the answer, our democracy at the moment is akin to that of North Korea, the only real difference being we have 3 Kim Jongs to choose from. Not my idea of democracy but it must be up to us the voter to change that. After all we have allowed this situation to arise. Our current predicament is the fault of every single person in the UK. Myself included.

    Do you remember the fuel blockades ? An action supported by 85% of the UK population. Tony Blair ignored us and proved that there were no repercussions to ignoring the electorate because they voted him back into power at the next general election. The message from that to Westminster was clear. They can do what they like, and they have been doing so.

    The media stranglehold is a big problem, but social media is really coming of age now and the establishment will eventually lose control of it. I know that the general feeling on here is pro independence Scotland and pro Europe. I’m not really pro Europe because I see it as an even worse extension of Westminster, corruption on a massive scale. I also know that a lot of people on here hate Farage with a passion, and there is some good reason for it, but, and I say but here.

    Not that long ago Alex Salmond and the SNP were not all that well liked or respected and he was considered a bit of a fringe lunatic. My friends in Scotland, that over much discussion changed my view said that they didn’t like salmond, they didn’t trust salmond, but then they were not voting for him. They where voting yes so that they could have a chance at a fairer democracy. No one can argue with that point. For me that was a clincher. Is Farage really any different ? Hes an English nationalist and his party does have some very unfortunate views on immigration, but he is currently the ONLY person in England who could really upset the balance of power at Westminster. He is doing in England what Salmond did in Scotland, he is re-engaging the electorate, he is causing discussion beyond they walls of the main stream media and Westminster. I don’t trust Farage, I don’t really like what he stands for ( my partner is an immigrant – she a nurse so I have plenty of reason to distrust him) but I am glad that someone is creating an alternative discussion.

    The time is right for the people to have a choice again. Its too late for this general election and we will almost certainly have a tory government, but if someone can put together a decent concept of how the UK should be run in the interests of everyone and we as a union, together, work to make where we live a better place through the political system, then maybe we can reclaim “Better Together” from those lying cheating self serving super rich never done a days work in their lives idiots that inhabit that rather strikingly beautiful old building in London.

    I wish I had the brains and the charisma to go and do it, and I would if I could, but honestly I wouldn’t even know where to start. That doesn’t make it impossible but I do genuinely believe that if we are going to be together, then lets really be together and make the UK the place we all really want it to be and not the place where rich kids get to play at being powerful whilst treating the rest of us like servants.

    I suspect Ill get hung out to dry for mentioning Farage in any sort of positive light, but let me stress its the discussion he is getting started rather than the man and the party that interests me. It proves that it can be done, that even in England there is still a passion for discussion. Scotland was lucky to have salmond who brought the debate to the masses, even if they didn’t like or agree with him, he got the conversation started and Scotland will never be the same again.

    What happened in George square was a disgrace, but there are mad men and lunatics in every camp, its doesn’t mean that they represent the majority, they are just the very loud and unpleasant minority and we should not tolerate them or allow them to marr what was a wonderful example Scotland gave the world on how to behave when discussing very emotional issues.

  • Juteman

    Fred says,

    “I’ve got an idea. The bits of Scotland which voted that they would rather be independent let them. Let’s face it, it was just the bits where racism and sectarianism is rife, the bits with separate football teams for Catholics. Surely we could manage fine without them.”

    Fred now shows his true bigoted and racist self. Partition. The Brits did that in Ireland, and that worked out well.
    Thanks Fred, you have been honest about your beliefs at last.

  • fred

    “Fred now shows his true bigoted and racist self. Partition. The Brits did that in Ireland, and that worked out well.
    Thanks Fred, you have been honest about your beliefs at last.”

    I voted No.

    I thought independence was what you wanted, what Dundee and Glasgow voted for.

    Wish you’d make your mind up.

  • Tony M

    I think the answer was and is to lead by example, the internationalist idea of all in it together, ends up with all in the mire together, but if one part can climb out, it can then give a helping hand and most importantly courage and inspiration to others.

    As the Labour party veered to the right chasing fickle voters in South-East, the SNP moved leftwards, though in its early history it was already there, advocating non-belligerence internationally, and was strong in improving workplace conditions and worker’s safety and rights, and in limited redistribution of wealth, it has returned there to that ground, occupying the space, the total vacuum created by Labour’s comprehensive sell-out. This is not though a fiery socialism, wised up businesses and business-persons, not just in Scotland recognise that an impoverished populace is in no position to buy their goods and services domestically by which dearth of business, they can never achieve the efficiency and economies of scale to compete abroad in selling and exporting their products. A socialism, with a small ‘s’ which recognises too that the health and welfare, the fair renumeration of employees makes for long service and that employee company loyalty is not something objectionable in itself to socialists, but is positive, and creates resilience, stability and super-human co-operative, synergistic efforts to ride out the lean and maximise the potential in good times.

    It has long been said without tangible evidence by Tories and latterly Labour under Gordon Brown that they desired to eliminate boom and bust, they have been only partly successful, and have certainly eliminated all possibility of boom. Despite inimical policies favouring instead financial speculation and chicanery over inward investment, manufacturing has not entirely been vanquished, but the continued irresponsible rightward drift and financialisation and service sector dependence of the economy, of which both Labour and Tory parties are heedless of the risk, are making things much more difficult, if not impossible. As in the years after ww2, this country must export or die, and the countries of Europe, of which we are very much part is a colossal market, we require a rebalancing of the economy and a new approach to the old labour versus capital disconnect, which has become a chasm, but the interests of both entrenched sides and of the country, any country are served by healing this division. We can do anything with the will.

  • Beth

    Craig this was my reaction to the No vote. If the energy of the campaign can be focussed on campaigning to rid Scotland of Trident that would be incredible. I’ve been hoping to hear someone with an audience say this and you are the only person who has so far. I really hope this will happen.

  • Muscleguy

    Well ahead of you Craig, I joined Scottish CND ten days before the referendum. In time to be able to wear my CND badge with all the others on referendum day while running around getting the vote out and spending 5 hours on my feet outside a polling station being hugged by random Yes voters and making friends with the two young policemen grateful they had drawn our middle class area of Dundee. And the No guy too. As the evening drew on and voters grew sparser we had a good 4-way conversation going. I think I could have made dents in the No guy’s standpoint eventually. In a nice synergy my wife is a No and his is a Yes.

    When my wife went off to get me some chips to keep the munchies at bay she came back with a chocolate bar for the No guy, who looked touched.

    Anyway we won Dundee, won handsomely for what it’s worth. More interestingly the vote was higher in Jim McGovern (LAB) in Dundee West than in SNP held Dundee East. We are going to come for McGovern in the GE; and he is not going to be the only one. 30,000 people (and counting) have joined the SNP since Friday. Thousands more the SSP and Greens. Mass political engagement is back in Scotland. On the Yes side.

    Dundee RIC have met to thrash out where next and people nobody had ever seen before turned up and packed out the venue. Scottish Labour is not going to know what hit them. And this time there will be no English cavalry coming over the hill, paid, to save them as they will be too busy in their own constituencies. Sadly that also means no repeat of the rickshaw ‘Imperial Masters’ ambush.

    Maybe after the votes are counted we can make a youtube mashup of the defeated Labour and LibDem (and maybe Tory, who knows?) MPs with the imperial march playing.

    The Yes campaign has not gone away, we are merely gathering ourselves.

    One option is to do a Hamas: insert ourselves into people’s lives in terms of helping and creating social obligations as a result. The long term with the more immediate. One way or another we can do it.

    What do you think Craig? If we return a majority of Yes MPs to Westminster in May can we do a Sinn Fein and declare? Surely with the eyes of the world on them, and in Europe, they won’t send in the tanks.

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