by Ken Ferguson
· However much Voice readers may want not to the 55 per cent No vote in 2014 means we currently live in a Britain firmly governed by a reactionary right wing populist Tory government.
Never mind the anti-Brexit majority, the 48 SNP MPs, the pro-independence Holyrood vote—in first past the post Britain Westminster rules and those who won the general election are in the driving seat as winners take all.
This was, and remains, the reality of the backdrop against which First Minister Sturgeon recently made yet another much heralded speech supposedly mapping out the way to independence and an end to Tory rule.
In history from time to time a slogan takes fire such as revolutionary France’s ‘Liberty, ‘Equality, Fraternity, Lenin’s ‘Bread, Peace, Land or the famous Spanish Republican ‘No Pasaran’.
However the First Minister’s much boosted speech to the SNP faithful at Edinburgh’s Dynamic Earth was not such an occasion.
Hardly a call-to-arms
Re-testing the 2014 question, issuing some booklets on the case for Yes and (more or less) ruling out a Catalan-style poll hardly amounts to a call-to-arms likely to appeal to the tens of thousands joining the AUOB marches or to frighten the Westminster Tories.
Indeed, despite the gains at the recent General Election, the First Minister’s statement is just one more straw in the wind indicating at best a mood of hesitancy and uncertainty growing within the governing party.
The article by SNP grandee Noel Dolan in the former Labour loyalist Daily Record pouring cold water on the calls for an early indyref, alongside the decision to postpone the party’s spring conference, reinforces this trend.
And of course looming over these events the debacle of the Derek Mackay “textgate” affair and the looming Salmond trial.
None of this bodes well for the Yes movement which, after 2014, moved largely into the SNP and, in the process, converting a pluralist mass movement into a largely party campaign subject to the gamut of issues and pressures of party politics.
This means that the many questions pressing in on the SNP government—Hospitals crisis, ferries debacle, growing pressures on schools and so forth, are now linked in the public mind with the case for independence.
It is now urgent that the broad spectrum of those Yes forces not tied to the SNP face up to the fact that there is an need for clarity not just on how the plurality of views on independence are to be expressed but how this can actually advance the Yes case and build a majority for it.
This raises a range of questions but perhaps two in particular cry out for attention if attempts to reconstruct a broad Yes movement.
The SNP have endorsed the basically neoliberal economics of the so-called Growth Commission and it has, in turn, been rejected by Yes supporters including Scottish Socialist Party, Commonweal the Radical Independence Campaign and the Greens.
The idea that such a fundamental issue as the economic policy of a Yes movement can be ignored like a noisy uncle at a wedding is simply unrealistic. Even if we all, Basil Fawlty style, ‘don’t mention the war,’ our unionist opponents surely will.
Voice readers have only to recall the recent general election and the all out media war on Corbyn to see what such a Better Together/Daily Mail/BBC campaign on the incoherence of Yes economics would look like—and the ensuing damage. Likewise with the EU.
This paper warned that linking the demand for independence with EU membership was, given that about 30 per cent of Yes voter backed leave, not a clever tactic.
Now the question is whether an independent Scotland should rejoin the EU and there are leading figures in the SNP such as ex Euro MP and now Stirling MP Alyn Smith who assume that Scotland rejoining is part of a Yes package.
Again this would be music to ears of our unionist enemies and their media allies providing a plethora of scare stories ranging from a hard border with non EU England to shelving a Scottish currency and accepting the Euro.
Surely the wisest course on this issue—which has the merit of being the only realistic option—is to park the EU issue as a matter for decision by voters in an independent Scotland.
Years of Westminster rule
Faced with a probable ten years of Westminster Tory rule, an accelerating climate crisis, massive poverty, low pay and every growing housing queues independence has never been more needed.
The lesson of 2014 is that a softly-softly approach offering a Scottish version of Westminster, in which things stay much the same, won’t cut the mustard.
Key to victory next time is winning over Scotland’s working class majority to the Yes side and this can only be done by spelling out the social and economic gains that independence opens up.
The creation of thousands of well paid skilled green jobs through public ownership of energy and construction, building thousands of ultra eco-friendly council homes, cutting CO2 by making public transport free to reduce traffic pollution are among the policies which can put meat on the bones of the Yes case.
This needs a pluralist open, campaigning Yes movement linking solutions to the myriad of issues facing people with the reality that winning a Yes vote opens the way real change by putting people and planet before profit.