The Referendum Offers us the Opportunity to Win our Politics Back
With one year to go to the referendum, we are in a strange place. On the one hand, there are those who contend that the debate is alienating and boring. On the other, there are propositions like the Jimmy Reid Foundation’s Common Weal Report that get many people excited about Scotland’s potential.
I think Fraser Macdonald described it well when he wrote in his Guardian article that the independence debate had put the fun back into Scottish politics. That is certainly the feeling I’ve had. For the first time we are able to talk about possibilities. We are unrestricted by the rolling agenda of privatisation and cuts that dominates at Westminster.
The year ahead offers us a great deal more possibility to think about how our country could be. And that’s thinking that should appeal to everyone. While those who value the Union may not want to have this debate, it is here. And there’s lots they can contribute. There is a positive case for the United Kingdom, and that is what we need to hear. As figures like Henry McLeish have pointed out the current Better Together campaign is doing nothing to build the case for a better UK, which is what it should be doing.
The turnout at events about independence has been a revelation for many of those who have been involved in political campaigning for the past ten years. With hundreds of people packing halls across the country there is clearly a huge ambition to talk about what Scotland could become. Discussing how Scotland could lead the world in peace-building, how we could have a citizens’ income for all, how we could run our own nationalised post office, how we could benefit from the huge potential in renewable energy is turning people on to politics. What starts as a revelation about the size of meetings may become a revolution in how we run our country.
This tells us a deeper truth about politics – that it is not politics itself but the focus-grouped, corporate politics developed in the 1990s that turns people off. The longer we keep talking about what politics can deliver for us, the more uncomfortable those who are committed first and foremost to corporate politics become. That discomfort is a good thing. For too long our politicians have danced to a tune paid for by big money. Now it is time for them to dance to our tune.
If you care about creating a fair social security system, about how Scotland can live up to its global responsibilities, about how we can create a new economy that pays fair wages and creates worthwhile jobs now is the time to join the debate. We have much to gain in the creation of a new Scotland and a new political settlement on these islands, and so very little to lose. And the greatest gain open to us is a new politics. We must build a politics in which the demands of the people trump those of corporations and the irresponsible rich.
With a year to go we have it all to gain. Let’s work, let’s build, let’s take our politics back.
- This post first appeared on the Radical Independence Campaign’s ‘One Year to Go – Radical Perspectives’ page, which will be updated throughout the day.