The independence referendum has become a straight up left/right fight
There is, of course, a left wing case for opposing Scottish independence. It is articulated best by the likes of Owen Jones – ‘we shouldn’t divide the working class’. Likewise, there is, of course, a right wing case for independence – the Scottish Enterprise Party got a handful of votes for espousing it, once upon a time.
But this isn’t where the campaign is at today. With the Tories (and Labour) at Westminster battering Britain, it’s no wonder that those articulating the campaign for independence have been most effective when they have argued against Tory rule.
What is, perhaps, more surprising, is how right wing the no campaign has become. They have issued briefings discribing Trident nuclear weapons as “The ultimate guaruntee of our national security” despite the overwhelming majority of Scots disagreeing with them. They insist on talking about how patriotic they are. And now, here’s what their campaign director has to say about yesterday’s welfare reform (in a ‘personal capacity’, of course):
This is good for the yes campaign: 52% of Scottish voters (£) say they’ll vote yes if they believe that the Tories wil win in 2015. As Black April hits, the name “Better Together” might begin to turn sour. And as the No campaign continues to defend the policies of the union as it defends the union itself, perhaps these traditional Labour voters, will change their minds about which side who is on these days.
Spot on. British Nationalism has always been reactionary and of the Right. But why is that?
On the contrary, from what I’ve seen the galvanisation of much of the Scottish left around independence has coincided with a new desire for debate. Scots are talking about independence, and in a way they simply don’t about austerity. It offers us on the left an unprecedented opportunity to be heard, and to shape the argument. All of a sudden the left’s echo chamber has busted wide open and we can (will) be looked to to provide socialist/social democratic/utopian ideas for a potential new nation. Most importantly it’s a fight firmly based in the 21st century, rather than bickering of the lost battles of the 20th.
What we need to assure is that, win or lose, we produce ideas that gain hold and that shape the direction of the left post 2014.
indeed, it’s not the left wing response to austerity. And I think you are right that it’s important that we don’t fall into the trap of allowing this to become the be-all and end-all for the Scottish left – win or lose, but particulazrly lose, and we have a real problem.
But I think it begins to be an effective left wing response to the question ‘how did we lose so comprehensively in the 20th century?’.
Unless the left recognises that alienation from abstract and distant states is a problem as well as alienation in the work place, that our politics must be about liberating and empowering, and bringing control closer to people not just about distant, abstract institutions of organised justice – which are too easily captured by elites, and too easily become about pacifying the working class rather than institutions run by and for the working class – we will continue to lose in the 21st century as comprehensively as we did in the 20th century.
Pleasingly, the main left wing forces in the world – those in Latin America, and much of Europe, have learnt that lesson. We need to too.
Better Together is an awful right wing campaign, and Yes Scotland certainly employs more hopeful rhetoric, but I don’t think that this is really anything to be happy about. Independence is not *the* left wing response to the austerity or anything else. The fact that there is such a low level of debate on the Scottish left is a real shame and if the result comes back as a ‘No’, which it very well might, if there are no serious left wing No voices it will be very damaging to the left.
The first paragraph of this piece is absolutely right. I think more needs to be made of it.
There was virtually no Labour or Better Together presence at the demonstration against the Bedroom Tax in Edinburgh on Saturday. Apparently Malcolm Chisholm and a couple of councillors were there, but no banners, no leaflets, nothing. Even the moribund SWP had a bigger presence.
Their claim that Better Together can’t take a radical line because the campaign is a broad church is nonsense. They’re taking radically right-wing lines, they just seem incapable of making left-wing arguments. Whereas RIC is welcomed with open arms by Yes Scotland, radical voices for the union have barely made an impact on Better Together. It’s clearly just a right-wing campaign.