A guest post by Samuel Miller
As noted by the ever excellent Scot Goes POP and Wings Over Scotland, the latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey has recently been released and the figures make for encouraging viewing for those of an independent mind. Fact it was such a bombshell one particular mainstream title was prepared to suffer the pain of near terminal whiplash in an attempt to spin some bad news for the independence camp. The result of their spin? Not so much egg on face, as an entire omelette.
The upshot of the survey was a 6% movement toward voting for an independent Scotland, which is pretty damn impressive considering the source. For a more informed dissection just click on the links above (they do numbers n’ such so well).
A couple of months back I posed a question and chewed over the possible outcomes – ‘If, as many suspect, this settlement is a constitutional and fiscal bear trap for the Scottish Government and electorate, where do we go from here?’
Folk who know me well on threads are familiar with my Westminster will be Westminster theory of independence. My theory being that the actions of Westminster’s establishment and the established system of party politics will ultimately figure heavily in bringing about the end of the current political union. That self interest, party political maneuvering for the big chair and the sheer arrogant, ignorant and condescending grippiness of that hoose would near automatically ensure that pledges made during our referendum would be reneged upon, or so twisted by the inherent nature of the beast, in both Commons and the House of Lords, that any resulting deal would bear no resemblance to what the Scottish electorate were led to believe was on offer.
As considered in that post, the Scottish Government did indeed accept the powers on offer, but not without some hard bargaining and an edge of the seat game of chicken between Westminster’s most famous towel folder, George Osborne and the SGs John Swinney. Now pretty much anyone with functioning brain cells knows two things about that deal and the powers being devolved:
1. With one or two exceptions, the package is still a poisoned pill with the settlement being revisited after five years in order to rehash the same arguments on the fiscal framework. The weak package of powers would also have come with a £7bn albatross which would have had a devastating effect on a Scottish economy still constitutionally attached to a UK economic model and still at the mercy of austerity ideology.
2. The deal as delivered, clearly is NOT what the Scottish electorate were led to believe was on offer. That Bill, created/amended in the post referendum period, would have not only delivered a massive amount of financial ‘detriment’ to the Scottish electorate, but with apparently a flagrant disregard for both the spirit and letter of the Edinburgh Agreement and the subsequent Smith Commission proposals.
I guess it was just lucky the Scottish Government could help the treasury out with their sums.
The establishment parties, it appears, simply could not help themselves. Westminster will be Westminster – Q.E.D
At this point in time we see Westminster politics in all its glory, the parties of established politics embroiled in their own self obsessed internal strife. I suppose they reckon that with the Jockanese problem stuck on the back burner for the next five years (aye, right), they’ve got time to sort out some of their own powerplay issues. We’ve got a hugely right wing Conservative government haunted and split along a European fault line and a parliamentary Labour party fighting over the bones of Blair’s toxic legacy in an attempt to define its future relevance to the particular electorate which determines who sits in the big chair. (Hint: that would be the same electorate in the same marginals which put Cameron in power). Oh and just to be crystal clear – ABSTENTION isn’t protest, it’s enablement. As for the Libdems? What can you say that hasn’t already been said? Well, we’re pretty sure they’re big fans of the term ‘That’s just politics’. Oh and yes, Alistair Koalamichael is still an MP at this point in time. Apparently the Libdems don’t have a problem with that, or indeed anything else when it comes to principles, but whut can ye say eh? The irony in all of this being of course, that you couldn’t put a fag paper between any of them when it comes to how they practice their politics, regardless of their ‘supposed’ ideological differences.
Politics, party politics, YOUR politics and your parliament doesn’t have to be like this. It doesn’t have to be constant battles about who inhabits a big hoose with a shiny black door, or runs a party (into the ground), or favours one demographic over another when in power. It doesn’t have to be constantly confrontational or adversarial.
It should, you’d think, be about shared responsibility and consensus.
Now something else pretty essential is required by my pet theory. Something that sets panic in the pants of the Westminions and gives policy wonks and triangulators sleepless nights. Something that causes the bean counting, disingenuous little Herberts to burst out with spontaneous sweats every time a poll comes out on Scottish matters.
Let me remind you of something I said in ‘Patience is a virtue (probably)’:
“Since 2007 you’ve begun to engage in politics again, you’ve been part of a reawakening and a sea change in Scottish politics. Your aspiration brought about a majority government in a parliamentary system which was designed never to have one. Your voices made real the claim of right and Scotland’s right to independence if it so chose (and may still do). It took enormous effort on Westminster’s part simply to slow your aspirations down last September and if anything made you more determined than ever. Your continued engagement since the referendum has brought about the greatest political upset in these islands in over three hundred years and not all the power of big government, big media and big business could stop you.”
And do you know what? They still can’t.
You provide the impetus, the momentum which keeps the establishment system panicked and the independence supporting parties on their toes. No pivotal change can occur without your continued engagement and drive for that change. None of what is now happening via current polling would be possible without your willingness to keep communicating, keep convincing and keep reaching out. That reaching out bit is crucial by the by.
Right now we are entering an election period in Scotland. Attempting to reconcile constitutional aspiration with party loyalties can be difficult for many. Totally understandable.
Something to remember though. During the referendum I think we all became familiar with YES voters of all parties and no parties. Some simply can’t or won’t bring themselves to vote for one party or another. The common weal, the common cause is the glue that binds the whole together. The independence movement has come so very far and on current evidence, inclusion and patient persistence is beginning to pay dividends. We all made friends from political quarters we never thought likely and that ability to reach out across those divisions is worth remembering every day. This is really my clumsy way of saying we made friends, so let’s make sure they stay friends. Its also something for party politicians to consider. If we, as the voting public, can do this… what’s your excuse?
More importantly, when a second referendum comes along (and with everyone’s continued engagement I strongly suspect there will be one), I would want to see YES voting members of all parties willingly leave the rosette in the drawer and work to ensure that it is truly a PEOPLE’S REFERENDUM.