We need to learn from Catalonia. Catalonia provides an inspiration to Scotland, but it also provides a warning. Catalonia gives us a warning about what happens when an independence movement falls prey to infighting and internal divisions and doesn’t keep its eye focussed on the main prize, the prize of the better country that can only be achieved with independence. When elements within the independence movement fall out with one another over differing visions of independence, the only beneficiaries are opponents of independence, those who don’t want any version of independence at all. Right now the Catalan independence movement has lost its momentum, the Spanish state criminalises prominent voices within the movement, while those remaining at liberty fall out over tactics and strategy.
In Scotland the British state might not be threatening anyone in the independence movement with jail, but the British state is the winner when Scottish independence supporters attack one another over different visions of what they want Scottish independence to achieve. It’s self-harming, the only force which is damaged is the independence movement. When we focus on our disagreements with one another we only make it less likely that there will be any version of an independent Scotland. That’s why the anti-independence press is giving massive publicity to even marginal figures within the movement who have issues with the Growth Commission report. Media outlets which are opposed to independence don’t do that because they want to promote a diversity of voices within the independence movement.
No one is demanding that we must all get 100% behind the SNP Growth Commission’s report, but the way to deal with your disagreements with it is to develop and publicise your own visions of what an independent Scotland could be and not to give ammunition to those who want to preserve the inequalities and injustices of the British state. Accusing other independence supporters of betrayal because they don’t happen to support your own particular vision of what an independent Scotland could be doesn’t make it any more likely that your own vision of an independent Scotland can become a reality. It makes it less likely. It only makes it more likely that all of us will remain subject to the vagaries of British rule and dependent upon the vague hope that voters in the rest of the UK and the right wing British press might one day consent to a government that’s left of centre.
Let’s be real here, if you are pinning all your hopes on Jeremy Corbyn you’re in for a big disappointment. Jeremy Corbyn may very well preach a radical redistribution and campaign for a serious attempt to redress the gross inequality that blights the UK – I don’t doubt his sincerity on that score – but the fact is that even when faced with the most inept, incompetent, malicious and mendacious Conservative government in living memory, he’s still incapable of taking a lead over them in the opinion polls. That may very well be because of the unfairness of a British media which doesn’t give the left a fair crack of the whip, independence supporters know all about that, but it’s not going to get any easier for him during an election campaign. The truth is that during the next General Election the Tories will be led by a shiny new leader who will be benefiting from a honeymoon period with the press. Jezza will be yesterday’s man and yesterday’s news and his own contradictions and evasions on Brexit will have caught up with him. His best chance of getting elected was in the General Election last year.
England is a country which historically tends to vote Conservative. The last time that Labour was able to get elected in England it could only do so by transforming itself into the Tories, and we got Tony Blair. Scotland on the other hand has a centre left majority. So ask yourself, which country is more likely to vote in a left wing government? Which country is more likely to repeatedly vote for left wing governments? It’s a no-brainer.
We already have two very different papers on the economic potential of an independent Scotland, there’s the SNP Growth Commission report, and there’s the Common Weal book on How to Start a New Country. If you disagree with the report received by the SNP, a report which is, let us not forget, a discussion paper and not official government policy, then publicise and promote the more radical and ambitious proposals put forward by Common Weal. Or there is nothing to prevent you from developing proposals of your own. Scotland is, after all, a democracy, and it will still be a democracy after we achieve independence. We have two well developed, coherent, and well thought out proposals on how to develop the economy of Scotland with independence. There is nothing remotely comparable from the anti-independence side. The priority here is to attack British nationalists for their failure to produce coherent and realistic plans to develop Scotland within the UK, not for supporters of one vision of an independent Scotland to attack supporters of a different vision.
What this independence movement is about above all is Scottish democracy. It’s not about the particulars of policy. It’s not about whether an independent Scotland is a monarchy or a republic. It’s not about whether an independent Scotland is a member of the EU or not. It’s not about whether we have our own currency or we continue to use the pound. Independence is about one thing and one thing only. It’s about who gets to choose the direction Scotland takes, who gets to decide what sort of country Scotland is, who gets to elect the government that makes Scotland’s laws. Fundamentally it’s about who is the sovereign body in Scotland. Should that be the people of Scotland, or should it be a Parliament on the banks of the Thames in which Scottish representatives are a permanent minority which can be sidelined, ignored, and marginalised. That’s what this debate is about – it’s not about currency or tax policies. It’s about who gets to decide about currency or tax policies. We support independence because we believe that it should be for the people of Scotland to make those choices.
Those of us who place ourselves on the left of politics should support Scottish independence because in the real world there is a far better chance of the electorate in an independent Scotland voting in a left of centre government. In an independent Scotland there is a much better and more realistic prospect of successive governments which adopt and develop policies which tackle inequality instead of encouraging it. It’s all very well arguing about what the priorities of an independent Scotland must be, but before that can happen we must first establish the principle that the people of Scotland should be governed by a government which they elect and which is answerable to the people of Scotland. Otherwise we’re all stuck with Tory rule, Brexit, the widening social inequalities and injustices of a British state which seeks to ape the worst aspects of the USA, and pinning all our hopes on the vague hope that voters in England might just choose to elect a Labour government for a change. Let’s take our destiny into our own hands.
Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland
The Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.
You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at email@example.com for alternatives.
Please note that the map is currently at the printers and I won’t be able to start posting maps out to buyers until the week starting May 28.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
Wee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements
Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send the necessary information. Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.