Saturday marked the seventh anniversary of the first Scottish independence referendum, or if you’re a British nationalist, the day that put the final unbreakable seal on Scottish democracy. Apparently that was the day when Scotland was allowed a say on its own future and would never be allowed a say on its future ever again, no matter how duplicitous or mendacious the promises and commitments that British nationalists made to Scotland turned out to be. Better Together never told us that when they were gushing on about how much Scotland was loved and wanted and how it was an equal and respected partner in a family of nations.
Times have changed radically since 2014. It’s not just that the UK has left the EU, taking remain voting Scotland with it. It’s also that the UK which Scotland was promised it could be a part of in 2014 has turned out to be a fantasy, a deliberate confection that its fervent advocates never had any intention of making a reality. The anti-independence prospectus that was sold to Scotland by the Better Together campaign has turned out to be a lie.
Far from devolution being strengthened and entrenched, the Conservatives are using Brexit as an excuse to put it into reverse. Instead of the pooling and sharing which Gordon Brown lauded as the only way to protect the poor and the vulnerable in Scotland we have a British Government which has just embarked upon the biggest single cut to social security payments in modern history with its withdrawal of the £20 per week uplift in universal credit, throwing thousands of families into penury. Meanwhile the Conservatives are hiking National Insurance, forcing low paid workers, including workers in Scotland, to pay for England’s soaring social care bill in order to protect the wealth of home owners in the affluent south east of England.
In no small measure it’s the fear of being held to account for their lies which explains the vehemence with which British nationalists in Scotland assert that the question Scotland asked itself in 2014 must never be revisited. They know, and are terrified of the truth that British nationalism has blown its credibility and none of the promises or commitments that they make in a future referendum campaign are going to be believed, and that’s without even taking into account that the British government is headed by the serial liar Boris Johnson and its leading Scot is the glibly mendacious Michael Gove.
It’s scarcely surprising that many prominent people who opposed independence in 2014 now say that they would vote for it, from Sharleen Spiteri of the rock group Texas, to the comedians Billy Connelly, and Rory Bremner, the writer Armando Ianucci, the actor Ewan McGregor and many more. Now the broadcaster Jeremy Paxman has become the latest to declare that he’d vote yes in a future independence referendum. The positive appeal and potential benefits of independence have increased as the attractions and supposed advantages of remaining a part of the UK have diminished.
Saturday also marked the launch of a new and invigorated grassroots campaign for independence aimed at reaching out to soft noes, undecided voters and the persuadable in order to present them with a new prospectus for independence in the post-Brexit and covid age in which the true urgency of the climate crisis is starting to be appreciated. The prospectus of 2014, which was based upon both Scotland and the rest of the UK remaining full participants in the EU and the European Single Market and customs union and which put considerable emphasis on Scotland’s huge potential as a producer of carbon emitting fossil fuels has already been consigned to the history books.
The fresh case for independence will only be fleshed out and firmed up in the months ahead, as the Scottish Government gets to work to produce the new financial prospectus for independence which has been promised.
The arguments put forward by the independence campaign will be very different the next time around. Now it’s independence which represents better integration with Europe, the chance to develop Scotland’s export markets and the only realistic and plausible route back to membership of the EU. Meanwhile many of the arguments which were presented by Better Together in 2014 have been blown up by the anti-independence parties themselves and particularly by the Conservatives. Now it’s opposition to Scottish independence and British nationalism which represent the narrow backward looking parochial nationalism which was so derided by Better Together in 2014. We have a British government which fetishises flags and the royal family, military parades, and which even seeks to reintroduce imperial weights and measures. The British state is increasingly obsessed with Britain’s imperial past because it has no plan for the future.
There is now no one who can plausibly and convincingly front an anti independence campaign. Gordon Brown has no credibility left, and Ruth Davidson with her peerage has come to epitomise all that is wrong with the anti-democratic and unaccountable British establishment.
Whoever does finally get roped into heading the anti-independence campaign is going to be leading a campaign with nothing positive to offer, only a doubling down on the scare stories and fear mongering that characterised Better Together’s Project Fear. Absolutely nothing has been done to develop a revived case for this so-called Union in the post Brexit age. Having won the independence referendum in 2014, the Better Together parties complacently thought that they could return to business as usual, that Scotland had been successfully shut back in its shortbread tin and could safely be ignored and taken for granted. The historic failure of the UK will be seen to be that Scotland changed irrevocably following the referendum campaign of 2014 but the parties of the British establishment did not. Scotland gave them a chance to prove themselves in 2014, but they blew it badly with their arrogance, their ignorance, and their immutable British nationalist exceptionalism.
Fundamentally the campaign for Scottish independence is about the future, British nationalism has proven itself to be trapped in the past. The question facing Scotland is whether to look to the future with independence or remain stuck in the past with the failing British state
This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.
You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address email@example.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.