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Old 13th Dec 2014, 16:04
  #9745 (permalink)  
Low Flier
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Forest of Caledon
Posts: 212
The Perthling has drawn one's attention to an unusually erudite article in The Hootsmon, which says, in part:

STUBBORN denial and spurious beliefs will not help build a more progressive country. Scotland must leave 18 September behind.

It is a frenetic, dynamic time to be living in Scotland – politically, culturally and in many other aspects of public life. Nearly three months since the momentous indyref, Scotland is still gripped by a sense of movement, possibilities and new openings – up to and beyond the 2015 and 2016 elections.

Yet at the same time in parts of the independence movement there are unrealistic expectations of political change, of belief that the Union is finished, and that Scotland can embark on its destiny in the next couple of years.

Any radical politics has to have a sense of what is possible, to push it as far as it can, to understand timescales and how these dovetail with strategy. And critically it has to understand the political culture beyond its own boundaries – in the Scotland which voted No.

The independence referendum was a historic moment, an epic time in Scotland’s political evolution, and an awakening of the democratic impulse. Yet, it produced a comfortable victory for No and a defeat for Yes. For all the commentary that Yes won the campaign and that the idea of independence has been normalised, defeat has an upside: an opportunity and release which shouldn’t just be squandered.

Defeat allows for catharsis and political renewal. This is an evolution that successful political parties the world over understand: think Labour in 1983 and 1992, or the Tories in 2005, and the disaster that befalls a party that ignores this, such as Scottish Labour in 2007 and 2011.

These then are some of the myths of the indyref which are still held on to by some and which need dispelling:

There is no 45. The 45 per cent reference is a chimera, a passing moment on the day of 18 September which isn’t a permanent political force. It provides no pathway to a Yes majority, and instead is a political wall, which has in it an element of soft sectarianism. Many prominent Yes supporters still embrace “the 45” on Twitter and social media – something understandable in the immediate aftermath of 18 September but which isn’t really excusable nearly three months after the vote.

There is a propensity to believe that Yes speaks for Scotland, missing that No won. It is a common trait of bad politics to pose the world as you want to see it, rather than it is, and then build your perspective from this.

Making the mistake that Yes speaks for Scotland misunderstands politics on numerous levels: the nature of democratic legitimacy, the contours of the No victory, and any notion of future political and constitutional change. Pro-independence opinion has to grasp that it does not speak for majority Scotland; it must reach out, listen and empathise, and not engage in the politics of smugness and self-righteousness.

The pro-Union majority did not vote out of selfishness, false consciousness or other reasons which can be dismissed. Instead, like independence voters they were motivated by a huge variety of reasons – all of which are valid.

The notion that Yes won working class Scotland is far too simple to be true and as problematic as placing middle class opinion completely in the No camp. The independence case won parts of the working class, but not comprehensively or uniformly. Yes won majority support in the C2 skilled working class, but lost the DE semi and unskilled working class. This shows that the working class overall was fairly evenly divided between Yes and No – a picture which was one of the anchors of a No victory.

Only four out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities voted Yes; of which three – Glasgow, North Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire – can be described as Labour heartlands. Dundee which also voted Yes (and by the biggest margin in the country) has frequently and inaccurately been described as a Labour heartland. This is a bit of a time warp, as the last time this was really true was 1973-74, considering the SNP’s Gordon Wilson won Dundee East in February 1974, and the SNP has held the seat in the Scottish Parliament from 2003. And significantly, several traditional Labour areas such as Fife, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire voted No.

Another powerful myth has been that the Yes vote was more mobilised than No. This is often connected to the myth of a working class Scotland in previously solid Labour areas turning out in record numbers.


The further removed people were from the Central Belt the more likely they were to vote No. Thus, Shetland (64 per cent), Orkney (67 per cent), Dumfries and Galloway (66 per cent) and Scottish Borders (67 per cent) were all emphatic No areas. The reasons for some of this are illuminating: dislike of Edinburgh authority and centralisation; a feeling that the SNP did not understand the needs of “far-flung” parts of Scotland; worries about losing EU funding; and even that London rule was for some less insensitive than the prospect of an omnipotent Edinburgh.

The gathering of power to Scotland’s capital erected powerful barriers to the appeal of further self-government and questioned the relationship between independence and greater democratisation. To take one example, in Dumfries and Galloway, many people complain frequently about the lack of priority treatment of police calls now there is only one national police force compared to previously. The removal of the local and experience of centralisation has in places hurt the independence cause.


Large parts of Yes did not really understand No. Some did not want to understand it, taking pleasure in articulating a set of stereotypes, while others went further and cast doubt on the reasons and motivations of a large part of the No coalition.

Yes and No are over. They are not the future. There is no future in them. They belong to the past – and died on 18 September. The Yes/No binary has to be lost to allow the emergent voices, spaces and movements which came forth in the *referendum to grow, be set free, and find a place to flourish which is not dependent or related to the independence referendum.
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