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A flag with no Scottish blue? Or Welsh green.

Politics is rather depressing right now. Gaza is a horror story. Out of control Ukrainian ‘rebels’ shoot down hundreds of innocents in a plane. The British media panders to a Tory government reshuffle in the name of ‘women’ to bring a new NATO, militarily trained Defence Secretary to the Foreign Office and other suits to high office, with talk of ditching the Human Rights Act. Labour does a secret pre-deal to adopt the DRIP snoopers’ charter – after Snowden! –  as if the state doesn’t have enough power already.

And in Scotland – Labour’s No campaign says, ‘1 million jobs will be lost if Scotland goes independent!’.  That is on top of all the other threats – No pound, No Europe, No BBC, No NHS, No Trains. Border controls!

Of course, best and most tempting of all the ‘NOs’, if they vote for independence – No Tories!

Turning my eyes and ears to Scotland provides a considerable degree of comfort in these terrible times. If you haven’t been in touch with the debate, you are seriously missing out. A couple of links are provided at the end.

The level of political debate in Scotland, in their long run-in to the September 18th vote on independence, is fantastic – and it is not just the establishment’s presidential-style tv debates. The mainstream Scottish media, capitalist institutions, the Scottish CBI, religious groups, have been turned on their heads. The number and range of discussion and campaigning groups is mind-blowing. Recent polls (and you know how the polls tend their task) show an ever increasing Yes vote, now at least 41%, perhaps 46%, in favour, against a 46% ‘No’. Who would have believed that a couple of years ago? And one poll shows 80% of the 15% undecideds inclining toward a Yes vote.    

Voting Yes on September 18th is, in modern parlance, a ‘No Brainer’

For your average socially conscious voter in Scotland, in the face of a barrage of abuse, negativity and patronising, the choice is to continue all that and more. The prospect is Westminster dismantling everything we and our forebears fought for and inventing new ways to take our money, from Poll Tax to Bedroom Tax, all wrapped up, by self-serving millionaires, in more austerity for the foreseeable future – no matter which party gets into power next year. That is one option.

Or vote Yes. Perhaps it is a bit of a gamble, full of uncertainty. But really, could it be much worse? Why vote otherwise?

For harder lefties, what possible reason could one have not to deal a body blow to the rotten capitalist, imperialist, monarchist British State? Just ponder what upheaval this will cause and expose, what politics, what priorities, what bitterness, what class instincts. To witness in our time the break-up of that deeply conservative, public school, self serving cabal, would be one of the great pleasures of our short historical lives. The union flag never had any green from Wales; it will be a sorry affair without the Scots blue. 

How lively, inspiring, challenging is the alternative popular debate in Scotland, on – well everything! Start with austerity; the banks; oil money; Trident;  NHS; Bedroom Tax; accountability; democracy; Palestine. The Scottish media is rightly full of it. It is worth reading the nationals! Hitherto unheard of!

For two years now, the Scottish left has been at the forefront of the Yes campaign despite the attempts of the media and New Labour to brand it as ‘nationalist’, just SNP, a smear being carefully nurtured in the tv debates.

The SNP has changed dramatically. No longer a home for clandestine Tories (like the Ratepayers or Independents in Wales), although unsurprisingly providing comfort to many disaffected Labour people, the SNP is now more of a Social Democratic party than anything else. We can play definitions – ‘centrism’ and ‘populism’ are relevant but ‘Social democratic’ is most useful, not least because the SNP is now better at it than Scottish Labour, still riven with New Labourism and tribalism.

Labour, on behalf of its unholy three-party cabal, holds up Salmond and the SNP as being politically unreliable, which they no doubt are. Scots are voting for something different from the Westminster ways, not for Alex Salmond or the SNP.  

Miliband accuses the SNP of implementing Tory policies . That’s a bit rich; the SNP took on the mantle that Scottish Labour relinquished in favour of Thatcher’s ways.  That is why they won power in Scotland.

Labour says that separation would make it more difficult for individuals and families to live on one side of the border and work on the other, or to move around regularly with their jobs. On a national level, this would reduce the number of people who travel cross-border and the opportunities available to all of us.

Scaremongering for Better Together, via  Margaret Curran, their Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, includes this damning detail:

 “…. exports from an independent Scotland to the continuing UK would be 83 per cent lower after 30 years than if Scotland were to remain a part of the UK. Exports from the rest of the UK to Scotland would be 77 per cent lower. Migration lows could fall below ten thousand per annum in both directions, compared with average rates of over 40,000 people per annum in recent years.”

The far from reliable source of this quotation? “The UK Government has estimated that …“ – The Tories!

The report goes on …

“Independent academic evidence has shown that the US-Canada border reduces trade by 44 per cent between the two countries.”

If you are not quite following where this is going….

“The amount of Ireland’s trade going to the UK has fallen from just under 90 per cent immediately after the establishment of the Irish Free State in the 1920s to between 20-30 per cent in the 2000s. This decline continued in spite of free trade agreements and membership of the European Union.”

Labour, quoting the Tory number crunchers, is clearly suggesting that Canada should be the 51st State of the US and Ireland should never have become independent!

Now, the media tells us, Salmond has taken a ‘drubbing’ over the currency in the first debate with Better Together’s, Darling. The truth is that the Scots will keep the pound. In fact, governments in both Westminster and Edinburgh, should they think otherwise, will have a very hard job stopping the Scots from using the pound! If the Union’s answer is to maliciously cut Scotland off, then the Scottish people, including many Labour, Green and other voters and their representatives, not just the SNP, will decide on the options. One thing is for sure, pounds, many of which are still printed for the Scottish banks, will be around for fair while yet.     

Back in 1979 and 1997, as with the votes in Wales, Scots voted for constitutional changes, not for Labour’s tribalism. Arch-renegade, Lord George Robertson, later head of NATO, and now inexplicably wheeled out to bring his popular appeal to the No campaign, claimed then that Devolution would see off the SNP. Ho ho. Now the same analysts preach that Salmond and nationalism will be the future after a Yes vote on September 18th.  Nonsense!

A future Scotland, independent or not, will be encouraged by the politics of Yes campaigners who have had emancipation and liberation on their agenda, a willingness to challenge corporate capital, an inspiration for others in the world to do likewise. Quite an attractive prospect, I say.

The Scots’ left, actually a very broad left indeed,  has been there with a clearly internationalist, anti-austerity, anti racist, patently eco-socialist campaign, mobilising thousands of Scots behind proposals to set up a nationalised green energy industry, railways, you name it. Their mass nationwide campaign days put routine local party canvassing to shame.  

The Radical Independence Campaign thinks, argues and, best of all, organizes to convince us all that ‘Another Scotland Is Possible’.

So here are a few gems to finish:

For Radical Independence or on facebook.

Scottish Labour’s Report:

The Green Party’s MSP, Patrick Harvie (well worth following) in the Scotsman

And a snippet from Bella Caledonia, also worth keeping an eye on. Try this on Facebook or their website

“I don’t know what’s more offensive, the idea that we should continue the union because Ross Kemp experienced ‘camaraderie’ in Afghanistan (because of the ‘situation we were in’ – hmmm best not explore that particular travesty too deeply) or the nice woman who doesn’t want to lose “some amazing theatres and fantastic festivals”.”

Hey, as I say, if you have been missing out on the debate, you have probably also missed out on the fantastic cultural life hugely evident north of the border, a hint of which you may have tasted during the Commonwealth Games. While we have been suffering and moaning, the Scots have been getting on with it. Good for them!  

Gordon Gibson

August 2014

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