By Caitlin O’Hara
That Scottish women are less likely to support independence (at the moment) was displayed once again by polls this week. Reading the Scotsman kicks up an anomaly, that the country’s leading columnists voices of sanity amongst a sea of unionist angst and bleakly negative reporting (McTernan, Kelly, et als) are all women: Joan McAlpine, Lesley Riddoch and Joyce McMillan. It’s like the nations newspaper (sic) is split, by gender on constitutional issues. The male writers are routinely closed negative and tribally attached to the political establishment (be it Labour or Tory-Liberal). McAlpine, Riddoch and McMillan seem open to a pragmatic politics of reality - whether this means overt support for independence or not.
Earlier in the week Riddoch absolutely nailed Agreeko’s preposterous Rupert Soames scaremongering about renewables. A letter writer had it succinctly: “Electricity from renewable sources is key to Europe’s energy future. The powerful argument for promoting renewable energy rests not just on security of supply but also on jobs and growth.”
Earlier Joan McAlpine brought a breath of republicanism to the madness and Royal fawning that has swept the British media.
But Joyce McMillan writes clear as a belle on the SVR nonsense:
“The whole crisis, though, has revealed two key truths about current Scottish politics, both as disturbing as they are depressing.
The first is the extent to which Scottish governments, bamboozled by the subtle bullying of Whitehall, have simply failed to fight our corner, even on an issue as vital as this one. It is frankly preposterous that the Scottish Government should be presented with a bill for the possible exercise of a right enshrined in UK law, on pain of losing that right if we don’t pay up. And although it was perhaps more predictable that the Labour-Liberal governments of 1999-2007 would acquiesce in these doubtful arrangements, the SNP’s decision to continue the pattern of meek co-operation is much more surprising; and highly revealing of their anxiety to be seen as a competent and non-combative party of government, even when their political duty and opportunity clearly lay elsewhere.
Secondly, though, and even more significantly, the long conspiracy of silence over the tax power, and the reluctance even now to confront the real political debate about whether it should be used, reveals the extent to which our politicians – for all their fine talk of a different political culture in Scotland – have succumbed to the creeping influence of those negative assumptions about public attitudes which form part of the right-wing consensus among Britain’s ruling elites.”
If you throw in Joanna Blythman at the Sunday Herald you get a formidable phalanx of independent-minded writers. Maybe the continued rise of strong women writing about bold answers to the failed political elite will help embolden Scots women to back independence? We need to take the sort of control over our lives at a national level that feminists fought for for the last 30 years. Self-determination is a feminist issue. Or, ‘Nat is feminist issue’, to coin a phrase.