By Thom Cross
Once again Ed Miliband (accompanied by his ‘consigliere’ Ed Balls) visited Scotland last week to help shore-up Iain Gray’s leadership. For two-Eds are better than wan Gray apparently.
The visit was more than a canvass for the Scottish May elections. The Scottish Labour Party cannot be allowed to offer Scottish people any political option that does not rely on it being thirled to London Labour. Even in what is a new post-British political culture (especially after the Welsh referendum), Scottish Labour still needs the clout of the control and command centre of London Labour even for a Holyrood election. Partly, it is London’s absolute dependency on the Scottish 50 plus seats at Westminster.
Labour in Scotland has three strikes against it. It is not Scottish enough. It is not Labour enough. It is more of an Italian-like social network than a party. Across Scotland, especially in my neck of the woods in Lanarkshire, the desperate poor will, once again, be urged to offer their votes to Labour, as others kneel, in the desperate hope of personal salvation. Yet, the all too familiar ‘have- nots’, will still be macro-governed under the distant disdain of the Westminster Tory ‘haves’.
So is Scotland once again living under the democratic deficit of the Thatcher years? It was Willie Shakespeare who asked in his ‘Scotch Play’ the related penetrating question – ‘Stands Scotland where it did?’ The answer still haunts the nether regions of my disquiet -‘Alas poor country, almost afraid to know itself’. ‘Knowing oneself’ is deep philosophical profundity, linking ancient Cabalistic theosophy with Jungean psychology and enlightenment epistemology. But Shakespeare wrote ’almost afraid’.
Is that where we are now in 2011? Are we now still ‘almost afraid’ of knowing ourselves ?
Pablo Freire suggests that this societal ‘knowing onself’ is a process inherent in social consciousness. Conscientization is what he called the process that animated an understanding of our relationship with society, its rulers and the ruled.
‘The process of developing a critical awareness of one’s social reality through reflection and action. Action is fundamental because it is the process of changing the reality’.
We are coming to the close of a Scottish Government-the first of its kind- who proclaimed that its vision was /is a PROCESS of national consciousness , leading to national sovereignty for Scotland-changing the reality. This suggests that Alex Salmond and company at least and those who have voted for the SNP (and other pro-Independence parties) are no longer afraid to know themselves a s participants in this other political process. By voting for pro-Independence many have shown that they have developed such a critical awareness , that they are willing to move into active participation towards establishing an autonomous Scotland.
This active process, best described a constitutional decolonization – at least offers an alternative vision, with an accompanying alternative narrative.
Or, is Scotland’s future underdevelopment and fear, under the hegemony of Westminster power? Devolution has attempted to alter the power relations within a new culture of post–British politics. By its very enfeebled nature, Holyrood was born to be self-inhibiting, shorn of autonomous history-making powers.
The idea of an autonomous Scotland, urgently needs realisation through a political programme at Holyrood. It is the only way forward for Scotland. No amount of visits from the Eds of March will change that reality.