10668906_328475067326712_244829102761671118_oOne of the most exhilarating things about the referendum for the Yes movement was the sheer number of new people and organisations we got to know. From the referendum, lasting friendships have developed as diverse political movements once strangers came together in common cause. Underpinning the whole debate were the people themselves, many of whom came into political activism for the first time as a result of the atmosphere of possibility and the deeply held hopes for real social change. For once our vote was to count for something.

These networks and relationships managed to generalise a progressive outlook based on left wing values. There are so many fascinating elements of this movement. Resolve and determination are characteristics of mass movements of course, but decline and decay are also classic symptoms of defeat that inevitably bed in. Not so with the independence movement. There is now a permanent layer of support for Independence of around half the population. Much of this is ready to mobilise again in a future referendum.

And that is why there cannot be a Corbynist Labour Party in Scotland. The essential point of Corbynism is to build a social movement around the party. This is of course a good idea, and must be supported unequivocally in England as he takes the fight to the Tories and the establishment in general. But it is not possible for this to happen in Scotland because the social resources needed to achieve this are terminally alienated from Scottish Labour.

The hopes invested in Independence as a means of opposing austerity and ending Tory domination were betrayed by the Labour Party. The leadership of Scottish Labour are not only a million miles away from the socialist substance and experience of Corbyn, but they played a pivotal role in the betrayal.

Generations have been lost. Just look at the statistics. In a recent poll for TNS 59% of 16- 34 year olds support independence. The basis of this support will vary, but the common themes of democracy, anti-austerity and a more egalitarian society will no doubt be common themes.

Generations have been lost. Just look at the statistics. In a recent poll for TNS 59% of 16- 34 year olds support independence. The basis of this support will vary, but the common themes of democracy, anti-austerity and a more egalitarian society will no doubt be common themes.

This helps to define the precise and real contradiction between Corbyn and Scotland. The politics Cornyn identifies with are located within the support base for independence and as such – especially in Holyrood elections – are cut off from each other. The social base for Corbyn’s left wing ideals are to be found in the communities which voted Yes and would do so again tomorrow. So too are they to be found in the local anti-cuts groups, and the unions, where SNP trade union members now outweigh the entire membership of Labour in Scotland. These massive shifts and movements of opinion cannot be rubbed out. They have to be confronted directly and engaged with.

And that is where the second problem for Scottish Labour comes in. Their leadership just can’t engage on a big enough level and in a broad enough manner with independence supporters. Kezia Dugdale may be young, but is already too tarnished with her support for the Union at a time of austerity and Tory rule. In addition she stood too close to Jim Murphy – an obvious error, but one carried out as a result of being continually out of touch with the profound change that has taken place in Scottish society.

This combination of factors makes Corbyn’s position on independence a barrier to developing his wider politics in Scotland. Here it is important to restate the general support the independence movement should have for his attempts in Westminster. Having been through the media mill ourselves, we are in a good position to defend him from the toxic smears of the corporate media and the BBC. At the same time independence is central to overcoming the parameters of the British State. In a previous article I use the slogan ‘divide the state- unite the movement’ to sum this up.

So – the fire of Corbyn cannot spread to Scotland in the same way. This we know. But that does not mean Scottish politics does not need an opposition. It means there is an opportunity emerging here and now to construct a parliament in which the opposition itself is also pro-independence. That is why Holyrood 2016 is not only another stepping stone towards independence, but it can be an arena in which the diversity of our movement as a whole should be represented. The pro-independence radical left should have the objective over time of taking the Labour seats in parliament, especially via the second vote. If we succeed in that we will have done two things: strengthened the case for independence, and created a left block of real allies for the movement in England.

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