Independence or Barbarism
By Mike Small
John Swinney isn’t Che Guevara. Angus Robertson isn’t Slavoj Žižek.
Owen Paterson, the famously climate-denialist Environment Minister may be disappointed to hear that after his bizarre rant in the Independent ‘SNP are Marxists’ – but it is the thin end of the wedge of apocalyptic reactions to the Scottish results.
It’s testimony to the bizarre misjudgement of the entire political class, their pollsters and their media.
It would be a mistake to confuse Owen Paterson with ‘England’ – his party governs with the backing of only 24% of registered voters. So the crisis of legitimacy is not purely a Scottish phenomenon, but it is enhanced as a Scottish phenomenon because we backed a party running on an anti-austerity, anti-Trident, anti-House of Lords message of hope and solidarity.
In other words while you can’t characterise English opinion as being represented by Owen Paterson, its not represented by the anti-Tory protestors either. In fact the only thing more annoying than a massive anti-Tory demo after a massive Tory victory is a massive SNP victory after an indyref defeat.
As Peter Mandelson annoints Chuka Umunna, and the new Conservative government joins (only) Belarus in their plans to push forward on their manifesto plans & scrap Human Rights Act – it’s worth reflecting on the fact that ‘our’ new Justice Secretary supported the introduction of hanging as recently as 1998 and said Stephen Lawrence case was “marred by McCarthyism”.
It’s just a fragment of the bigger picture that is dawning on us all, the actual reality of what a five year term will mean, who these people are and what they represent.
The influential French thinker Cornelius Castoriadis used to write about the idea of ‘Socialisme ou Barbarie’ in the 50s and 60s. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that we need to show solidarity with, and make connections with the radical movements across these islands and across Europe (and to our north in Iceland). It’s clear too that while we build these networks of resistance we need to move on with developing a strategy for independence. This is a movement task not a party political task because we face independence or barbarism.
The relationship between the ’45’ and the ’56’ is now crucial.
In times like this political reality moves at lightning speed. The commentariat are asking mostly the wrong questions.
As Scottish Labour descends into an entertaining fratricide the question isn’t ‘Who Should Replace Jim Murphy?’ – it’s – ‘Who Cares?’ And ditto for the Head Office job.
Are we really all supposed to feign interest in Andy Burnham or give credence to the toe-curling idea of David Miliband being shuttled back across the Atlantic in some kind of orgy of unreconstructed Blairite regurgitative loopery?
Salmond is right, the Scottish Office should be abolished.
Trident 2 will be met with mass resistance and will be the focus point of a huge pan-UK movement.
The Tories austerity measures will be met with connecting movements: 85% Scotland didn’t vote Tory. 73% Wales didn’t vote Tory. 58% England didn’t.
The fact that Owen Paterson ever saw political office tells you everything you need to know about the task ahead.
But the big interesting questions are what powers can we get now, what are the conditions for holding the next referendum and who are we going to elect to Holyrood?
In broader terms, as Neal Ascherson writes today:
“..the 1707 union between England and Scotland is already dead. As a piece of architecture, it was abandoned in 1999, when the devolved Scottish parliament met. Rain blew in as slates fell off; pews were looted; and the Holyrood elections of 2007 and 2011 brought down more of the roof. Last week Alex Salmond said he heard the Scottish lion roaring. I heard the rumble as the union’s floor gave way and fell into the crypt.”
Whilst the metaphor of collapsing architecture works for me, I also want to work with people to create new buildings in a new Scotland, and tomorrow we’ll announce ambitious plans to do that.