Today Longannet closes and Unelectable Jeremy Corbyn opens up a 14% lead over Cameron in the @IpsosMORI leader ratings. At least one of the STV News’s upcoming new columnists must of choked on his corn flakes reading that. The world’s changing so rapidly that the case we made yesterday is not the case we should make tomorrow. A fossil fuel economy (of oil or coal) is as dead as the Scottish Labour Party. The media landscape is shifting and crumbling too, as the Digital Majority tweeted: “Those who smugly gloated and made Scotland’s peaceful revolution impossible, made the Digital Revolution inevitable.”
The ‘Still Yes’ platitudes may be comforting but they’re largely irrelevant. We lost and no amount of self-affirmation changes that. Equally “SNP 1 & 2” is re-stated like the Jesus Prayer but doesn’t lead us to anywhere in particular. A vast SNP bloc and opposition parties crumbling may feel good, but it doesn’t actually give you a route map or a strategy for winning indyref2. What’s required is (self) critical thinking and openness to new ideas and fresh approaches. Clinging to the wreckage and shrieking at enemies (perceived and real) isn’t going to cut it.
Deeper new economic thinking and social policy that is bolder and more innovative will be needed, and a complete rejection of the ‘don’t frighten the horses’ cautionary principle is required.
We need to break not just with the UK but break with the principles that the UK is based on.
The price of independence
Today a group calling itself Scotland in Union declared that “the people of Scotland would be facing a bill of £10.4 billion this year if we had decided to become an independent country” arguing that the cost of “losing Barnett, higher interest payments, the impact of currency exchanges, new border controls, EU rebate, UK renewable subsidies, maintaining free higher education and the setting up new governmental departments” would be £10 billion in just one year.
Alastair Cameron, Director of Scotland in Union, believes the research shows that Alex Salmond glossed over more than just oil revenues when making their case for independence. He said: “This new analysis of the financial costs of breaking away lays bare the challenges Scotland would have faced,and demonstrates Alex Salmond glossed over more than just oil revenues. We would all have paid a high price for his political obsession.” Their ‘Breakdown of the £10.4 billion’ includes (hilariously) ‘Lost EU rebate’ put at – £525 million (better watch the space on that one) and ‘Loss of renewable subsidies’ put at – £510 million. The idea that the referendum was the political obsession of just one man is a recurring theme in unionist commentary. It is also, like much of the No campaigns focus before and since, almost entreaty backward looking.
Some of this is laughable but if we try and mimic the modes and structures of the UK we will lose the argument because we will frequently not measure up to the standards of the British state, its economy and its workings. It’s like the old conundrum: “How do you beat the Harlem Globetrotters at basketball?” You don’t. You don’t play the Harlem Globetrotters at basketball.
As we steer through the wall of cackling glee that is Unionist self-congratulations as they deliver us safely into the hands of Osborne and Cameron, we need to shift the focus onto new pathways and open-up to entirely new ways of working and acting.
The extraordinary figures that nearly 40% of the Yes movement were active in RIC and 30.8% were active in the National Collective shows three things.
First, its an enormous blow for those shrill voices who denounce the radical left in Scotland as ‘jumping on the band-wagon’. They should read these studies and thank RIC and NC for transforming the campaign.
Secondly it proves the point (again and again) that cultural politics was the transformative political experience of the referendum. And will be again.
Thirdly it shows that the extraordinary energy of self-organisation was the key political tool of the movement. These groups came from nowhere and started with nothing. They were non-party aligned and were run on pure energy and creativity.
As Jonathan Shafi notes: “The movement itself was also distinctly left-wing in character as attested by the fact that most people involved were taking part because of the radical potential of independence in terms of class, austerity and democracy rather than nationalism. This is the impulse that drove the vote up to 45%.”
As the brutal realities of the Conservative Government You Didn’t Elect get exposed daily, this is the ground that independence should be fought on. This is the ground independence will be won on. Those arguing for dependence will have to restate their case over and over because each moment in the Union is a lived experience of a lie revealed.
We’re still waiting for the elusive positive case for the Union. As we experience the continuity of Project Fear it holds less and less grip on people’s imagination.