2007 - 2021

Indyref – What we Won

YESThe Scottish Greens Maggie Chapman argues that  by defining ‘our identity as egalitarian, internationalist and committed to saving our planet we can claim back our souls from Thatcherism.’ 

In the two years since the Independence Referendum the politics of Scotland has changed beyond recognition. Although the realities of inequality remain very much the same, it is worth noting just how different our country is as a result of the referendum and its aftermath.

Scotland entered the referendum campaign in 2012, very much like England – while we voted differently in Scotland, our attitudes to political questions were very different. Scotland now stands politically very much apart from England. The citizens of nations aren’t born with a particular political outlook, be that left or right. The idea that the politics of Scotland’s people was formed with loch and glen is simply wrong. It’s the product of our history, geography and society. But that politics can change. And the referendum shows it can change very quickly.

While Scotland didn’t vote for independence, our changing politics is eroding the UK’s political unity. What is perhaps most interesting was the way in which change happened. It wasn’t the result of media headlines, press officers, or any of the tools of the late 20th century. It was a mass movement – people convincing other people. And it is this politics that is beginning to change the world, from our political parties to the US presidential race.

The tide that transformed Scotland has seen changes in politics across the world. Radical candidates surge into the leadership of previously centrist parties. Radical parties perform better than over the last 3 decades. This is because of a change in the structure of the economy, a change to how we communicate and on the entry of a new generation to the electorate.

While Margaret Thatcher sought to ‘change the soul’ by making money the dominant relationship in society, the outcome seems to be a generation of people who reject the tyranny of the market. It’s not really a surprise when that market has forced people to take on huge debt to get education, a jobs market that offers little security and often poverty wages, and housing that costs three times (and often more) than what it did for their parents.

While Margaret Thatcher sought to ‘change the soul’ by making money the dominant relationship in society, the outcome seems to be a generation of people who reject the tyranny of the market.

But those material changes only sow the seeds for political change. What made the Scottish experience unique was that it was a transformation in a national political debate driven not by a crisis like in Greece or Spain. Instead our change came from the desire to redefine our politics with social justice and equality at its heart. And it came from ordinary people arming themselves with facts, arguments and that desire to make Scotland a better place.

The Green campaign in the 2014 European Parliament election focused on how we could create a just, welcoming Scotland. As anti-immigrant rhetoric from Westminster politicians and tabloid papers sank to new depths our aim was to change the nature of the debate around austerity, immigration and our future. We didn’t win, but we I like to think we profoundly changed the debate.

And we carried that approach into Green Yes. Far from being the ‘narrow nationalism’ derided by our opponents, we willed into existence a Scotland that looked to the world for the best ways to do things. A Scotland that looked to change the world for the better. A Scotland for those at home with freedom.

The contrast with the EU referendum could not be greater. Where our referendum became a cauldron of ideas, energy, excitement and resolution to change the world, the EU referendum was a grand exercise in cynicism. Driven by a narrow nationalism that sought to return England to its status as an imperial power, the debate often felt like a demand to stop the world, so England could get off – taking the rest of us too.

Where our referendum became a cauldron of ideas, energy, excitement and resolution to change the world, the EU referendum was a grand exercise in cynicism. Driven by a narrow nationalism that sought to return England to its status as an imperial power, the debate often felt like a demand to stop the world, so England could get off – taking the rest of us too.

Of course, for many of those shut out of education, housing and secure employment, this was entirely understandable. Just as it was understandable for many to vote to stay in a United Kingdom they little expected to behave so self-destructively. And just as we in Scotland have decisively shifted the debate on immigration, so we need to shift those in the UK who still blame foreigners for the economic impact of Thatcherism and the banking crisis.

We must not cease from our work in creating Scotland anew. We face ever greater challenges. It is not just Scotland we must recast. We have communities, cities, workplaces to change. We have the tools that can make that change, it is a matter of finding the opportunities to use those tools. By defining our identity as egalitarian, internationalist and committed to saving our planet we can claim back our souls from Thatcherism. The referendum was only the beginning. Its spirit lives on, and we can and will use that spirit to create the Scotland we all deserve in the world we all deserve

Comments (9)

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  1. Richard MacKinnon says:

    The problem I have with these continual cries for a second Scottish independence referendum are summed up in this paragraph,
    “The contrast with the EU referendum could not be greater. Where our referendum became a cauldron of ideas, energy, excitement and resolution to change the world, the EU referendum was a grand exercise in cynicism. Driven by a narrow nationalism that sought to return England to its status as an imperial power, the debate often felt like a demand to stop the world, so England could get off – taking the rest of us too”.
    I voted Yes and to Remain but I disagree with the Maggie Chapman here, that some how Scottish independence is good and noble but England’s is bad and nasty. This self righteousness rankles with me.
    My only explanation when I hear decent people talk rubbish is to conclude they must still be in denial of what they perceive as an awful tragedy, and that in their grief they find themselves unable to accept the result. My advice, accept it, the English refused to listen to the doom mongers and took their chance, we didn’t.

    1. scrandoonyeah says:

      I agree entirely with your sentiments. In simplistic terms what she is saying, Scotland good…England bad, when we know there are a hundred shades in between. Splitting in this way sows the seeds of divisiveness.

      As far as the result of the indyref in 2014 is concerned I always thought: they won, we lost, then we won….and will keep on winning until……however long it takes.

    2. Richard – she was comparing the independence referendum with the Brexit campaign. There hasn’t been an independence referendum for England, has there? Have missed something?

      It’s not just Yes supporters who believe the Brexit campaign was anew low for political lying and negativity that introduced a wave of hate crime. This is widely documented by independent bodies across England who have nothing whatsoever to do with the Scottish debate.

      1. Richard MacKinnon says:

        Editor,
        Your say “There hasn’t been an independence referendum for England, has there?” What was the UK/EU Leave/Remain referendum if it was not a vote for independence from European Union?
        “Have missed something?” not I.

        1. Gordon Benton says:

          The Referendum on EU was not to the Scots one on whether England wanted Independence. But to the English, that is what it was. Large sections of the electorate south of the Border, and I suspect, but have not the evidence to say so, the English-colonised Welsh Principality, believe that they have not benefitted from any EU largesse. This was reinforced through being repeatedly brain-washed by the MSM that that was the reason for their deprivation. Not for the first time, a majority of their electorate have kow-towed to their posh masters who see the resurrection of ‘Great’ Britain, its military might, ruling the waves, the Empire (you can call it the Commonwealth if you like) as its entitlement and gives it once again its rightful place in the World.
          Put into the end of the second row in the G20 photo-call recently perhaps shows that she will have a bit of a problem wrestling her way to the front row any time soon.

  2. Crubag says:

    Scots don’t agree with her. 40% voted Yes/Leave.

  3. Justin Kenrick says:

    This article is very clear on how our politics is not innate but is either shaped by our reclaiming our right to care for others or shaped by succumbing to the fear and xenophobia pushed on us by those who benefit from our division.

    To point out that there is a movement in Scotland that is welcoming of others and seeking a fairer society is beyond argument.

    To say there is a move in England that is driven by fear of others and a wish to benefit at the expense of others (see Cameron’s great offer: “We can stay in Europe because we’ve got a deal to get more out than we give”) is beyond argument.

    This is not about innate differences between the peoples. It is about the different opportunities that are open to us, the different structures we are up against, and the different movements that have emerged from the two. Here’s hoping those in England continue moving towards progressive change.

    If your article is wilfully misread by those who wish to stay (or keep others) powerless, it’s just a sign you are doing an empowering job!

  4. Alf Baird says:

    “Scotland we must recast”

    Rair an braw wirds, an no afore time tae. Mind, tae dae yon ye’d hae tae stairt wi remuiven aw thon unionist elite ower-peyed heidbummers wha aye owersee maist o Scotland’s institutions an wha mak a dug’s brakfast o aw muckle deceesions on oor behauf. Itherwise the unionist elite cultur wid conteena an aye haud oor naition an Scotland’s fowk doon, whither independent or no. Tae be ‘recast’, Scots wid need tae cast oot the unionist elite yoke in aw its mankit naitur.

  5. Jamie says:

    Great article.

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