10 thoughts on Scotland post #indyref

David Jamieson provides a sober analysis of the hard truths and new opportunities following from a No vote in the independence referendum.

1. We lost to a dirty campaign. But we lost. Anymore time squinting at piles of ballot papers is wasted time. The majority of Scots voted to remain in the Union. Furthermore, this was always the likely result. 45% Yes is a truly stunning result.

None of that detracts from the venality of the campaign that was run against us. Total economic collapse, civil war, permanent dictatorial rule by celibate ethnic nationalists, invasion from space, plagues of locusts – all but the last was threatened by the No campaign. This is what the organised persuasive force of the ruling class looks like.

2. There is not going to be another independence referendum. At least not in the short or medium term. 45% Yes to 55% No is not a sturdy foundation for the future of the Union – and the continued movement through devolution, however extensive or limited initially, is the prelude to the ultimate break-up of Britain. But not for a long time.

Of course the SNP are in a strong position to win the next Holyrood elections – and being a nationalist party and one whose central policy concern is constitutional change, there could possibly be a referendum on some form of devo max. But full independence is off the table for now.

3. We thought we were in a shorter game. Now we know we are in a longer one. For the bulk of Yes support this referendum was not about independence for its own sake, but as a means for progressive social change. We now must pursue our aims of social justice through other means, though in coming months and years constitutional matters will remain a central concern.

4. SNP vs Labour is a trap. Don’t get caught in it. If you were on the Yes side the attraction of the SNP is enormous. They are a stable and strong political entity who delivered Scotland’s greatest ever national democratic moment. And they can hurt Labour.

The Labour party have played a filthy role in the referendum – threatening their own working class constituents, running in the pack with Tory, Liberal and Orange hounds. But descending into an unthinking hatred of Labour won’t change that, and if anything is a demobilising impulse.

SNP, denude of their central constitutional and policy mechanism, represent a busted flush for the Westminster turd. Their capacity to resist austerity, without their characteristic threat of secession, is severely blunted.

It’s also clear that the referendum was delineated predominantly on class lines, rather than traditional party support. The SNP are not necessarily capable of burying Labour in working class areas with high yes turnouts, just as Labour won’t be taking Angus, Aberdeenshire and Perth & Kinross from the SNP any time soon despite a substantial No majority in those areas.

5. Scottish Labour is in real trouble. For all the reasons stated above, Labour has greatly weakened its standing amongst the Scottish working class.

We can still expect Labour to ride the anti-Tory mood to Westminster in six months’ time. But that’s because of the savvy of the working class – rather than the class character of Labour.

The Yes vote took Dundee and Glasgow, the two historic cities of the Scottish Labour movement. This is a seminal moment in the long disintegration of the Scottish and British Labour parties.

6. We can’t assume any degree of devolution from Westminster. We have to fight for it. The much vaunted timetable for constitutional reform has already been abandoned. Gordon Brown’s baseless assertions of a new Home Rule settlement have been completely forgotten. Tory backbenchers at Westminster are rebelling against new powers. Ed Miliband’s focus on new powers for England is about pandering to right wing anti-Scots chauvinism rather than concern for English cities.

It oughtn’t be the preserve of politicians to preside over constitutional reform amongst themselves. The lessons of the Yes movement need to be re-applied to the new constitutional questions. We only extracted the promise of devolution through mass self-activity. Only such activity can draw the greatest new concessions.

7. The Yes vote has greatly exacerbated the generalised crisis of the British regime. The entire political establishment is in complete disarray. They were not prepared to have their most basic entitlement, the entitlement to rule – challenged in this way.

In opposite and equal fashion the democratic empowerment of the Scottish people will leave its own mark – especially amongst the 45%, the more politically conscious section of Scottish society. We will be more difficult to rule hereafter.

8. The Unionist rioting in Glasgow, and general reactionary tenor of the No campaign proves that not all nationalisms are the same. The Yes movement was as progressive as the No camp reactionary. The elements of the left fond of drawing a comparison between the two sides or claiming both are an irrelevance to class politics are living in a cartoon world, and should be ignored.

9. We need a new radical left party. None of the existing political parties in Scotland are in a fit state to continue what was begun with the Yes movement. The left has forged a new political basis through the campaign, most organisational divisions which existed before the referendum and even up to the 18th of September are now redundant and arbitrary. It would be grossly irresponsible for the left not to launch a new credible challenge on both a societal and parliamentary basis.

10. The whole left ought to attend RIC 2014. Whether committed to a new party or not, indeed whether having been a Yes or a No. The unity and discipline the left has extended until now has been an inspiration. We go on from here.

36 Responses to “10 thoughts on Scotland post #indyref”

  1. Sandra says:

    I agree with most of your post; however I disagree with point number 2 in that I think another referendum is possible in the not too distant future. The 45 movement has started with a bang and the 1.6 million are not intending to let our voices drift into the background. We intend to fight for our freedom using non aggressive methods, and take back control from the elitists and deliver it into the hands of the people of Scotland.

  2. On thought 10 – so far 4900 people have said they want to attend RIC 2014 conference…

  3. David Jamieson says:

    A note on the #45 slogan. A movement which by necessity can only include a minority and exclude a majority of the population cannot win. There must be a broad front for constitutional and social change. I believe the basis for that will be the 45% Yes voters who, as I said in the article, are the most politically conscious section of the population, but they must reach out to the majority No’s, many of whom voted for change.

    There is not going to be an independence referendum, for at least 30 years. We lost by a substantial margin, too great to allow for another referendum.

    But the things we wanted, social change, can happen through other ways – social movements and, I believe crucially, a new party.

    • Ewan Ritchie says:

      I think your wrong.. 55% is not a solid victory given the nature of the campaign.. we intend to push for another referendum.. We’ll take more powers while we are on the way to it but this constitutional settlement is doomed to failure. I dont know how we can genuinely combat poverty in Scotland within a fixed budget under massive pressure. With no control over taxation and welfare policy.. We want financial control of our country and they wont give it to us. Our budget is going to be cut next year and as people begin to see what the real difference between ‘independence’ and ‘devolution’ is i think another referendum will become quickly inevitable

      • DavidJamieson DavidJamieson says:

        I understand your frustration of course Ewan. But the question is ‘how’. The SNP will not call another referendum and in any case Westminster will not grant it. They are under no compulsion to do so.

        Devolved constitutional matters is another thing of course – and ought to be fought for, militantly. Centrally we must reconfigure the political landscape – and I believe that means a new radical party able to present the social justice demands of the Yes movement, and reach out to progressive No’s as well.

        • Emily says:

          I don’t agree with forming a new party. “Let’s make a new party” is a tired-out trope of the left, and only serves to create division. Diversity was key to the Yes movement, and we must remember this. Whilst I was not officially a member at that point, I campaigned for and with the Greens. During the referendum campaign, I gained great respect for members of the SNP, SSP, Labour for Independence and the others I fought beside. I truly believe that we are the unified left, and it is this respect which must bind us together. We must move forward with the strength of many, not force ourselves into one. All that will achieve is petty squabbling.

          • DavidJamieson DavidJamieson says:

            I agree with everything you’ve said and disagree with your conclusions. The diversity is what made it a great movement – so why now should the left not be able to form a party? That is continuing the diversity – surely?

        • Ian Mackay says:

          There are 3 opportunities for the Yes movement:

          1. The 2015 Westminster GE. If Scotland can return 30 independence MPs then we can go for UDI or a referendum again.
          2. The 2016 Holyrood GE. If SNP, Greens & SSP can deliver an independence majority then we can go for another referendum.
          3. The 2017 EU referendum. If as expected Scotland votes to stay in the EU and England or rUK votes out we can then press for a referendum again.

          The other alternative is to wait 15 years or so till the pensioners who voted in this referendum pass away since they swung the vote to No but I’d prefer persuasion rather than death to guarantee a Yes.

          I agree that the 45 name celebrates a minority status and is not inclusive to the other 5 plus per cent we need. 45plus or Yesplus is marginally better

          • Kathleen Anderson says:

            I absolutely love your way of thinking Ian. Given the passion and inspiration generated it would be sacrilege not to keep this alive. The problem of the past has been the propensity of the Scottish population to be knocked back into their box. This referendum engaged so many people and that is a real victory……especially as there is a huge potential for increases in independence if unpopular policies and cuts are thrust upon Scotland. Already some no voters are regretting their decision, and the SNP are seeing a surge of new members. This dream is not over by a long shot.

          • DavidJamieson DavidJamieson says:

            We cannot do UDI – UDI involves a civil war. Remember that its Westminster that grants referenda. Scotland will be independent eventually – but its not going to happen anytime in the next few years.

        • scott bowie says:

          westminster cannot deny a nation a right to a democratic referendum, if they do we will take it to the u.n or the e.u

          • DavidJamieson DavidJamieson says:

            They’ve already granted a referendum – that’s what they are obliged to do by international norms (which aren’t adhered to in most countries).

    • Ryan moffat says:

      Surly by law their can be another referendum at any time scotland chooses? I’m not sure about British law but in most places like the American states can hold a referendum when they choose. What I’m saying is we don’t need permission from Westminster to hold another one but ultimately we need their permission to actually leave no matter the outcome. Like I said though I’m not sure about the laws in Britain they might of banned that already to stop the break up of the uk.

  4. Jimmy says:

    Don’t blame Labour?

    Labour got into bed with the Tories, made up a vow with them and were played like fiddles by Cameron, backed the threats from banks and corporations, put out scare story after scare story, did everything in their power to win a No vote… and we just forget that?

    Sorry, but no. The Labour party are finished in Scotland. Finished. How many wrong turns do they have to take before people realise how disastrous they are, in their modern form, for the Left in this country?

    • DavidJamieson DavidJamieson says:

      I didn’t say don’t blame Labour – I explicitly say blame them, and make all the criticisms of them that you do.

      My argument is that the answer to the Labour party is not the SNP.

      • scott bowie says:

        disagree, we need to get labour out of scotland, the same way we chased the con’s.
        if we have a nation of snp/green and a scottish left then their hold over us will be further diminished.

        • Tom Webster says:

          How exactly did we chase the conservatives out of Scotland? There are still 15 Tory MSPs based on about 13% of the vote. The catchy ‘more pandas than Tory MPs’ distracts from the reality that they are still the third largest party in Holyrood.

  5. LindsayO says:

    Jack Straw writing in the Times, wants to make it impossible for Scotland to ever be independent. to block all referendums on Independence. It is behind a paywall, but here is the relevant part.
    “Now that Scotland has decisively spoken, after a campaign whose terms were set by the SNP for itself, we should follow the example of stable federated countries (the US and India, for example) and say: “This Union is now indissoluble.”
    If independence would have been for good, so must the decision to stay. You can’t pull a living plant up by the roots again and again, and expect it to survive. Put this commitment to the Union in primary Westminster legislation. Of course, that could be changed but only by all the UK’s MPs. “Better Together” must mean what it says.
    The promises of further devolution to Scotland will be honoured, and the settlements for Wales and Northern Ireland are being strengthened.”

    • DavidJamieson DavidJamieson says:

      Indeed – there could be a move to make it permanent. The Westminster government isn’t under legal obligation to grant referenda. It couldn’t avoid it this time, because there hadn’t been a referendum before. Westminster can refer to this recent and unquestioned No majority as a reason why it won’t grant another one. As I said, in the short to medium term – and that will be a long time.

      • Ian Mackay says:

        It doesn’t matter what Westminster thinks about a referendum. If the SNP or other independence parties get enough support for a referendum and press for one and Westminster refuses then the Scottish Government can threaten a consultative referendum.

        For Westminster to ignore that when a precedent has been set by the previous Edinburgh agreement would put extreme pressure on the UK. Scotland could then declare UDI on a Yes.

        • DavidJamieson DavidJamieson says:

          If Holyrood went ahead with a referendum the Westminster didn’t recognise – No’s would boycott – the gov would declare independence and there would be a war.

          • Jonny Hobbit says:

            I can’t help but correct you, sorry. But there have been Scottish independent referendums before. Peroidly they happen every 25 years, often with dismal voter turnout so no majority is ever reached. For a yes vote to carry the yes side needs to not only get 51% of the vote but also the yes voters need to equal at least 40% of Scotland overall population.

  6. Ewan says:

    Does n’t the first point contradict the open invitation to No’s. I mean, should Jim Murphy be invited to RIC?. A churlish point maybe but does n’t the neo-liberal blitzkrieg of No in final weeks define which side you are on?

    • DavidJamieson DavidJamieson says:

      100% of voters – at least superficially – voted for constitutional change. The 55% of Scotland that voted No, are the No’s I’m talking about – rather than Jim Murphy or any ‘No’ politician.

      We’d better hope that not everyone who voted No was on the side of Neo-liberalism – because they represent a majority of the population. As it happens I think some are right-wing and some aren’t. We need to reach out to those on the No side who want change.

      • Lucisia says:

        ‘We need to reach out to those on the No side who want change.’

        I agree: yes and no is not strictly left and right and as a ‘liberal naw’ I do need to kick up a fuss about this. Many of us want devo max and will campaign our socks of for it. Please include us.

  7. Cruachan says:

    A referendum for genuine Devo Max (everything but defence and foreign affairs) by 2018 could be a banner that a vast majority would march to.

  8. Matthew Parsons says:

    I like lists:

    Point 2 – Agreed that Westminster will never agree to another referendum – especially given the result: it was close enough to scare them.
    I disagree that we can’t get another referendum in the medium term. The sickening aspect of all UK referenda is that they have to be ‘granted’ – other proper democracies have systems in place to force a referendum (signature collection usually). Get a system like that in place and a referendum every X years becomes feasible. Of course that would mean the UK was already substantially more democratic and might obviate the need for independence anyway…

    Agree the #45 ‘branding’ is a bad idea. The 99% meme worked so well because it’s shorthand for a comparison of two extremes, and for hyper-inequality. Wish there was a better way to refer to the yes voters though – “the progressive left” seems both too exclusive and too vague at the same time…

    • A Wells says:

      I suggest the ‘yes collective’ is a good enough branding. Keep the word ‘yes’ in the name. It resonates and conveys the optimism which typified the campaign.

    • A Wells says:

      Keep ‘yes’ in the name of the movement. It maintains continuity and expresses the optimism that typified it.

  9. Steve says:

    Your piece is to be commended for its acknowledgement there was a decisive rejection of independence in Scotland. We can pick over the YES carcass ad infinitum, but is pointless and irrelevant.
    Alex Salmond stood in front of a One Scotland backdrop when conceding defeat. I don’t see much of that over the last two days, in fact most subsequent commentary from YES campaign has been bitter and divisive, blaming all sorts of things rather than acknowledging the will of the people of Scotland.
    Would we not be better channelling our energy into the issues that matter for working people in Scotland – jobs, health, the economy, training etc, rather than scheming and plotting the downfall of Westminster!

    • DavidJamieson DavidJamieson says:

      I would of course love for the political discussion to be about living standards in Scotland. Although I think for a majority of Yes voters they voted iver issues like NHS and unemployment.

      A radical reconfiguration of Scottish and British society is necessary. I believe that Scottish independence is only one part of that reconfiguration – but I still want it, even though it has now been significantly delayed.

  10. Calum Smith says:

    ‘Yes’ ironically won Labour heartlands (with Labour-controlled councils and Labour MPs), the only exception being Dundee. Other than this, ‘Yes’ failed to triumph in a single ‘SNP heartland’. Why?
    It’s my belief that the Yes Scotland campaign was pitched too far to the left of centre. That’s the logical conclusion of those results.
    It was at best naive to assume that constantly going on about free childcare and yes, even saying there’d be ‘no more Tories’ after independence would sway people in these areas ‘Yes’ needed to win such as Perth & Kinross and Angus. It wouldn’t have taken much extra imagination to point out the potential of a more mature Scottish democracy under independence for EVERYONE, not just the left and greater expressions of our rich culture that have maybe been suppressed under the union. Remember what Alex Salmond said about ‘One Scotland’.

    • DavidJamieson DavidJamieson says:

      Actually Yes won Dundee. I take your points and arrive at the opposite conclusion.

      The middle classes voted as a Battalion – the working class was split and lost. Many SNPers voted No – because it was a class vote rather than a national one.

      Scottish independence lacks appeal as an issue – its natural base is about 30% of the population. It is strategically necessary to broaden its appeal to the working class.

  11. Derek Durkin says:

    What’s the point of a new party of the left if it is one that bows to the diktats of Westminster? They won’t allow us to have another referendum””!! The bosses won’t allow us a wage increase either so do we just accept that?

    • DavidJamieson DavidJamieson says:

      I agree – I’m up for breaking the law but just consider what that would mean – absolute chaos. And its not a question of what I’m willing to do its a question of what the SNP are willing to do. They are not going to declare independence without Westminster say so.

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