Scotland is smack bang in the middle of a social and political revolution, and political life has been locked into revolutionary and counter-revolutionary battle mode. Ending this stalemate can come only from victory or defeat. It’s that simple.
In describing what is happening right now in Scotland as a “revolution” neither the Spectator nor the Guardian are wrong. We are living in the midst of a revolutionary period in our history, and every sphere of Scottish social, political, and cultural life is being revolutionised. We can be certain that the British media selected this vocabulary carefully. Revolutions sound frightening, linked as they are to tales of heads rolling, purges, and gulags. Yet that’s such a narrow understanding of revolution and it bears no relation to what is actually happening in Scotland. We didn’t get lumbered with soviet councils or re-education camps. What we got instead was sexy socialism. The sexual revolution was a revolution too, and Scotland rather enjoyed it.
Our politics of independence isn’t an end in itself, but a means to an end. When the unionists described the SNP as a single party state they were largely wrong, and a little bit right. Our state for the time being isn’t Scotland but the United Kingdom, and with a mere 56 MPs at Westminster we are very far from being a single party state. In Edinburgh, even with the SNP two seats shy of a majority, the dominance of the National Party does lend credence to their assertion. This, however, is an unavoidable consequence of the revolution, and this suspension of the usual diversity of democratic politics will continue until the revolution has achieved its objective. In this regard it is like a wartime cabinet, putting all other divisions aside to address the emergency.
Revolutions have never in the past succeeded without the mass support of the people, and whether we are ideologically committed to the Scottish National Party and everything that it stands for or not, it has become and remains the political vehicle of that mass support. Recent discussion and debate about the role and function of other pro-independence parties has brought into question the motives of the SNP, and on the edges there has been movement to pro-independence radical leftist groups like RISE and Solidarity. As Edinburgh parliamentary co-operation between the SNP and the Scottish Greens has shown there is much to be gained from alliances and negotiated policy, but on the question of independence there can be no vanguard without unified support.
Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP is the party with that unified mass support of the independence revolution, and the unionist parties are tirelessly working to fracture that unity. Efforts to divide the opinion of the people of this revolution from the inside will, if successful, ultimately be the undoing of our national aspiration for autonomy from the United Kingdom. This has nothing to do with soldiers or gun and tanks, but this is a war nonetheless. It is an ideological war we are in, and winning it will be achieved only with a singularity of cause and in perfect unity. It will demand every vote at every election. When we leave the union, when our sexy revolution is complete, we can get back to business as usual.