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By Jason Michael
We now know that this general election will leave the British government weak. But it will re-invigorate unionism here in Scotland. British weakness and stronger unionism means that we have a storm coming. Get ready for it.
We’re about to see a general election where the unionist parties make gains in Scotland but where the London government is seriously weakened overall. Let’s be prepared to lose a number of familiar SNP faces from the Westminster benches and let’s dig in for a period of British instability as Theresa May becomes ever more reckless in her desperation to keep hold of power. No matter what happens on Thursday we can be sure that there is a storm – a big storm – heading our way. In Scotland we really have to be thinking about re-energising our movement and redoubling our efforts – all our efforts – to get another independence referendum underway.
Enough of the “Leftie” Poseurs
Time and again we find ourselves having the same tired conversation with socialist unionists. They argue the need to stay in the United Kingdom because they believe the “struggle” is for the betterment of the working class, to improve conditions for everyone. All of this is admirable, and most of us working for independence got involved with the Yes movement because we want precisely this. But there is always a part in the conversation where these people grudgingly recognise the complete and utter impossibility of realising this socialist dream in the United Kingdom.
Their major malfunction, as socialists, is that they are poseurs. All the rhetoric and trappings of vanguardist revolutionary socialism are more important to them than the brass tacks and nails of being practical. Without realising it they are the useful idiots of the reactionary British establishment. Olive munching, craft beer drinking Che Guevaras are a godsend for a powerful elitist establishment because by working against Scottish independence they ensure the continuation of the UK system – with us in tow – where meaningful social change is impossible.
Only in an independent Scotland do we have the chance to build the fairer society we all clearly want and desperately need. This requires serious pragmatism on the part of the left and people genuinely committed to the true ideals of socialism. It means making compromises to ideas and an ideology the left traditionally views as they enemy – nationalism. Why? Because Scottish nationalism, as a civic nationalism orientated towards separatism rather than the fascistic blood and soil nationalism of other nationalistic movements, is the only vehicle by which independence can be won.
Real socialists have made this compromise before. This was Lenin’s strategy in Russia. He knew a proletarian revolution was impossible in a country where there was no significant working class. The Bolsheviks understood that before the revolution could happen the capitalist project had to be helped along, thus industrialising the nation and producing a working class out of an overwhelmingly rural agricultural labour force. Similarly, socialism is dead in Scotland until we have become a nation where such a transformation is possible. This demands nationalism.
Get Back on the Wagon
Support the SNP! There is no more delicate way to put it than this. Scottish politics are no longer normal, whatever that ever meant. The road to independence is a conflict. It is the conflict between two forces of state-national identity that will only polarise the nation. This polarisation transcends the notion of party politics, producing two factions to which the parties will gravitate. At this moment in time we have a rare opportunity to smash the Union, but the only party capable of doing this is the Scottish National Party. Had the Greens or the Scottish Socialists or any other party be that agent of possibility then I would be behind that party.
Regardless of our thoughts on the individuals involved in or the specific policies of the SNP, the SNP is the only vehicle by which we can gain Scotland’s independence. It – and it alone – can achieve what we need. This idea of a vehicle, especially in a polarised political environment, is the only way we can move forward. We must give this serious thought. We absolutely want to support the parties our individual politics are more in tune with, but all of these political ideologies and ideas are dead in the water without a state in which we can give them real effect.
The situation in Scotland right now is such that support for other parties diminishes the power needed by the vehicle to win another independence referendum and so to gain independence. It is only after independence that our national politics can normalise. Nothing – absolutely nothing – will be normal in Scottish politics until we have achieved that objective. Of course the unionists will continue to call this “divisive.” All political action, all change, is divisive. This is what we mean by polarisation, and this is a necessary and crucial phase of any successful revolution – and what we are doing is revolutionary. We are in the business of bringing down the state to build our own.
Never Fail to Vote
Everyone is sick of going to the polls. We are naturally tired of the constant campaigning. But the campaigning will not end until we get what we want. The alternative is endless London rule and the rest of our lives spent whining about what could have been. This will not be the last time we will have to go out and vote for what we want. When Scotland voted against independence in 2014 we knew we’d be on a longer, harder road; one that means getting into a tough and relentless war of attrition with the British government and the unionists – and that is exactly where we are.
Our campaign for independence is a conflict, and our failure to think of this as a real fight for the future of our country is doing us harm. Thank God this is not a violent conflict, and hopefully it will never become violent, but it is no less a real conflict. In this, we are the soldiers – we, the voters. When we stay at home and fail to cast our vote our army is reduced. Each and every one of us most vote every single time. We must vote until our hands are sore.
Voter apathy and the atrophy of our movement will, if left unchecked, eventually kill the idea of independence. Don’t for a second imagine that it won’t – it happens to movements and revolutions all the time. There is nothing special about us. We have discovered since the last independence referendum that the road is hard. It is a hard road, and there are people in London and all over Scotland with serious money and clout who want nothing more than to make this harder for us. They want us to give up and go home. We cannot afford to let them win. We can win. We must win. But we can only win when we are strong and committed – and in the contest until the bitter end.
UK heading for total chaos