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By Jason Michael
We have come to the crossroads of the Scottish independence discussion and from this point every moment the next referendum is delayed the more we damage Scotland. We know that Scotland’s real tragedy is the union.
It is high time the struggle for independence in Scotland made the leap from comforting the afflicted to afflicting the comfortable. We have made the positive case for independence and yet at every turn we have been mired in the muck by one tactic, one political dirty trick, after another. Every step along the way we have played the game of giving reasons why Scotland should be an independent country; essentially comforting the afflicted, proclaiming to the country that our day will come – someday. This is precisely the approach of those at the helm of the movement suggesting that now is not the time for another referendum. Losing, they tell us, will be catastrophic.
Pete Wishart (@PeteWishart) April 04, 2018
What 2014 and since has taught us is that this cajoling is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. Such nice and polite, positive, campaigns have never in the history of struggle come out on top in the battle against power, corruption, and state control. Jam tomorrow is the politics of the student union and other playgrounds. Standing up to the power of the British state demands a wholly different type of politics, and our sluggishness in realising this is damaging our cause.
Our task is to start afflicting the comfortable. Independence will not be won by making the case for independence. We’ve tried that already. Feelings, not well-reasoned and politely delivered arguments, win votes in the modern political context. Better Together won in 2014 not because it convinced anyone Scotland was incapable of statehood, but because it terrorised just enough of the electorate to persuade them to vote for the status quo. Feels trump reals in modern politics, and whether we like that fact or not we had better bloody get used to it. Independence will not be won in Scotland with what Pete Wishart recently described as a “persuasive new case to overcome deeply held convictions.” Independence will be won by the side that can inflict the most discomfort on the other. Scotland will not be free while Jack is alright.
The time for listing the reasons why Scotland should be an independent country is over. Now it is time to begin shouting the reasons why Westminster is bad for Scotland. Our next referendum can’t be about answering “unanswered questions.” The next time we are on campaign we should be asking the unanswerable questions, setting the traps, painting the ugly pictures, and setting the narrative. Our continuing reluctance to tread this path is the real reason we are still standing about sucking our thumbs and wondering when the next referendum will be.
Westminster is Scotland’s greatest national tragedy. Our pro-independence MPs down in London may not all full appreciate that Scotland’s tragedy is also a concrete reality in the lives of thousands of people across this country. People are dying as a direct result of London rule. Sure, this is the same all over the United Kingdom. No fewer than 120,000 people in England have died unnecessarily as a consequence of Britain’s austerity cuts to health and social welfare. We know that it’s tough for the English too, but we are and have always been powerless to help our English neighbours. But we can help ourselves and we can do that by ending this union.
Scotland’s budget is dictated by a foreign government. So when we hear anti-Scottish politicians in Holyrood or Westminster blaming the Scottish government for “SNP cuts” what we are in fact hearing is the butcher raging at the lamb for the blunting of the blade. London rule is progressively and insidiously bleeding Scotland dry and Westminster and its lackeys are blaming us for our worsening anaemia. Scotland’s problems, from child poverty to long-term unemployment and malnutrition, do come down to the fact that another country’s government makes our most important economic decisions for us and to its own advantage.
This is what has to be brought to the front of the next referendum. British rule in Scotland should come with a serious health warning. We can show that more people have died in our country in the past ten years as a consequence of our constitutional arrangement – as a result of being London’s catamite – than have been killed by Britain’s fictive Islamist terrorists. The British state is the only form of terrorism with which we Scots need concern ourselves.
Our SNP politicians in Holyrood and in Westminster may imagine that they are in the driving seat of the independence movement, and we can forgive them for this understandable misapprehension because they are in the driving seat for as long as we allow them to be. The Scottish National Party was made what it is by the independence movement, and by this movement it can also be undone. It will be the movement and not the party that decides when and under what conditions we hold the next referendum, and the SNP’s failure to grasp this will be catastrophic for the party.
Now is the time for that referendum. After Brexit is too late. Every dog on the street knows that as soon as Scotland is pulled from the European Union Britain will set about the job of dismantling all the civic and cultural structures of Scotland around which the ideas of nationhood and independence flourish. After Brexit is not an option. We take what we have, which is a support base of between 45 and 50 per cent – the highest support for independence there has ever been, and we enter into a campaign running. Every moment of that campaign we fight as though we’re fighting for our lives, taking the tactics to places and that would make even a Prime Minister blush.
We are right on the threshold of independence. To suggest that now – with almost half the country behind us – is not the right time for another referendum; considering we began the first campaign in 2012 with about 22 per cent, is defeatist in the extreme. Of course we can lose another referendum. We have lost before. Why should this stop us from pushing ahead? What we must realise, in consideration of the real tragedy of Scotland being the union, is that the only real failure here is not having the courage to do what clearly has to be done.
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