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By Jason Michael
NICOLA STURGEON AND THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY have won another five years in government in Scotland. While this is the result I was hoping for, it is not quite the result I wanted. We had the opportunity to win a supermajority which would both see an SNP government and an overwhelming number of pro-independence MSPs in our parliament that would make it impossible for the London administration to ignore our demand for another independence referendum without forever unmasking itself as an oppressive and undemocratic colonial regime. We never achieved this, and … well … that’s politics. Now we have to move on and work with what we have.
Sure, of course I am disappointed. I am frustrated at my efforts and the efforts of so many other dedicated independentistas being dismissed by our fellow independence supporters as ‘unionist.’ This is painful and has only further divided the independence movement. It wasn’t divisive in their eyes to continue to criminalise Alex Salmond — even after his innocence had been upheld by the courts. It wasn’t divisive in their eyes to write hard working people off as ‘misogynists’ and ‘transphobes’ because they supported a party other than the National Party. It wasn’t divisive to them to cheer when Stu Campbell announced his departure from online political activism or when Craig Murray was sentenced to eight months in prison for doing what many in the union-aligned media had already done. It is only divisive when those without the support of the SNP do it.
I am frustrated at my efforts and the efforts of so many other dedicated independentistas being dismissed by our fellow independence supporters as ‘unionist.’
We tried. We tried very hard. But, on this occasion, we failed. We cannot, however, be bitter. We cannot afford for bitterness to take over and sour the bonds which still unite us. It has never stopped being my belief that those who voted SNP one and two — the vast majority of them — voted the way they did because they wanted independence. In this regard, then, this election was a success for us all. This was still a solidly pro-independence vote which sends a powerful message to Westminster; that independence has not gone away and that the majority of Scots are now voting consistently for a pro-independence party.
What we must do now is look to the future, and that is what I hope to think about in this article — the future. At the beginning of this month, persuaded that giving both votes to the National Party would return a near-impossible majority, independence supporters voted for another five years of Ms Sturgeon’s painfully gradualist approach. This approach — a policy or non-policy of acquiescence to the London government — has, in terms of independence, achieved nothing in the last almost seven years. Nothing! With the endless talk and the ongoing official SNP disengagement from the grassroots of the movement, we have not secured a Section 30 order, we have not even asked for one, we have not gotten another independence referendum. In the starkest terms, we are no closer today to independence than we were on the 19 September 2014.
At the beginning of this month, persuaded that giving both votes to the National Party would return a near-impossible majority, independence supporters voted for another five years of Ms Sturgeon’s painfully gradualist approach.
People will always kick back and lash out when this is put to them. Of course they will — it’s depressing and disheartening. Yet, it is the truth nonetheless. Having now voted for another five years of the same, at least we now know what to expect from the Scottish government in the next half decade — absolutely nothing. But this does not mean that nothing is possible. Nothing has changed. We are still working towards independence, and democracy remains ours — and we can take it to the streets.
Recent events on Kenmure Street, Glasgow, showed us what is possible when people combine their efforts in direct action. The Home Office — the department of the British government tasked with terrorising immigrants — was, in short order, told where to go. Enforcement officers arrived in the street during the Muslim festival of Eid and in the middle of a global pandemic to remove two Muslim men the British state had deemed no longer welcome in Scotland. And, as we all know, the residents of Kenmure Street — ‘a mob’ as the British media described them — was for having none of it.
Crowds gathered from all around the area to support the people of the street, and soon the whole world was tuned in and watching one of the most beautiful showdowns in the history of recent popular dissent. Police Scotland was called to the scene, and rightly gauging the mood, came to the rational conclusion that its job was not to enforce London policy on our streets. The release of the men was negotiated and the doors of the van in which they were being held against their will were opened. How proud can we be of those people and that moment? This was direct action, this was the power of people who had decided enough was enough, and this is what the next five years should be all about.
Regardless of how I feel towards the current leadership of the Scottish National Party, the fact remains that this is a party made up of people genuinely committed to the cause of independence. No one is disputing this. Those who voted for the party too, voted because they are committed to independence. All of these people, as we read from them online before the election, were again prepared to give the SNP another ‘one more chance.’ Those of us already exhausted of patience for this nonsense were derided. We suffered no end of abuse. But we stood our ground, and if the SNP fails to deliver independence in this term we will have made our case and more people will vote with their feet. And this is why we simply must keep up and develop our campaign.
Those who voted for the party too, voted because they are committed to independence. All of these people, as we read from them online before the election, were again prepared to give the SNP another ‘one more chance.’
Gradualism qua playing by the rules set by the more powerful party does not work. So long as we play by the rules made by others, others will always have the power to change the rules. The alternative to this is accelerationism — the strategy of expediting the process by allowing it to continue as it is until it itself exposes the internal contradictions of its own system. We had hoped to achieve this by putting another pro-independence party into the mix. But, for the moment, this has not worked. Now we can take a different route. We can push the leadership of the SNP to deliver exactly what it promised — and in the time it promised to do it. By scuppering another pro-independence party, by saying that both votes SNP was the only way, the National Party has imposed on itself the limits set by the party it defeated: that independence must happen in this term of government.
As a democrat then, I fully intend getting behind Nicola Sturgeon as the First Minister and leader the Scottish electorate has chosen, and my plan is simple — to agitate, agitate, agitate. She knows that Westminster knows that she knows that Westminster knows gradualism cannot and will not work. Sturgeon wanted this chalice, and it is our job from now on — over the next five years — to make her drink every last drop. Our task is independence, not to keep her in her position, and so our job is to let her know in no uncertain terms that her political future depends on her actions in the lifetime of this government.
Where we have been in the habit of not giving the British government peace, we must now get into the habit of not giving the Scottish government peace. Every day we must be asking — no, demanding — that she set a date for the independence referendum. At every opportunity we must insist that she demand a Section 30 order, and that she be prepared to hold a referendum when London refuses the request. The next five years is about making a lot of noise, about becoming a constant headache to everyone — no matter who they are — who is standing in our way. Nicola Sturgeon wanted this, now she must prover herself and deliver or get off the pot.
Radio Saorsa | The Five Year Plan