There is every reason to assume Russia ‘undertook influence campaigns in relation to the Scottish independence referendum (paragraph 41),’ but then, thanks to Joe Pike’s tell-all exposé of Project Fear, we know the British government was interfering in Scotland’s democracy. It may not always be comforting to think about it, but Scotland was a pawn in a bigger game in 2014 and the outcome of our referendum was going to have far-reaching consequences for the global balance of power.
Other than depriving unionist voters of political representation in the Scottish parliament, many in the movement are asking, what will a manœuvre like this achieve? Certainly, this is the most intelligent question being asked of the plan. It doesn’t deny that it will work, of course it will work. Rather, this question is about the point of doing it. Yes, capitalising on this vulnerability will deprive about a million Scots of their political representation, sure, but we needn’t lose much sleep over this – unionists are happy with the status quo...
The conditions that prevailed in 2011 are no more. The 2014 referendum and the ongoing constitutional war of attrition have fundamentally changed the dynamics of how we do politics, of how we think politics. Unionist support is continuing to rally behind the Conservatives, and this, along with the continued success of the SNP in the constituency vote, will now always work against the SNP. Yet, Stewart McDonald is right. The SNP strategy in 2011 has been the only one that has worked, and it has won an SNP majority. It can win that majority again – theoretically, at least.
Yet, the SNP campaign of 2012-14 was itself the product of change. On the eve of devolution, in the 1997 general election, Salmond’s SNP won a paltry six seats. It made no impact on the major population centres of the central belt, had no appeal to the socialist heart of Scotland, and failed to attract meaningful numbers from the country’s minority populations. At that election the SNP felt the full force of a New Labour landslide that swept across the whole of the United Kingdom and brought us the painful disappointment that was Tony Blair.
What matters now – all that matters now – is our actions and our resolve, and all this is perfectly summed up in the fullest expression of our democratic will. Democracy is not the long and tiring journey to independence. It is the key to independence and to everything else of good we wish to see in our country. Right now, there exists a majority in Scotland which believes the best thing for Scotland and for the future of the Scottish people is that this union with England, a union that has never served the interests of the Scots nation and people, should be ended.
What Pete Wishart is making here, especially when he writes about taking away ‘the whole democratic case of withholding a referendum’ by winning another majority, is a moral argument – and a good moral argument, but a moral argument nonetheless. Absolutely, a democratic majority would morally require the British government to do the right thing. Historically speaking and as our own experience of the British government since 2012 tells us, Britain and ‘the right thing’ seldom appear in the same sentence. As Rob Johns, Professor in Politics at the University of Essex...
Our government said it would not tolerate a power grab, that it would not stand for Scotland being taken out of the European Union against the democratic will of the Scottish people. It has had mandate after mandate to move forward with independence. It had the support to resist the British state over Brexit. We watched as the United Kingdom staggered from one constitutional crisis to another – and in the end we got sweet feck all. Don’t shoot the messenger! Don’t discount what I’m saying just because it hurts your feelings. It hurts my feelings too.
Less than fifteen minutes in I was too dejected to listen any more. The social media feed was telling me I wasn’t alone. Another over-hyped empty announcement from ‘the only person who can win our independence,’ another dead-end from ‘the only show in town,’ and another painful frustration from ‘the only party that can do it.’ Of course, I bought none of this. Reason and the experience of the past six years warned me to expect nothing, but hope – that twisted trick the psyche plays on us – had me thinking there was a chance; slim and unlikely, but a chance.