Monthly Archives: September 2016

Indyref 2 – keep it simple

As minds begin to focus on a possible second independence referendum, lots of voices are calling for us to learn the lessons from the last one. Not enough analysis has been done, some claim, to find out what went wrong in 2014. For what it is worth I am not sure that much went wrong and that moving the Yes vote from around 30 % to 45% would seem to indicate that we got a lot right.

There is also the danger that revisiting the past condemns you to fighting last year’s battles, when what you need to do is prepare for the next one. Indyref 2 will be very different from indyref 1. At least we should aim to make it very different.

For me, this means above all we must work to ensure that the key message is as simple as possible. We must at all costs avoid getting dragged down into the “so many (unanswered) questions about independence approach”. Dundee University even ran a programme of events entitled 5 million questions. Interesting to note that they did not attempt anything similar, say 65 million questions, with Brexit.

There are not that many questions, answered or unanswered about independence. The questions that do get asked, on the economy, pensions etc, are the stuff of daily politics in all countries, and have nothing per se, to do with independence.

The key message we must repeat, again and again and again, is that independence is  a question of democracy. The question is who gets to decide on the future of Scotland? Our answer is – the people who live in Scotland. That’s it. Pure and simple. Even our opponents recognise this is the strongest argument in favour of independence. Which is why they try to move the debate on to other matters. Something we must strenuously avoid.

Now I am pretty solidly convinced that a large majority of our fellow citizens already agree with this. They do want decisions about Scotland to be taken by the people who live here. Unfortunately a significant number remain unconvinced of the underlying strength of the Scottish economy. Which is not altogether surprising, when all the UK parties, and almost all of the media are constantly repeating that Scotland is too wee and too poor to be successful as an independent country.

Before indyref 2 we need to have changed this perception. It should not be too difficult. After all Scotland has all the fundamentals to be a sustainable and successful economy. But we need to find a way to convey this in simple, non technical terms. I tend to fall back on comparisons with other similar sized independent countries. Denmark for example is perhaps the closet country in terms of size, population and geographic location. When Unionists say that Scotland is too poor, we should always turn this round. We should constantly ask Unionists to provide the evidence as to why Scotland is not as economically sound and robust as Denmark? What is it that Denmark has that Scotland lacks? We need to move from the defensive and always try and force Unionists into justifying with evidence their claims.

In a nutshell this is my recommendation for preparing for indyref 2 – Keep it simple. Independence is about democracy and not about specific policies. Scotland has the resources, natural and human to be a successful economy. Force Unionists to provide evidence of the contrary.

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Scottish independence – a pragmatic choice?

The possibility that there might be another indy referendum sometime in the not too distant future has brought out again some of the arguments for independence.  In particular the prospect that to secure victory in the next referendum we will need to broaden our support to include more of the middle class has upset a few folk. That some financial industry types are beginning to talk up the prospect of Scottish independence seems to have really frightened a few more.

The reason for this is that for many, particularly on the left of the political spectrum, independence is seen as primarily, or often, solely as a pragmatic choice. At this moment in time independence offers the real prospect of advancing the interests of the working class and/or making Scotland a fairer and more equal society. But what if this were to change and these new middle class converts to independence were to dominate politics in an independent Scotland?

It is an interesting question, though I fail to see what it has to do with independence. No matter where you live if you want to build a fairer, more progressive economy and society you have to campaign for it and to persuade a majority of your fellow citizens to vote for parties committed to these policies.

Independence doesn’t change this. What it does change is the people you have to persuade and convince. With independence this becomes the people who live in Scotland. This is the whole point of independence, for any country. It is not and can never be about particular policies.

It does seem to me to be a bit strange to argue that the people of Scotland should be given the power to decide policies, but only for the next few years. If after, say ten/fifteen years the people of Scotland have failed to live up to my expectations I will – what? Campaign for Scotland to rejoin the UK? Campaign for Scotland to join Denmark or whatever other country is deemed to be at that particular moment suitably left wing/progressive?

The choice of voting for independence should never be a thing of the moment, a purely pragmatic decision. Independence is a choice for the long term, if not for ever. I wrote about this way back in 2012, which you can read here, and my conclusion then still stands today.

Scotland the country, Scotland the land has existed for centuries with its own distinctive customs and laws. It is on the basis of its continuing existence as a distinct entity – a state – that I support Scottish Independence. Let it be us – the people of Scotland, wherever we come from – who decide our future.

 

 

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