It is difficult now to imagine an independence campaign that hasn’t been forced to carry the burden of myriad policy agendas and a host of single-issue crusades. Difficult, but not impossible. I’ve been doing it for several decades. The political left in Scotland, and those who seek to appeal to the political left, generally insist that independence isn’t an end in itself. Independence, they maintain, has to be about doing this or that or a plethora of other things, many of them contradictory or mutually exclusive. We can’t just restore Scotland’s independence because the Union is seriously and increasingly deleterious to our nation and people. No! Independence has to be about realising a ‘vision’ of what Scotland will be after independence is restored. And everybody has their own ‘vision’. There is no single ‘vision’ that appeals to everyone. Any ‘vision’ is as likely to deter as it is to attract.
I’ve always thought it odd that those most inclined to talk of independence releasing Scotland’s potential tend to also have a propensity for prescribing what that potential should be used for. They say they want Scotland free to chart its own course, whilst at the same time stipulating what that course must be.
The essential question of Scotland’s constitutional status thus gets lost in a fog of policy arguments that cannot be decided in advance and so are totally pointless. A fog that is made denser by all the single-issue campaigns looking to tap into the energy of the Yes movement. I have a great deal of sympathy for the aims of many of these campaigns. But I have no patience with them trying to piggyback on the Yes movement. They only slow us down.
The restoration of Scotland’s independence is an end in itself. Not the sole end. But the end upon which all the others depend. It deserves our undivided attention. It requires all our energy. It needs all our resources.
The Yes movement is divided because there isn’t a single Yes movement. That may sound like a circular argument because it is. It may sound glib, but it isn’t. It is the essence of the matter. We hear a great deal of talk about uniting the Yes movement. Unfortunately, we hear even more talk about the faction-defining differences which divide the movement. If the talk is of currency and there are various perspectives and positions on the matter many of which are incompatible and irreconcilable, then it is hardly surprising if there is a ‘split’. The split is not on the constitutional issue, but it nonetheless divides the Yes movement.
Take a diverse movement; give it time without effective leadership and the diversity becomes division. That is what has happened to the Yes movement. For the most part, efforts to unite the Yes movement have tried to push all the parts together by urging them to compromise for the sake of independence. If they were capable of compromise they wouldn’t be separate factions. Better to let them keep their distinctiveness but pull them together under the umbrella of an organisation focused exclusively and strictly on the constitutional issue.
We must reframe the independence campaign as a fight for constitutional justice. The Union is wrong for Scotland. Independence must be right regardless of what happens in the years that follow.
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10 thoughts on “For the sake of justice”
Unfortunately each party is expected to have a host of policies ready to execute when it becomes the party of government, hence ALBA & ISP feverishly drafting and passing one after another, mostly reflecting the campus glory days of the activists. And with the SNP running the country, it would daft if they didn’t have policies.
I can’t see a party saying we are for Independence, nothing but, and on all other matters we will continue the status quo until the people of Scotland say otherwise, though that is definitely what the Yes groups, AUOB etc should be doing – I have written elsewhere how they are putting me off (and possibly many others) with their unilateral disarmament and support for Hamas, amongst other noxious, leftist cant.
In terms of parties we need a range of choices with all manner of opinions, but agreed that come election time they will form pacts based on their polling figures, designed to game d’Hondt. ” Democracy Scotland” is ready to spring out of my head and into action! (Don’t hold your breath)
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Actually I’d like to hear Alf Baird’s perspective on this, given his decolonialisation studies
Peter is right. Postcolonial theory tells us that independence is not a matter of left or right, nor of socialism versus capitalism. The only priority at the moment is that of freeing the people.
A problem arises because national parties run by the bourgeoisie tend to be organised along the lines of parties in the mother country, so they similarly work to develop policies for this and that and build their political careers in like manner. What happens then is that the national parties seek only a compromise (i.e. continuity!) with the colonial system, which diverts them from the only task that matters – freeing the people.
The national parties understanding of the main task remains rudimentary because they have failed to undertake ‘a reasoned analysis of colonial society’. Because of this they have also failed to answer the question the people ask as to what independence really means or why it is necessary – the answer to which is decolonisation and liberation from oppression.
The only way out for a colonially oppressed and exploited people is to become independent through ‘a break’ with the colonial system. ‘Continuity’ and compromise simply means more colonial administration and oppression, and ultimately the perishing of a people, their culture and nation.
Click to access THEORETICAL+CASE+FOR+SCOTTISH+INDEPENDENCE.pdf
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“In terms of parties we need a range of choices with all manner of opinions…”
In elections! NOT in a constitutional campaign. And certainly not in a proper constitutional referendum.
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I’m struggling to understand how this translates to practical strategies for our political parties and umbrella groups. What are you suggesting, for e.g. the SNP, ALBA and Yes Scotland? Or is this a steer for Salvo and “Scotland United”?
Reblogged this on Ramblings of a now 60+ Female.
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Despite my own misgivings about BREXIT I am aware that as many as 40% of independence supporters backed BREXIT. “One Union down, one to go” as one put it.
The same template applies to other alternative policies where the privileging of one can only diminish overall support for independence.
Your umbrella approach is the right one. The campaign might adopt the national motto of the United States : E PLURIBUS UNUM.
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The purity of your argument shines through. Sadly, too many people have attached blinkers to themselves, preventing them from seeing the light.
Too many ploughing there own furrows. Answer have I none.
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Time for the hill-walking.
That’s if the Greeens don’t make a total conservation area of all the hills to save the adders.
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