Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Scotland: Nationalists Lose, and Demand More Powers.

with 6 comments

Loser expects Devolution Demands to be met “in Rapid Form”. 

The campaign for Scottish Independence lost the referendum.

“With the results in from all 32 council areas, the “No” side won with 2,001,926 votes over 1,617,989 for “Yes”.” (BBC)

With the grace and good humour of a stoat, a stoat that’s just had a rabbit snatched from its maw, Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP announced, “Scotland has, by a majority, decided not at this stage to become an independent country. And I accept that verdict of the people. And I call on all of Scotland to follow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland.”

The First Minister of Scotland quickly added, “The unionist parties made vows late in the campaign to devolve more powers to Scotland. Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid form.” (Guardian)

Tommy Sheridan of ‘Solidarity’, tweeted, ” Bosses, Bankers, Billionaires & Millionaires unite with Labour MPs, Tories, UKIP & UK Establishment 2 celebrate Project Fear.”

Colin Fox Spokesperson of the Scottish Socialist Party found time to state (Sky), “The big story tonight is the astonishing levels of turnout in a political contest in Scotland, which is on a par with North Korea, China, Cuba and those places.I think it’s remarkable and I certainly want to pay tribute to the Yes campaigners who over the last two years have energised this country. Clearly both sides of the campaign deserve credit for those levels of turnout.

Commenting on the relatively lower turnout in Glasgow in comparison with other areas, Mr Fox said: “Glasgow’s turnout in the Scottish Parliament elections is usually 40% and it is now 75%, so that’s not to be sniffed at.Let’s hope we can keep it at that level, I think it’s astonishing. Nearly doubling the turnout in Glasgow is a significant achievement for Scotland’s biggest city, with the greatest deprivation and the biggest social problems.”

This mobilisation apparently was the most impressive aspect of the campaign to Red Pepper. Ken Ferguson wrote this breathless article in the Red-Green journal – before the referendum yesterday.

Whatever the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September one thing is certain: the campaign waged by Yes has electrified large swathes of public opinion and reinvigorated democratic debate. The formal Yes campaign, launched two years ago, has been the public face of the pro-independence case. But this has been eclipsed by a burgeoning mass movement of unprecedented scale and breadth.

Ferguson saw many things in this movement, though not, apparently the loyalty to their ‘ain’ State by many of the Yes supporters.

The character and content of the campaign, with its stress on social justice, poverty and opposition to Trident (Scottish CND back Yes), is clearly of the left but it has now far outgrown the organisations of the left. The task, then, is to find an approach that keeps this movement mobilised and able to deal with whatever the referendum produces.

He then observed,

A No result poses even more difficult challenges. First, many of the layers of people – particularly youth – energised by the campaign would face a bitter defeat. It would be vital that the left acts to assess the result and how to deal with it to prevent disillusionment and demobilisation.

For the first time in many years the left has been part of, indeed helped to create, a mass movement that goes beyond the single issue of Yes and starts to open up a vision of a different Scotland and, more widely, a different world. Whatever the result, a democratic debate on how we find both a grassroots and electoral expression of that movement needs to take place immediately.

At its heart will be the need for the left, in dialogue with and not dictating to the mass movement, to win purchase for the kind of green, left democratic politics that energises the broad Yes movement. The consequences of not doing so were shown at the Euro elections, when early discussions of a red/green candidate backed by the Greens and the SSP fell by the wayside. Such an alliance might well have prevented UKIP winning Scotland’s fourth Euro seat and, while a bitter lesson, it also points to the prospects that exist if the left can grasp the opportunities to hand.

Democracy has been the driver of the Yes campaign’s aims and on 18 September it needs to be the watchword for the left whatever the result.

Energising, bitter lessons, democracy, and not a word about the hysterical patriotism of the Yes campaign’s supporters.

This stand is shared by the Radical Independence Campaign whose left-wing politics have been watered down (perhaps wisely in view of the above observation – they worked very closely with the SNP in the final days of the referendum, even organising joint canvassing) to this harmless statement,

We believe Scotland should be a people’s democracy, a society of equality, a great welfare state, a good neighbour, and pioneer a just economy.

More realistic are European observers who note the nationalism of the main party campaigning for the Yes vote, the SNP – whose name might be a clue in this respect.

In the French and Belgian media they call them “sovereigntists” – those who want Scottish sovereign power above everything else.

This, it is true, would be used to create a slightly different world, one in which another small state offers advantages to corporations in order to compete in the European Union, and makes sure its own party snaffles as much power and privilege as it can get.

The snaffling is proceeding with Salmond’s demands for “more power”.

Nobody can deny that the mild social democratic policies (on, for example, Student fees and prescription charges) of the Holyrood government have advantages over those pursued in the rest of the UK.

Some would argue that this is proof that they should be extended to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and not restricted to Alba.

This contrasts with the ambitious thinking of leftists prepared to settle, if not for socialist politics, at least for the radical ambition of a ‘break up’ of Britain.

Tom Nairn, a New Leftist  who enjoys close relations with the SNP, is known for this phrase. (1)

He called the British state, Ukania (on the model of the novelist Thomas Musil’s name for  the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kakania), one of many unfunny jokes of which Nairn alone has the secret.

The end of this Prison of the Peoples would set the ….People free.

For reasons which are all too obvious a certain type of leftist dullard saw in this a call to “smash the (capitalist) state”.

On this basis the nationalist programme of standing up for one People, the Scots, became the cause of the Peoples.

The workers had a country, and that country was Scotland.

It would apparently be moving in a “republican” direction -despite not a  squeak on this change from the SNP.

Indeed Salmond seemed to think he would be anointed in power by the Queen, no doubt in full ceremonial dress.

Arguments which are harder to follow were used to assert that a separatist movement in the United Kingdom was in reality….internationalism. 

Another state would bring nations and the working classes of the world closer together.

And another state, and another……

This is the logic of the ‘negation of the negation’. It resembles Trotsky’s claim in Terrorism and Communism (1920), that “The road to socialism lies through a period of the highest possible intensification of the principle of the state … Just as a lamp, before going out, shoots up in a brilliant flame, so the state, before disappearing, assumes the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat…”

Stalin put paid to the application of that argument in the Soviet Union.

Unfortunately, with Salmond still panting for ermine and the Royal blessing for independence, and many on the Scottish left continuing to believe in their ain state for their ain folk,  their ideas have not been fully refuted by their present defeat.

The ‘patriots’ of the SNP and the left seem determined to continue.

As indeed do UKIP – our next target.

(1) See (some parts dated) The Break-Up of Tom Nairn? Tom Nairn, Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom, Verso, 2002. Hardback, 300pp, £15.99. Reviewed by Andrew Coates.

6 Responses

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  1. You seem rather hysterical yourself here.

    The powers that the SNP is ‘demanding’ were in fact part of a desperate attempt by the Westminster establishment to head off the Yes campaign, which was polling rather more than expected. It was practically the only positive thing offered by the Noes, who spent most of their time threatening financial ruin, business desertion, border controls and the like.

    I was against the idea of independence, promoting nationalism as it does, and creating unnecessary problems with regard to currency, defence and borders. But at least the Yes campaign gave some hope to human agency, as against the almost relentless negativity offered on the other side, and by yourself in this piece.

    Igor Belanov

    September 19, 2014 at 12:30 pm

  2. “With the grace and good humour of a stoat, a stoat that’s just had a rabbit snatched from its maw…” Well put, Andrew! One of the great pleasures of today has been to witness the humiliation of the charlatan and shyster Fish Heid McMoonface and his motley band of nationalists, racists, thugs and idiots.

    It is to the shame of much of the so-called “left” that they supported this shower.

    Sadly, some decent, subjectively socialist (often young) people were caught up in this reactionary carnival of identity politics: serious socialists must now reach out to them and offer our working class alternative.

    Jim Denham

    September 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm

  3. Wildly controlled emotion Igar, wildly controlled.

    A lot more restrained than this sad whinge, which I’m sure Jim will relish,

    “SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE DENIED BY “PROJECT FEAR”

    The proposal for an independent Scotland has been defeated in the referendum and the ruling elites have expressed a huge collective sigh of relief. It was a defeat based on fear and intimidation organised by the No campaign in collusion with Downing Street which delivered a “no” vote by a margin of 44.7% to 55.3% writes Alan Thornett.

    The whole of the Westminster establishment and the three ‘main’ political parties were lined up against a left vote. To these we can add virtually the whole of the media, the banks, the supermarkets and the City of London. The military establishment entered the debate around in defence of Trident. They have managed to prevail by exploiting fear, intimidation and appeals to every kind of reaction and conservatism over the most remarkable grassroots ever seen in these islands. Internationally they enlisted support from Barrack Obama to the President of the EU.

    Labour politicians, led by a re-emerged Gordon Brown, were even strong than Tories in pushing this intimidation towards the voters.

    http://socialistresistance.org/6726/scottish-independence-denied-by-project-fear

    Andrew Coates

    September 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

  4. I think Mr Denham provides one of the most coherent one liners relating to the referendum, being;

    ” Sadly, some decent, subjectively socialist (often young) people were caught up in this reactionary carnival of identity politics”

    I cannot comment on the “often young)” but could not agree more that the ‘hazy notion’ of progressive nationalism espoused by some on the left was nothing more than the vacuous identity politics suffered upon us by those who have ditched any form of class analysis and further de-coupled this from any rational economic reasoning.

    It seems that the Scottish nationalists wanted the Queen as sovereign the bank of England as currency provider and lender of last resort, oil capital of Europe and lower corporate tax rates yet this was met with open arms by the SWP, Counterfire etc.

    You couldn’t make it up!

    Dave

    September 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm

  5. Salmond set to stand down as Scotland’s First Minister

    Alex Salmond is set to resign from the Scottish National Party and as Scotland’s First Minister, he has announced.

    It comes after voters in Scotland rejected independence in an historic referendum. With almost all votes counted, 55% of the electorate have voted against independence. The leader of the Better Together campaign Alastair Darling has said he was humbled.

    http://www.itv.com/news/update/2014-09-19/alex-salmond-set-to-stand-down-as-first-minister/

    Salmond resigned as SNP leader in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004, so this may not be a definitive end to his ambitions.

    Andrew Coates

    September 19, 2014 at 4:16 pm

  6. Mike Phipps

    September 19, 2014 at 11:34 pm


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