Still Yes, but no Alliance

Throughout the referendum campaign, I argued fervently against all who inferred Nazi tendencies onto the independence campaign, largely on the basis that ‘nationalism’ is always about right wing attitudes and racism. The thing is, the case for Scottish independence was never about hating the English or wanting to expel all immigrants, because such attitudes seem to predominantly be the preserve of centralist, unionist thinkers*.

* Of course, I’m not tarring all No voters or unionists with that brush, just as it’s ridiculous to tar all Yes voters with the same brush as belongs to the minority of English-hating, reactionary types who’ve probably watched Braveheart a few hundred times too many.

Anyone who paid attention to the thousand butterflies of grass roots campaigning that made up the Yes campaign could see that the vision of an independent Scotland, presented by Radical Independence, Common Weal, National Collective, Green Yes, Labour for Independence and so many others could see that the bulk of the Yes movement was neither right wing nor racist and stood in stark contrast to the noisy influence of the Orange Order, EDL, SDL, UKIP, BNP, National Front etc. on the No side of the fence.

However, it’s worth remembering that the Yes movement was never monolithic and should never be considered a wholly united front. The talk of a Yes Alliance for the 2015 General Election had some merit but at the end of the day was always a non-starter, especially once the SNP’s membership rocketed and they started polling so well at the expense of their usual foes, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The Scottish Socialist Party seemed keen for a Yes Alliance and the Greens were cautiously receptive, depending on what it would entail, but at the end of the day, it looks like the SNP don’t need the smaller Yes parties to sweep Scotland in 2015 and 2016.

In a way, I’m glad about this because I would hate for the party I joined (the Greens) to effectively become a facilitator to an SNP hegemony, because there are many reasons why I didn’t join the SNP after the referendum.

To be brief, those reasons include the SNP’s dubious economic policy (not increasing corporation tax, not using tax raising powers, freezing council tax to the detriment of public services), commitment to centralisation and the exploitation of fossil fuels, especially their tacit acceptance of fracking.

Indeed, I’m a little taken aback by the blind enthusiasm shown by so many thousands joining the SNP in the name of independence and ‘a better Scotland’ who don’t appear to have looked too deeply at the party’s policies. It’s almost a scene worthy of being filmed by Leni Reifenstahl in the 1930s…

Yes, the SNP are almost infinitely preferable to the usual Westminster bunch, but at the end of the day I’m not after an independent Scotland with a centralist neoliberal government, dressed up with a veneer of socially progressive policies. Hell, that’s pretty much what we had when Labour were in charge…

In the elections to come over the next few years, I expect the vote share of SNP, Greens and SSP to increase, even if hopes of an MP for Scottish Greens or SSP in 2015 are perhaps overly optimistic. I do expect the SNP to return a majority of Scotland’s MPs next year and be a thorn in the side of whoever ends up in 10 Downing Street, indeed to the extent where I expect a second election after a hopelessly hung parliament.

An SNP majority in Holyrood the next year, combined with increased representation for the Greens, maybe even the SSP and a bundle of independents, plus a weak Westminster government would pave the way for a second referendum in 2018 or thereabouts and I think that’s something that everyone who is Yes (or indeed, democracy) minded would look forward to.

The Yes movement was never all about the SNP, but a cross party campaign intended to push for a better, fairer, more democratic Scotland and the current trend to compel Yes voters to back the SNP against their principles is a bit sinister, as it implies that an independent Scotland should be a one-party state and dissenting voices are not welcome. If that is the cost of independence, then it is too high.

You are not a traitor to Scotland if you are moved to vote Green, SSP, independent or whatever instead of the SNP and don’t let any over-enthusiastic and under-read sudden political activist tell you otherwise.

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