Thursday, 25 September 2014

Scottish Independence: Has Westminster Bitten Off More Than It Can Chew?

Although I’m not Scottish and I don’t live in Scotland I found myself captivated by the recent referendum campaign, and deeply disappointed by the failure of a majority of Scottish people to reach for the stars when the opportunity was within their grasp.

As a free-thinking activist with a lifetime of experience of fighting against the system under one guise or another I was unsurprised by the manipulation, the dishonesty and the sheer nastiness of the Westminster campaign for a No vote. Not only was no stone left unturned by the three UK establishment political parties and their controlled media, but no stone was not crawled from under as Team Westminster set about its business of trying to frighten, browbeat, cajole and bully the Scottish people out of claiming what was rightfully theirs. The elderly in particular were identified as being vulnerable to warnings that they would be left with no money, no oil, no NHS, no pensions, no hope and no future without the protective arm of the Union wrapped tightly around them.

To begin with, Team Westminster persisted with the pretense that it was actually three teams, each individually fighting the good fight for their own selfless, altruistic reasons. The truth was, of course, that the Tories were a party beholden to a unionist fanbase whilst Labour and the Liberal Democrats stood to lose politically from the loss of their Scottish parliamentary seats. Party before people as always.

Then, shortly before the big day, when a rogue opinion poll bucked the trend by placing the Yes campaign ahead, the three stooges turned up all at once in the obvious belief that their combined celebrity would impress the Scottish people where all the fallacious arguments and threats about currency and EU membership apparently hadn’t. A joint promise of sorts was made, with Scottish people being taken to the Hadrianic equivalent of Mount Hermon and told that all this could be theirs if only they would renounce the credo that is independence.


Sadly, on the day fear triumphed over hope. Around 55% (2 million) of the Scottish electorate voted against their own independence, with 45% (over 1.6 million) in favour. This, so the beaming BBC pundits told us, was a death blow to the romantics and the dreamers who had campaigned for self-determination.

What followed next was quite extraordinary. Membership of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), which had been a little over 25,000 on the day of the referendum, rose to 57,000 within a week of the poll. The SNP now has three members in Scotland for every two the Liberal Democrats have in the whole of the UK.

Radical socialists, greens and other pro-independence groupings have urged fellow Scots to support the SNP at the 2015 general election and in the Holyrood ballot a year hence, to demonstrate for once and for all a decisive mandate in favour of independence.

Representations have been made to the appropriate authorities by Yes campaigners who believe there to have been serious malpractice in the conduct of the counting process on September 18th. And social media groups, forums and online chat rooms have veritably exploded with activity, with thousands of otherwise very ordinary and typical Scots (and even a few non-Scots) beginning to discuss the mechanics and logistics of revolution.

As any fool could have predicted, the promises made to Scottish voters by the Unholy Trinity very quickly transpired to be so much hot air, as the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties immediately embarked upon an unseemly squabble about what it really was that they had (literally) signed up to. For the Tories, concessions to the Scots had to be accompanied by similar powers granted to the English so that Scottish MPs would no longer be able to vote on English-only issues, just as English MPs are not currently allowed to vote on Scottish-only matters. The so-called West Lothian question.


Typically this was a ploy. In the event of a future Labour or Labour-led government being elected throughout the UK, an English-only parliament with a Conservative majority could basically ignore it on most issues and treat it with indifference. Labour protested, not unreasonably, that there had been no mention of this in the agreement they had hastily signed up to on the eve of the poll.

Labour strategists oppose the question of an English parliament being made into a condition of pledges to the Scottish people being honoured. But then they would, wouldn’t they?

Meanwhile Scotland sits and patiently waits. Assuming the result is not declared null and void, Scotland remains a part of the UK for now but with seething, festering resentment brought forth by righteous anger. The SNP, transformed overnight from local political party to a potential liberating army, bides its time. And Labour, who treacherously led the No campaign in the belief that the continuance of the Union would increase its chances of forming the next Westminster government with the help of Scottish seats, now faces the very real possibility that come next May it might not actually have any.

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