Scotland’s 45 Movement

Cross-party unity has to continue

Cross-party unity has to continue

  1. Those who voted for Scotland’s independence and have no intention of surrendering accept ’45’ as one of our symbols of resistance. This may be controversial for a variety of reasons, but we do need some means of identifying each other, seeking out those who will not be intimidated by Project Fear’s politicians and self-serving ‘opinion formers’. Until someone proposes something at least as good, something capable of uniting us, then 45 is our Twibbon, Twitter hashtag etc.
  2. The 45 movement is not the private property of the Scottish National Party nor of any other party. Our movement treasures the cross-party nature that took us so close to independence last week. This unity is a radical democratic asset we are not about to surrender without a fight.
  3. Alex Salmond has earned our undying gratitude, and immense admiration. I expect I am speaking for the overwhelming majority of us when I say we wish he had not stepped down: while he may think he had a responsibility to do that, he is pretty much alone in that. However, we are relieved to note that he’s not abandoning politics. We agree with him that you don’t have to be leader of the Scottish National Party, nor Scotland’s First Minister, to serve the cause to which he’s devoted his life. Other challenges will present themselves.
  4. Every cloud has a silver lining. One that presents itself from Alex Salmond’s resignation is it makes it simpler for the movement to embrace a second independence referendum.
  5. It wasn’t strictly speaking necessary for Alex Salmond to stand down in order to change his mind about a second referendum. Nevertheless, it would have presented him personally with a problem he could have done without. As he explained a few days previously, he returned as SNP leader once before despite insisting he wouldn’t. That was because of loyalty to his successor, John Swinney, whose position would have been undermined had he answered the question in any other way. He answered question well in the circumstances. He would have faced similar problems had he revised his attitude to a second referendum. The problem would not have been in changing his mind, but in having been so categorical in the first place. That was, in my opinion, one of the very few mistakes he did make during the campaign. While it wouldn’t bother me if he changed his mind, it may have been exploited by the media. Clearly he wasn’t ready to face this. So the problem now passes on to Nicola Sturgeon, or whoever it turns out to be.
  6. Nicola made no such promise for a second referendum to be postponed to the indefinite future. Alex Salmond had already explained why he couldn’t bind her hand anyway. This could only be a personal stance. He is one man. Every Scot has as much right to disagree with him as others have to agree.
  7. Even supporters of the NO Campaign conceded before polls closed that if David Cameron/Michael Gove/Philip Hammond/Boris Johnson/Nigel Farage take the United Kingdom out of the EU, as is entirely possible, then Scotland has a legitimate claim to return to the national question.
  8. Even prior to any proposed withdrawal of the UK from the EU, Scots could demand a second referendum. If it turns out that David Cameron’s vow, and that of his partners in crime (Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg) was a lie, then of course the deal is off. This is a contract that will have been broken by Better Together. A second referendum in such circumstances begins as soon as most Scots demand that, and my guess is the demand will for a rerun will begin within a few months. Majority support for a second referendum may rise long before next May’s general election.
  9. To get such a referendum, we need a mandate. And one way of achieving that is forming an electoral pact of all pro-independence parties at next year’s first-past-the-post United Kingdom general election. This won’t be a piece of cake. We can expect the British Establishment to go into overdrive to crowbar the pro-independence parties apart. But the voters won’t be happy if we let them get away with this. They will feel betrayed if we do that. Compromises are needed all round.
  10. Egos, personal ambitions, sectarianism… All of that flies in the face of an unquenchable thirst for unity across the pro-independence parties. We ignore this at our peril.
  11. Anything else? Yes. Waiting for demographic changes is worse than useless. Telling our parents and grandparents that our cunning plan is to wait for the older generation to kick the bucket won’t endear us to them. Makes us come across as deranged ghouls.
  12. There are so many issues we need to deal with. One of those is the currency. We do have months and years to debate this rationally and respectfully. Next time, we need to go into the referendum with a better idea of how to expose the liars of Project Fear. I will have a lot more to say about the currency, but not today. This is a complex set of questions, and can’t be dealt with in a few hastily prepared bullet points.
  13. Thesis 12 referred to ‘the liars’. I chose my words carefully. This is one issue that means a great deal to me. One of the reasons I successfully bypassed the grieving stage (shifting straight to anger) while others were caught on camera descending into tears was I had prepared myself for defeat whereas so many others had not. I could see that the official media was doing more damage than most others recognized. Far too many of us pulled their punches. They thought this made them seem dignified. What it did, alas, was to have us fight with one arm tied behind our backs. Never again.
  14. Scotland’s independence movement needs to stop our reliance of the official broadcast networks, in particular BBC Scotland. We need more than social media exploited by an army of keyboard warriors (however talented and dedicated), all working as atomized individuals. We need focus. We need to pull resources, interactivity in real time with a significant multi-media dimension. In other words, we need to use live-streaming and press conferences. We have to expose the likes of Nick Robinson, Glenn Campbell and Martin Geisler as little more than petty hecklers. We have already proven that this is not beyond us. We have the artistic talents of Scotland’s creative community behind us. We know they will volunteer to help us speak direct to the voters, rather than to reduce us to begging for a few seconds while Jackie Bird pauses for breath between her insults.
  15. Personally, I think a united pro-independence slate at the general election will have no problem wiping Ed Miliband’s party off the map in Scotland. There will be more pandas in our nation than Tories, Lib Dems and Labour combined. And UKIP as well, of course. That should be our goal. Whether we achieve it depends on many things, some of which are beyond our control.
  16. If Scotland’s pro-independence parties and individuals do wipe out the parties of Better Together next year, then we pave the way for our second independence referendum sometime after the next set of Holyrood elections. Proportional Representation will lift some, but not all, of the compromises we need to accept. But the reality is the pro-independence movement is not now, nor will it every be, some monolithic block. Our division were placed onto the back-burner in a quite extraordinary manner during the referendum campaign. Barely ever did they threaten to have us attack each other in public, and never once with anything approaching acrimony. This worked infinitely better than I dared dream possible. But it cannot work over half a decade. That is why the idea of waiting for 2020 for another referendum strikes me as entirely utopian. In the intervening years, we will come apart at the seams. The British state will see to it that this happens as early as possible, and as often as possible.
  17. Specifically, we know that the Tories want to destroy the independence movement by helping us take ‘responsibility’ for passing on Tory cuts. Jackie Bird notoriously told Alex Salmond that it was one of the ‘joys’ of being First Minister that he could cut £30,000,000 from essential public services in order to pay Scottish nurses a decent wage. This is the sick Tory priorities of Project Fear and their propaganda network. It is a massive trap for the independence movement. Unless we play our cards right, we will fall into this trap and exacerbate the tensions that already threaten to split us into an irreconcilable right and left wing, one destined to knock the stuffing out of each other, to the extent that an electoral pact becomes a utopia. Gonnae no dae that?
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