It is heartening to find in Ian Blackford’s remarks some suggestion that the SNP may be intending to be more forthright, not to say aggressive, in condemning UK Government policy and challenging British nationalist ideology. It would certainly be gratifying if the party spent less time pleading for powers to be granted to the Scottish Parliament and more time demanding that the Westminster elite attempt to justify withholding powers which rightfully belong with the Parliament actually elected by the people of Scotland. And do so in terms other than the banal, jingoistic dogma of British nationalism.
It would also surely be beneficial to the independence movement if the SNP were to speak out on the British state’s democratically dubious (at best) authority to impose policies on Scotland as well as pointing out the economically destructive and socially corrosive impact of those policies.
In general, I would very much like to see the debate around independence reoriented towards the constitutional arguments.
This certainly implies taking the debate away from the arid territory of finance and those dire, stultifying games of statistical trumps. There never was, and still isn’t, a rational economic case for Scotland remaining part of the UK. Which is why Better Together/Project Fear never even attempted to make such a case. Instead, it bent all its efforts to peddling increasingly lurid and frequently quite ludicrous scare stories about the horrendous fate awaiting us all should we dare to vote Yes.
As I have said before, this is a constitutional question. And you can’t answer a constitutional question with a calculator. Especially not with a calculator that has been ‘programmed’ to produce only negative results.
Perhaps more controversially, this reorientation of the independence campaign implies rather less talk about what being independent might mean and a more concerted effort to convey the essential merits of independence.
In the first referendum campaign, the Yes movement’s fixation on diversity and positivity led to a situation in which the voters were being offered almost as many definitions of independence as there were Yes groups and pro-independence organisations. As well as a proliferation of policy options that soon came to obscure the central issue.
The issue is the constitution. The issue is power. To borrow from Tony Benn, it is about who has power. It is about what powers they have. It is about how that power is acquired. It is about how that power is exercised. It is about whose interests are served by that power. It is about who that power is accountable to. It is about how that power can be removed.
Any plan for the next independence referendum campaign must be based on a determination to go straight to the nub of the matter – even if that means offending those who are so intent on their particular vision of what being independent should be like that they completely forget about the matter of becoming independent, and why it takes precedence over all else.
Is it wishful thinking on my part to hope that Ian Blackford and his colleagues might appreciate that, really, it’s all just about bringing Scotland’s government home?
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