Discourse around the constitutional issue has changed quite markedly in the past year. It has almost entirely moved away from debate about the scheduling of a new independence referendum to discussion of how a Yes vote might best be secured and speculation as to what sort of tactics might be resorted to by those opposed to the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. For reasons that need not concern us here, there is now pretty general agreement that the vote must take place no later than early 2019; with increasing numbers declaring a preference for September 2018.
Very few in the independence movement now suppose the referendum can be postponed until after Brexit, although the view on the anti-independence side ranges from an obdurate insistence on refusing Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination indefinitely, to a fanatical determination that the people of Scotland must be forever denied the right to choose the form of government which best suits their needs.
There have been other changes. Economic issues no longer dominate in quite the way they once did. There is, on the Yes side at least, a growing realisation that the focus on economics was a Unionist ploy. Confining the debate to economic factors allowed the British state’s propaganda machine to more effectively control the narrative. Aided and abetted by its enthusiastic accomplices in the mainstream print and broadcast media, it was easy for the British establishment to flood the debate with a torrent of ‘official statistics’ and ‘independent reports’ presented – but absolutely never questioned – by a veritable circus of tame economic analysts and openly complicit commentators.
These economic ‘arguments’ having been as thoroughly and comprehensively discredited as the rest of the British state’s propaganda, there is now space in the debate for consideration of the core constitutional issue. We are talking just a bit less about money, and a wee bit more about democracy. Less about the supposed financial costs of independence, and more about the political, social and cultural price of remaining in a ludicrously anachronistic, grotesquely asymmetric and patently anomalous political union.
Even the anti-independence campaign has come to be characterised noticeably less by economic threats and intimidation masquerading as rational economic modelling, and more by a shrill and quite irrational British Nationalist dogma. They appear to have all but abandoned the effort to convince people that the Union is a divinely ordained boon to Scotland and descended into a banal, jingoistic, narrow, exclusive, insular, elitist, xenophobic and increasingly ugly ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism which demands the preservation of an imagined country called ‘Britain’ at absolutely any cost to the people of Scotland – or, for that matter, the people of the rest of these islands.
Groups such as ‘Scotland in Union‘ are symptomatic of this transformation in the nature and character of the anti-independence campaign. When we speculate as to how the effort to preserve the power, privilege and patronage of the British state will be conducted, it makes perfect sense to look to the behaviour of those who possess that power, assert that privilege and benefit from that patronage. It is not a pretty sight.
As obscenely unprincipled and utterly dishonourable as Better Together/Project Fear undoubtedly was, it will surely appear quite benign compared to the gruesome cabal of aristocrats, plutocrats and assorted walking, talking caricatures now emerging from the murk of ancient anonymity to command British Nationalism’s orc-army of buffoons and bigots.
You have been warned!
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