Second indyref cannot be won by a one-party campaign

Movements that change society are always led from below, and this is why the independence movement must fight for a diversity of voices in support of independence and not capitulate to the mantra of “singing from the same hymn sheet.”

Movements that change society are always led from below, and this is why the independence movement must fight for a diversity of voices in support of independence and not capitulate to the mantra of “singing from the same hymn sheet.”

by Jenni Gunn The Yes campaign and the referendum as a whole served as an intense political education for many Scots—myself included. The experience is one that many campaigners will never forget: we all felt united in a feeling of hope and belief in something better. We all fought for independence—but what kind of independence? The independence campaign represented itself as a diverse movement buoyed by voices from across the political spectrum: it’s diversity as well as its prominence within social movements and community groups gave it political clout and as well as credibility. The SNP could never have hoped to change the political discourse in Scotland nor terrify the Westminster elite alone: it was the ideas of the left and the desire for social change that created the groundswell that saw the Yes campaign come tantalisingly close to victory.

However, since that fateful day in September 2014, the independence movement has consistently been plagued by prevailing aspersions that the SNP are the sole guardians of a movement which encompassed a plethora of political traditions.

Yes campaigners cannot let this narrative prevail. Why? We still have a referendum to win. There is a constituency of voters that can be convinced of our case that will never vote SNP.

Secondly, the SNP are the party of government, and all active citizens have a right, some may argue a responsibility, to call out our elected representatives when we see contradictions between rhetoric and policy.

These contradictions within the SNP have been well documented. The SNP’s opposition to Trident nuclear weapons were heartily welcomed among Scotland’s left as well as among anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigners.

However, the party’s commitment to Scotland’s NATO membership not only showed an inherent contradiction visible to the wider campaign for independence, but facilitated the resignation of two MSPs (John Finnie and Jean Urquhart) who could not reconcile their anti-nuclear stance with the leadership’s position on NATO.

The SNP continue to oppose the undemocratic and elitist House of Lords, but refuse to put forward a convincing opposition to monarchical rule, which lies at the heart of a political system that undermines democracy and celebrates “the divine right of kings.”

Further contradictions include the SNP’s dogmatic stance on currency union, despite the fact that non-SNP members on the Yes Scotland advisory board argued that an independent Scottish currency would not only make economic sense but would provide a clear, undiluted policy to voters that left no ambiguity.

Many commentators, including the SNP’s own Jim Sillars, have laid a heavy load at the SNP’s door for refusing to budge on the currency issue.

Recent political mistakes by the SNP, most notably in the controversy surrounding the Anglian water contract, are shedding light on the rift between SNP rhetoric on privatisation and their track record in government.

Let me be clear—the SNP have made many important successes in government, and without the SNP the movement for independence may never have materialised into the movement that swept the length and breadth of Scotland.

However, to let the SNP exert ownership over a movement that sought not to represent one Scotland, but the many Scotland’s that we inhabit, would be a betrayal of what the movement was all about—a new politics, a strengthened democracy, a voice for ordinary citizens.

The independence movement cannot be encapsulated in a single party, because that is not how movements are created.

Movements that change society are always led from below, and this is why the independence movement must fight for a diversity of voices in support of independence and not capitulate to the mantra of “singing from the same hymn sheet.”

As a member of the SSP, during the independence campaign I argued for an alternative vision for an independent Scotland from what was laid out by the SNP in the White Paper.

But as a member of various other pro-independence groups, such as Women for Independence and RIC, I was consistently surrounded by people with differing visions of what an independent Scotland would look like.

Not only did this influence my own outlook, but it tested by own beliefs and strengthened my own convictions. The diversity of voices inspired creativity within the Yes campaign that Better Together, with its negative campaign strategy, could never hope to emulate.

If we are to have any hope of achieving the radical social change that we hope independence will bring, we have to ensure that our campaign for Yes amplifies alternate visions for Scotland.

Our job on the left is to argue the case for a socialist Scotland, a democratic republic, that puts the millions before the millionaires, that puts our vital services before business interests: a vision without the latent contradictions of the SNP.

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