Another vote, and another crushing disappointment for those opposed to bigotry, racism, and homophobia. Another vote, and another victory for the nastiness and the urge to blame the victims of globalisation for globalisation. Another vote, and another descent into a crueller and less compassionate world. Another vote, and another reason why it’s increasingly vital for Scotland to determine its own destiny in this uncertain and unstable world comes into a painfully sharp focus. We either choose independence, or we choose to remain powerless and afraid, a carpet to be tread on, a child that’s neglected, a dog that’s kicked. The shortbread tin we’ve been forced back into won’t protect us from the gales and storms.
An unstable authoritarian narcissistic buffoon, a man who’s incapable of measured judgement, now has his stubby little finger on the nuclear button, and one of the biggest stockpiles of nukes in the world sits just outside Scotland’s largest city. We sit subject to his whims. We are prisoners of his vanity. We are hostages to his self-aggrandisement. If you weren’t Yes before, you need to be now. Scotland can never protect itself entirely, we need allies and friends, and what we know for sure is that Donald Trump and Brexit Britain are no friends of ours. We need to make alliances as an equal partner with nations which treat us with respect. We don’t get that from Theresa May. We won’t get that from a climate change denying Donald Trump who will go to war with our windfarms. If Scotland was independent we could celebrate his accession to office by building a gigantic windfarm right beside his golf course, and paint the turbines in the colours of the Mexican and rainbow flags.
America has chosen to succumb to the same knee-jerk right wing populism that infects the rest of the UK. Just like Brexit, Trump’s victory will only give succour to the bigots and the xenophobes, the racists, the homophobes, and the misogynists. It legitimises their hatred. It gives a veneer of respectablity to their prejudices. The right is emboldened and resurgent. The world is a scarier and more dangerous place. But the TV news is filled with a succession of straight white middle class Trump supporters and Brexiteers who assure us that Trump and Brexit Britain love and support ethnic minorities, gay people, and women. So that’s reassuring. Straight white middle class men are after all the experts on absolutely everything.
The Trump card has played America. The people who voted for Trump did so because they were angry with a political establishment that had ignored their concerns and taken them for granted. The same kinds of people in the UK voted for Brexit for similar reasons. And now they’re going to discover that they’ll still be the victims. Their protest was hijacked by the far right, by tax-cutting business people. The silent majority found its voice, and its voice cried, “We’re going to blame those who’re victimised even more than we are for the crimes of an elite that doesn’t care for us.” And the billionaire businessman who gets his products made in China smiled. He rubbed his little hands with their stubby fingers together with glee, and said it was all the fault of the Mexicans. Let’s build a wall to keep out those who suffer even more than you do, while we welcome those who cause your suffering into the corridors of power. Because that will really stick it to The Man, that will really drain the swamp.
Trump’s victory coming so soon after the earthquake of Brexit has destroyed the arguments that BetterTogether made back in 2014. No longer can it be argued that we need to stay under the tender care of Westminster if we want security and stability. The world is less secure and less stable today than it has ever been. The choice now facing Scotland is a choice between a cold and compassionless Anglo-America or joining on our own terms with an internationalist Europe.
If we want to preseve those parts of the British state that are valuable and good, the only chance we have to do so is with independence. Tolerance, an outward looking internationalism, a respect for difference, the NHS, our belief in public services, free education, all are at risk if we remain subject to the cold icy blasts of an Anglo-America that has no place for society, it only recognises money and power. We can have a social-democracy that we build for ourselves, or we become a powerless and impotent province in a right wing populist state. That’s the choice that faces Scotland today.
2016 has been a terrible year. It’s been a year when public distrust in a political establishment that ignores them turned toxic. Scotland has only been saved from the same descent into an ugly and vicious right wing populism because of the Scottish independence movement which puts forward a progressive and social democratic vision of a better country. If it wasn’t for the independence movement, Scotland would succumb to the same hatred and paranoia that has come to define the rest of the UK and now the USA. That makes it all the more vital that here in Scotland we continue to pursue our dream of a better country, a country that speaks for all its citizens, a country that welcomes and fosters diversity, a country that defines itself by how it treats its minorities, a country that strives for social equality and justice. Because then we can demontrate to the world that there is a better way. That there is an alternative to the vile and nasty populism of Trump and Farage.
We can continue to sit, powerless and afraid, being played by the Trump card and the jokers of Brexit, or we can play some cards of our own. That’s the decision facing Scotland. We need to make the right choice, we need to play the indy card, and we need to do it for Europe and the world as much as we need to do it for ourselves. We can play the indy card and show that there is no place for hatred, that climate change is real, that a nation can meet the needs of all its citizens in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect. 2016 belongs to the xenophobes, the bigots, the sexists, the racists, but the future belongs to us. Scotland won’t be played by the Trump card.
Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-9th-nov-2016
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