For the past few days there have been Scottish Unionists on social media congratulating themselves that with their No vote in 2014, Scotland resisted the evil tide that has unleashed the evils of right wing populism and washed up the flotsam of Brexit and the Trump presidency. They’re deluding themselves. The No vote in 2014 was the first victory of that right wing, xenophobic and fearful populism. The No vote was secured on a fear mongering campaign, a campaign of demonisation, of stirring up hatred and preaching odium.
It wasn’t the Yes campaign which spent 2014 stirring up fear of foreigners. It was the Better Together campaign which produced posters and leaflets warning Scots that if we voted for independence our English relatives would become foreigners to us. You’re only going to do that if deep down you believe, or you cynically want others to believe, that being foreign is a bad thing. The No campaign played on fears. The No campaign pandered to stereotypes. The No campaign didn’t just dog whistle, it blasted the fog horn of fear.
It was the No campaign that claimed that people who needed transplants would be left to die in agony. It was the No campaign which asserted that pensioners would be left in penury. It was the No campaign which spoke of border controls and barbed wire and burly men in uniform wielding weaponry. It was the No campaign which outrageously and without a trace of shame tried to insist that Scotland was the only country in the world which is incapable of having any sort of currency at all. I had a elderly neighbour who listened to the horror shows and the fright clowns of the No campaign and sincerely believed that the pound coins and banknotes in her purse would be as valueless as Monopoly money the morning after a Yes vote. Is that an honourable way to win a vote? It’s something that wouldn’t trouble a Farage or a Trump – or a Gordie Broon.
The real fascists, the real sectarian bigots, the real xenophobes and authoritarian figures of fear, they supported the No campaign. Farage campaigned for a No vote. The Orange Order campaigned for a No vote. The BNP campaigned for a No vote. There were no instances of violence from Yes supporters. No Yes supporters ended up before the courts for offences against public order. That was Unionists. It was Unionist fascists who rioted in George Square and embarked upon assaults and attacks in an orgy of destructive rage. It was the No vote which empowered the violent and the thugs in the exact same way that it was the Brexit vote and Trump’s victory which legitimised the anger and thuggery of right wing bigots and set off a rise in attacks on minorities.
So enough of the self-righteous smuggery from Unionist campaigners in the wake of the Trump vote. His tactics were your tactics. The consequences of his victory are yours. The intolerance he preached is yours. The fears he stoked are the same fears you stoked. The hatred, xenophobia, he unleashed is the same as that you unleashed. The legitimisation of fascist violence is the same. Brexit and Trump simply elaborated and built upon on the playbook that the Unionists’ Project Fear created. They laid the foundations for the Yellow Brick Road that leads to the fake tanned wizard of lies and ends in the swamp of despair.
It’s the continuing vitality of a progressive, social democratic, tolerant and diverse Scottish independence movement that gives hope that the Farages, the Trumps, and the fear mongers and xenophobes can be resisted. The Scottish independence movement seeks to build a Scotland that’s accepting of difference, that values all citizens irrespective of their origins, that defines itself in opposition to racism, sexism, homophobia. The Scottish independence movement is the opposite of Trumpism, diametrically opposed to the insularity of Brexit.
Scottish independence is the last great hope of social democracy. The Scottish independence movement is an attempt to construct a modern form of social democracy that engages an active and politically aware citizenry and unites them. The Scottish independence movement doesn’t speak of division, it speaks of escape from a corrupt political system that trades in fear and gives succour to the Faragists of this world.
An independent Scotland will be characterised by the movement which campaigns for it. It will be a Scotland which will be tolerant, accepting, outward looking, internationalist, and which will engage all its citizens. An independent Scotland will be a beacon of liberal values. The hope of the independence movement is that it can create a Scotland in which democracy and participation can flourish. A Scotland which distances itself from the patronisation and inequalities of the past. That’s why we’re doing this, that’s why we’re campaigning. We look to other nations like Iceland, Sweden, Norway or Finland for models of the kind of country that we can become. We’re not so arrogant that we don’t believe that we can learn from the experiences of others. We’re not so proud that we destroy ourselves in a misbegotten attempt to keep the world at bay, we run towards the world, and we accept it with open and welcoming arms.
Brexit Britain will be characterised by the movement which campaigned for it too. It will be bigoted, xenophobic, insular, backward looking and fearful. It will be authoritarian and dictatorial. It will look to the past and seek to ground itself in the dream of a golden age that never existed. And it will disappoint and deceive those who voted for it. When they realise that they were duped the backlash could be violent, angry, and frightening.
Just like Trump, Brexit Britain flees from the foreign and is afraid of it. It tries to build a wall against it. An independent Scotland will embrace the foreign and make it our own. That’s what has defined Scotland throughout the centuries, and it’s what will continue to define us in the future. That’s the opposite of Brexit, the opposite of Trump. If the supporters and backers of the Unionist Project Fear want to know the real face of Brexit, the real motivations behind the movement that swept Trump into power, they won’t see it by looking at the Yes movement. They’ll see it by looking in the mirror.
Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-12th-nov-2016
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