A guest post by Samuel Miller
I see both Mr Brown and Mr Darling have endorsed Kezia Dugdale’s musings on a constitutional convention and a call for movement toward some ambiguous form of federalism then. This in spite of the fact that the recent government submission in the Supreme Court kinda casts our ‘devolution journey’ and our political relationship within the union in an entirely different light. We’ve covered why we think that may have not been the best timed intervention on the subject of devolution previously, so we’ll leave that aspect where it lies shall we?
Still, some of Ms Dugdales comments did have one or two laugh/cry out loud lines worth mentioning and considering a little further.
“More than two years on, those of us who fought for the UK shouldn’t be embarrassed about winning – we should be proud.” Kezia Dugdale (Fair enough)
There were of course other classic gems by Ms Dugdale such as this beaut: “I was proud because it was a Labour argument I was making.” That would be a Labour argument enhanced by a Conservative/Libdem government, enabled by a somewhat helpful amount of Westminster machinery, promoted with only the bestest astroturf window dressing money could buy (or bus in) and megaphoned the length and breadth of the UK by an extremely helpful mainstream media. Righto then.
“The UK provides the redistribution of wealth that defines our entire Labour movement and it provides the protection for public finance in Scotland that comes from being part of something larger.”
Redistribution of wealth ye say? Jings! And don’t get me started on ‘protection for public finance’ after the detriment/no detriment fiasco that came with the Scotland Bill settlement and several successive and catastrophic austerity driven budgets. Oh and whisper it quietly… Brexit and fiscal reset. (shudders)
“Something good. Something worth fighting for.” (NOW THAT really is purely in the eye of the beholder at this point)
Still and all, its nice of Ms Dugdale to note that the UK togetherness she campaigned for, including the Scotland Bill settlement, which she has just generously declared proud part ownership for (she’s still proud of winning right?), isn’t apparently settled at all. Who knew?
One wee questionette. Just for the sake of clarity, are we now to believe that we don’t have the most powerful devolved parly in the world and that the ‘VOW delivered’ isn’t really fit for purpose? Surely not, I hear you say. (cough)
But that’s enough laughs for one post I think.
Firstly, let me be perfectly clear that those ordinary folks who campaigned for and those who simply voted for, a no vote in 2014 should not be ’embarrassed’ about participating in such a historic ballot. In our politics, as in anything else, we can disagree, we can argue, we can hold a massive diversity of varying viewpoints and then we can make a choice. This IS a democracy and freedom of choice is an inalienable right of our electorate. NOTHING is more precious than having and enjoying the freedom to choose. We are also however, by the same token of such rights and freedoms, free to change our minds as and when new information is made available, or events dictate or necessitate a change in our viewpoint.
Sometimes when we make the big choices we get lucky and things work out for the best. Sometimes however, that choice carries unfortunate consequences we did not foresee and/or we may come to regret. Sometimes our choices are misinformed, or coloured by poor or misleading information. Information from people or institutions we may, upon a time, have held in some regard or with a degree of trust. For those who feel the period since September 2014 hasn’t gone swimmingly, or that the promised Betterthegitherland hasn’t exactly turned out as billed? Well that would be one of those times where the aforementioned rights and freedoms come in handy. As for being embarrassed about winning? I don’t think embarrassment is exactly what some voters may be feeling about now.
Now we come to those who should be embarrassed at the nature of their ‘win’. No, scratch that. We’re going beyond embarrassed to utterly bloody ashamed of themselves. Had they any empathy or sense of conscience, they’d be walking around the centre of every city, every town, every village in Scotland wearing sack cloth and ashes begging forgiveness of ALL Scotland’s electorate.
We speak, of course, of the orchestrators of the Better Together campaign, the leaders and politicians of the affiliated political parties, their heid office counterparts in Westminster and the massed weight of the UK meeja.
The propaganda war they waged in Scotland during the independence referendum of 2014 was beyond appalling. In my view it was reckless, dangerous and shameful in the extreme. I’d say the narrative they unleashed and indeed which continues in use to this very day, didn’t just divide people politically, but appeared fully intended to divide a society/vote in any way that would protect the integrity of the system of government and party affiliations they served.
In the post indyref period, the infamous Project Fear has been well dissected, discussed, documented and now, ghoulishly, emulated as a political strategy. Even during the referendum it came under fire as being deliberately one of the most negative, divisive and harmful campaign strategies ever conceived. So, embarrassed? I don’t think that word covers what those responsible should be feeling. The truly sad part is, they’re not. Not in the slightest. As professional sharks in suits, they probably are quite proud of what they achieved. The collateral societal damage? A mere bagatelle, I think you’ll find. After all, a win IS a win, yes?
These… individuals… (Look I’m struggling to be diplomatic, RIGHT?) took what should have been a people’s referendum and turned it into a party political beauty contest. They personalised our referendum and made the primary focus of their whole sorry strategy the demonization of the SNP government and Alex Salmond in particular. What those people went through and indeed continue to go through, at the hands of establishment parties and the media? No one should. As for tarred by association? The entire YES movement was subjected to that treatment. We were supposed to feel what? Guilt and shame for supporting the principles self-determination, independence, choice?
I don’t bloody think so! Not now and not ever!
The positivity and enthusiasm of the grassroots YES movement, then as now, is a source of pride as far as I’m concerned. The passion, the humour, the sense of inclusion and family (always looking to get bigger). It’s all still there y’know. There may be a few sad memories and some hard lessons learnt from the past two years, but still and all their continued engagement is nothing short of amazing and surely, SURELY to be applauded.
In the main, the electorate of Scotland should not be embarrassed in the slightest. No, that embarrassment, that shame lies elsewhere. In terms of participation and voter turnout, no more could be asked of the electorate. For that alone, the vast majority of voters on BOTH sides of the debate should be rightly and immensely proud.
Long may that level of engagement continue. I suspect its going to be needed.