A Failure of Strategy - A look back at why Yes Scotland lost the referendum

1280 scotland-grungy-flag-by-think01It is a sad time for many Scots. Possibly even most Scots in spite of the referendum result. It may be tempting to brand our No voting friends and neighbours as Tories and as having endorsed the kind of leadership we currently get in Westminster.  That would be unfair because that was not the question. "Should Scotland become an independent country?" was the question and now that the people have spoken the answer is a No, it should not. Democracy has clearly won in Scotland and that is something to celebrate. A majority of Scots, 55%, said we would stick it out with the Union.  45% (1,617,989) said no this simply isn't working out for us.  We want something different. This is a conclusive result but it is far from an overwhelming victory for the Union which poses an interesting challenge going forward.

Members of the Scottish Democratic Alliance will be aware that Yes Scotland was a construct of the Scottish National Party.  While it made noises about being a cross party and multi-party edifice at best it was merely a coalition of the left. Inclusion of the Scottish Socialists and the Greens seems to reinforce this and they gave every appearance of being dissatisfied by the association.  The SDA has all along been deliberately excluded by Yes Scotland.  While our party was not part of Yes Scotland our members were welcome and active in the wider grass-roots movement. We've all done our part to support independence for Scotland but quietly without bringing much attention to failings of Yes Scotland.  It was their campaign and the SNP's to lose and now that they have we believe it is time to have an honest look at the shortcomings as they have now been born out by the referendum results. 

The basic hard truth here is that Yes Scotland failed to convince enough people to vote yes.  We believe that this was due in part to a failure of strategy. 

Yes Scotland's vision of independence was of a social democratic leftist country.  A vision that included keeping the pound, the Queen, the EU and a host of other options which can only be described as independence lite. A vision that didn't look like they had the full courage of their convictions and were a bit soft on the idea. This vision was clearly not something of universal appeal to the people of Scotland many whom ultimately voted no must have been alarmed at this prospect that a social democratic leftist state would be born on the backs of the affluent. 

Middle class voters closer to the establishment who have more to lose and less to gain were simply not part of the conversation on independence.  They were probably not swayed so much by the arguments of the abysmal no campaign in favour of the staying in the Union. They doubtless see quite clearly the failures and iniquities of the UK state and may even have been sympathetic to independence as a means to redress those shortcomings.

It is one of the established myths of Scotland that it is for Labour and the left.  We've said all along the Scots are inherently conservative.  Not in the Tory sense but in the pragmatic sense of being resistant to change. Independence is radical change for a conservative country. This referendum saw high turnout and the so called missing million turns out to be of this conservative bent.  In retrospect is seems that a strategy to convince conservatives to vote for radical independence would have had a profound effect on the result.  There is a compelling case to be made and it is one that we've been making.  

The strategy that Yes Scotland did deploy of a social democratic Scotland seems to have a more party political motivation.  If you are a hammer all problems look like nails.  If you are the SNP the opposition looks like Labour.

Cynics may see a strategy that was designed to undermine the Labour party.  In this it seems to have been particularly successful.  Yes Scotland has gone on blithely doing the SNP's business bashing nails when it turns out the opposition was something entirely different like a houseplant or something. We wonder what the campaign would have been like if Yes Scotland went about watering the houseplants of Scotland rather than bashing nails.

What is next for Scotland?  Promises made by Westminster in the heat of panic now need to be fulfilled.  Scotland voted to remain in the Union on the premise that a no vote was a vote for Devo Max.  We need to hold Westminster to account for that which means that the dissatisfaction with the status quo in Scotland and the direction of travel for politics in the UK gives us Scots the opportunity to bring the demand for constitutional change not just to Scotland but to the wider United Kingdom.  Scotland's dissatisfaction with the status quo has been channelled peacefully into the referendum but in the rest of the UK these same feelings have been unfocused and have seen a swing to the far right UKIP.  Our duty should now be to focus the whole countries dissatisfaction with the status quo. We now simply need to change venues.  Our arena is now the sordid swamp of Westminster and our strategy needs to be to reform what is broken in the UK rather than cut ourselves off from it and starting fresh.

The 2015 Elections are now much more important and that is what is next.

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Now's the day, an now's the hour

We've spent the last few years engaging in a nation conversation about the very nature of democracy and what we by right should expect for and from our nation. The time has finally come for Scots to hold the precious choice in our own hands.  Do we stay or do we dare? We say dare; dare to dream. Good luck Scotland! 

1280 scotland-grungy-flag-by-think01

IN THE NEWS: Experts: intense Scottish referendum debate already changed country’s future

Michael Granados, spokesperson for the Scottish Democratic Alliance, also found the pre-referendum atmosphere very tense.  According to him, the stance taken by most newspapers and TV channels in the region only affirms this opinion.

“The UK National and Scottish media is almost universally and inexplicably anti-independence,” the expert stressed.

From his point of view, this, along with the statements from the world leaders, are the parts of a large soft pressure campaign against Scotland, which goes against the official stated non-interference position of the UK government.

“One of Westminster’s deepest fears is that the break up of the United Kingdom will result in the loss of it's prestige on the world stage. This is a reasonable fear in that the present United Kingdom probable doesn’t deserve a seat on the UN Security Council and would be hard pressed to retain it,” Michael Granados noted.

At the same time, according to the analyst, the decades of debate made the Scottish people to become more and more interested in the principles of democracy of their country.

“In much of the world, particularly the wider UK and the US, the nature of democracy is considered a largely settled matter. What we are discovering in the course of the referendum is a realization that what passes for democracy isn’t really good enough,” he said.

In the expert’s opinion, Scotland will eventually become independent regardless of the results of the oncoming referendum, unless the UK undertakes series of radical and fundamental reforms.

Full text news agency "PenzaNews":http://penzanews.ru/en/opinion/56193-2014

A Yes Vote is No "Mandate" on a Currency Union

currencyWe watched the debate last night between First Minister Alex Salmond and Better Together head Alastair Darling. Amid the euphoria of watching Alex Salmond mop the floor with the other guy.  A stuttering, bumbling back bench Labour MP and inexplicably was not so long ago actually the Chancellor of the Exchequer.  A man whose grasp of the intricacies of the United Kingdom's finances, economy and money was so poor we were immediately enlightened as to why the UK is in such a mess.

Alex Salmond in last nights debate said something that upon reflection was pretty disturbing.  Namely that a Yes vote in the referendum will some how give the Scottish Government a "mandate" on negotiating a currency union.  Where exactly did that come from? 

This referendum is to give the Scottish Government a mandate to begin negotiating the terms of Scotland's independence.  The question is "Should Scotland become an independent country?" There is no mention on the ballot "and, Oh, we'll have a currency union too."

If the First Minster wants to have a "mandate" from the Scottish people on whether we want a currency union he should actually ask us which he doesn't want to do because he knows full well that the issue of what currency we may decide to use is far from a settled question.  Many including the Scottish Democratic Alliance would prefer that we have our own currency and that continued use of Sterling should only be a temporary measure. 

Let us put forth a more democratic option. Let this referendum decide the issue of whether Scotland should become an independent country.  If the answer to that is yes, then the Scottish Government may begin the process of negotiating the specific terms of independence and one of those issues is the currency. Let the Scottish Government negotiate a formal currency union with England as their preferred option and let the SNP campaign on this as an issue.  But let the Scottish Government also put forth a plan to transition to and independent currency and a plan to join the Euro and plans for any other options and then lets have a referendum on currency and decide for ourselves which currency we want.  As citizens of an independent democratic state that would be our right to decide not to have decided for us by a party in a parliament. 

Alex Salmond has simply confused the issue further by announcing that a yes vote is a mandate on a currency union.  It isn't. Don't confuse the issues First Minister.  This referendum is about deciding who decides not about what we are deciding on any particular issue.

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European Parliamentary Election Earthquake - What does it mean for Scotland’s independence referendum?

euroflagThe sadness and disappointment in many Scots over the recent European parliamentary elections is profound though there is nothing about the result that is particularly surprising. UKIP and their PR wing, the BBC, have been predicting a landslide in their favour and lo, it has come to pass.  In England. In England UKIP have conclusively won.  The consequences of this win are far more profound for Scotland than the other bit of news, that UKIP have secured a seat in Scotland.

UKIP as opposed to winning in Scotland have finally managed to squeak through to fourth place which got them the seat.  Far from any meaningful repudiation of the SNP who have actually increased their percentage and actual vote to maintain their representation.  The unionist parties have unsurprisingly managed to portray this SNP win as the most dreadful defeat.  The media have predictably fallen all over themselves to gleefully bash Alex Salmond the Nats yet again.    

The UKIP seat in Scotland barely means anything for Scotland.  What it does do is highlight the point that Euro-scepticism does exist in Scotland.  This is not exactly news as polls indicate that roughly 44% of Scots hold some form of Euro scepticism. 44% while being lower than the 48% in England is still a significant number and was bound to have some electoral effect at some point.  This election is the one that it manifested in a small way in Scotland. 

The SDA supports the idea that sovereignty and independence are inseparable and the automatic assumption of membership of the European Union is undemocratic. The SDA believe that the Scottish people should be the ones to decide whether or not we are to remain members in the EU through a separate referendum on the issue.  The SDA’s position is that membership in EFTA would be better for Scotland and that our near neighbour across the North Sea, Norway, should be our model. This position was arrived at through careful consideration and research.  It is not coloured in any way with the anti-Europe, anti-immigrant and anti-gay baser aspects of a far right ideology that UKIP espouses. 

UKIP in spite of its other faults (and they are legion) is an anti EU party and the main one standing in the European elections. It is therefore not surprising for UKIP to have received a small measure of electoral success as the voice of discontent with the current political system. 

Many Scots will have lived in the belief that we were all better than what UKIP is.  Many will no doubt hope that the folk who voted UKIP held their noses to the taint of homophobia and racism and voted only on the issue of the EU. 

In the wider context of the United Kingdom these European elections been nothing short of an earthquake with profound consequences for all the people of these islands.  The trends we can glean from the polls on the direction of opinion in England have played out in much the way it was thought to.  UKIP will absolutely swing the entire apparatus of the Westminster parties even further to the right.  Whether UKIP ever gain a seat in the Westminster parliament in the 2015 UK elections or not, none of the other parties will fail to adjust to the new right wing norm that they’ve brought to England.

This means that we will certainly have a UK wide referendum on EU membership by 2017.  While you might think that the SDA would support this it is still nonetheless a troubling development in that Scots sovereign choice to be in or out of the EU would likely again be overwhelmed by the greater weight of the votes of England in the same way that we’ve gotten government after government at Westminster that we didn’t vote for.

Ultimately, the European election results only serve to reinforce what is at stake in the independence referendum.  The choice we are making on 18 September 2014 is NOT between independence and the status quo.  It is about choosing our own destiny and building a country based on the rule of law, on social justice, that cares and protects all of us together.  Only a yes vote in the referendum gives us the chance to bring this vision to reality.

A no vote leaves Scotland at the mercy of the corrupt, morally bankrupt, brutal, far right elitist state that the United Kingdom is rapidly becoming.  What it is now is bad enough but what it will become, whether we stay or not, is becoming increasingly clear.  The choice in the independence referendum is clear too.  

Download this file (SDA Euro Elections Statement.doc)SDA Euro Elections Statement.doc[ ]131 Kb

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