When we tell you to apply updates we are not telling you to mend your ship. We are telling you to keep bailing before the water gets to your neck.
Everything is broken, Quinn Norton
Okay, so moving away from the detail of IndyRef, here’s an interesting four point blog from Mark Leonard at Reuters. He raises a number of key points that should not only be listened to London, but elsewhere
…whatever the result of the vote, I think we must recognize that the “Yes” campaign has done more to shape the agenda of Scottish politics. And it is the forces it tapped into that will also change politics around the world.
One, is the eclipse of the economic debate in this #IndyRef debate (notwithstanding my own very short standing obsession with the currency issue):
…many of these arguments pale into insignificance when compared to the power of their pro-independence ‘Yes’ camp’s argument that Scotland has not voted for a Conservative government since 1935 and yet has spent more than half of the last century being governed by Conservatives (at the last election, David Cameron’s Conservative Party won only one out of 59 seats in Scotland). As Owen Jones argued in the Guardian, “to most Scots, living under a Tory-led government seems absurd, like being forced to live under a hostile foreign occupying force.
Two, these matters are about shared values as much if not more than pure old fashioned nationalism:
Rather than proclaiming far-right ideas, pro-independence campaign videos paint a picture of Scotland’s future as a socialist utopia – a British version of Sweden. The campaign video counterposes Scottish fairness with Britain’s growing inequality; Scottish public spending against British austerity; Scottish opportunities against the tyranny of English privilege; and Scottish internationalism with the ‘illegal wars’ of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Britain. For the “Yes” campaign, the yes box on the the ballot paper does not just imply that Scots will be free from Tory government – it is an invitation to join in building a socialist paradise north of the border.
Three, in the struggle between plutocrats and the populists, the latter is winning. More importantly Yes has been able to frame this not [just] as a battle against England but of one of the people against elites:
The leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond, has been able to present himself as a defender of the Scottish people against the British elites. His arguments have added force because so many successful Scottish people have chosen to make their careers in London – allowing the Nationalists to become the spokespeople for those who have been left behind.
The dynamics of the Scottish campaign are increasingly true of many other democracies where established parties huddle together to defend the current order from insurgent political forces that paint themselves as popular tribunes in the face of entrenched elites.
Four, Scotland is already de facto independent. The long tail corollary of devolution has been the establishment of a separate and largely self sustaining political culture in Edinburgh and Glasgow, of which London has taken very little notice:
It has been striking that none of the (English) leaders of the mainstream parties in Westminster have been seen as legitimate voices in Scotland’s debates. The most powerful arguments for the Union have come from Scottish politicians.
This is not surprising given the fact that the Scottish have consumed different media from the rest of the UK for a number of years, and that their political arguments have long been different from those in other parts of Britain.
In many ways, the cultural and intellectual secession of Scotland from the UK has been going on for a number of years. And it echoes The Big Sort that has seen people in many established democracies clustering into like-minded groupings that live and work and pray together while consuming media that reinforce their bias and preferences.
In other words, whether it is yes or no, this problem is not going to go away anytime soon. And far less contemporary than all of these examples. We know that over time, when offered their own freedom, more often than not, countries tend to choose it.
With no armed guards on the exit gates of the UK, who knew it could be so easy just to pull out?