The Scottish Fifth Estate

One of the most interesting developments to come out of IndyRef was the role of the Fifth Estate in the Yes side.

Often operating without any connection to the official Yes Scotland campaign they went about their business online unfettered by any party political considerations.

Probably the best example of this was Wings Over Scotland.

Their ‘wee blue book’ had, in print and download, 500,000 distributed to a country with around four million adults.

The man behind this is the Rev.Stuart Campbell and his zeal to break up the United Kingdom would certainly lead to some cultural confusion among the Fleg protesting classes.

Even today ‘Wings’ broke  a story on ‘the vow’ made by the three Westminster leaders in the days before IndyRef pledging more powers to Holyrood in the event of a NO vote.

The online activity during the campaign was mirrored by boots on the ground.

I saw for myself on the streets of Glasgow the impromptu ad hoc efforts like voter registration that the official Yes campaign had no idea was going on.

After the disappointment of the vote on 18th September some of the people who were central to this effort now appear to be digging in for the next phase.

And that is exactly how they see it.

Probably the best example of this is the Common Weal.

They are currently professionalising their operation by recruiting high quality fulltime staff.

The aim appears to be the consolidation of the gains made in IndyRef and to build for the future.

I had interviewed Robin McAlpine of the Common Weal during the campaign and I posed to him the scenario where the Yes side lost, but got 45% of the vote.

I asked him if this YES campaign would create a permanent movement.

The professionalization of the pro-independence Fifth Estate seems to be powerful manifestations that this is just the beginning.

Only a month after the result the victors No side look like the losers.

The main defender of the Union in Scotland is, of course, the Labour Party.

Johann Lamont has just resigned and the scéal from within the Party in Scotland is one of angst and turmoil.

They are, quite frankly, in a terrible mess.

The fact that their heartlands of Dundee, Glasgow and North Lanarkshire voted YES does not bode well for them.

They’re now seen as tied to the Tories and that makes Labour in those areas rather toxic.

The Scottish Green party now has more members that the Labour Party does in Scotland.

It is undoubtedly a fact that the Westminster tribe panicked for about the last ten days of the IndyRef campaign.

Suddenly they thought they would lose.

They won so they can now go back to forgetting about Scotland.

Several Scottish commentators have said to me that they believe that there will be a cull of Labour MPs Scotland in the 2015 British General Election.

For many in the Scottish political village the only matter for debate is the scale of the bloodletting at the ballot box that Labour will suffer.

Of course that will be decided by the electorate, just as IndyRef was.

However, if this comes to pass next May then it will be fair to say that something generational has taken place,

The comparison with the Ireland’s revolutionary generation has already been made, but I think this piece by Martin Kettle overstates the case.

I found that many of the young activists in the Yes side during the referendum campaign were utterly convinced that they would win.

I think they found my questions about what they would do if they lost to be annoyingly pointless.

The disappointment of defeat will undoubtedly make some go away and get on with their lives.

However, others seem committed to create a permanent momentum towards independence.

Lesley Riddoch states it here in her podcast that the NO side got the vote, but the YES got a movement.

Moreover it is wider and deeper than the rapidly expanding SNP.

These developments will ensure that the political scene in Scotland will continue to be most fascinating within these islands for some time to come.

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