by Liam McLaughlan
British politics is in period of almost unparalleled self-inflicted chaos and confusion. A zombie Tory-led government – devoid of any credibility – staggers on. They march to the tune of the lambeg and flute of Arlene Foster’s DUP, the empty nothings of Theresa May and the Tory hard Brexit negotiations underway. For the first time since Sept 18th 2014, I’m happy with some of Nicola Sturgeon’s approach to the national question and strategy for delivering a vote for independence.
Yesterday’s pause in proceedings recognises what the SSP made clear; tying Scotland’s quest for self determination to the issue of European Union membership was the wrong issue at the wrong time. I have believed for some time that if a referendum was held in the next 12-18 months the Yes side would lose and lose heavily. The movement has systematically refused to properly examine the first campaign’s shortcomings and reasons for defeat. The unfortunate reality is the SNP have turned the movement into a party under their control. Radical voices stifled, authentic edges tempered, shackled and preened away by an impeccable PR machine and teflon leader.
This would not in itself be a problem if the SNP membership are prepared to listen and hear uncomfortable truths from the rest of the independence movement. Truths on their party’s handling of the national question or their timid approach to Government.
Since 2014 there has been a clear decision by the SNP leadership not to discuss or debate independence. Four elections later, and we are no further forward on the derailing economic issues like currency, oil and stability that Alistair Darling took pleasure in derailing our last campaign. The subsequent rise of Jeremy Corbyn and his ability to inspire working class England and slash majorities across Central Scotland should provide the left of the Independence movement with the kick it needs. We must ensure that it is radical class based demands for change and a vision for an Independent Socialist Scotland that lies at the heart of any second referendum campaign.
For three years now much of the Independence movement have declared a future Yes vote “inevitable”. The 2017 election provides a much needed wake up call to inject momentum and purpose to the residue of the 2014 campaign. It was a fine campaign, deep in the trenches, broad in its outlook and coming very close to breaking the British state. Ultimately, we lost – we simply cannot afford to lose again.
To those who share our vision for an independent socialist Scotland – join the SSP. We are a party focussed on building roots and winning in working class communities through joint struggle, rather than alienating Yes voters by orientating solely around Brexit.
The discussions must start now, our case must be rock solid and packed full of policies that transform lives, and swing Scotland’s working class majority back towards a Yes vote in the face of an authentic Westminster alternative in Corbyn’s Labour. Our own house must be in order before we can even think about asking this question of the electorate.
Anything else than a straight win next time kills the issue stone dead. The clock is ticking, time to get a move on.
Liam McLaughlan serves on the Scottish Socialist Party’s executive committee.