Friday, 2 January 2015

Reflections on #indyref

Confessions of a reluctant Yes voter
My vote in the Scottish independence referendum went right down to the wire- after months and months following the debate in the MSM and online it was a 50/50 call I made in the polling booth itself. In the end my choice came down to loyalty to my own ideology or solidarity with the faint hopes of a good friend. So I put my ideology aside and voted for self-determination. Why ever not I thought, especially with the truly unsavoury mob in the reactionary Better Together camp on the other side.

I may have voted yes with a degree of optimism about the ballot's outcome because the tide really seemed to be turning, but I certainly didn't drink the Kool-Aid: I remain what I was when the debate started- a resolute internationalist to whom the merest whiff of nationalism is anathema. If this sounds like classic Bolshevik anti-imperialism that's because it is-  it was an orthodox Trotskyist- Sráid Marx | An Irish Marxist Blog to whom I would turn durnig the campaign for relief from the stultifying nationalism of the pro-indy camp.

A sober look at the result
Having thrown my straw on the balance I was diappointed with the result, naturally enough- we'd missed out on a local Tory-free zone after all. Although I wasn't hugely surprised after that 1st result came in. Evidently I'd overestimated the potential Yes vote because I'd allowed myself to be convinced that people making the effort to register were more likely to be registering for change than for the status quo. The shock to the Yes movement's system was palpable- posters on popular indysite Bellacaledonia are still talking in terms almost of bereavement.

Some are resorting to wishful thinking. A report on the November 2014 RIC conference opened- as did the conference:
“Welcome, to the People’s Republic of Glasgow!”
The audience applauded, all 3,000 of them. The speaker looked amazed at the crowd.
“If this is how it looks when we’ve lost” he said, expressing everyone’s thoughts, “can you imagine what it will be like when we’ve won?”
Cheers all round one [sic] again.
The achievement of rallying some 3000 people to a left-wing conference spilling over into 2 arenas shouldn't be underestimated, but the reality is that the most optimistic left lash-up of 5000 or so is outnumbered 20-1 by the resurgent SNP. The inevitable pressure to confirm to the SNP's Westminster interests is on and the independent left has effectively been sidelined at a time when the popular movement is to the left of Labour and Yes/RIC have already proved the effectiveness of good old fashioned mass canvassing. This ducked electoral challenge won't be made good until 2016.

The real 'fix'
The biggest mistake I made during the indyref period was to go with Cameron on leaving a Devo-Max answer out of the ballot agreed in October 2012's 'Edinburgh agreement'. I figured at the time that Salmond would prefer to weasel that option in because he knew he'd never win a straight independence referendum. He'd be realistic enough to be satisfied to get another slice of power at Holyrood in the meantime I thought. So I wanted him to face the straight question.

Given the result, it'd've been better for the Yes vote to have been beaten by Devo-Max votes than by No votes. The whole campaign would've been improved by this option: the debate over Devo-Max would inevitably've raised the idea of a federal republic, which could only have elevated the rather paltry constitutional debate. You can't but think that the SNP negotiators got themselves stiffed on that one.