…and your election microscope 2: The yes campaign starts now
What can I, as a Nat, say that hasn’t already been said. When I went to sleep before the result of the AV referendum was known I never would have guessed that Scottish Independence had become slightly more likely than electoral reform!
Firstly every single SNP member, supporter, politician and activist must be congratulated for convincing Scotland nae to be feart of us anymore. Let’s not kid ourselves that we’ve made the case for an independent Scotland yet but rejoice that we have made the case successfully for the SNP to be seen as not only a credible party but the best choice to lead Scotland at Holyrood. Negative campaigning claiming all the SNP wants is to break up the Union and an expensive divorce with the rest of the UK won’t work anymore. The Scottish electorate aren’t stupid they see through those claims because they know we will do our very best for them without kowtowing to Westminster and that they can always vote no in the referendum.
That is why we SNP supporters, activists, politicians and the like must never forget that independence is still a question of “IF” rather than “WHEN” and the yes campaign starts from today. Politically the party can make the case by continuing the politics of consensus in the Scottish parliament and fighting for more powers under devolution plus (and perhaps even devolution max) and meeting it’s promises of making Scotland a better and fairer nation. It’s going to be tricky – tuition fees are going to be a one major challenge that we really need to address carefully and well – what is our “Scottish solution”?
No longer can we legitimately say that we are hindered by the other parties – we have achieved a great victory but with that victory comes a great responsibility to meet as many of our pledges and election promises as possible. We cannot and must not emulate the Liberal Democrats as that would tear asunder all the hard won ground we have made in convincing Scotland there is more to the SNP than independence and that we aren’t some bogeyman to be scared of but rather the best party to lead the Scottish Parliament.
We must be wary of the inevitable end of the honeymoon period as the reality of Tory cuts bites and we find ourselves the bad guys forced into implementing their cuts (and in all likelyhood some of our own – it seems depressingly unavoidable). If we get tax raising powers we may need to exchange some of our hard won popularity in order to raise taxes, maintain public services and meet our objectives of making Scotland a better and fairer nation. If that does happen – and anything seems possible now – then we have to be prepared to take the hit in the polls.
We will need to be realistic about this fantastic and unprecedented result: it’s a once in a lifetime event. In five years the political landscape in Scotland may be unrecognisable so we need to make the most of this opportunity and squeeze every positive we can from it to try and convince people that at the least we deserve autonomy within the UK or that we could survive and flourish as an independent nation.
Big Eck needs to continue from his victory speech and remain humble in victory. Now is not the time for bragging, now is the time to focus on whats important – improving this nation and making things better. The SNP members of the Scottish parliament have to hit the ground running and not rest on their laurels. Despite our majority we need to maintain the politics of consensus and take as many people as we can with us on this exciting journey.
But what’s needed more than anything is for us grassroots supporters to make the case for independence. But not in a romantic shortbread tin numpty way. We shouldn’t argue for independence with the language of treachery and betrayal but rather in the language of hope for the future and what might be.
We must look forward not back.
If we are to win hearts and minds we have to convince the sceptical Unionist majority that we aren’t hung up on history, that we don’t blame the English for all Scotlands ills and that our vision of Scotland outside the Union is based on what can happen in the next 300 years not the last.
So I ask you grassroots activists to abandon narratives of treachery and traitors, of histrionics and history and to focus on the future.
The potential prize that lies before us.
A better nation.