Today, along with veteran peace campaigner Isobel Lindsay and young talented musician Leo Condie, I took part in a Butterfly Rammy panel discussion hosted by Commonweal as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. The comperes were Tam Dean Burn and Pauline Goldsmith.
Around the theme of the Scots word “scunnered”, chewed over the question: “Was the independence campaign anti-nationalist? Was it really driven by anger at a political system rather than identity?”
Of course, no one argued that the Referendum was anti-nationalist, when clearly nationalism, both Scottish and British were important elements of the whole debate. There is however, near on universal agreement on the left that the upsurge in support for Scottish independence was about anger at the political system rather than a surge of tartanry nationalism. Interestingly now that the SNP have become the political establishment in Scotland riding on a wave of anti-austerity rhetoric, they be under increasing expectation to up their game in the demand for real change – economic and political, not just constitutional.
In the immediate aftermath of the referendum outcome – the 45% of the population that voted yes, were absolutely scunnered with the 55% that voted no. Those no voters (bar a few violent bigots) were not on the streets, collecting in community halls and holding cultural events, like the Yessers who were out seeking a brand new day. The no voters by large were not hipstars writing Better Together songs, they were in the main isolated from discourse. I said to many an enthusiastic yes campaigner that for every Yes poster in a window, there is a No voter with their curtains closed, telly on souping up ready-meal received wisdom from media. I guess these people are the ones who were also most scunnered after the referendum mass surge to the SNP.
Jeremy Corbyn is a veteran of left defeats, yet he is not scunnered. He remains positive, upbeat, certain and boyant in his belief that there is an alternative to austerity, and politics doesn’t have to be played in the centre field. Tory govt now in power is the most vindictive right wing zealots, making even Thatcher seem like a pussycat. Scotland didn’t vote Tory. Neither did Wales, London, or the North. At his Glasgow rally, last Friday, Corbyn declared – you can’t be a socialist and a pessimist. This simple assertion will ring with me for a long time.
It is this that makes me most scunnered: the endurance of austerity mantra orchestrated by media
– cuts are inevitable
– public sector pensions are gold plaited
– lucky to have a jobs
– people on benefits are scroungers
– we just need to put up with real terms pay cuts
– trade union barons holding the country to ransome
The reality is that the left, trade union movements, radicals and progressives must come together to rally around what we agree – that there is that there is an alternative:
– tax justice rather than hundreds of billions stolen in avoidance
– scrapping Trident and funding health and education
– social security not welfare scapegoating
– investment in social housing, green jobs and infrastructure
– real living wage and fair pay for all
– trade union freedoms and rights at work
If we can agree that then surely we will no longer be scunnered?