Friday, 31 January 2014

Moving towards independence

Even media-outlets loyal to the British Union are now acknowledging that the direction of travel in the independence debate is from ‘No’ to ‘YES’.

Last weekend Scotland on Sunday carried a new poll showing the gap between opposing sides in the debate has narrowed to such an extent that a further swing of just 3% will secure victory for the ‘YES’ side, meaning Scotland would once again become a normal, independent nation, fully in control of its own future. It’s worth pointing out that Scotland on Sunday is not just a British Unionist newspaper, it is a Tory-supporting British Unionist newspaper.

The so-called mainstream media – print and broadcast – is finally having to admit what those active in the referendum campaign have known for a long time – the positive case for independence is winning. Of course, that fact won’t stop the same media from carrying the ‘No’ side's scare-stories and from acting as propaganda outlets for the campaign that seeks to keep Scotland controlled from London by a government we rejected at the ballot box.

It is truly remarkable, and shows the strength of the pro-independence message, that more and more people are embracing the cause of an independent Scotland, despite the fact newspapers and broadcasters are almost universally hostile. In Scotland, only the Sunday Herald is open to the independence argument. All other mainstream newspapers are unswervingly loyal to the British Union, a position not hard to understand when we reflect on the fact they are all owned and operated by companies based in London and take their editorial line from headquarters in the English capital.

It is despite the best efforts of a British Unionist media that support for independence continues to grow.

Part of the reason the ‘Project Fear’ message of the Unionist campaign is failing, is because more and more Scots reject the idea that alone amongst all the peoples of the world, it is only us who are ‘too wee, too poor and too stupid’ to successfully run our own country. Scare-stories telling us it would be ‘disastrous’ if we re-take the powers of independence are actually attacks on the intelligence and capabilities of ordinary Scots. The Unionist position is that Scots are so inadequate and hopeless that if we had the powers taken for granted by every other nation on the face of the planet, we would turn that ‘normality’ into a ‘disaster’.

Another reason for the continuing rise in support for independence is that, in the 21st Century, increasing numbers of people get their news and coverage of current affairs from the internet, rather than hard-copy newspapers or mainstream broadcast outlets. London-based newspapers and television stations can completely control what their readers and viewers see, but they have no such control over the web. Pro-independence websites, such as ‘Wings over Scotland’ and ‘Newsnet Scotland’, have built huge readerships and daily articulate the positive case for independence. In addition, pro-independence sites on the internet also dissect and disprove British Unionist propaganda, carried elswhere by mainstream newspapers and broadcasters as if it were fact.

There is also evidence of a particular shift towards independence from what are described as ‘traditional’ Labour Party supporters. These are people whose vision of Labour is the party that formed the National Health Service and championed the interests of the working class, rather than the Labour Party of today, which is currently attempting to out-Tory the Tories by continuing to be ‘intensely relaxed about people becoming filthy rich’ while getting tough on the unemployed and those workers struggling to survive on poverty wages.

Alongside people who have voted Labour in the past, former elected representatives of the party are also endorsing independence. Alex Mosson, Labour Lord Provost of Glasgow; Sir Charles Gray, Labour leader of Strathclyde Regional Council; John Mulvey, Labour leader of Lothian Regional Council: all have spoken publicly of how they will vote ‘YES’ in the referendum, and of how independence will allow the creation of a real Scottish Labour Party that can shake-off the right-wing, middle-England agenda of the British Unionist Labour Party and can restore the core-beliefs of the movement. ‘Labour for Independence’ is a growing part of the broad ‘YES’ campaign.

We can expect to hear more supporters of the Labour Party speak-out for an independent Scotland over the months leading to the referendum on September 18, including some who previously held very senior positions.

Also making a very interesting contribution to the debate is Jim Sillars, the former Ayrshire Labour MP who went on to join the SNP and won the Govan constituency for the party in a sensational by-election victory.

Jim Sillars is acknowledged and accepted as one of the wisest-heads in Scottish politics and is respected by people in all parties. Now aged 76, Jim has emerged from retirement to make the case that Labour supporters should back independence and rebuild their party in an independent Scotland. The Sillars’ position is that the British Labour Party will never return to its founding, working class principles, so the only way for Scots to have the Labour Party they want is to vote for independence, free the movement from London-control and establish a new organisation in an independent Scotland.

Just last week a local Labour Party activist went out of his way to stop me in the Ardrossan Asda. He told me he was voting ‘YES’. He said he’d come to the decision because he felt it was the only option that would benefit his grand-children. He didn’t want them to have their future blighted by Tory Governments. He also said it had helped him reach his decision when he realised a ‘YES’ vote was for Scotland and not for Alex Salmond or the SNP.

Independence is simply being a normal country, and the people of Scotland deserve nothing less.

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