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  • Published in Analysis

David Jamieson provides a sober analysis of the hard truths and new opportunities following from a No vote in the independence referendum

1 We lost to a dirty campaign. But we lost. Anymore time squinting at piles of ballot papers is wasted time. The majority of Scots voted to remain in the Union. Furthermore, this was always the likely result. 45% Yes is a truly stunning result.

None of that detracts from the venality of the campaign that was run against us. Total economic collapse, civil war, permanent dictatorial rule by celibate ethnic nationalists, invasion from space, plagues of locusts – all but the last was threatened by the No campaign. This is what the organised persuasive force of the ruling class looks like.

2 There is not going to be another independence referendum. At least not in the short or medium term. 45% Yes to 55% No is not a sturdy foundation for the future of the Union – and the continued movement through devolution, however extensive or limited initially, is the prelude to the ultimate break-up of Britain. But not for a long time.

Of course the SNP are in a strong position to win the next Holyrood elections – and being a nationalist party and one whose central policy concern is constitutional change, there could possibly be a referendum on some form of devo max. But full independence is off the table for now.

3 We thought we were in a shorter game. Now we know we are in a longer one. For the bulk of Yes support this referendum was not about independence for its own sake, but as a means for progressive social change. We now must pursue our aims of social justice through other means, though in coming months and years constitutional matters will remain a central concern.

4 SNP vs Labour is a trap. Don’t get caught in it. If you were on the Yes side the attraction of the SNP is enormous. They are a stable and strong political entity who delivered Scotland’s greatest ever national democratic moment. And they can hurt Labour.

The Labour party have played a filthy role in the referendum – threatening their own working class constituents, running in the pack with Tory, Liberal and Orange hounds. But descending into an unthinking hatred of Labour won’t change that, and if anything is a demobilising impulse.

SNP, denude of their central constitutional and policy mechanism, represent a busted flush for the Westminster turd. Their capacity to resist austerity, without their characteristic threat of secession, is severely blunted.

It’s also clear that the referendum was delineated predominantly on class lines, rather than traditional party support. The SNP are not necessarily capable of burying Labour in working class areas with high yes turnouts, just as Labour won’t be taking Angus, Aberdeenshire and Perth & Kinross from the SNP any time soon despite a substantial No majority in those areas.

5 Scottish Labour is in real trouble. For all the reasons stated above, Labour has greatly weakened its standing amongst the Scottish working class.

We can still expect Labour to ride the anti-Tory mood to Westminster in six months’ time. But that’s because of the savvy of the working class – rather than the class character of Labour.

The Yes vote took Dundee and Glasgow, the two historic cities of the Scottish Labour movement. This is a seminal moment in the long disintegration of the Scottish and British Labour parties.

6 We can’t assume any degree of devolution from Westminster. We have to fight for it. The much vaunted timetable for constitutional reform has already been abandoned. Gordon Brown’s baseless assertions of a new Home Rule settlement have been completely forgotten. Tory backbenchers at Westminster are rebelling against new powers. Ed Miliband’s focus on new powers for England is about pandering to right wing anti-Scots chauvinism rather than concern for English cities.

It oughtn’t be the preserve of politicians to preside over constitutional reform amongst themselves. The lessons of the Yes movement need to be re-applied to the new constitutional questions. We only extracted the promise of devolution through mass self-activity. Only such activity can draw the greatest new concessions.

7 The Yes vote has greatly exacerbated the generalised crisis of the British regime. The entire political establishment is in complete disarray. They were not prepared to have their most basic entitlement, the entitlement to rule – challenged in this way.

In opposite and equal fashion the democratic empowerment of the Scottish people will leave its own mark – especially amongst the 45%, the more politically conscious section of Scottish society. We will be more difficult to rule hereafter.

8 The Unionist rioting in Glasgow, and general reactionary tenor of the No campaign proves that not all nationalisms are the same. The Yes movement was as progressive as the No camp reactionary. The elements of the left fond of drawing a comparison between the two sides or claiming both are an irrelevance to class politics are living in a cartoon world, and should be ignored.

9 We need a new radical left party. None of the existing political parties in Scotland are in a fit state to continue what was begun with the Yes movement. The left has forged a new political basis through the campaign, most organisational divisions which existed before the referendum and even up to the 18th of September are now redundant and arbitrary. It would be grossly irresponsible for the left not to launch a new credible challenge on both a societal and parliamentary basis.

10 The whole left ought to attend RIC 2014. Whether committed to a new party or not, indeed whether having been a Yes or a No. The unity and discipline the left has extended until now has been an inspiration. We go on from here.

David Jamieson

David Jamieson

David Jamieson is a politics graduate, RIC activist and member of the International Socialist Group based in Glasgow

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