While I agree that Scotland’s independence movement needs to be bold and aspirational and inspiring, I’m not as taken with Jeremy Corbyn as Robin McAlpne appears to be. A maximalist agenda is all very well, so long as you can deliver on the big promises. Corbyn is undoubtedly saying things that people want to hear. But is there any substance behind the pretty words?
Let’s not forget that, while Theresa May is the British establishment’s first choice for PM, Jeremy Corbyn is the second choice. Whatever shiny baubles Corbyn might offer today, after the election it will be business as usual no matter who wins. We can vote the Tories out of office. But we can’t vote them out of power. The British state is a Tory state.
The machinery deployed to make it impossible for a Corbyn to win an election, should it fail, will smoothly switch to making it impossible for him to make good on his manifesto pledges.
The big lesson of the first Scottish independence referendum campaign is that, ultimately, the voters will punish lies and empty promises. At the count in Perth in the early hours of Friday 19 September, when it was clear what the outcome of the referendum would be, I was talking with a senior figure from Scottish Labour. I remarked to him that Scottish Labour hadn’t actually campaigned on the constitutional issue. That it had treated the referendum as a party political contest. It had won that contest. But, in the process, it had lost the country. The UK general election in 2015 proved just how right I was about that.
Yes! The independence campaign must be bold. But we must never forget that independence has to be won within the British political system. That’s the SNP’s job. It has to operate as the political arm of the independence movement inside the structures of the British state. The boldness of the wider Yes movement has to supplement and augment the work of the SNP. The Yes movement must work with its political arm, not against it – as happened all to often in the first referendum campaign.
What will win for us is the marriage of the Yes movement’s vision and ambition with the SNP’s principled pragmatism and political abilities.Views: 1983
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