Whatever else the claimed ‘surge’ in support for the British Conservative & Unionist Party in Scotland (BCUPS) indicates, it certainly tells us something very important about the way the British political system works; and about politics in general. Something that urgently needs to be learned by a few Yes organisations and a significant number of independence-supporting individuals.
Firstly, it is important to understand that Scotland’s independence must be won from within the British political system. Because that is where we are. Snootily insisting that we are above that kind of politics is the very definition of a futile gesture. It exemplifies the incomplete thinking of those who are so focused on the possibilities of being independent as to have become blind to the necessities of becoming independent.
What the polling for BCUPS demonstrates is one of the main features of the British political system. It shows how that system works against diversity. It shows how polarising it is. It also shows how, as a general rule, issues that are highly contentious come to be the province of a single party. This happens because the British political system is crude. It recognises and responds only to brute political force. Since it operates on the basis of ‘winner takes all’, one side of a particularly significant issue tends to coalesce around a single political party.
There is no doubt that, in competition with British Labour in Scotland (BLiS), BCUPS has become the party of British nationalism. Ruth Davidson has been crowned Queen of the Britnats. Kezia Dugdale is nowhere. Because, in the British political system, there is no second place; there are only outright winners and absolute losers.
This, incidentally, is one of the reasons that the British establishment is so disconcerted and dismayed by the outcome of the first referendum campaign. They won. But, having won, they then had to watch as the losers took all the prizes – for example, soaring membership for the SNP and other pro-independence parties (OPIPS). That’s not how it’s supposed to work!
The lesson that some in the Yes movement need to learn is that, within the British political system, translating support for independence into the political effectiveness needed to achieve independence requires that all of the effort be concentrated into a single political party. Not that everybody has to join that party. Or that they must agree with its policies. Only that everybody has to recognise it as the effective political arm of the movement. The point at which democratic power makes contact with the might of the British state.
All the might of the British state’s anti-independence campaign is now concentrated on the ‘Scottish’ Tories. Hard-line unionists who normally support the other British parties will lend their votes to BCUPS on every occasion when it matters. If Yes supporters do not to match that solidarity, focus and discipline, the campaign to bring Scotland’s government home will surely fail. And this time there will be no prizes.Views: 5961
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