The phenomenon of people arguing that voting SNP is the answer to all and every problem in the universe is becoming commonplace. There’s also been a rush to explain how voting for anyone or anything other than a single party next year is a futile folly. It’s a depressing and narrow orthodoxy in a country still undergoing waves of change and lies in complete contrast to the vibrancy and spontaneity of the Yes movement. The reality is that with Labour and Liberals eviscerated there is room for a ‘new pluralism’ – a political landscape that looks radically different from before, where parties, people and alliances with a common understanding, that self-determination is an essential goal, jostle in debate about the values and means and direction of our new country. It’s unity in diversity. It’s a far stronger position to build a movement for independence than the brittle notion of the top down singularity of one party.
The important of RISE should be judged after their launch, not before it, but Jonathan Shafi is clear about the questions at stake:
First – how do we increase the potential of getting another referendum?
Second – how do we increase the chances of winning another referendum?
Third – how do we increase the potential for that future independence victory to translate into genuine social change?
The logic behind RISE is clear: we increase the potential of getting another referendum by building a relentless movement for change. We increase the chances of winning another referendum by building not just a majority of pro-indy voices in Holyrood but in communities and in real lived experience. And we increase the potential for that future independence victory to translate into genuine social change by breaking through the tired old orthodoxy of failed economics and failed politics.
One party can’t deliver independence, only a broad and powerful movement can, as our writer stated yesterday: “I can think of no greater deterrent against independence than the prospect of a country where criticising politicians is frowned upon or worse, regarded as disloyal.”
The tactic is clearly to capitalise on the failure of Labour, and, rather than just relish the schadenfreude of Labours demise, build an alternative that breaks new ground.
If the 56 MPs at Westminster are to be celebrated, they are also, we hope to be a short-lived project. They are there as the Undertakers of Westminster, but the important work has to happen in Holyrood, where the Midwives are arriving.
Taking votes from the old dead parties can create a parliament brimming with ideas and genuine policy debate. Because the reality is that Holyrood has been at times like a Holodeck of a parliament, with tired old politicians mouthing binary arguments across the floor. The common bond of the Unionist parties has been their absolute lack of imagination and policy innovation. The quality of the opposition has been dire, unimaginative and tribal. They are about to be removed. They, like the very concept of Britain are an evanescent force, fading away before our eyes.
Imagine a parliament packed with people who actually believed in something?
As Jonathan Shafi puts it: “The rupture with the British state only has lasting transformational potential if the forces involved in that situation are of sufficiently radical. Only if there is a voice representing the spirit of the people’s movement beyond any victory will we prevent an almost immediate re-trenchment of corporate power and so on. At every step of the way we need radical and new ideas about how we should run our society to be pushing against the centralising, management based approach of the SNP. This benefits the movement as a whole and builds the capacity of the grassroots to mobilise from below by branching out beyond existing Yes voters.”
We who argue for transforming Scotland shouldn’t be averse to new and emergent forces rising up, we should embrace them. We shouldn’t be frightened of change and of radical new voices emerging from our movement. RISE has much to prove and needs strategy and guile, but the evidence is it has that in bucketloads. Unity in diversity is a much stronger base for transformative action than one-dimensional party politics.