Posted by: Witch Doctor | September 16, 2014

Aye or Naw?

witchhighland

Awe weel. For all thae scots bairns who will no “click” on the link in the last post, here is the whole story.

EWAN MORRISON – YES: WHY I JOINED YES AND WHY I CHANGED TO NO

“Four months ago I joined the Yes camp out of a desire to take part in the great debate that the Yes camp told me was taking place within their ranks. Being a doubter I thought maybe I’d failed to find this debate and that it was exclusive to the membership of the Yes camp, so I joined hoping I could locate it and take part. But even as I was accepted into the ranks – after my ‘Morrison votes Yes’ article in Bella Caledonia, I noted that 5 out of the meagre 20 comments I received berated me for either not having decided sooner or for having questioned Yes at all. Another said, and I paraphrase: ‘Well if he’s had to mull it over he could easily switch to the other side.’ That comment in Bella Caledonia worked away at me like a stone in my shoe. Beneath it, I realised, was a subconscious message: ‘Now that you’re in with us you have to toe the line – ask questions about Yes and you’re out.’

Within the Yes camp I attempted to find the revolutionary and inclusive debate that I’d heard was happening. But as soon as I was ‘in’ I was being asked to sign petitions, to help with recruitment, to take part in Yes groups, to come out publicly in the media, to spread the word and add the blue circle Yes logo to my social media photograph – even to come along and sing a ‘Scottish song’ at a Yes event. I declined to sing but I went along to public meetings and took part in debates online. I noticed that the whenever someone raised a pragmatic question about governance, economics or future projections for oil revenue or the balance of payments in iScotland, they were quickly silenced by comments such as “We’ll sort that out after the referendum, this is not the place or the time for those kinds of questions”. Or the people who asked such questions were indirectly accused of ‘being negative’ or talking the language of the enemy. There was an ethos of “Shh, if you start asking questions like that we’ll all end up arguing (and that’ll be negative) so in the interests of unity (and positivity) keep your mouth shut.”Within the Yes camp I attempted to find the revolutionary and inclusive debate that I’d heard was happening. But as soon as I was ‘in’ I was being asked to sign petitions, to help with recruitment, to take part in Yes groups, to come out publicly in the media, to spread the word and add the blue circle Yes logo to my social media photograph – even to come along and sing a ‘Scottish song’ at a Yes event. I declined to sing but I went along to public meetings and took part in debates online. I noticed that the whenever someone raised a pragmatic question about governance, economics or future projections for oil revenue or the balance of payments in iScotland, they were quickly silenced by comments such as “We’ll sort that out after the referendum, this is not the place or the time for those kinds of questions”. Or the people who asked such questions were indirectly accused of ‘being negative’ or talking the language of the enemy. There was an ethos of “Shh, if you start asking questions like that we’ll all end up arguing (and that’ll be negative) so in the interests of unity (and positivity) keep your mouth shut.”Within the Yes camp I attempted to find the revolutionary and inclusive debate that I’d heard was happening. But as soon as I was ‘in’ I was being asked to sign petitions, to help with recruitment, to take part in Yes groups, to come out publicly in the media, to spread the word and add the blue circle Yes logo to my social media photograph – even to come along and sing a ‘Scottish song’ at a Yes event. I declined to sing but I went along to public meetings and took part in debates online. I noticed that the whenever someone raised a pragmatic question about governance, economics or future projections for oil revenue or the balance of payments in iScotland, they were quickly silenced by comments such as “We’ll sort that out after the referendum, this is not the place or the time for those kinds of questions”. Or the people who asked such questions were indirectly accused of ‘being negative’ or talking the language of the enemy. There was an ethos of “Shh, if you start asking questions like that we’ll all end up arguing (and that’ll be negative) so in the interests of unity (and positivity) keep your mouth shut.”

The Yes movement started to remind me of the Trotskyists – another movement who believed they were political but were really no more than a recruitment machine. I know because I was a member of the SWP in the late 80s. As a ‘Trot’ we were absolutely banned from talking about what the economy or country would be like ‘after the revolution’; to worry about it, speculate on it or raise questions or even practical suggestions was not permitted. We had to keep all talk of ‘after the revolution’ very vague because our primary goal was to get more people to join our organisation. I learned then that if you keep a promise of a better society utterly ambiguous it takes on power in the imagination of the listener. Everything can be better “after the revolution”. It’s a brilliant recruitment tool because everyone with all their conflicting desires can imagine precisely what they want. The key is to keep it very simple – offer a one word promise. In the case of the Trotskyists it’s ‘Revolution,’ in the case of the independence campaign it’s the word ‘Yes’. Yes can mean five million things. It’s your own personal independence. Believing in Yes is believing in yourself and your ability to determine your own future. Yes is very personal. How can you not say Yes to yourself? You’d have to hate yourself? Yes is about belief in a better you and it uses You as a metaphor for society as if you could simply transpose your good intentions and self belief onto the world of politics. The micro onto the macro. Yes is a form of belief – and this is the genius of the Yes campaign: they’ve managed to conflate personal self-determination with state power – to shrink the idea of the state down to the self and the question of the future down to ‘belief in the self.’You wouldn’t want to repress yourself and you personally want to be independent in your own life so, the Yes logic goes you should ask the same of your country. Every economist has told us that you cannot transpose the micro-economics of your home onto the globe – that micro and macro are different worlds, with different rules, but Yes has managed to blur the two to say ‘your country is you.’ Your country is an extension of your own personal desires. As the ubiquitous campaign slogan runs ‘Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands’ – and to reinforce the domestic personal motif the image is that of a newborn – a perfect new self.

The Yes camp have managed to make it seem like criticism of their politics is an attack on the individual’s right to imagine a better self. To do this, the Yes campaign has had to be emptied of almost all actual political content. It has had to become a form of faith.

And it’s not surprising – there is no way that the groups under the banner of Yes could actually work together; they’re all fighting for fundamentally different things. How can the Greens reconcile themselves with the ‘let’s make Scotland a new Saudi Arabia’ oil barons? How can the radical left reconcile themselves with the pro-capitalist Business for Scotland group? Or the L.G.B.T Yes Youth community find common cause with elderly Calvinist nationalists or with the millionaire SNP donor who backed Clause 28. Instead converts chant the same mantra – YES – to cover all the cracks between their mutual hatred. Debate becomes reduced down to one word and the positivity of that one word erases all conflicts and questions beneath a fantasized unity. YES. Yes also erases history, politics and reality. Yes means too many things and ends up meaning nothing. It’s silenced the conflicting politics within it to the point that it means little more than the euphoric American self-help phrase “be all you can be.”

Now some may say – ah yes but Yes is a rainbow coalition – the very essence of democratic pluralism. But you have to ask yourself with so many groups all tugging in so many directions what makes a separate Scotland any different from the rest of the UK with its democratic conflicts, its mess? Democracy is a daily struggle, an ongoing fight to reconcile differing opinions and ideologies, of contesting facts and plans and shouldering the burdens we inherit from history. It’s hard, it’s exhausting, it’s frustrating and it’s all about compromise.So why do we need to leave the union to engage in this painful process we call democracy?

The answer is that the factions within the Yes camp are all dreaming that they will have more power in the new Scotland ‘after the referendum.’ Bigger fish in the smaller pond. The Greens will have more power than they ever could in the UK. Business leaders will have more influence over Scottish government. The hard left will finally realise its dream of seizing power and creating a perfect socialist nation. Each group is dreaming of this fresh new country (as clean as a white sheet, as unsullied as a newborn) in which they themselves dominate and hold control. Clearly these groups can’t all have more power and the banner they share is a fantasy of a unity that is not actually there. It’s a Freudian slip when converts claim that the first thing that will happen ‘after independence’ is that the SNP will be voted out – it betrays the fantasy that each interest group has of its own coming dominance.

Many people are voting Yes just to express their frustration at not being able to engage with politics as it is. They’re voting Yes because they want their voice to be heard for the first time. That’s understandable and admirable, but Yes is not a debate or a democratic dream, it’s an empty word and an empty political process which means dream of what you want and express it with all the passion in your heart. The dream will die as soon as the singular Yes gets voted and Scotland then turns into a battleground of repressed and competing Yesses. Once the recruitment machine has served it purpose it will collapse and the repressed questions will return with a vengeance.

I left the Yes camp and joined the No camp not because I like the UK or think the status quo works well as it is. No. I think things are as complicated and compromised as they always are and that we live in trying times. The Yes camp understand that and so have created an illusion of a free space in which everything you’ve ever wanted can come to pass – overnight. How can it? There are exactly the same political conflicts within the factions of Yes as there are within the UK. After a Yes vote the fight for control of Scotland will begin and that unity that seemed like a dream will be shattered into the different groups who agreed to silence themselves to achieve an illusion of an impossible unity – the kind of unity you find in faith, not in politics. What makes this worse than remaining in the UK is that Scotland will be fighting out its internal battles on a world stage after demonstrating it intends to run its new politics on an illusion of unity, a unity that breaks up even as it is observed.”

How aboot clicking noo, ye lazy lot! Ye’ll find maist o’ the comments interestin. And there are other guid posts tae!

 

“WAKE UP SCOTLAND”


Responses

  1. WD, if you can think of another way that Scotland can avoid TTIP and its NHS, water and other public services being dismantled and privatised in the way they have in England, I would gladly hear it. I have some sympathy for the guy’s opinion. There are self seekers in every party and politics is the kind of profession that attracts that. But he could easily find any number of detailed answers to the above questions if he just googled them and I am fed up with people saying that questions are unanswered.

    Of course there will be different political opinions and parties. What else would there be? Noone’s pretending otherwise. But they’ll be our political parties accountable to us. Scotland has not influenced the outcome of a General Election since 1945 and my own area has stood still for a generation. There’s no investment. The only growing industry is foodbanks. We’ve hit rock bottom here and Westminster does not care, because we do not influence elections. I know this is the same in the northern cities in England and I feel for them – this is not about nationality. But it is about dispossession and unlike Manchester, Newcastle and the like, we have a chance to break away from that. Why would we not take it?

    Nobody’s pretending this is going to be easy. Of course it isn’t and it’s a massive decision. But saying it doesn’t make any difference is simply not true. Scotland still has a public health service. It still has free tertiary education and water as a public utility. It has massive green energy potential which we could develop if Cameron wasn’t too busy handing out fracking licences. We are fighting for the old Britain and its old values which have been discarded down south. We are looking at a BoJo/Farage combo for the next general election. We don’t want them. I know a lot of England doesn’t want them either, but it has an antiquated voting system that the rest of Europe doesn’t share, which makes it easy for people like them to get in.

    We will still be friends. I’ve said it before; the Scots and the English are kin. But sometimes you have to tell those closest to you that they’re going in the wrong direction and if they continue then sometimes you can’t pull them back. You have to part ways. We want to be a normal European social democratic nation, and we can’t achieve that unless we take matters into our own hands. Westminster is finished; the House of Lords has turned into a rotten borough and Parliament is little more than a gathering of lobbyists for corporate interests. It needs a shock and I hope that maybe the one favour that Scottish independence could do for England is to shock its politics into life again.

  2. Well Julie, I expect you’ll be feeling tired and disappointed by the election result. The Oldest Sage Witch’s Highland Granny will be pleased at the result but tired too since she says she stayed up all night watching the results come in. I read somewhere that voting would go in favour of independence if there is another referendum again once all the ancient witches like her die off since they were the ones who skewed the results of the vote!

    Anyway, you asked WD to think of a way that Scotland can avoid the ramifications of TTIP.

    What WD would do would be an expansion of what she did when the Health and Social Care Bill was going through parliament. WD emailed every single MP in Westminster drawing their attention to certain features of the Bill that would be detrimental to the NHS. She chose to email them as Witch Doctor, a medical blogger, rather than using her own name and so the email was anonymous and therefore treated by some with disdain. Some MPs answered personally, and some were supportive, but mostly it was pointed out to WD that MPs would only consider communications from their own constituents. Fair enough.

    Here are some thoughts on what WD might do if she was a member of a political party – any party – in Scotland (which she is not):

    1. Communicate with at least one reliable, calm and articulate party member in each constituency asking them if they would formally question their own MP in writing (snail mail) as follows:
    2. Ask how the MP voted in the Health and Social Care Act as it was going through parliament.
    3. Ask them why they voted they way they did.
    4. Ask them if they have heard of TTIP?
    5. Ask them if they understand the implications of TTIP on the NHS in Scotland?
    6. Enclose or give them a link to Harry Burns’ article in the Glasgow Herald and the comments that followed reminding them that he was, until very recently, Scotland’s CMO.

    This should begin a conversation in writing on a one to one basis in each constituency in Scotland. It will be difficult for MPs not to reply to their own constituents.

    And don’t let up. Take it from there and continue relentlessly asking questions and expand into the rest of the UK via appropriate political parties. Go on and on about it to each and every MP.

    Following the unease the referendum will generate among the political class, the timing is probably right for such an approach and may eventually have some results. After all, there are no firm decisions on an agreement between the EU and USA yet as far as I know.

    What do you think?

  3. WD, we don’t have enough MPs to influence the outcome. It depends on the Tories and the Lib Dems in England. That’s why there’s been this whole referendum. There is nothing effective I can do and over 200 parliamentarians are in the pocket of private health care companies. The only thing I see that I can do, is to continue to campaign for independence for Scotland. But TTIPs going to be tied up by December and it’s too late. We had Labour politicians up here saying everything was fine with the NHS and no need to worry; now they’re talking about joining up to save the NHS. I don’t think any of them have done an honest day’s campaigning in their life. Sorry, but that’s the kind of mood I’m in

  4. Julie, there are many aspects of TTIP relating to the NHS that I simply don’t understand and I wonder how much is understood by many MPs. That is why I think asking searching and very specific questions of them might be the way forward. In Scotland there are several high profile labour and liberal MPs in addition to the six SNPs in Westminster. Presumably all the latter will be against healthcare being included in TTIP. Since MPs will only communicate with their own constituents, would in not be possible for members of the SNP (or other parties) who live in the constituencies of these high profile MPs in Scotland to start a detailed and searching conversation with them and set the ball rolling?

    The ones I’m thinking about for starters are:

    Danny Alexander
    Douglas Alexander
    Gordon Brown
    Menzies Campbell
    Alistair Darling
    Charles Kennedy
    Jim Murphy

    Perhaps also David Mundell, as the only conservative Scottish MP and one who toed the party line by voting in favour of the Health and Social Care Bill to proceed without waiting for the Risk Register to be released, should be included.

    It is likely that all of these politicians will fully understand all the implications of TTIP and if not will be politically astute enough to find out fast. Indeed, if some are supping with the multinationals and/or USA healthcare then rigorous questioning might help make that public.

    While having no first hand experience of the way politicians minds work I have generally found that, within the NHS, the most likely way to get action on a problem was to start by persistently asking very detailed questions and insisting on clear detailed answers. I think this might be possible with this issue but agree time is running out. And also, of course, it is Europe that is making the final decision not the UK. But then, the UK must have a strong presence and stabilising influence on the politics of the EU otherwise there is not much point in being a member.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: