While Scottish Independence is largely a matter for the Scottish people that’s not to say I don’t have a view – even if it is one of considered indifference. While Conservatives are at once both horrified at the break up of the UK and rubbing their hands at the prospect of Labour losing it’s safe Scottish seats, the left seem to be split between those who are similarly concerned at the loss of a left vote and those who think Scottish Independence will create a disturbance in the electoral system that will at last break the chase for the middle class swing voter. None of which are likely to have much resonance north of the border. Frankly, the self-interest of the main parties and the inability of the left to be the authors of their own change is enough to make anyone vote for independence! But what is this “independence” they’ll be voting for?
Independence is a marvellous thing. Like peace and freedom, no-one in their right mind argues against it. It is in the realisation of these concepts that the trouble starts. As a quick look around the world proves, the independence of states bears absolutely no relationship to he independence of people. Changing your seat of government, changing your flag means no more than deciding to swap your curtains with your table cloth; a bold statement of independent thinking but ultimately pointless.
This is more about the hubris of politicians than it is about the rights of the people to self-determination. That much is made clear by the SNP’s inexplicable rejection of an independent currency – inexplicable that is if you want an independent government but perfectly logical if what you are really talking about is a shuffling of basic administrative powers while allowing the real power to stay with the corporate interests of the free market. Even Adam Smith warned against a business dominated political system – but the SNP have actually made the adoption of TTIP part of their economic argument. Nicola Sturgeon described it as “a massive opportunity”. So we are faced with the prospect of a nationalist government actually signing away powers to unelected and unaccountable foreign interests. It was ever thus. Nationalism has always been a home for confidence tricksters, the deluded and the inadequate.
I am not arguing for Scotland to stay part of the “happy family” of the UK – because we’re not a happy family. All nations are artificial constructs built on the violence and greed of generations of monarchs and landowners who have exploited the people. No matter what their nationality. Scotland have provided their share of monarchs. Just like the English, French, Dutch and German monarchs we’ve had they attacked our culture and oppressed the people on both sides of the border while they looked to feather their own nest. A solution based on nationalism is doomed to fail.
The independence referendum as it is currently presented is a distraction from the very real issue of seizing independence for the people from the callous yolk of global capitalism. By presenting us with a model that does nothing to address this, the SNP are placing themselves in the same bed as Cameron, Clegg and Milliband. Rather than focus on the misty-eyed nostalgia (and the equally misty route map) of nationalism, we need to identify as a people increasingly oppressed by the boundless greed of global capitalism. If the people of Scotland wanted independence from that they would have my support and comradeship as I struggled for the same emancipation. But we keep allowing ourselves to be sold a pup by the glib tongues, self-interest and easy answers of confidence tricksters. The working people of Scotland will have my solidarity be we one country, two or twenty-two. The challenge facing us remains the same. It will remain the same on September 19th as well. Whoever “wins”.