Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The indyref and the time Scotland dared to dream

The Scottish Independence referendum, although like many politically attuned people I've thought about little else recently. It's hard for the gravity of the situation to truly sink in. We can see from the scramble of politicians to Scotland and their frenzied activity to convince the Scottish people that the UK can change, that I'm certainly not the only one!

Events in Scotland, will send an earthquake originating in Scotland but with it's epicentre in Westminster and through UK politics (or perhaps rUK). In the event of either a yes or a no vote there will be chaos. The status quo will die this week, all of the assumptions about central government knowing best and blind faith in their judgement will end.

Quite what all of this will mean is yet to be seen, will the neo-liberal view of economics remain intact? or to put it another way will the market and big business remain so powerful in politics? Will austerity remain the basis for all economic thought? Will we see a resurgence in front-line public services? We might see the nature of the state being challenged? How the UK is governed being rethought? Could Mebyon Kernow's long held goal of a Cornish Assembly come into being? The whole of politics itself could be questioned from the House of Lords down to parish councils. What is the role of the monarchy? The UK's place in the world might be reconsidered. Whether the UK retains nuclear weapons and even remains at the top table of the United Nations Security Council will be questioned.

All of these things are mights and maybes, not because the people of Scotland will vote yes or no. But because the whole process of having a vote on the future of Scotland, calls into question the fundamentals of the UK. If the UK was the strong powerful, 'great power' it once was none of this would be possible. Nevertheless these matters are mights and maybes because there are powerful voices in the established order and throughout the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties that would defend the old order bitterly and would try to curtail even a serious debate on these subjects.

I think the permanent removal of the fundamentals of the UK as a debating point is an unteneable position for two reasons. Firstly as the whole Scottish vote, the whole process of the debate and referendum in Scotland has put them on the agenda. Secondly and this relates to the title of this blog 'The indyref and the time Scotland dared to dream' and dream it certainly has, with enough, imagination, energy and debate for scores of countries let alone one. I think the whole of the UK needs to have a robust debate about the fundamentals, rather than struggle to stuff the cat back in the bag, if that's even possible.

The amount of debate in Scotland is truly inspirational and puts to shame the normal debates around general elections. It shows when the media and public debates focussing not on the same old parties talking from London on the same old subjects, but widens this out the debate becomes much more varied, interesting and overall engaging.

I admire Scotland, I always have, but that admiration has grown in the last year. They have dared to dream and I wonder if that capacity to dream and to question the underlying principles of the UK can be constrained within the UK in the event of a no vote. Politicians often talk about listening to people and engaging the public in debates, these people and indeed all of us would do well to look north. A casual disinterest in politics and low turnouts in election is not a certainty. People can be engaged on a huge scale.

Whatever happens on thursday, Scotland is in a better place for the process and is the only place at the moment in the UK that can call itself a democracy in any meaningful sense. Whatever you decide Scotland, good luck and keep dreaming of a better world.

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