By John Finnie MSP
The quest to find a comparator for our constitutional debate invariably leads commentators to Quebec. Whilst the 1995 vote was narrowly lost 49.42 per cent Yes and 50.58 per cent No, the verdict of psephologists on the 1980 referendum was that the defeat was “because a French-speaking politician (Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau) was able to return to his native land and appeal to his brethren.” Is such a turn of events likely with our debate?
We Scots were to have been seduced by Alistair Darling, charmed by Michael Moore, coerced by Alistair Carmichael then overpowered by the interpersonal skills and consistency of message by failed Chancellor and Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.
Vladimir and Barrack, and in between Eddie Izzard and 'Gorgeous George', were to have supplemented by David Bowie's proxy plea. None have done the trick of killing off our aspirations for a better future. Billy Connolly isn't going to come riding over the hill on his 3 wheeler to sort us out, not least as both sides of the discussion claim him as theirs. No-one is coming. Indeed Better Together may have rumbled that the less 'big hitters' they send north the better it is for them.
The No campaign has recently plummeted to new depths, even for them, and caused alarm amongst the parents of children living in Scotland treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital. They lied that future treatment was in doubt, a sick message they sought to spread via now withdrawn cinema ads.
So, in the time that remains, I will be out and about telling the truth that the independence referendum is 'an opportunity', with few guarantees.
Vote No and you are guaranteed more austerity – with 60 per cent of the cuts still to come. You are guaranteed a cap on welfare. You are guaranteed the renewal of Trident – £1.43billion already spent on early design. And, in the growing unlikely event of Labour winning next year's election, you are guaranteed attacks on welfare benefits for the under 25s.
We must give clear and concise information on issues such as pensions to those for whom voting Yes seems a personal gamble, our older folk. Despite unequivocal assurances from the UK government minister responsible that pensions paid for will be honoured, our unionist opponents still seek to create doubt from public platforms and bill poster boards the length and breadth of the country, because they understand this can resonate with those most likely to vote, pensioners.
To deliver our positive message of a more equal Scotland we must redouble our efforts, particularly face to face contact with voters.
We must seize this opportunity or our laudable aspirations will be cast aside by whoever forms the next UK government.
We know the unionists will continue to attack Alex Salmond and the SNP, however, the referendum campaign has long moved beyond any individual or party and now involves many who have never engaged in politics of any description before who share our vision of a better tomorrow.
Majority government has earned the Scottish Government the legitimate right for their White Paper to be the basis of the constitutional discussion. However, we must emphasise 'other versions are available' and they collectively make a strong, shared case for social justice.
We are now into the period when neither side will expend any effort seeking to win over die-hard opponents. All energies must be directed to winning over the significant percentage of voters who are 'undecided' to our campaign.
Great effort must be put into addressing an apparent deep-seated 'conservatism' of women on this issue. I remain ready to help with any aspect of the campaign; however, I believe it's the various women's groups rather than another middle-aged, grey-haired politician who'll more likely triumph with this hugely important and potentially decisive group.
So that's all those who are going to vote, what about the 'missing million' those, primarily from our most disadvantaged communities for whom the idea of a participative democracy means nothing?
I am supporting the Radical Independence Campaign's mass canvas to reach these excluded people. We must explain the pivotal role they can play in changing UK plc, run by and for elites. It's a challenge but we owe those communities our time and effort and we will be rewarded with support.
My independent status sees me detached from party machines, particularly the mighty beast that is the Scottish National Party's electoral apparatus, however, between now and 18 September I shall be working with anyone and everyone to secure our nation's future.
I understand there have been 49 independence referendums across the world. Some have been official, others unofficial. Some have been successful, and others have ended in failure.
Let's not fail for lack of effort – let's get out and talk.
Courtesy of The Scottish Socialist Voice