One you’ve had a wee rest, Independence supporters should cheer themselves up by cutting through the media and party-political bullshit today. Two things will become clear.
First, in spite of the media’s and unionist politicians’ insistent attempts to read across from the SNP’s result to the state of support for independence in Scotland, independence continues to be the choice for almost, or actually, half of all Scots. This blogsite published this yesterday. And while the SNP got less voteshare and Scottish Labour more, this has been widely seen as the function of enthusiastic young Yes folk moving from SNP to Labour via Corbymania.
Perhaps those young folk will switch to No in due course. But that won’t become clear for some time and will depend upon how independence supporters act from now on. For the moment, it’s obvious that Labour has more independence supporters than ever. So as said yesterday, while it’s fair to assume pretty much all SNP voters (37% yesterday) are also independence supporters, it’s certainly going to be true that more Scottish Labour than last time (around a third) were and that likely means at least another 10% from there (27% yesterday). In other words, the figures for independence support really haven’t shifted for quite a long time, much as the media like to suggest otherwise.
Second, though, that means the independence campaign is from now on going to be less simply a matter of supporting the SNP and more about convincing people who may not vote SNP that independence will bring better public services and a better Scotland in general. If Scottish Labour thinks its new voters yesterday are going to immediately toe the line on unionism then they’re badly wrong. Unionism at the moment is of course a Tory government in league with sectarian Ulster Unionists – not a good look. But Corbyn’s UK Labour will be working hard to convince folk that the only way they can get this kind of radical politics is through them, not through a more ‘mainstream’ SNP. In time, this could indeed impact on Yes support amongst those folk. At the moment, such folk will believe there is a serious chance that Corbyn can indeed become prime minister later this year, and that is quite dangerous to the independence movement.
The SNP has lost its Tories now, of course. So it’ll be slipping to the left and that’ll help with independence. But it’ll need to spend much more time working out a narrative, with proper detail, about how independence can bring public benefit in Scotland in a way unionism can’t. This seems likely to lead to a referendum delay. And of course it will be difficult if Corbyn is indeed able to become prime minister in, say, a second election this year.
For now, though, the SNP remains overwhelmingly the most powerful party in Scotland and will have to decide whether it is truly a party of independence, or wants instead to concentrate holding on to power in a more devolved Scotland. It seems likely that the SNP’s new mass membership won’t allow the battle for independence to be given up: quite rightly since the odds are that we’re still facing years of Tory Brexit government.
Crucially, though, there’ll be an important role for Labour independence supporters. They’ll need to assert themselves against the presently unrepresentative Scottish party leadership and they’ll need to square working to help Corbyn at the UK level while continuing to believe that England remains a more Tory place where there will never now be the same opportunity for social justice as in an independent Scotland.
There’s a lot to play for. But then, there always has been, as independence supporters who’ve been so for a lot longer than me can attest.
Meanwhile, this weekend, just chill and observe the public spectacle of the June car-crash which is the May UK premiership. Britain’s a mess. Scotland can do a lot better.