Tomorrow Scotland might decide to leave the United Kingdom, despite the increasingly dire warnings from top capitalists and other establishment figures. According to people who largely live in London, independence is okay for various small, poor countries but it will be an economic disaster for a relatively wealthy country. This is such an important thing to understand that these people have left the argument to the last possible moment. Almost as if they have been embarrassed into making it at all.
Meanwhile, absurdly, all the main English politicians are now offering some kind of sop to stay in the union, as if it is entirely within their gift. The proposals remain mysterious, like a small parcel accidentally added under the Christmas tree at the last moment, unwrapped and unknown. No sensible voter in Scotland can be expected to fall for the idea that the Tories can be trusted, let alone the LibDems, and certainly not on a promise of no detail. We have to feel sorry for the Scottish unionist who must now feel that her vote for the status quo has been furtively removed somehow.
Throughout all of this, something truly remarkable has happened to electoral engagement in Scotland. The record-breaking voter registration anticipates an exceptionally high turnout. The last elections in England ~ for the risible posts of Police and Crime Commissioners ~ proved that democracy can fail for want of interest. Here in Sussex the turnout was a meagre 16%. When people know that there is no political difference between the parties, they don’t bother voting. What is the point? In Scotland, there clearly is a substantial and very serious choice between independence and whatever the shifting positing of the No Campaign may be.
The English Left has overwhelmingly supported the campaign for independence. That’s despite its victory spelling apparent disaster for left-wing views in the rump UK. The reason is very simple but unspoken for largely superstitious reasons: the English Left is dead, we just haven’t had the funeral yet. A grave injury was given by Thatcher and then the Labour Party turned the knife repeatedly. It was a long, slow and painful death but, following the Green Council’s decision in Brighton & Hove to impose cuts to public services after all, the body was finally delivered to the morgue this year.
Although there remain still some loud voices, in the blogosphere or in trendy places to graffiti, articulating leftist thought, the organised Left is dead in England. Everyone is reading the same menu. Essentially it is a neoliberalist economic dish, served with various degrees of a smile. “Would you like a food bank with your poverty, sir?” The Greens differ on energy and defence policy but they too are funded by millionaires or people who work in private healthcare. The only anti-capitalist thing about them is the bit in their policy document which uses the phrase “anti-capitalist.“
We want Scotland to leave the UK because we recognise that the mortal wounds inflicted on the English Left did not cross the border, that Scotland has consistently, for decades, been more substantially more socialist than England and we want to see an inspiring country on our border. This is our last will and testament. We hope that English politics will change for the better in the future, when Scotland forces us to see a choice over some issues. Like illegal foreign wars, for example.