Anne McTaggart MSP looks at the impact of the referendum campaign on women, the economic difficulties often disproportionately borne by women, and the opportunity to engage and support women in delivering political change.
The last couple of years have been momentous for Scottish politics, with the independence referendum debate reigniting the political interest of the nation. All across our country, from all walks of life, people and their families have been engaging with politics on a scale perhaps never seen before. At kitchen tables and offices, community centres and school gates, the independence referendum, it seemed, was all that was talked, argued and debated about.
As a woman and mother, I was particularly heartened to see so many of my female friends, colleagues and relatives arguing with conviction and passion their thoughts on Scotland as a nation, and why they believed that a No vote would secure the best future for Scotland. I was particularly struck by how different the arguments made by these women varied from their male counterparts.
Men, it seemed, were more direct in their decision making. According to most of the polls in the run up to the 18th September, men did indeed make their minds up far more quickly than women. That correlates with what I experienced on the doorstep during the campaign. Men were extremely forthright in putting their views forward, with women perhaps needing a further discussion before revealing their opinion. That, however, did not mean that women had not made up their minds, simply, that they did not want to share their views so readily. One of the reasons for this, I believe, was the campaign itself.
Florence Boyle is a member of the Scottish Labour Party who voted Yes. Here she sets out what she’d like to see next from her party.
Firstly, let me get my confession out of the way.
Although I remain a Labour Party member, I have not participated in any party meetings or processes for at least 5 years. It may be longer. I could say more but it would literally be a waste of space – but just for information, no one has ever asked me. Although they did give me a call to help fund the No campaign.
Next confession: I voted Yes in the referendum. Not out of any deep-seated sense of nationalism, nor from a lifelong desire for an independent Scotland, but instead I, like many other Labour members, saw it as an opportunity to reset the social justice agenda and begin again with the challenge of tackling the poverty issues that still exist in heartland Labour areas, despite Labour’s stewardship of those areas for generations. Because it just doesn’t feel like we are Better Together.
In the eyes of some this may nullify my right to contribute to the “where next” debate currently underway in Scottish Labour; but I hope it will be received, as it is intended, as a contribution from a critical friend. Be warned, some of it may be heresy, some of it may be naïve. I claim no expertise in local or central government management but I am sure there are enough people within the party who do.
John Morton, a member of Mid Fife & Glenrothes CLP and Fife Co-op Party, argues that part of local devolution is the promotion and support of Gaelic.
It is often stated that, for instance, money is being “wasted on Gaelic” when it could be used for “better” things. The fact that Gaelic is a uniquely “Scottish” thing has led many to associate it with nationalism and such like – in spite of the fact that very few of us actually have any significant knowledge of the language, let alone use it regularly as a means of communication.
The traditional view was that Gaelic was brought to Scotland by invading Ulsterfolk around the fifth or sixth century AD. However, recent archæology suggests that a common culture existed in Argyll and Antrim before the Roman conquest of Britain, and that that culture was significantly different from that found, for instance, in Strathclyde.
It is thus likely that Scottish Gaelic – or its ancestor – was already in use amongst the “Epidii” (a tribe Ptolemy places in Kintyre: Ptolemy’s sources were mainly Britons from Strathclyde and the name loosely means “horse people” in Brythonic, though the modern Gaelic nickname for somebody from Kintyre is “Each” – “horse”) in Roman times.
Evan Williams takes a look at some of the numbers and sees a referendum which changed minds and created opportunities.
About one third of the electorate in Scotland favour separation under any circumstances. Many older members of the SNP (by which I mean people who joined some time ago and have supported the party over many years) whatever their broad political persuasion see separation as the principle motivation for political action. That’s fair enough – that’s what the SNP is for after all.
A little under 45% of those who voted voted in favour of separation. So the Yes side managed, during the two and half years of the campaign, to persuade about 1 in 6 of the population who were not already committed to separation to vote for it.
(Incidentally I don’t subscribe to the view that we should consider the numbers from the point of view of the total registered electorate, not least because some of the gap between registration and turnout is accounted for by errors in the register, multiple registrations, people moving etc.)
A few you might have missed on Labour Hame:
- The lexicon of Labour politics – Scottish Labour Chair Jamie Glackin faced up to the ‘challenges’ for ‘ordinary working families’ and found opportunities and important work to do.
- Labour for Scotland – Jamie Kerr, a member of the new campaign group, wrote about its origins and intentions.
- After dissatisfaction, hope – Neil Findlay MSP, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, and Tommy Kane, both members of the Red Paper Collective, argued for a Labour response to the referendum result.
- Scottish culture and the Labour Party – Norma Austin Hart, Vice-Convenor of Culture and Sport in Edinburgh Council, asked whether culture is still at the core of everything we do.
- BOCTNN – an unconvinced socialist looks at Labour for Scotland – Stephen Low was unconvinced by the statement issued by the new campaign group.
Stephen Low is a member of the Scottish Labour Party. He is unconvinced by the statement issued by the campaign group Labour for Scotland.
Really, he’s very unconvinced.
It doesn’t seem obvious at all, following the vote of the people of Scotland to remain in the UK, that Scottish Labour’s credibility is dependent on leaving the UK Labour Party. But that is the view of Labour’s own tiny Team Yes. Under the banner of ‘Labour for Scotland’, and still craving separatism, they have shifted their focus to internal party matters.
They want us to change our name to the ‘Independent Labour Party’. That lots of people have seen the word ‘independent’ on a ballot paper lately and it didn’t work out too well isn’t holding back these boys. In fairness, with that as a starting point you can hardly accuse them of having a hidden agenda.
But Of Course They’re Not Nationalists.
Readers of a certain age or anoraky disposition may see a large overlap between the statement of ‘Labour for Scotland’ and ‘the answer to everything is be more Scottish’ simplicities of the Scottish Labour Action grouping which fell apart at some point in the mid 90s. If so, like myself, they may find their initial response isn’t so much “…second time as farce”* as “oh, not this pish again”.
Ann Henderson, STUC Assistant Secretary, urges us all to join tomorrow’s march and rally in Glasgow for A Just Scotland.
Tomorrow, Saturday 18th October, demonstrations and rallies will be taking place in London, Glasgow and Belfast, all speaking up for working people and communities who are struggling to get by on lower wages and higher prices.
Although the latest labour market statistics show a slight fall in the unemployment figures, there is a rise in part time work, low paid work, and self-employment. For many of those who are now self-employed, it is not a welcome choice but a consequence of being made redundant or being unable to find a permanent job.