Chris Roarty says the unlikely coalition of left and right that constituted the Yes campaign in 2014 and has supported the SNP since is beginning to have its differences exposed, but the focus on independence still looks set to dominate the 2021 election, to everyone’s cost.

As the independence referendum campaign got underway in 2012/13, I would often try to attend local events. One of my first observations was that many of those speaking in favour of a Yes vote contradicted each other hugely and set out very different versions of what independence would mean, but the cheers and applause all round never differed. Each speaker was supported regardless of the content or their oratory, and it didn’t matter if someone was speaking in favour of a centre-right, conservative independent Scotland or a republican, socialist independent Scotland.

What I took from the many events I attended was that those in favour of independence were happy to support and endorse any set of conflicting ideas that filled people with “hope”, and weren’t interested in a rational examination of what independence would really mean. And this also ignored what the SNP were floating at the time, which was for the most part a middle-of-the-road, don’t-scare-the-horses proposal propped up by ludicrously optimistic economic projections and evasions on key questions. Groups like Radical Independence were willing to pin their argument to a prospectus which they knew would not achieve widespread support in an election, and the wider Yes movement was willing to embrace that and pretend it was a possible outcome, in a cynical attempt to maximise the Yes vote.

Fast forward six years and since lockdown it’s become apparent that there is a level of dissatisfaction and impatience on the part of those who simply put independence first, and are happy for Scotland’s day-to-day business to be left on the back burner. We have seen a new pro-independence party launched, clearly keen to attract support from elements of the nastier side of the pro-independence movement, and now we are starting to see a regressive side of the independence movement splinter too, to which the SNP responded by throwing the toys out of the pram amid assertions of entitlement to the pro-independence vote.

We may be seeing the independence movement finally batter lumps out of each other, and I expect more to follow in the next few months. But what will the debate be like as we enter 2021?

With all fingers crossed, the debate should be around how a post-COVID Scotland will operate and how we can implement a National Care Service, how we regrow our economy as well as our industries to ensure that people can get back to work with confidence, and how we ensure that local government has the funding and resources it needs. But I fear there’s a very good chance that instead that debate becomes the SNP and the impatient pro-independence movement battering each other around the timetable of another referendum, and the actual welfare of Scots will be of little concern.

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15 thoughts on “A disintegrating rainbow?

  1. I this article should be re-titled ” Dream On ” , does the writer not read the polls ? do you not see the 50% plus results for the SNP and for independence, while labour are lucky to remain in double figures. (sometimes)

    At least we now appear to have a new labour policy announced in the last paragraph, ” With all fingers crossed ” , it is probably the best they can do right now.

    You’ll be reading the bones next.

  2. As a Yes voter in 2014, I think the growth of alternative pro-independence parties is a crucial step in the maturing of the independence movement. Independence is not about the SNP’s vision of an independent Scotland but about transferring the right to decide Scotland’s future to the people of Scotland. A wider range of pro-independence parties helps that process and also allows the possibility that the next Scottish election will result in both a pro-independence government and pro-independence official opposition.

  3. What you say is correct and the people of Scotland need a Scot Gov who will concentrate on the situation now; with the betrayal by the SNP of 1 million + scots who voted with the majority of the UK to leave EU is not going away, so any majority vote for indyref2 is not happening.
    Independence for Scotland inside the UK = Yes
    Independence for Scotland inside the EU= No
    Is it possible for Nicola S to bend the knee for Scotland’s sake and Unite with UK Gov.

    1. I assume you are joking with your ‘Independence for Scotland within the UK’ or are you really in favour of full fiscal autonomy for Scotland, for example?

    2. “Independence for Scotland inside the UK = Yes”..

      Jees.. And this is now possible Labour policy is it?.. A fair stretch from the Labours efforts in the Smith Commission then. More chance of Scotland gaining control of the width of white lines in the middle of the road from Labour.

    3. So you think the SNP should betray the far larger majority of Scots who voted to remain in the EU and back a Westminster government we did not vote for.

      and for what ???????

  4. I would be interested in why Chris pines so desperately for ‘normal business’ to be resumed. Does he just accept the position that Scotland finds itself in whereby extreme right wing control can be foisted upon the populace against the democratic will of the people, the country can be taken out of the EU against its will etc etc. Does none of that matter as long as one more push for UK Labour success is undertaken?
    It would be great if Chris would clarify this.

    It would also be great if this site would host some more postings from the 40% of us Labour or former Labour supporters who back an independent Scotland. There is a disproportionate preponderance of contributors who just want to hark back to the good old days of UK left-right politics and these good folks don’t seem to realise that everything changed after the terrible mistake of Labour joining forces with the Tories in the Better Together campaign.

  5. Surely the spectacle of Brexit serves as a warning about “pie in the sky” dreams & “hope”, where people of widely disparate outlook & wants ignore each others plans to all agglomerate behind the “big dream”?

    I find the article eminently sensible, if over-optimistic that Scots will come to their senses before May, 2021.

    1. I think you will find most Scots feel they have already came to their senses, when they dumped labour and their “better-together” stance with the tories.

      That’s why they now vote for an SNP party and government they know they can trust.

  6. A rainbow. Go back a bit, when Scottish Labour were as Giants; their view then was the SNP were a “rainbow” of kilted romantics, Tartan Tories, hippies and worse.
    Then the view was that exposure to government would reveal the SNP as incompetent, innumerate, ideologically incompatable duffers would wouldn’t last a week. 13 years later!!!!
    Then there was the theory that losing an independence referendum would split, and see the final destruction of the SNP. Nope, stronger than ever.
    Now, Roary would have us believe the SNP/YES movement are somehow on the verge of self-destruction. Because? Well some are republican(me included). Some are left-wingers(me, again). Some would form a new party to stand on the List. Which would have zero impact on the SNP, but could seriously damage the real rainbow–the British nationalist coalition(who think it a good wheeze to vote for each other’s candidates—yup, that means Labour voting for Tories).
    At the end of this, I believe Scotland would be best with a fully fledged democracy with independence, and that it is going to happen. Just vote YES.
    Roary doesn’t want that, but Boris and slippery Gove are going to strip Edinburgh and Cardiff of genuine autonomy, so if you want direct rule from London, vote NO.

  7. Sorry, but I somehow confused Chris’s name. My mistake, due to age, confusion and a lack of paying attention.

  8. I have been genuinely puzzled by the attitudes expressed by my Labour brethren in many of the posts on this site and have tried to probe the reasons for their distrust of Scotland taking responsibility for itself going forward. No-one seems able to really articulate the devotion to the Union and the distaste for Scottish independence.
    I have rather come to the conclusion that the only logical explanation is that a sizeable chunk of my Labour colleagues feel that Scotland as a nation does not exist, that it is illegitimate and that there is really only one unitary nation state of the UK. Scotland ceased to exist in 1707 except as the feckless, powerless but romantic entity that Roger Bryden so much enjoys. This kind of attitude is well summed up in the Effie Deans blog post: If this is really the view of the Scottish Labour establishment (and all the dials seem to point this way) maybe they would be better coming straight out with it. It would be far away from the Better Together ‘Partnership of Equal Nations’ rhetoric but it would be more honest.
    I suspect that this blog post is rather close to the thinking in the Conservative and Unionist party and that moves will be in planning just now to give effect to this beginning with a severe clipping of Holyrood’s wings. Just as a start.
    I rather suspect many of my Labour colleagues would not be too unhappy about that.

  9. I remember asking Duncan a while back what it would take for him to support Scottish Independence. What actions the UK government (whomever that may be) would be the line in the sand for him. Unfortunately I can’t remember his answer.

  10. “it didn’t matter if someone was speaking in favour of a centre-right, conservative independent Scotland or a republican, socialist independent Scotland.”

    Well, yes, of course it didn’t matter. Because both were possible in an independent Scotland. Just as both are possible in the UK and in each and every country of the World. This was one of the unionists “big myths” that they tried to con the Scottish people with; that there could only be one future for an independent Scotland and any suggestion it could have any number of futures was spun as an Indy inconsistency. I doubt many folk will fall for it next time.

  11. Hello Chris. Your article provided a useful insight into how the recent discussions/divisions in the independence movement have been perceived from the outside. What you see is that the idea of ‘independence’ has, for a long time, trumped the political views and preferences of those supporting that agenda. Yes, some are socialists – like myself – and some are Tories – I would assume. I do not therefor see the problem in the public expression of these issues amongst the movement – independence is not the SNP, its not the Greens – its mine and hers and his. I have never viewed the SNP as being a political monoculture and I feel the same about the YES movement. I did used to view the Labour Party as a political monoculture – socialist – but I was very wrong, sadly.

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