The Equality Act (2010) demands people make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of those with disabilities and long-term illnesses. What I’m saying is, Long Covid’s still giving me a doing so you’re legally obliged to pretend this post-election hot take was published about three weeks ago.
What the what?
The strangest thing has happened: We actually won something! Our quest for a Tory-free life took a massive step forward with the SNP’s victory in the Scottish elections. While down south the Tories made gains mired in scandal and sleaze, the SNP won the highest number of constituency seats ever with the highest number of votes ever. The Scottish Greens – who got our regional list votes because we’re tactical geniuses – got their highest number of votes ever to win their highest number of seats ever. Whatever the Tories reckon, whatever shit the media shovelled about single-party majorities in a system designed to prevent single-party majorities, we got the clearest of pro-independence victories. We’re getting a referendum. Voting worked.
The only barriers now are a pandemic or two and Boris Johnson’s stubbornness, an affront to democracy that shouldn’t lose us any sleep given he never goes more than 40 minutes without a U-turn. He’ll back down, or take us to court and lose, and look lousy doing either or both.
But before we start painting the town tartan we should acknowledge the other result: Huge support for the union remains. The three big unionist parties combined to win 1.3 million votes in the constituencies, 1.2 million votes on the lists and 44% of the seats in parliament. Tens of thousands of alleged lefties gave their votes to the Tories to try to kill off an indy victory. Millions of people want to stay in the unequal, exploitative, entirely spent union. I get it. I’ve overstayed in lousy relationships myself.
There is work to be done. First, we need to unite the independence movement as best we can. We need to move beyond the toxic StuAnon conspiracy horseshit that believes lifelong independence campaigner Nicola Sturgeon has suddenly gone off the idea. Formerly useful campaigners spent much of the election tearing into the SNP instead of their opponents, a baffling strategy at the worst possible time. We need to bring people back from the fringes. We are not each other’s enemies.
Next, obviously, we need to win people over. We lost the last referendum, and the support for unionist parties suggests we could lose again or scrape a victory so slim it would make Brexit look like a unifying landslide. A lot of Yessers’ strategy – Alex Salmond included – is just “Me wantee.” They wanted a referendum immediately after the Brexit vote, long before its consequences were understood, long before the deal or no deal was done or not done. They wanted a referendum at the height of the pandemic. They want one now.
I don’t. I don’t just want to hold a referendum. I want to win independence. If we lose another referendum because we shot our wads we’ll be stuck with Tory government for generations. We need to move beyond “Me wantee” to an actual strategy, to winning over soft Yessers, soft Nos, people turned off by Brexit and Boris, people too fearful last time, people drawn in by media bullshit, people suckered by The Vow. We need to win over people on the fence, people looking at the fence from afar, people thinking of giving it a look because they’ve heard so much about it, and people who’d prefer to have nothing to do with the fence if it’s all the same to you. We need to win over non-voters whose stay-at-home apathy could cost us. We need to win over Labour voters whose party will prevent them from living in a socialist Scotland. We need to win over EnviroChums who aren’t keen on independence but fancy the Greens in government. We need to win over people turned off by nationalism, like I used to be.
We have to inspire people to see the better future we’ve imagined for ourselves. And we have to acknowledge some people don’t want to be inspired, they want to be reassured. We have to resolve the problems that undid us before, as tedious as they are: Currency, deficits, trade deals and the looming horror of – gasp! – a border like the ones most other countries have between them. These things matter to people. I know someone who voted No because she thought it would cost too much to change government department letterheads. We’re not all big picture types.
The question remains: How the bloody hell? The official Yes movement is still largely mothballed. All Under One Banner have pressed on with static marches through the pandemic but we’ll have to wait for substantial changes before the crowds return. Each of us can try to win round the doubters in our midst, but until the world reopens I fear the main battleground will be – God help us – online. And if this blog post is any indication, I’ll begin my campaign about four weeks after the referendum’s done.