South Kessock for YES by Jonathon Shafi

Jonathon Shafi responds to Better Together’s challenge to the idea that the most deprived area of Inverness is looking like one of the strongholds of the Yes campaign, according to Radical Inverness. gs2

The original article can be found at the Bellacaledonia website.

Responding to another RIC canvass showing a big lead for Yes, Better Together Spokesman Craig Wilson said: “Radical Independence spin doctors will be getting sacked after this as usually when they make up these stories the result is above 90%.”  (“South Kessock is one of our strongholds”, independence canvassers claim).

Spin: Westminster has become synonymous with it.

The contest between political parties so often revolves around which candidate looked better at an event or how one party or another bend this or that statistic. Commentators say this is a reality because of the nature of the modern media. There is a race for the sound bite, the knock out punch and the best photo opportunity. The consumer driven public are, so the story goes, just waiting to be spoon fed the latest narrative.

But there is another reason spin is such a permanent and permeating feature of modern politics. Spin is the replacement for ideological debate. When the parties have accepted consensus, and bowed down to the dominance of the corporations, privatisation and austerity, they have nothing left to differentiate themselves apart from spin. It is of little surprise that ‘spin’ became interchangeable with ‘politics’ during Labour’s Blairite, rightwards shift. We never really see a debate in the media establishment, or in Westminster where this process is accelerated and entrenched. In reality, we have a competition in media management.

This in combination is partly why so many are switching off from politics, and by extension, from the mainstream media. But switching off from these things only results in positive action if people are switching on to something else. At the same time as being repulsed by the cronyism, corruption and elitism of the Westminster establishment and the failure of the media to properly address the issues of concern, we as the people need to find our own voice, method and ideological discourse.

This is in essence what the independence movement, in general terms, has provided. It has been a conduit for the voiceless to speak up – and yes – to be heard. It has provided a platform for new ideas. It has been a gateway to the re-establishment of public meetings and energised our political culture. It has opened up the possibility of sidelined voices reaching into the mainstream, and inspired the development of serious alternative media projects.

This too is a movement which debates ideological questions. What do we mean by democracy? Is there an alternative to austerity? What about a new foreign policy? Throughout this process, the backdrop of failure and alienation stemming from the Westminster elite stands in contradiction to a new mood which advocates social progress in a period of massive regression and scapegoating. The crucial need for there to be a living, breathing alternative to decades of neoliberal orthodoxy, is to be found in this movement.

It has been said that the independence movement has inspired a generation. This is to be applauded and encouraged, but despite the scale of the movement, it is not completely accurate. It has inspired a section of a generation. The hard truth is that we can only fully reach the radical and empowering potential of this democratic uprising if there is a Yes vote. With this in mind, it is easy to understand why the rich and the establishment want to ensure we vote No. They are acting in their own interests.

Well, it’s about time we acted in ours. As we enter these final weeks, surely it is this lesson that must drive us forward. It is about saying: forget the spin of the politicians and look at the situation for yourself. It is about getting onto the front foot and harnessing everything we’ve learned and in doing so further expose the fear tactics the No camp are employing. We need to get the big vision, so well articulated at the public meetings and conferences to every person we can. It is that alternative Scotland which values public services, scraps Trident, invests in jobs and so on, that is so much more appealing than the ‘UKOK’ rubbish.

Unfortunately fear can work in the short-term, before people have a chance to rise above it. The establishment know this well. At a time when resources are scarce and the economic future uncertain, fear has a special kind of power, because it is already hardwired into the fabric of our society. As No try to make people feel less confident, and more scared, Yes are trying to raise sights, and encourage people to take responsibility for our own future.

It is therefore a strength of the movement that huge numbers also oppose central elements of the SNP plan, such as NATO and lowering corporation tax. It is invaluable that Lamont’s claim that this is ‘Salmond vs Scotland’ cannot in any sense be taken seriously. It the same old spin, and it doesn’t work because the ideas of the movement are diverse, and because many of the organisational forces involved are wholly separate from the SNP

So, the No camp – looking to narrow this debate – are going big on currency. But when the Labour party stand their with their oversized pound coins with Salmond’s face in the middle, it reminds people of the same old spin. The same old politicians fighting with each other to score a few points with an electorate tired of failure, and driven away because they know no matter how they cast their vote, their interests won’t be met. The difference this time is that we have a movement, to transform that cynicism into action. The test now is whether or not we can translate that movement in to enough votes at the ballot box.

Can the emergent forces of a new politics win out against the decades old, but tried and tested, tactics as deployed by No. We have it all in place now for the final sprint, let’s make sure the people know what’s at stake here. People need to know that staying put is going to energise their enemies in the Tory cabinet, and that saying Yes give us the chance to do more than oppose the toxic UK polity, but to start developing a people’s independence. Better Together claim the canvass results are being spun by the radicals. In reality, it is their own decaying discourse that is opening up a politics beyond Westminster. On September 18th we have a chance to make that clear.


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