So that’s it then. After the disaster of the 2019 Westminster election, there was a window, just a brief window for Indy loving Labour supporters to push the case for Scottish Labour to endorse or at least be neutral to, independence. Sir Keir Starmer shut that particular door this week with a resounding clang. Labour was not Union enough in Scotland, and needed to take a firm stand on the Union in order to win votes back. Many SNP supporters laughed and rejoiced. The more thoughtful ones had a feeling of déjà vu.
It’s scant consolation to have companions in misfortune, but exactly the same thing happened to SNP supporters back in February. Just after Brexit was announced, Nicola Sturgeon did a speech. SNP supporters expected a State of the Union address. Instead they got the oratory equivalent of Fr Ted’s exhortation, ‘Careful now’. Nicola Sturgeon asked for a Section 30. It got refused. SNP supporters are being told that they have to give the SNP just one more mandate and then they’ll -what? Ask politely for another Section 30?
Indy supporters in both the SNP and Labour are in the extraordinary position where they are being asked to wheesht and where mentioning the ‘I’ word is the political equivalent of ringing a bell and shouting ‘unclean, unclean.’ Trying to get independence or a Plan B through the byzantine corridors of back room motions onto the conference floors of the major parties is proving impossible. At the time of writing, support for independence in the Labour party is estimated at a third. It’s probably more than that. Add that to support in the SNP for independence and we should have been there already. But we’re not, because both the Labour and SNP have made independence a taboo subject. In the landscape of Scottish politics, it is the independence supporter who is politically homeless, without a voice and without a leader.
The conventional understanding of how independence would be achieved was based on the 1997 devolution deal, where it would only happen if both Labour and the SNP endorsed it. That is the basis on which Labour for Independence operates; to build up support within the Labour movement until it finds its way to the top and it becomes accepted policy.
Well, it’s not going to happen. The Labour party, like the SNP has been quietly taken over and placemen put in who will not frighten the horses at Westminster. Independence is never going to make it onto that conference motion. It’s time for all independence supporters to face the hard truth; that if we wish to see freedom for Scotland in our lifetime, we need to break away from the mainstream and form a third force to push for it.
That, in short is why Scotland needs the ISP. We got fed up wandering in the wilderness. We got fed up with the mandates and vows and the empty promises and the Bullingdon club in Westminster. The ISP picked a spot, threw up a shack and called it home. We joined them. And it’s home for you as well, if you support self government and want to push things forward.
This hasn’t been easy for any of us. Many of us were involved in other parties and deeply involved at that. It’s been difficult and hurtful and we’ve been accused of betrayal and political naivety. But we have persisted, because of the state our country is in. None of us expected to be doing this a year ago. Yet we are doing it, because right now our country is going up in flames and instead of uniting to put the fire out, we are arguing about which bucket we should use to tackle the fire. Not only that, but we are waiting for permission from those who set the fire, to allow us to put it out.
These are extraordinary times. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. Political parties, political movements, wax and wane. Twelve short years ago, Labour was the power in Scotland. For now, it is the SNP. Parties change and loyalties change. But the impulses that initially drove those movements remain the same; that everyone has dignity as a human being, that no one should be left poor or homeless or in need. After ten years of austerity where the only growth industry has been food banks, this should be burned like a brand on the heart of any decent person.
Will you join us? Will you put aside the old politics and walk with us as we try to take our country back? Some may see it as betrayal but it is not. It is simply the old order changing, giving place to new. For if we cannot find a way then we have to make a way. And we have to start that journey now.