While the referendum is being won on the streets and workplaces of Scotland, the Better Together sideshow rolls ever more confusingly on. Amidst the calamity that was #PatronisingBTLady, you might have missed the stated focus of this final phase of fright-fest. Launching the video, Chief Exec, Blair McDougall declared,
The key factor for people isn’t the love of our country – as both Yes and No voters love Scotland. The key factor is the love of our families.
Given how well rehearsed every word of that was, it’s inconceivable that he didn’t know exactly what he had just said – Yes voters do not love their families. By contrast, PatronisingBTLady’s love for her family knew no bounds…except her husband and her kids, who she couldn’t stand. The underlying relationship methapor (which as we’ve always said, can do one in the debate) was that no matter how bad things were, we should just stay together, for the sake of the children.
The fallout from this monumental fuckup should have served as a lesson to the No campaign but this week, it’s back on the trail, telling voters once again that only kiddie haters and probably gays vote Yes and people who love their families say No thanks:
“Think of the children” really is a pretty desperate last ditch effort. But well, shouldn’t we?
On the one hand, the family values card is a pretty sinister one, especially when it always seems to be a white, straight, nuclear family with at least 2 but no more than 3 weans, to ensure the social equilibrium remains every unchanging. The idea that “families” all have the same values (which are inevitably backward and bigoted) was sharply contrasted when LGBTI Yes launched “the Rainbow Paper” this week, which outlines the possibilities for a new gender and sexual politics in an independent nation. Every family is different and we want a politics which reflects that. Not everyone loves their families nor are they obliged to but people who do and people who don’t will be voting Yes and No on the 18th, many even with their children and their children’s children in mind – anyone who says otherwise is lying.
Yet we do have to think about how the choice we make will affect the generation likely to have shorter lives than their parents, a generation without stable housing, overwhelmingly unemployed and underemployed, a generation who simply have no allegiance to the British state.
There’s a massive generation gap in our society and that’s reflected in referendum voting intention – the recent YouGov poll suggests there is a majority for independence amongst all age groups except the over 60s. Let’s think about what that means for “our family.” At some point in future, most people in Scotland who voted in the referendum will have been Yes voters.
Imagine a future where most members of a society openly rejected the authority of their rulers; where refusing to recognise the basis of the central government wasn‘t something you did for lolz at uni but the position of your parliament, your pop stars, your bus driver, your maw and maybe even your boss. That isn’t a sustainable, permanent, united future – it‘s a waste of time we simply don‘t have. We are at this point in history for a reason, the factors which brought us here will only be accentuated by a No vote – we‘ll only end up even more desperate to leave the UK. While fear has been generated about whether the independence movement can achieve its aspirations, no-one has questioned why the No campaign has made clear it sees no need to aspire – UKOK, it’s all fine. It’s not OK though.
Economics, politics, society, art – these things will all still happen in Scotland, even if there’s a no vote and without a coherent stategy to actually win people back, the ruling class of British state are fighting a losing battle on all these fronts. Westminster will continue to attack the very existence of “hard working families” or as we used to refer to ourselves “the working class” (even the familes who loved each other so much, they voted No).
I don’t want “our children” (who despite the biological impossibility of their existence are referenced countless times in Better Together’s latest postal offering) to be having another referendum in 10 years time. I don’t want another lost generation, boring the fuck out of each other with #indyref patter, as a sea of polls show that today, just like every other day since about September 19th 2014, most people support independence.
Politics isn’t binary, it’s rarely about just Yes and No – it’s a careful analysis of power, the balance of forces in a society and about how that can be changed. One thing we can’t change is history and there are very clear reasons some people feel a sense of loyalty to Britain that have nothing to do with old or rich. It’s not that older people are all desperate to defend their privileges from the hordes of yoof, it’s that for a specific period, Britain was seen as providing something for some people. Employment, healthcare, education, housing – these are not luxuries but basic rights. People who are quite grateful to have had an NHS when they were sick, having worked and paid tax all their lives, aren’t suddenly our class enemies or the opponents of progress, they’re the people who worked their arses off to put food in our grubby little mouths, before they fed themselves. It wasn’t better in the good old days, that’s not the point. It’s about the coming days, where we need have to hammer home the reality that many of the things which people associated with the UK state (rightly or wrongly) aren’t just worth having but that independence is the best way to enhance and protect them against the destruction of austerity from the Westminster elite.
Independence isn’t a new concept, it’s not the latest fad or only for the young team; it’s the status quo, the healthy, rational state of affairs for most nations. Regardless of the vote, it’s the logic of what’s been happening in Scotland for a long time now, the road we are already on. Building a state which offers a basic level of protection to its citizens is not a new idea either, it’s what our parents and our grandparents fought for and won. What’s irrational, new, uncertain and, to be honest, terrifying, is spending another decade watching Governments none of us elected ripping up what’s left of these basic provisions.
Fighting for an independent future is a continuation of the struggles of those who have gone before, who we value every bit as much as our (eternally mythical) weans. Now must be the moment when we accept the responsibility to tackle the challenges of our time, for ourselves. This is about saying that if our parents and our grandparents fought to build a better society from the embers of World War II, with only a ration book and a few pamphlets at their disposal, we can build a better Scotland in 2014, in one of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced nations on earth.
By playing the family values card at the last minute, the No campaign may just have posed one question that many members of many different kinds of families will be asking themselves for the next two weeks – if your voting out of love for the younger generation, aren’t most of them voting Yes?
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