Saturday, 20 September 2014

Labour may be the real losers in the IndyRef campaign

A lot of people in Scotland are devastated by the failure of the country to vote for independence on Thursday, but it may very well be that Labour will turn out to be the main loser in all of this.

Capitalism is very good at giving enough people enough prosperity to leave them feeling that they have a stake in the system. Then capitalism creates a fear in their hearts that their little bit of prosperity will be taken away from them. Finally, capitalism encourages those people to think that they are superior to the ones below them. We can think of this bunch as the middle class, or take the New Labour line that they are aspirational, but I prefer to think of them as the pissants who are terrified that the anthills that they piss from will be removed. On Thursday the 18 September 2014 those pissants turned out in force to hold onto their anthills.

New Labour led the charge to keep the United Kingdom together by directly appealing to the Scottish pissants. There was nothing in the Better Together campaign that owed anything to the old Labour ideology of progress and collective action for a better tomorrow. Instead, it aimed at nothing more that persuading pissants to be afraid of the future.

Those pissants were joined by a chunk of Protestant working class voters from the far right who regarded the Nationalists as wicked Communists, who were probably all Papists to boot.

It was the Orange march in Edinburgh on the 13 September which seems to have given the pissants their second wind. Certainly by the following Monday, rather a lot of windows had suddenly gained No posters, as the pissants realised that if push came to shove they had a army of bootboys who could be relied on to do the fighting for them.

Also by last Monday, New Labour persuaded the Tories and Liberal-Democrats to sign up to a hastily drawn up back of an envelope deal to give Scotland the maximum devolution that the SNP had asked for but which the Tory government had rejected two years ago.

That was probably the clincher because it gave the pissants the excuse to vote No and feel self-righteous about it as well. The middle class are very good at cloaking their self-interest in sanctimonious gittery, so New Labour gave them the perfect opportunity to say that this was not about fearing the loss of their anthills, it really was about the public good.

It worked, as we know. The pissants, feeling that they had backing of the thuggish Orangemen and given a moral fig-leaf by New Labour's backroom deal with the other parties, slunk off to the polling stations to vote No.

The problem that New Labour has is that its core vote did not support the party, as large numbers of formerly loyal Labour people trooped off to vote Yes. Now the national party has been caught in a bind as it has saved the United Kingdom, and lost the bulk of its voters in the process.

The party will hope to repair the damage by pushing through the Devo-Max wheeze before the May general election, but the Tories are already reneging on the promise that they signed up to less than a week ago. If the pledge is not honoured then it is impossible to see New Labour holding onto its working class strongholds. If that happens, then the Nationalists will be invigorated because they will be able to claim that the Unionists did not keep their pledge, and thus start a new drive for independence.

It would be one of the great ironies of history that by mobilising pissants to save the United Kingdom, Labour destroyed itself in Scotland. Doubly ironic if it turns out that all the party did was delay independence by a few short years, rather than stop it dead.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

It looks as if the Noes have won, but there is plenty to cheer for Yes people

The count has only just begun, but it looks to me as if the No vote has won the Scottish independence referendum. I thought yesterday that the final split would be 55-45 in favour of No, and now it is just a matter of waiting for the 32 separate counts across the country to be held and the result collated.

Under normal circumstances I would be cheesed off at yet another defeat to go along with everything that has happened since 1979, but I am actually quite relaxed about the situation.

Thanks to the recent declaration of more powers for the Scottish parliament, we are in a position where Scotland can expect devo-max, even though we lost the vote for independence. Reading the London based press this morning, it is obvious that many Tories in England are unhappy at this, but they can either like it or lump it.

Scotland voted No on the basis of those promises to radically increase the powers of Holyrood. If those powers become a reality, then we have a quite wonderful consolation prize that will please most people in this country, including me.

On the other hand, if the Tory backwoodsmen force the government to renege on that promise then we can start the whole independence campaign over again.

I call that win-win for Scotland.

Yestival Day is here!

The Yes campaign had my polling station covered, and the activist pictured above on the left told me that there is a roter so that it will be manned right through until the polls close at 10.00pm. The No team had not arrived when I pulled up a minute or two after 7.00am, 

My plan was to be the first to vote at my station today, but it turned out that others had the same idea and the first voter got there at 6.30am, a full half hour before voting began. The guy on the right in the photo above was the second to cast a ballot and he arrived at 6.40am. By the time I arrived a few minutes after polling began there was a short queue of people waiting to vote. 

The officials are prepared for a massive turnout. Normally there is one desk at a polling station, but for this vote there are two, with the voters from half the streets being directed to one desk or the other. That has the potential to cause confusion since there is only one small sign to tell people which desk they need to go to. Aside from that, the officials do not seem very experienced, and I got the feeling that at the desk I went to it was everyone's first time. To be fair, they are probably keeping the electoral old lags in reserve for later in the day when the bulk of the people will vote.

I will keep posting throughout the day as the mood takes me, but for now the great Yestival has begun!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

How to deal with No campaigners, Princes Street, Edinburgh

The plan today was to go shopping, but I ran into this bloke from Yorkshire at the junction of Princes Street and North Bridge, who told me that if Scotland can make it to freedom then Yorkshire is next. He went on to tell me that the large Yes team that had been leafleting in that spot had all gone off to the pub, leaving him with some leaflets to hold the fort.

Before leaving someone had climbed up to the top of the Duke of Wellington's statue to leave a Yes cone on the Iron Duke's head:

Aside from the  Duke and the Yorkshireman, that section of town was being held by the massed forces of reaction. Well, there were half a dozen No campaigners who were being given some serious grief by members of the public, most of whom wanted nothing to do with Tory stooges:

Pretty soon other people showed up, including one who had a handful of Yes leaflets so I grabbed a few and we started handing them out. Within a short while more members of the public had joined in and we quickly created an impromptu Yes campaign. People began to take our leaflets, with the result that we were quickly running our so someone volunteered to go and find some more.

While he was away, the Noes were joined by this Christian activist who wanted to talk about the evil that is homosexuality, but for some reason the Noes did not seem all that keen on mixing with him, so one of our rapidly increasing gang encouraged passers by to chat to the fellow, so that his No message would reach a wider audience:

What can I say? Being democrats we just think that it is important that the No message is heard as widely as possible.

By now the TV crews had arrived, so I was interviewed, in English, by Ukrainian television, and then in Spanish by a crew from Spain, While that was going on, someone galloped off to try and hunt down his mate who speaks Ukrainian, but we were able to handle the Polish crew who then showed up from our own rapidly increasing polyglot bunch. The Noes did not look very happy at the way things were going with our mini United Nations, but aside from the kid in the cheap suit who received the bollocking in the video, most looked more like grunters than speakers, so it was their own fault for being so monolingual and thick.

Finally, the cavalry arrived in the form of a gang of anti-Trident activists, quickly followed by a group from God knows where, but at least they had plenty of leaflets.

Then the No activists just fucked off and left the 50 or so of us who then occupied that section of Princes Street in command of the field.

Today was a good day!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Miliband's Edinburgh walkabout turns into a disaster

Ed Miliband was due to go on a walkabout at the St James shopping centre today, but as with everything else that the No campaign does these days, it turned into a balls up.

I was in the area quite by chance when I saw a large group of people gathering on the esplanade that leads into the mall. I asked a bloke what was going on and he told me that Miliband was due, so I decided to hang around and watch the sport.

The women pictured above formed the main part of Ed's greeting team. Yes, that's the bulk of them, hard though it may be to believe. Just outside the entrance to the mall was an equally small group of No people, who were faced by a much larger group of Yes campaigners. Standing in front of the entrance was the press pack, along with two pretty No girls:

The plan was obviously for Miliband to walk up the main steps from the street and then across the esplanade and into the mall, but the problem was that he was late arriving. That meant that more and more people like me who were just passing by came to see what was going on so an an impromptu demonstration for Yes was created just by virtue of Miliband's lateness.

Then Miliband arrived, and was taken into the mall by a side entrance, which led the press to go into blue arsed fly mode as they charged into the centre, knocking hapless customers out of the way as they tried to get to their man.

So what was planned as a chance for Miliband to talk to ordinary people turned into a scrum of hacks and TV cameramen who surrounded the Labour leader, with a gaggle of what few supporters he had managed to drag along surrounding the scrum, and a much larger gang of Yes people surrounding all of them.

No wonder Miliband took refuge in a shop, but unfortunately for him it was a hairdressing salon called Supercuts, and that name alone provided many laughs for the crowd.

The No campaign is going from bad to worse, but its chief woe is that it has to ship demonstrators in to provide the illusion of a grass-roots activist base. The Yes team can just rely on members of the public launching ad-hoc protests whenever they find themselves in the company of the carefully stage managed No events.

After a short while, Miliband left the St James Centre, his people were loaded into vans to be driven off to the next event, and the rest of us just got on with our day having done our bit for the Yes cause.

Now the homeless are campaigning for a Yes vote.

Meet Danny, a homeless Yes campaigner. I couldn't believe it when I saw him, so I wandered over for a chat. Danny takes the view that his life is pretty crap and is certain to stay pretty crap if the Noes win. He reckons that with independence his life may not be great, but he will settle for a life that is a bit less crap.

He's registered to vote, since the homeless have a special form that they can fill in that allows them to nominate a street corner or park bench as their normal place of abode and their polling station is the nearest one to that spot. 

When homeless beggars turn themselves into political activists you just know that change is in the air.

Three main parties offer Scotland major bribe to vote No

The incredible thing about this is that we are in the period of the campaign known as purdah, when no new polices should be introduced. Not only that, but almost twenty percent of the voters have postal ballots and most of them have already been cast. In other words a sizeable chunk of the electorate have voted on the basis of policies from the Unionist parties; policies that have now been torn up!

I suspect that Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg will be able to get their respective parties to agree to this memorandum, but there must be some considerable doubt if the Tory backbenches will be quite so compliant. Just looking at the wording of the agreement, especially the bit that entrenches the Barnett Formula that allocates resources from the centre to the regions, and we can see trouble on the horizon from Tory backwoodsmen who will be worried about the suburban English vote switching to UKIP.

Had this come in a month ago, with time to fine tune it, then it might have proved a winner. As it is, it relies too much on Cameron being able to keep his knuckle-dragging backbenchers in line. To say nothing of the average loathsome Tory voter.