“REVOLUTIONARY MOMENT” IN SCOTLAND? September 18, 2014Posted by wmmbb in European Politics.
There is now 15 hours to the opening of the polls in the Scottish Independence Referendum. Polls are suggesting 48% of the voters will choose Yes. Close is not good enough if NO achieves 50% (probably plus one to make it an absolute majority).
People are voting who have never voted before, which includes 16 and 17 year olds. The level of involvement and engagement may lead to disillusionment but equally for a positive democratic development in Scotland – and not simply for the usual suspects, such as Catalonia.
This is the classic referendum when the choice is between fear and the realization of hope. George Monbiot in The Guardian observed:
Despite the rise of social media, the established media continues to define the scope of representative politics in Britain, to shape political demands and to punish and erase those who resist. It is one chamber of the corrupt heart of Britain, pumping fear, misinformation and hatred around the body politic.
That so many Scots, lambasted from all quarters as fools, frauds and ingrates, have refused to be bullied is itself a political triumph. If they vote for independence, they will do so in defiance not only of the Westminster consensus but also of its enforcers: the detached, complacent people who claim to speak on their behalf.
The problem extends beyond Scotland. The monopoly mass media is an enemy of the democratic process. There has been criticism of the BBC’s coverage of the Yes campaign.
Craig Murray reports from the ground campaign, confirming the role of the mass media:
Inspirational meeting in Linlithgow last night. Wonderful people. Biggest applause of the evening for my suggestion that on the day of Independence, we seize the Trident nuclear missiles, dismantle them and refuse to give them back! A very bright audience, including some genuine undecideds. Everywhere I am especially cheered by the sheer determination of people to ensure they are not cheated by ballot-rigging, and their very wakeful understanding of the possibilities. It is not just a question of observers at the counts; there has been a groundswell to organise for ballot boxes to be followed from polling stations through to the count, which is essential but seldom done.
. . .
Despite the new media meme that all supporters of independence are evil Nazis, I really think we are going to win this. Communities are coming together to discuss how they wish to be governed, and an independent Scotland is going to bring a major change from current hierarchical political and economic structures. This truly is a revolutionary moment.
A Polish gentleman told me something profound last night. He said he had for months been determined to vote No, because he thought the United Kingdom had welcomed him in. Then he started to notice something very important indeed.
He had supported Solidarnosc as a young man, and he had lived through the overwhelming barrage of state media propaganda against it. All the newspapers, radio and TV had broadcast for month after month that if Poland left the Soviet orbit the economy would be destroyed, trading links would be severed, everybody would lose their pensions and housing, they would be invaded, the currency would collapse. Democracy campaigners were branded as right wing nationalist thugs. The people had no access to a fair hearing on the media, and communities had to organise alternatively through social networks.
A few weeks ago he had suddenly realised that precisely the same thing was happening in Scotland that he had witnessed in Soviet controlled Poland. A monolithic and all-pervading media was pumping out the same propaganda on a permanent basis, and even the arguments they were making were precisely the same arguments the Soviets had made. He had suddenly realised that democracy in the UK was an illusion – the apparatchiks of the main political parties and the entire media, both state and private, in fact belonged to and promoted the same ruling establishment. Only the methodologies were different, and raw power slightly better hidden in the UK than in the old Soviet bloc. But the truth was of hard rich men wielding power, in both cases, and keeping the people down.
I have immense respect for him, and will always carry that insight with me. He spoke to me after my talk in Linlithgow last night and it is a great example of the way we have all been learning from each other, in a new understanding of how a real democracy might look.
Does the learning and the critique stop with the loss of the referendum, with accompanying disillusion and despair leading to greater alienation from the process, and with it loss of demographic sovereignty to the three word slogans, the public relations agents and the exchange of favours and money with the corporations just behind the curtain? Three per cent, if the Scotsman poll is accurate, including a margin for error and the ability to transfer intention into action at the polls, may be a bridge too far. The polling system may not be designed to accommodate a higher level of turn out. Older voters who tend to support the No case may be more disinclined to turnout and wait.
A Yes vote will be a democratic revolutionary moment, which may have an effect in the far distant South Pacific. Suppose, and the suggestion was made by The New Zealand Herald that a republic referendum may be possible. Suppose New Zealand became a republic, on the same basis as Scotland’s simple majority, would Australia be far behind?
Professor John Robertson examines the relationship between power and media:
Chris Bambery, “Bring On Scottish Independence” (Jacobin)
The connection with neoliberalism and global corporatism is the focus that gives the international relevance to the referendum. We have to see what the actual turnout is, but 97% enrolment to vote suggest a very high level of political engagement. One supposes that the establishment will do their best to dampen democratic participation (as in other places), and as is likely the disappointment of losing will be considerable. The bribes will be withdrawn.
Once you drill down below the surface, Scotland has a commonality with the Middle East in the perception that the oil wealth, the resources is been taken away from the people who live there. The same is true in many regions of Africa. The perception is linked to poverty, and often resentment (not in the Scottish case) is expressed through the various religious narratives, which have more pertinent meanings and comprehension to the locals than the outsiders.
James Naughtie, However Scotland votes, UK politics has changed permanently (The Guardian).
Call me a cynic, or a sceptic, but does politics undergo deep change, if the answer is no? Give a example of where this has happened? For example, Quebec in which accommodation did not fundamental power relationships. This is my guess. I could be wrong.
Of course, I am not experiencing the vibe on the ground. From The Conversation:
LETTER FROM OUR UK EDITOR, on Scotland’s decision day. #IndyRef.
“Westminster and most of the London media woke up late to what is happening in Scotland. We’ll find out in the early hours of tomorrow if they were too late.
Whatever the result, something huge is unfolding. The depth and degree of political engagement is unlike anything seen in these isles in recent history. To stroll through Glasgow’s streets is to hear snippets of conversations about global trade, defence, banks, culture, identity, cities, states and much more.
There is positivity; there is robust debate. There is hope; there is fear. And there is a clear sense of disconnect from power. That, of course, is something felt in many parts of the UK.
Once, the news media may have helped address this, with a spread of regional media and local correspondents working to national titles. Those days have largely gone – and there is a sense that sectors of the media show little grasp of the interests and needs of people around the UK. This will be one of the clear lessons of Scotland’s independence referendum. Those on both sides believe much of the old media has just not understood what has been happening here.
When we began The Conversation we were aware we had an opportunity to move in a different direction. Ahead of our launch in May last year, I travelled to Aberdeen and Glasgow. It was clear to us that this referendum was emerging as one of the defining news events of our time. We have covered and analysed the process in detail thanks to the enthusiasm, skill and commitment of many academic experts.
This week I am in Glasgow, working with Steven Vass, our Scotland Editor to ensure we continue to provide strong, informed, smart journalism as the decision is made.
Through the night and on Friday we will launch reaction to, and analysis of, the result. As ever our content is sourced from across the university sector. The University of Aberdeen and Glasgow Caledonian University are Founding Partners of The Conversation – they have been joined in membership by Edinburgh Napier. We are grateful to them and to the Scottish Funding Council for its support. Without such backing, we would not have been able to generate the content we have over the course of the campaign.
However this astonishing episode ends, it is clear politics on this island, and possibly British society, will never be the same again. The media that covers it will need to reflect that.”
Stephen Khan. Editor, The Conversation UK
All over. The cause has suffered a defeat. The results look very similar to the Republic Referendum. Scotland the would be brave. Forget all the promises. Neoliberalism rules. The BBC can celebrate.