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by Jim Sillars
16 September 2014
Yes, yes, yes

Yes, yes, yes

I have never wavered from the view that the Yes campaign will win and that it will not be by a small majority. Having been a full-time election organiser in my early Labour days, I learnt a basic principle of campaigning – you get out what you put in. With the greatest civic movement Scotland has ever experienced unfolding before my eyes, driven by an astonishing output of energy by thousands, and, above all, watching people become politicised and engaging in self-education, I have no doubt of the outcome on Thursday.

On the ground there is only one dynamic campaign, drawn exclusively from within Scotland, and that is the Yes one. Better Together and Labour’s official one needs, in the first case, paid people, and in the second, folk trooped up from south of the border. Yes knows what it is talking about; the others are visitors, with no roots in the community.

Then there are the different messages. Yes believes in the ability of the people in Scotland to run our country better than anyone else. So the Scottish answer to the Proclaimers’ Cap in Hand question –“why do we let someone else rule our land?” – is “never again”.  Yes campaigners are brim full of practical ideas of how to make Scotland a country that really does tackle unemployment, creates well paying jobs, eradicates the poverty afflicting one in five of our children, that brings the disabled into mainstream life, and ensures dignity in old age. Positive, positive, positive is the Yes message. ‘Can do’ is our mentality. Such is the self-confidence that the No side’s tales of woe are brushed aside for the nonsense they are.

Contrast that with the dreary, weary, sour, negativity of both so-called Better Together (a Tory front organisation) and the official Labour campaign. Better Together and Labour have essentially the same message: “Of course Scotland could be viable economically, but everything would be a mess.” Who would make a mess of it? Why the Scots, of course. No one else could. In short, we the people are too stupid to make a success of it. That insult is neatly encapsulated in Johann Lamont’s statement: “We’re not genetically programmed to make political decisions in Scotland.“ Labour’s attempt to explain that away has failed. It was the Freudian slip of all time.

What those sour souls on the No side have not realised is that we are not talking about continuing with the failed economic model that has brought one million people out of five million under the poverty line, unemployment levels that allow zero-hours contracts to be imposed by employers, and continue to have Trident scupper the creation of a new oil and gas industry in the Firth of Clyde. The attempt to convince people that they are being asked to endorse the SNP White Paper has failed. People are talking about, and voting for, something much more radical than that. Socialism has been reborn. It might be dead in the Labour Party, but not on the streets and in the homes of the people.  

As the unionist leadership has been exposed as a vacuum, I have been so pleased to see not a few but many younger people come to the fore in this campaign. There is now an abundance of talent, especially, but not exclusively, in the Radical Independence Campaign group.

A number of discussions at meetings and on the Margo Mobile campaign have stuck in my mind. In Port Glasgow a man came to talk to me. As he spoke, he pointed to his mother coming down the road, to join us. “Six months ago,“ he said, “she would class herself as someone with no great interest in political issues, but now, after getting on that social media, and delving into websites to research, she is fit for anyone on economic, social policy and politics.“ A young man in the Inch in Edinburgh, said he was watching a debate on television when, as he put it, “the light bulb went on in his head – never, to be extinguished”. A woman in Edinburgh told a meeting that she had become politicised and that “never again will they be able to pull the wool over my eyes”. Last, but significant for the Labour Party, at public meetings – not the closed ones the LP does – people have openly denounced the party’s leaders as “liars”.  Not my language, theirs, and therein is a warning.

Labour has made a strategic judgement to campaign for No and it is a wrong one that will cost them dear. As Labour voters have cast off from No to Yes in increasing numbers, that automatic link has been broken – and for good. Once a Labour voter is free to think on his/her own terms, not on Gordon Brown’s terms, that traditional link with Labour has become threadbare, and in some cases cut for good. A Yes will put Labour on the wrong side of history, the party which thought it ‘owned’ Scotland, but didn’t. That endorsed the tactic of fear. As for Miliband’s ‘promise’ 
of a Labour government, there is an unspoken sub-clause to what he said – that if he fails, he delivers Scotland back into the hands of a Tory government once more. Labour will now pay a price for its strategic error.

As for the ‘new’ powers to be offered, the obvious retort is:  Why now, why not a year ago, a month ago, or when Alistair Darling was questioned by Alex Salmond in the debate? Who will believe you when a policy is born in panic and spoken of with all the sincerity of hypocrisy? 

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