Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Owen Jones, poverty, the referendum and his mission to save Labour

Owen Jones was in Glasgow last weekend making impassioned arguments for 'sticking together', ending low pay and tackling poverty. The STUC-organised march and rally was billed A Just Scotland. And who wouldn't wish for some of that?

But what's the use in wishing rather than doing? 

On September 18, the substantive part of 1.6 million people actually did something about challenging poverty, foodbank society and much more injustice besides. Something decisive. Something with real potential to change things, even if it was ultimately denied by a conniving political-corporate-media establishment. They voted Yes. 

Where did Owen Jones stand on that crucial action? Alas, in political effect, if not intent, with the same establishment forces urging No. Regrettably, still too many trade unionists did likewise.

Complementing his visit North, Jones produced a piece for the Sunday Mail/Daily Record - 'Scotland's Newspaper', we're told, and lead oracle for the Con-Dem-Lab Vow - lamenting (or maybe Lamonting) Scottish Labour's now possible demise, unless it 'finds its radical roots'.

"Scotland is crying out for radical politics", declared Jones, warning that parties who turn on their core voters will face the ultimate price in deserting support, as is now happening to Labour.

Jones also says of Labour's collapse:
Perhaps if the party rested on stronger foundations, they would have better survived the referendum debacle. But rather than setting out a progressive vision based on hope, of a new socially just Scotland within the framework of a federal Britain, they instead formed a catastrophic alliance with the Conservatives. 
Yet, while surely knowing that Labour were never going down that federal road, Jones stuck with the No option. Notable figures like Lesley Riddoch and Iain Macwhirter had once courted Devo-Max-type federalism, but, realising it wasn't ever on the cards, never mind the ballot, worked passionately for a Yes. Why didn't the 'more radical' Jones do likewise?

Even as Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Brown were rushing out their shameless 'more powers promise', all backed by a mass exercise in corporate blackmail, Jones still resisted pitching in with with radical Yes. As the possibility of a Yes win loomed, Jones blamed the establishment and Labour negligence. In the aftermath, more faux indignation and condemnation of Miliband. 

Indeed, Owen, castigate Labour and the elite, but why claim you didn't have a better, more progressive choice than the status quo?     

Who would doubt Jones's socialistic motives and concern for the poor? But, compassion and solidarity aside, his referendum position has been underwritten by a more pressing political mission: to save Labour. And not just in Scotland. For Jones, this is an emergency assignment of UK importance.  

In one of his recent Guardian columns Jones wrote a hagiographic-styled tribute to ex-Labour minister Alan Johnson appealing for his return. Jones sees in Johnson a well-liked, self-effacing working-class bloke who could be an urgent antidote to Farage's UKIP. No matter that Johnson was an ardent Blairite, and remains an unrepentant supporter of the Iraq invasion. Amazingly, Jones also invokes ultra-Blairite/war interventionist John McTernan's own praise for Johnson here. Jones said he 'was just asked to write a profile of [Johnson] as the man'. Asked by whom, one wonders? Political portraiture or another timely favour in helping to rescue Labour before next May's election?

Jones is 'this season's' political 'pin-up', the media's go-to 'radical'. You can see the attraction for both the Oxbridge Guardian clique and lost Labour tribe. But that earnestness masks a public figure now deeply incorporated into the very system he critiques in his latest book, The Establishment

It's not just Jones's tailored pieces, as above, for the Guardian. Now a feted part of the journalistic liberal establishment, he's reluctant to shine a critical light on that side of the corporate media. 

Try asking Jones about those kind of contradictions, as Media Lens, in their customary searching and courteous manner, did recently, and you'll see the more reactive side:
as ever they [Media Lens] have absolutely no interest in reaching a mass audience and deeply resent anyone who does?
A disappointing and petty closure of discussion from Jones himself. He claims his principal task is getting 'the message' out to the 'widest audience'. Yet, what about the essence of that message? How more effective and reaching might it be if he felt truly free to criticise his host, the corporate-driven Guardian, and other system-serving media? 

With almost the entire Scottish and UK press, including the Guardian, lining up for No, where was Jones's substantive criticism in his Guardian column or his Record piece about the anti-democratic weight of that corporate media? And didn't his own basic No position give even more bulk to that media establishment onslaught?

Many leftists seem uneasy in criticising Jones. His fresh, populist persona acts like a protective shield. And, of course, there's much of his challenging thought to appreciate. One veteran street leftist I spoke to put it thus: the left's approval of Jones is 'like being thirsty in the desert'. With seemingly precious few radical orators around, progressives and social democrats naturally crave him. 

But all the Question Time appearances and ubiquity of 'the people's pundit' shouldn't blind us to Jones's own questionable politics. For those seeking deeper insight, consider Tariq Ali's truly authentic take on the Yes movement's rise, Labour's self-inflicted troubles, and, for good measure, Jones's and the Guardian's political/media postures on the independence issue. 

Like Ali, Jones sees the major political realignment in Scotland now underway, notably in the leftist shift from Labour to SNP, the Greens and smaller socialist parties. All good for Ali and Yes leftism, much more problematic for Jones's Labourite Unionism.  
In purest panic mode, parts of a once-safe Scottish Labour are now pushing for semi-autonomous status and a 'more radical' profile. As intimated in his Record piece, Jones is arguing for much the same necessary 'renewal'. But it's motivated primarily by a Guardian-type concern for Labour's electoral survival. All of which gives him about the same 'radical' cachet as Polly Toynbee.

Meanwhile, massively buoyed by the referendum campaign, Radical Independence are putting together a promising new Scottish Left Project, "based on the principles of radical social change: participatory democracy, democratic public ownership, the redistribution of wealth and power from the rich to the poor and full independence from the British state and its monarch."

Again, such ideals should, presumably, be right up Jones's street. So, why didn't he get behind that dynamic Yes movement in the first place? Because, like George Galloway's No campaign, cloaked in facile calls for 'class solidarity' and fearmongering about the SNP, Jones was motivated by the need to keep open the possibility of a UK Labour deliverance.

And it's not as though Jones wasn't well-warned about the myth of any Labour transformation: 
He and others remain convinced that the avowedly/explicitly right Labour Party is going to miraculously metamorphise into something of their grandfathers dreams. It won’t.
Yet, like the Guardian's squalid No editorial - 'Britain deserves another chance' - Jones wants us to keep faith with the illusion of some great Labour entitlement.

A month beyond Dark Friday, the broad left in Scotland is on a distinctly different, upbeat trajectory from Scottish and UK Labour, mobilising nicely for the coming electoral battles. Yet, it's galling to think that this same Yes left advancement could have been a reality post-independence - including the makings of a truly reformed Labour party. We could be preparing right now to push all that collective radicalism inside a parliament with fully secured powers.

Instead, we're still stuck in an archaic, war-addicted, Trident-holding state, facing some dreaded version of Con-Dem-Lab-UKIP neoliberal rule. We're also now lumped with Vow politics - or as Ian Bell has just summarised that vacuous bribe: 
By promising more while failing to say what more might mean, they promised nothing. Or rather, they promised a timetable for discussions to see if something could come from nothing.  
All of which makes it harder to swallow Owen Jones - from the No-supporting Guardian - talking about A Just Scotland and tackling poverty, while putting out life-saving alerts for Labour via its Unionist house paper, the Daily Record.

There's an historic level of animosity right now towards Labour in Scotland. Many are simply seething. Many will never forgive them for siding with the ConDems and taking a leading part in the establishment's Project Fear. Jones acknowledges much of this, but fails to concede his own negative part in that outcome.  

However, all that resentment needs to be channelled positively.  For a resilient and calmly-rising Yes movement, it shouldn't mean enduring hostility to No voters, particularly that more self-serving middle class. The longer route to radical independence will be enhanced by more decisive arguments for social justice and winning over greater numbers.

Nor should it involve particular antipathy towards people like Jones. It's not personal. It's not about hounding. Yet, such figures helped rationalise many of those No voters' consciences through moderated appeals to continued Labour Unionism. So it's certainly appropriate to highlight how such Labourite affinities and calls for abbreviated powers have helped keep Scotland and its poorest in political lockdown.

Applaud Jones's anti-poverty speeches, if you please. But be aware of the establishment-serving effects of his political positions, media output and the dedicated Labour bailout he's deeply engaged in.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

UK recognition of Palestinian state problematic, but still a useful stepping stone

The House of Commons has voted by 274-12  to recognise Palestine as a state. The resolved motion (with amendment), delivered in the late hours of Monday 13 October, reads:
That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.
The first key point to note here is that this places the UK under no Governmental or parliamentary obligation to help bring about any such Palestinian state. Secondly, alongside re-stating adherence to the state of Israel, it serves to cement the deeply problematic Western posture of a 'negotiated two state solution'.

Taken together, the wording of the agreed motion with its amendment  - “a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution” - acknowledges the symbolic right to a future Palestinian state, but only, in actuality, as agreed to by Israel. In short, the motion can be seen as a protection of the Israeli state, and its right to determine the nature of any Palestinian one. 

Following a similar parliamentary decision by Sweden, Ali Abunimah made the very relevant point that:     
recognition of a Palestinian “state” in a fraction of Palestine actually negates the rights of most Palestinians and conflicts with the Palestinian right of self-determination. While recognizing the “State of Palestine” excites and pleases many who support the Palestinian cause, people should not to get carried away with the aesthetics of “statehood” in what would amount to a bantustan. Instead, I have argued, they should focus on the negative consequences for the right of return and the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel. The main purpose of the so-called two-state solution is not to restore Palestinian rights, but rather to preserve and recognize Israel’s so-called “right to exist as a Jewish state.”
After the Commons vote, Abunimah tweeted:
UK parliament has voted by large majority to #RecognisePalestine state "alongside" apartheid Israel. A vote for partition not for justice.
A logical conclusion.

Yet, for all its flaws, restrictions and inbuilt approval of Israel, there's still something to be gained from this token vote.

As much as it helps protect Israel as a Zionist entity, and maintains the power-serving notion of a 'two state peace process', the actual 'recognition' part also provides another major public relations boost for the Palestinian cause.

As the hostility of Israel and it's alarmed lobby showed, whatever the motion's limitations, this will be seen by much of the world as a defeat for Israel and another significant step towards justice for Palestine.    

As Jonathan Cook (via Facebook) notes:
Okay, it's only symbolic and it doesn't obligate the British government in any way (and I'm highly doubtful a Palestinian state can actually ever be viable on 22% of historic Palestine). But all that aside, the British parliament's overwhelming vote to recognise a Palestinian state is a tremendous victory for the Palestinian cause. The British created this mess with the Balfour Declaration, and this is one small sign that the British establishment and the west more generally are slowly waking up to this fact. Nonetheless, the large margin of victory – 274-12 – chiefly reflects the fact that MPs from the ruling Conservative Party mostly stayed away from the vote, in a reminder that when put to the test most of the political class, like their forebears nearly 100 years ago, will still prove to be a cowardly and treacherous bunch.[/i
Again, all good comment. None of which negates what Ali Abunimah and others argue. The point here is to take all such views and actions as worthy and collective endeavours for Palestinian advancement.

This 'recognition' certainly goes nowhere near imposing any of the real pressure on Israel - sanctions, divestment, diplomatic ostracism - needed to bring about a just and long-lasting solution; in essence, one that addresses the inalienable rights of all Palestinians to equality and self-determination.    

But support for the motion by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the thousands who urged their MPs to vote for it also shows that public mobilisation and street action is working.

The basic truth is that any power establishment always has to be fought on many fronts. And this is a huge establishment. Little incremental victories like this help bring the case for Palestinian justice into the greater public realm. It shames other politicians. It gives confidence to Palestinians and those supporting their case. And, despite the motion's protective caveat, it hurts Israel and its allies.

So long as we remain conscious of, as Abunimah reminds us, the still central issue of Palestinian rights, the wider solidarity movement can use this small win as another useful stepping stone in the strategic building of public awareness and exposing of Israel's political protectors.

Monday, 13 October 2014

'We are their hope'. Great resolve at Glasgow rally for Independence

An inspiring turnout, fine speeches and a resilient desire for the compassionate, independent society.

Yesterday's Hope Over Fear gathering in Glasgow's George Square heard wonderful, people-centred statements from actors Martin Compston, Keira Lucchesi and Paul Brannigan, Loaves and Fishes foodbank organiser Denis Curran, ex-UK ambassador Craig Murray, Unison's Brian Smith, activist Tommy Sheridan, disabled 'climber for Indy' Lindsay Jarrett, SNP councillor David Baird and multiple others across the grassroots Yes movement.

There was also a stirring array of musical sets from Dorec-a-belle, Indy Girls and many other Yes artistes. 

But for her beautiful defence of the poor, and passionate pursuit of a just independence, I'd like to highlight a particular articulation from the young Yes campaigner Mhairi Black.

Those atop the Glasgow tourist buses might have been transfixed by the sea of saltires - and the daring St Andrew-crossed spiderman up on Walter Scott's ugly monument. But, as Mhairi and the communal mood of those assembled helped confirm, the real expression here was not one of stone cold nationalism, but of warm humanity.     

And that's the real beauty of this rising Yes movement. It's engagingly inclusive and leftfield, infused with an overwhelming desire for progressive social change. Alongside Mhairi, almost every speaker prioritised this basic, burning demand for economic justice, real political rights and, with amplified voice, a resounding rejection of Labour's betrayal politics.

After all the pain of 19 September, we can take great encouragement from this vibrant Yes energy and the great new-generational voices for Indy.

For all those still crushed by that vote, particularly those facing another seemingly hopeless winter of ConDem austerity and Labourite abandonment, there's Mhairi Black's assuring words (taken from her mum) to hold on to: 'we are their hope'.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Indy rising - vowing assertiveness


A little re-shaping of the message and
what do do about the messenger
The term 'mission creep' just took on a double meaning in the twisted propaganda stakes.

While a pious US/UK, already responsible for historic mass murder and carnage in Iraq, executes its further messianic deliverance, their past exchequer of death Gordon Brown urges a petition for David Cameron to deliver those 'promised new powers' for Scotland.

If irony's long dead in war politics, chutzpah just expired laughing over the indy issue.

The SNP may make useful capital of Brown's grandstanding. But the Yes movement at large should not be diverted by Westminster's spurious 'vow' politics. It was a cynical bribe peddled in desperate panic. This is just the posturing continued. Why indulge that establishment narrative?

And don't forget how a compliant media helped elevate the late-cobbled 'vow' into 'The Vow'.

A vow is a solemn promise, most often made in the spirit of honouring a trust, securing a bond, affirming love. Why give this sordid gesture the same moral space?
Even if those 'powers' are ultimately granted they can never substitute for meaningful, transitional instruments, rights that need to be taken and used to pursue real forms of radical independence.

From the 'noble interventionist' selling of more bombing to the hyped Westminster package, we're forever courted by establishment 'solutions' and 'mediations'. And with perpetual war comes the relentless task of hegemonic persuasion, setting the parameters of debate, keeping the 'options' narrowly defined, holding the public in a state of fear and compliance. 

If these past days have been painful for Yes people, they should also be a time for useful reflection and sharper thinking beyond the sham 'devo debate', giving new impetus to define, construct and hold to our own more confident narratives, rather than remain stifled by theirs. We might even take a little vow of assertiveness on that.


Monday, 29 September 2014

Foodbanks, bombing and fear - but indy mood still rising

                            Paolo Nutini
                               Iron Sky
George Square, Glasgow,
foodbank collection (27 Sept 2014)

We are proud individuals
Living for the city
But the flames
Couldn’t go much higher

We find God and religions
To bait us with salvation
But no one, no nobody
Can give you the power

To rise
Over love
Over hate
Through this iron sky that’s fast
becoming our mind
Over fear and into freedom

Oh, that’s life
That’s dripping down the walls
Of a dream that cannot breathe
In this harsh reality
Mass confusion spoon fed to the blind
Serves now to define our cold society

From which we’ll rise
Over love
Over hate
Through this iron sky that’s
fast becoming our mind
Over fear and into freedom

You’ve just got to hold on
You’ve just got to hold on

[Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator]
“To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair.
The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed -
the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress.
The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they
took from the people will return to the people.
And so long as men die, liberty will never perish...
Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men
with machine minds and machine hearts!
You are not machines!
You are not cattle!... You are men!
You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful,
to make this life a wonderful adventure....
let us use that power - let us all unite.”

The Orwellian state we're in

And we’ll rise
Over love
Over hate
Through this iron sky that’s fast becoming our mind
Over fear and into freedom
Into freedom

From which we’ll rise
Over love
Over hate
Through this iron sky that’s fast becoming our mind
Over fear and into freedom
Freedom, freedom

Oh, rain on me
Rain on me
Rain on me

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Indy rising: should we push for a Yes Alliance?

A week on from 18 September and the raw feelings of sadness and bewilderment still prevail. After all the hope and all the fear, how can so many of us not feel such emotions? 

Some say it's just the cut-and-thrust of politics. But more know it's a deeper hurt for the loss of something much more visionary. 
Elaine C Smith epitomises the mood:
I am sad that so many in Scotland voted with the rich and privileged and with big business and handed the chance of power back to the British establishment. We have witnessed the full force of the British state in all its glory over the past few months and it has been an unedifying sight....I am also one of the lucky ones. I will go back to a comfortable, happy life and career - I won't be queuing at a foodbank like many of the working poor or worrying how to pay the bills.
Julie Webster, founder of the Maryhill Foodbank, was in tears on Friday, contemplating the lost opportunity to abolish foodbanks in Scotland, and wondering how her clients will now face a despairing future: "Now I feel as if there is no recovery...for the vulnerable groups." (Sunday Herald, 21 September 2014.)

Maryhill registered the highest Yes vote in the whole country, 57%, alongside Provan, with Springburn and other poor and austerity-afflicted Glasgow constituencies returning similar majorities. Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and Dundee all had Yes majorities.

We should take good heart from such returns, showing the substantial desire for change in areas of most concentrated poverty, from those who have least, and others who see they've nothing to gain from Westminster neoliberalism.    
Yet still the disbelief. Did we really waste this chance? Did that great act of bribery really happen?

For AL Kennedy'Establishment representatives approached a savvy, philosophical electorate with threats, insults and bungs.' #the45plus

And what of other key demographics? As blogger Mark Frankland distils it:
It was an epic betrayal of a generation. Scots voted ‘Yes’ all the way to the age of 55. Had the over 65’s been excluded from the vote, then ‘Yes’ would have won the day by 54% to 46%. 73% of over 65’chose the [status quo] because they had been frightened into doing so. The scandalous dog whistle politics of the Establishment got right into their heads and persuaded them to walk away from their grandchildren. They were told that their pensions were at risk. They were told that they would no longer be able to watch ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and‘Eastenders’. They were told their power and grocery bills would go through the roof.
It's hard being seen-off by the establishment, harder still being beaten-down by parochialism.

Eradicating foodbanks, removing Trident, protecting the NHS and all the other great things this Yes generation aspire to now seems numbingly lost. 

But, from the searing sense of what could have been, the mindset alters, the healing proceeds, and we search for new openings. 

The #45 meme has been a welcome palliative. It's helped keep us connected and sustained. But we can't just stay fixated on that reassuring number.

So many of the 55% will come to regret their vote. Many already have, some bitterly. So it can never be about recrimination, tempting as that might be. It's also, most vitally, about winning No people back and driving up those numbers.

The reactionaries who terrorised Glasgow that dark Friday after the vote may never change. We can't, Yes or No, live under their ugly intimidations. But nor should we hate them in return, staying compassionately aware of how such virulence takes ideological hold, particularly of young men.

The much greater concern and disappointment is with the core middle classes who voted No out of base self interest. Many, of course, crossed their No with sincere conviction that this was the better option. But a lot of those class motives were just shamelessly selfish. It's important to note that truth.

But it's also useful to remember that such people are subject to the same climate of fear and wider culture of selfish individualism. The task here is to show that 'better together' actually means mutual regard, ideas of common weal and really caring for each other. People can still be brought around to a more collective way of thinking.
And if anyone thought that great Yes momentum is dissipating, what of the unprecedented surge in party mobilisation?

SNP membership has gone through the roof, more than doubling in days. From former Labour stalwarts like Tommy Sheppard to many thousands more just sickened by the result, it's indicative of the increasing desire for independence and mass disaffection towards Labour. Substantial new numbers have also now joined the Greens and socialist parties. That tells us all we need to know about how so many now view Scottish Labour, and Labour at large.

For Gerry Hassan, the SNP handover promises another leftward shift:
The SNP will remain centre-stage post-Salmond and their project of self-governance and independence will reconfigure and re-emerge in a new form, content and language. The party will, under the leadership of Nicola Sturgeon, undoubtedly shift to the left, focus more on the west and central belt, and aspire to win over more Labour voters.
Let's see. If so, it should include an immediate revisiting of the party's untenable Nato position, new tactical opposition over Trident, and a much stronger climate change agenda.

It should certainly, right now - and particularly following Obama's brazen No intervention - be proclaiming an outright rejection of the West's latest interventionist crimes in Syria/Iraq. 

Whatever unfolds around the SNP, I see many, like me, who don't feel comfortable with machine politics, but who are ready to be an energising part of a common Yes movement that doesn't depend upon party identities.
That politics is grassroots and free-floating, ever-wary of hierarchies. It's not a negation of parties. It embraces them where they're strategically useful and progressively-minded. Indeed, it's that very positive tension between the Yes street and Yes parties that's bonded this dynamic movement together. Having come so close, having tasted the possibilities of change, many newly-politicised younger people in particular now want the real thing. And they don't all see the SNP and conventional party politics as the sole route to that goal.  
So how best now to hold and drive-up that energy? Much reflection is going on within Yes parties and other Yes organisations about new positionings and electoral strategies.

Alyn Smith SNP MEP is in no doubt what needs to come next:
How about an Alliance, a Collective, standing for Scotland at the Westminster elections? Mobilise the Yes vote behind a single Yes candidate and we'll win pretty much every seat. I'm proudly SNP, but under first past the post we only have six Westminster seats, and much as I'd love it, I don't see all the energy of Yes coming to us. Many other organisations deserve to continue; we must help that process and support them to argue our corner in Westminster. How about Women for Independence, National Collective, the Greens, Socialists, Radical Independence and more coming with the SNP under a united banner for the Westminster elections.
We can take a leaf out of the Five Star movement in Italy and the Podemos movement in Spain. They stood not to be politicians but to demand that politicians change how they do business....A common platform will keep the bonds of friendship, engagement and energy going...We cannot go back to politics as usual and the SNP is, after all, not about politics as usual. We do not hold the monopoly on the independence franchise any more - we have to spread that enthusiasm around.
Left-leaning SNP MSPs Joan McAlpine and Bill Kidd have made similar appeals for a Yes Alliance platform.

Radical Independence campaigner Cat Boyd makes the same essential non-party case in urging a Scottish Podemos. For Boyd, "thousands of working-class Yes voters [are] looking for a political home", but "won't find it in the SNP nor in Labour". Instead:
we must create a more diverse polity in Scotland with the views of those who want radical redistribution of wealth and power properly represented, not just in Holyrood but rooted in communities. To do this we will look for inspiration from home and abroad. We need to learn from the likes of Podemos in Spain who emerged out of the Indignados movement and is currently unseating the Spanish Labour Party all over the country.
As Boyd rightly says, "It was not nationalism, nor Scottish identity, nor certainly the SNP that powered the momentum behind the Yes campaign. The truth is that the movement for Yes was powered by class politics."

Jonathon Shafi, co-founder of Radical Independence, offers similar views on how best to express his Yes politics: 'Diversity inspires the independence movement. I will vote tactically in 2015, but I don't support funneling the movement into SNP machine'.

And, indeed, while recognising the SNP's core Yes role, why should it alone reap the 'Yes dividend'?

What purpose is served by sending x more SNP MPs to Westminster - even if, as Alyn Smith questions, that could be guaranteed? Holyrood, with PR, is a different issue, where people feel they have a more democratic part in returning parties and influencing policies. But the rationale of the Yes vote is that it doesn't actually trust Westminster, or its party cabal, to deliver. So why participate in it other than to register a clear numerical statement for a Yes alternative? 

Craig Murray has also called, in this vein, for a Yes Alliance approach, emphasising the wider Yes base, thus qualifying Tommy Sheridan's thoughtful appeal for outright support of SNP candidates in 2015.

In short, there can be electoral cooperation here, but it must be based on the recognition of a wider, radical Yes politics. As Cat Boyd reminds us:
The radical left's role now is to ensure they stay part of a movement for the real and radical social change they voted for...It was not a wave of Scottish nationalism that powered the momentum towards a Yes vote: this was a debate about social justice, economic democracy and an opportunity for radical change.
Whatever unfolds over the coming months, the basic issue is how to use such opportunities constructively in advancing the broad movement and definitive case for a Yes.  

The British state's near-death experience will now concentrate elite minds on how best to stifle that rising demand. Returning to the same party-based politics would only be gifting Westminster and the Union an extended lifeline. 

My own reading of all this may be flawed, and I'm open to any kind of corrective persuasion. But in the same good spirit of political engagement we've seen these past months, the potential of a Yes Alliance strategy should now be widely discussed.

In small promotion of that, anyone similarly concerned might wish to utilise this tweet-sized question for wider distribution:
Should all Yes parties contest UK 2015 as #YesAlliance using same populist appeal of Yes movement to win new #indy mandate? #the45

Monday, 22 September 2014

Trident Nuclear Weapons Base Blockaded in Post Referendum Protest

Wonderful, inspiring, relentless. Trident No. Scotland Yes. #the45

Trident Ploughshares Press Release

22 September 2014

Trident Nuclear Weapons Base Blockaded in Post Referendum Protest

This morning, four days after the historic referendum Trident Ploughshares [1] and Faslane Peace Camp [2] have partially blocked the north gate to Faslane Naval Base, homeport of the UK Trident nuclear weapons system, sending a strong message that the overwhelming desire of Scotland to be rid of nuclear weapons must be honoured.

Five activists have locked on to each other while displaying banners that read Scrap Trident and Scotland YES Trident NO. Traffic waiting to enter the base is backing up causing gridlock at the roundabout close to the gate.The action followed a hundred strong protest at the base on Saturday after the referendum delivering the message: YES or NO Trident Has Got to Go.

Brian Quail, a member of SCANA and Trident Ploughshares and one of the blockaders said “We campaigned for a YES vote because an independent Scotland would have thrown out nuclear weapons. But the result of the referendum does not mean that we have to accept the continuing UK policy of relying on these weapons of indiscriminate slaughter. On the contrary we know that the vast majority of Scots, including those who voted No, reject Westminster ’s plans to replace Trident, as do a simple majority of people UK wide. And just as the independence referendum has opened up a national debate on constitutional issues it also calls into question the replacement of Trident, a decision that will take place in early 2016, following the next general election.”

Janet Fenton from Trident Ploughshares and Scottish WILPF said “We must now channel the energy of the YES campaign and the clear rejection by 1.6million people of Westminster politics as usual into policy changes. If the parties continue to disregard the will of the people for disarmament of these horrific, useless and expensive weapons there is bound to be a resurgence of vigorous opposition to them, including renewed nonviolent action like ours today. We are here today to send a strong message that we will not rest until we see the end of Trident and the abolition of nuclear weapons.”

The blockaders are Jane Tallents (07778276833), Brian Larkin, Mary Millington, Jean Oliver and Brian Quail.


Contact: Leonna O'Neill 07596902461

Contact for Photos: Douglas David Shaw: 07713 918940

Notes to Editors

[1] Trident Ploughshares campaigns for the disarmament of the UKs nuclear weapons. For further information

[2] Faslane Peace Camp has maintained a continuous protest against Trident nuclear weapons outside the Faslane Naval Base since 1982. For further information see: