Is the tide turning towards independence? The way to look at it is this. The vote in 2014 was a half and half split given that YES was leading and only swung back in the last week with ‘The Vow’ and various other breaches of purdah.
Many Scots were taken to manager’s meetings where they were told that their jobs depended on a NO vote. This was particularly true in the shipyards. Pensioners were targeted and told that they would or could lose their pensions. Immigrants were told that they would lose their right to be here and of course a compromise of devo-max was offered to all. A complete shifting of the goal posts at the last minute.
I spoke to a shipyard worker at length about this in 2014 and although he agreed with virtually everything that the YES vote stood for, his immediate priorities were towards keeping his own household solvent and that meant keeping his job. No matter the truth it was the threat to his wife and children’s well being that he was responding to.
People of pensionable age are by nature cognitively dissonant. Reimagining a new Scotland was never going to be the selling point at this end of the demograph and let’s face it, no attention was paid by Yes Scotland. This left the elderly open to manipulation by a sickeningly cynical Better Together who ensured that thousands of creepy phone calls were lined up with scripts written in authoritarian language to bully our grandparents into compliance. That generation – the ones closest to the two world wars – didn’t see the British State in the same way and commonly saw it as a force for good. The hard fight against fascism in Spain and Germany as well as the benevolent building of the welfare state were concepts that would never be ‘easily’ reconceptualised.
Immigrant workers in Scotland on the whole did not see the political landscape in the same light as the more established immigrant communities like the Pakistanis. Pakistani Scots were on the whole favourable and particularly open to the economic and business opportunities that independence would bring such is their tradition of acumen. Rather the Eastern and Central European workers in Scotland tended to see Britain as their host and naturally felt a leaning toward the state that dealt with their working documents and rights of passage. Couple that with a language barrier and the fact that these people were very much outside of the national conversation becomes clear.
Now of course all of that was lies and most folk have realised that it was lies and times are getting pretty tough due to the severity of the austerity ideology from down south. More young folk are coming through with a vision for a better Scotland and the old folks, well some are doing their bit to keep their fellows informed but naturally minds tend to have made themselves up by that stage in life.
Is it a sea change yet? Not yet. What’s happening is that the tide is turning in that the rhetoric of a strong and stable Britain is ringing untrue and the idea of benevolent partnership is fading such has been the breech of trust. Shipyard workers have been betrayed as a new race to the bottom has replaced the promise of contracts, immigrant workers are now looking to any means of maintaining their EU rights as their bonds with Scotland become stronger and more entwined and the welfare state has changed almost beyond recognition with foodbanks becoming normalised as a lower tier of the benefits system. People are literally starving in Scotland now because of British austerity and their theories on ‘behavioral economics’.
The international scene, particularly within the EU is starting to raise its voice in support of Scotland and Scots can see now that the EU most certainly can and will definitely retain Scotland as a full member regardless of how the paperwork needs done on it.
Brexit is a complete disaster regardless of the negatives we can find about the EU and the only sensible alternative is of course independence. So expect to see and hear the voices for change really amping up as winter gives way to spring and the long run in to our next vote.