It is one month since the vote took place and for once a cliché has turned out to be true. Things will never be the same. Engagement in politics is no more seen as being the preserve of a select few, all Scots now have the confidence and desire to voice their opinions on matters ranging from economics to the intricacies of the constitution and they are getting active in record numbers.
Inevitably emotions have settled down somewhat since the week or two after the result as they had to but not back to apathy (as many in Westminster were no doubt hoping) but instead people are looking for their roles in the months (years ?) to come. This has taken the form of two separate but by no means mutually exclusive groups; the protest movement and the creative movement. Labelling them as such in no way implies one is superior to the other in fact they have a symbiotic relationship in many ways.
The protest movement consists of the more popular and efficient social media sites which sprung up in the aftermath of the vote, certain news sites like Wings Over Scotland and various other organisations. These groups are vital as without their efforts the people (out with the 45%) won’t ever fully appreciate exactly why Scotland should govern itself. All too often as a yes voter there was patronising references to Braveheart and misplaced patriotism without it being fully appreciated that this was a vote for a new way of being governed not just replacing Westminster with a new version with Scottish accents.
The marches that have occurred every weekend since September 18th not only show that independence is far from being dead and buried but it keeps the pressure on the UK Government, biased media and self-serving corporations. Six thousand people in George Square can’t be ignored and with marches planned in the future that promise even larger numbers there will be a ripple effect whereby even though they might be more interested in discussing Nigel Farage in Westminster in Scotland independence is not slipping away into the background and those that voted no will find it impossible not to draw comparisons between what might have been and whatever Tory/UKIP/Lib Dem/Labour mess we’re landed with in 2015.
The extent of media bias was made crystal clear during the referendum campaign especially in the hysteria in the final week. It would have taken a naïve person to have thought that the media was completely impartial, newspapers are privately owned businesses and thus profit driven and the BBC is a state news channel. Being on the wrong end of the propaganda was truly eye-opening the media provides a window for our eyes into the wider world and the fact that this view of the world was being manipulated and distorted to such an extent left many feeling enraged and somewhat powerless. So the protest movements, petitions and marches against the BBC are important as they highlight the injustices perpetrated and let those that may not use the internet regularly see the glaring difference between reality and how it is reported. The boycott of certain newspapers (The Daily Record in particular) is not favoured by all for economic reasons but to continue to buy a newspaper that had a large part in convincing many undecided voters to vote no, out of fear of the economic fallout parallels why the majority voted no, fear, the content and editorial style will change to meet the readers demands. Extending the boycott to other companies has also been met with mixed feeling in the Independence Movement. If the CEO of a company genuinely believed in the Union and could talk about all the positives of Scotland remaining part of it then they have as much right to their opinion as anyone else. In the cases where it’s been shown that management at a company were trying to pressurise employees or they came out and said they were voting no in pure self-interest (Ian Wood, fracking license) then a boycott is justified and necessary.
The creative movement (for want of a better term) consists of groups like The Common Weal, National Collective and media outlets like Bella Caledonia. Calling this group creative doesn’t imply the protest movement isn’t creative in fact most people drift between both groups and there is no rigid boundary between the two. In the space for change that the protest movement creates the creative movement fills with ideas for new policies on range of issues from economic to cultural. By their nature these groups have to be more organised than those in the protest movement in the face of the inevitable barrage of criticism that will come from those against reforming our very way of living.
The Common Weal is very well organised and is in the early stages of rolling out a massive project that allows those who know the way we live as mere cogs in the machine that is the ‘economy’ to have a voice and actively participate at a local level in redefining how the economy should be made to work for us and should be controlled by those we elected to do so and not massive corporations whose sole interest is in maximising profits. Various local groups all following Common Weal principles but tailored to local needs are springing up all over the country and a social media site called CommonSpace will connect even more like-minded people. There is not enough time to go into all the policies put forward by The Common Weal but they seem to be at the forefront of the creative movement although it’s not monopolised by one group and in fact would fail if it was.
Bella Caledonia is another organisation that is redefining what it does and extending the scope of its activities. Purely through small donations (thus avoiding over reliance on a few large investors) it’s employing an editorial team to cover a wide range of areas such as International News, Arts & Culture, Innovation, Community and more. By providing a news source that is enjoyable to read and interesting as well telling the stories that actually make a difference to people in Scotland instead of falling into the trap of becoming completely biased towards independence Bella Caledonia and other sites such as Newsnet Scotland will fill the gap in the media space created by the protest movement.
So one month post-referendum and things look positive (not as positive as a yes!) but having one movement which is flexible enough to have two differing functions creates the ideal scenario for not only gaining independence but for fundamentally changing the way we are governed. As the protest movement highlights the problems with the way the economy works, the creative movement provides an answer, as the protest movement highlights a problem with the way local democracy works, the creative movement provides an answer. This can only be done with mass involvement as the only people with solutions to the people’s problems are the people.
– Scotland Awakes