Pete (pjc50) wrote,
Pete
pjc50

Post-referendum post

Well, that was an emotional rollercoaster. I'm glad I took the day after the referendum off. The next question was always going to be "what now?" either way it went. But the close result seems to have had an extraordinary effect: it's driven mass recruitment to the pro-indy parties. https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/quick-note-on-party-memberships-in-uk : the SNP is now the third largest political party in the UK as a whole.

There's also a kind of "continuity Yes" movement, going under the banner of "the 45", from the 45% that voted Yes. This seems to be an entirely meme-based thing, with no leaders and no organisation, just badges on Facebook and Twitter profiles. I doubt it will last long under that identity, as people have pointed out numerous problems (e.g. echoes of 1745; unnecessarily confrontational with the No voters that we need to win over). But the energy is not going to go away. People are looking for change that they can believe in. It's interesting to see how plausibility is built here. There's long been a strange divide between progressive/left/intellectual politics and actual electoral politics. Stop the War got unprecedentedly vast numbers of people to demos and did nothing at elections. They were ultimately subsumed into a really nasty mixture of traditional Marxists, wannabe Islamists, and George Galloway. UK Uncut were doing well in the early days of the current government but seem to have collapsed into farce. The UK Green party (distinct from the Scottish Greens in the way that Scottish versions of the big 3 aren't) has a seat in Brighton but seems to have run the council badly and is in any case a bad victim of FPTP. Ken Loach tried to get something called "Left Unity" off the ground which seems to have gone nowhere.

The dark mirror of the general discontent can be seen in the other bits of the UK abandoned by Westminster, where the UKIP vote is running high. They have their first seat, and it now seems possible that they will pick up a number of seats in the 2015 GE. Everybody is predictably panicking over this and thereby feeding the UKIP troll publicity machine.

I suspect that the difference between the 65%ish turnout at last GE and the 85% turnout at the referendum is not people who were "apathetic" but instead discouraged, either from believing that their vote made a difference to the outcome (unlikely in a safe seat) or that the people they were voting for would deliver. There's a large group of people who are electoral "dark matter" and difficult to predict if they do re-engage with voting.

Labour secured a No in Scotland at the cost of collaborating closely with the Tory party. This has enraged a large number of their supporters who will not easily forgive. It's possible that they'll see a collapse in their safe seats.

Another thing I take away from the intense time of the referendum is that the print media are a "side" unto themselves, happy to wallow in a small minded and often vicious form of conservativism. One thing to be said for the SNP is that, as they are uniformly hated by the press, they are not beholden to them to deliver ridiculous pseudo-populist policies. The latest low point of this can be seen at the Conservative party conference, where "teach schoolchildren in Imperial measures" and "abolish the Human Rights Act" vied for the position of most popular idiotic policy. This will become important if the "leave the EU" referendum is ever held, when the main parties (especially the Conservatives) will have to decide whether to back the choice popular with the press or the choice popular with business.

The abolition and indeed introduction of sweeping constitutional changes like the HRA will be done without anything resembling a referendum or even a proper consultation process. And people accused the Yes campaign of being destabilising; I don't think people realise how unstable and vulnerable to the whim of a PM terrified of newspapers the status quo is.
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