A guest post by Robert MacDonald
On 12 September, the Farage bandwagon will roll into town. "There’s been too much bean-counting on one side and all the passion has been on the Yes side. It’s time to change that," a UKIP spokesman was reported to have said in the Sunday Post. According to the BBC, "We take a position that we will not be intimidated off the streets, and if Jim [Murphy] wants any support on his speaking tour when he goes back out there we are happy to join him to make sure he stays safe."
Overegged claims of intimidation aside, it is clear who will benefit most from such a circus. It won't be Jim Murphy, who would be completely overshadowed by his UKIP minders. It won't be the people of Scotland. It won't even be the union. It will be Nigel Farage himself, his image as a plain-speaking defender of the English everyman beamed into every home receiving the BBC, the new enemy the racist Scot, opening deep fissures in the very union he claims to uphold. Another little nugget of hate will have been lodged in the minds of people who have been let down by their politicians, manipulated by their media, people who look around and wonder whose hand will help them out of their current state of impotent fear. Ed Milliband’s? David Cameron’s?
Let's face it, people across the whole of the UK are scunnered with politicians, angry at their own personal helplessness at the way the place is run. UKIP tempts them with its easy scapegoats. UKIP is the only visible alternative. But UKIP isn't the answer. Voting UKIP is a cry for help. Voting UKIP is the electorate slashing its wrists in despair. UKIP's policies are the most reactionary of any party out there and once in power, would only cement the position of the elite - which may explain why the media have been all over Nigel Farage like a cheap suit for years. Voting UKIP is a vote to make things worse for the vast majority.
In Scotland though, a window of opportunity has opened up. People have started talking about the sort of country they want to live in. It's infectious. And it is now beyond the politicians' control. When No voters talk about Alex Salmond, they are behind the curve. The SNP started this process, but the Yes grassroots have become their own force. If you aren't involved in it you wouldn't know about it as the media don't discuss it. Sites like this are Scotland’s open secret. Most of the rest of the UK is profoundly unaware. Many in Scotland too. But it's happening, on the internet, in conversation after conversation, in doorstep meetings and packed town halls. The ugliness of UKIP is nowhere to be seen for one good reason. People aren’t lashing out, looking for something to blame. They are instead imagining a blank slate, testing their own mettle for change, thirsting for responsibility for their own lives. But the window for discovery is brief. On 18 September, it closes.
I am fascinated to see where this goes. Scotland votes Yes and briefly, all things become possible. But who will end up in charge - the elite and their politicians again? Will Yes campaigners, an independent Scotland delivered, relax and think the job done when really, the only change will have been the permission to continue the conversation, this sweeping away of apathy, this transformational blossoming of trust, responsibility and opportunity in the people themselves? Equally, should Scotland vote No - will the people who have dared to discuss how they want their society organised shut up? It is hard to see how. Either way, the independence referendum has created a breach in the way we do and understand politics, letting in a ray of democratic light. Fear not to speak your own aspirations – this conversation is a virus, your voice its carrier. Should enough catch it, Yes will be inevitable.