I’m worried there won’t be enough comment on the ‘No’ vote, so I’ve decided to make a blogtervention (and if I’ve just coined that word, I hereby copyright it). With a relatively small swing, the British establishment would have been in meltdown today. The panic and intimidation of the past two weeks revealed just how threatening a ‘yes’ vote was and how hopelessly unprepared they were for it – yet another reflection of their arrogance, complacency and detachment, but also their latent weakness, insecurity and fear. As it stands, to quote a very disappointed ‘yes’ voter from Glasgow this morning, ‘it’s same as’.
The sounds of magnanimity and reconciliation won’t last long. Perfidious Albion will stitch the Scots up again. You can already hear back-tracking on the tripartite ‘pledge’ and the right-wing (including UKIP) using it as leverage to pursue their reactionary agenda. It would be great if the radical, vibrant forces of the ‘yes’ campaign can hold the government to their word, but I worry there will be an equal retreat into disillusionment.
It’s nauseating to hear the institutions of state, from the BBC to the Queen, breathing a collective sigh of relief, but nothing is more disgusting than the role of the Labour Party in all this. I don’t pretend to know the workings of Scottish Labour and I know it has a dynamic of its own, but at a national level, are there any depths ‘New’ (yes, it’s back – it never really went away) Labour has not plumbed? If Salmond has played Cameron like a violin, Miliband has been a Stradivarius in the hands of the Tories. As so often before, Labour has ridden to the establishment’s rescue. If it had been a ‘yes’ vote, Labour would have got the blame. Do they seriously think they’re now going to get the credit for ‘saving the Union’? Of course not. The Tories are going to play this for all it’s worth and – with a superficially recovering economy – will try to ride the wave through to the election. If it had been a ‘yes’ vote, Cameron would have been down the road by now. As it is, Miliband, Darling and Brown have handed him a political reprieve, in return for a brief moment of glory. This Faustian pact could come back to haunt them, particularly in Scotland. With no sign of any policies (including on housing) that might win back working class voters throughout the UK, the slow, miserable death of the Labour Party continues.
I feel disappointed because, above all, what’s been lost is a moment when the vitality of optimism triumphed over the pessimism of the status quo, but it’s not over yet!