Unionists of every stripe from the Orange Lodges to Tories and Labourist all sorts will be delighted with Scottish results. The United Kingdom has been saved. They won by 400,000 votes. Not a great triumph but a victory nonetheless and a defeat for the independence movement.
I’ll wait for the detailed breakdown of age, gender, class before commenting on these aspects, but the story isn’t over. Their victory was made possible by Project Fear that required a media campaign of ferocious intensity that even Goebbels might have admired. It was reminiscent of the recent offensives in South America, but there our side won despite 99 percent media opposition. Here, too, the media was backed by a violent corporate campaign–with bankers in the lead— and all the mainstream parties. Despite this the independence vote was almost 45 percent and Glasgow and Dundee had majorities for independence.
How short memories are in these times was demonstrated by the elevation of Gordon Brown as the saviour of the Union. He performed well, shedding crocodile tears for the NHS that he and Blair had already begun to privatise and weaken by dubious private finance initiatives. New Labour’s Health Secretary Alan Milburn now works for private medicine, for a company that he helped as a government minister!
What will happen now? Cameron will use the victory to portray himself as the man who saved the union and with some justification. Project Fear was launched in Downing Street, after all with Nick Clegg and Ed Moribund pressed into service as page boys. Simultaneously Cameron will push through (with the devo max measures) a bill disallowing Scottish MPs from voting on English questions. This will keep the Tories united, UKIP happy and Labour shafted. No more Scottish cannon fodder for Westminster votes on the budget!
In Scotland itself there will be a lot of soul-searching within the Scottish Nationalist Party. How could they lose in some of their strongholds? Did they work hard enough? Should Alex Salmond go and be replaced by Nicola Sturgeon? And who knows what else….
On the left the spirited and non-sectarian Radical Independence Campaign fought well. It would be important to preserve and enhance this current in Scottish politics to argue the case for a very different Scotland and this means keeping the movement together.
Radical Scotland will not disappear and the model here should not be any reversion to the tried and tested failures of the socialist left but something more like Podemos in Spain. There will be sadness and demoralisation and this is perfectly understandable, but it won’t last too long. British politics is getting worse not better.
Fear leads to passivity and even though in this case the Unionists managed to get the fearful out to vote, they might never be able to do that again. Hope leads to activity and that is what the independence campaign represented. We will win the next time.
Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).