Below, my immediate thoughts on the referendum, posted on the Review 31 website. The point I try to argue is that we are in a midway stage within a very long, slow cycle of working class structual de- and re-composition. The Yes vote benefited from a breakdown of certain old ways of doing class, and points to some new ones, but they are not yet so entrenched so that the yes side was simply able to shrug off a determined counter-offensive. The “You” of the title is aimed at the majority of my readers – like me, non-Scots, but located in societies at an essentially similar conjuncture. Friends have suggested certain bridgeheads which could be added to my list (jobs and regions dependent on oil, banking). Finally, when I quote Macintyre on the need for a party, I mean “party” in the way he did – an organisation of hundreds of thousands of people
The temptation, in the short period immediately following the referendum, will be to be focus on the final breadth of the No victory and to assume that the result was always a forgone conclusion. The Yes vote began the poll with the support of 35% of Scots, during the campaign it had to increase this figure by 15%. Reaching 45%, it achieved two-thirds of the swing it needed for victory.
Among the wealthy and those who identify most strongly with them, there is clearly a feeling of resentment that their representatives were obliged to make concessions to the independence campaign, in order to placate those key groups of voters – workers, women, the young – who in the penultimate week of the campaign appeared to be swinging decisively from No to Yes. It will be said in public by Tory MPs, and privately, by the classes of people they represent, that the concessions were unnecessary, and any promises can now be withdrawn. We should expect threats of Tory rebellions against any legislation for devolution. There will be plans to draw those rebels off, by (for example) mixing up devolution with steps to reduce the powers of Scottish MPs in Westminster. Trident will remain as will the detention centre at Dungavel. It is most likely that the issue of independence will not sink away but will be revived, starting with the general election next year.
Why did Yes lose? Yes had a narrow majority among men; No had a bigger majority among women. For about 30 years in Britain, the right in all its forms has been better at aiming propaganda at women than the left. The left has had no counterpart of the success of the Daily Mail in working a message of women’s subordination into a total analysis of every aspect of politics and daily life, and of selling this message – targeted and superficially attractive, but disempowering – to millions of readers.
And mine is worth reading alongside Pete Cannell’s piece here.