So, Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t support Scottish Independence, specifically he doesn’t support the idea of another referendum any time soon. He made these remarks in Dundee on Thursday night, though he has said previously that the issue is a matter to be decided by the Scottish people.
The phenomenon that is Corbynmania has two faces. One is what is actually happening on the ground with meetings of hundreds and thousands the length and breadth of the British Isles and a wave of grass roots activism that has been absent in this scale for some time.
The second is the attempt by the media to reduce it to the sort of slogans and soundbites politics they are comfortable with. Thus Corbyn is either hero or villain, everything or nothing, presented in a binary form to love or hate. This is old-style party politics where you sign up for everything or not at all.
If you view Scottish Independence solely through the prism of SNP dominance then you’re missing the point of the Yes movement. It was its diversity encompassing people of many parties and none that got us as far as we did. It was the idea that independence was the vehicle, not the destination that allowed the sense of common purpose to unite people, and, most importantly, show that politics itself could be different.
It is against this that any measure of Corbyn has to be judged. So, let’s get back to the main question here. Is Corbyn’s opposition / indifference / misunderstanding of Scottish Independence a reason not to welcome the movement that is growing around him? To equate a movement with one individual and one individual’s views on one subject is flawed. At the heart of this, and Corbyn has said this himself, is to get away from a situation where policies are handed down from on high and merely rubber stamped by the party at large.
The potential here is therefore not about a rebuilt Labour Party as we currently know it but something fundamentally different. Where do Corbyn’s personal views on Scottish independence sit within this movement? I would argue that in a culture that is bottom up, active opposition to independence is an unlikely priority.
But what of Scottish Labour? As Cailean Gallagher said in an article on Common Space recently, “The remnants of Scottish Labour are more New Labourite than ever”. Any hopes of Scottish Labour rediscovering itself are misplaced. That boat sailed some time ago and was ultimately sunk by the Referendum and its aftermath.
The Left in Scotland are currently scattered. Some are in the SNP, others in the Greens, SSP and other left parties. Many are simply not members of anything, though they may be active in non-party politics. That latter category includes me.
As for what happen following the Labour leadership result, there are a number of scenarios. A strong possibility has to be a split. The genie is out of the bottle as to what might be.
As we move forward with the Scottish Left Project, not seeing the potential for allies within a reinvigorated Labour movement south of the border would be folly. That is not to say that it will be easy but it will be a debate worth having.