Extract from ‘The third Scotland: self-organising, self-determining, suspicious of the SNP’
The Guardian, By Gerry Hassan
One result of this has been the emergence of a self-organising, self-determining Scotland. I have called this "the third Scotland" by dint of it differentiating from the two establishment visions of Scotland – the new SNP one and the old declining Labour version. It has rightly regarded such a restricted choice and debate as barely adequate in a diverse, complex, wealthy society.
The third Scotland can be seen as a generational shift, with the emergence of a whole swath of articulate, passionate, thoughtful 20somethings. It signifies a shift in how authority and power is interpreted, with people self-starting initiatives, campaigns and projects through social media and crowdfunding. Often dismissed as being middle-class lefties and luvvies by detractors, the overwhelming social makeup of this group is drawn from what Guy Standing has labelled "the precariat": young, educated, insecure, portfolio workers.
Its main groups include the arts and culture group National Collective, the Radical Independence Campaign, and the Jimmy Reid Foundation.
Sceptics pour scorn on what this third Scotland stands for, but its political agenda is clear. It is for self-government and independence as not an end in itself, but as a means of bringing about social change. It is suspicious of the SNP’s rather timid version of independence, always being described as being about "the full powers of the parliament" – which is hardly a language or outlook for transformational change. And they see the old mechanisms of social change such as the Labour party, labour movement and British state as having consistently failed and colluded with inequality, power and privilege.
Beyond this, there is an element of tension in this diverse movement. One part of Scotland’s new radicals chooses to emphasise the country’s egalitarian, inclusive and progressive credentials, believing that building upon these offers the best prospects of bringing about change.
Another perspective takes the view that the above assumptions are comforting, complacent stories and myths that have consistently been used by Scotland’s institutional and establishment voices to maintain their position and close down debate, and that the conversation over independence offers the prospect of reflecting on this and challenging these myths.
The latter position is the view I take in my just-published book, Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland, which looks at the wider canvas of social change and the independence debate, the multiple crises of Britain – economic, social and democratic – and the prospects for a different Scotland.
The scale of change in Scotland in recent years has been of historic proportions. One consequence of this has been the sense of incomprehension and even loss in parts of pro-union Scotland along with UK elites, who have seen all this as the work of Salmond and the SNP.
Instead, an ambitious, challenging, confident Scotland has emerged which isn’t owned by one party or tradition, and which thinks a narrow constitutional debate between yes and no and Scottish and British nationalisms isn’t enough. This third Scotland has arisen from the different country that has emerged, and in so doing, it is further creating a politics and culture of far-reaching change, the consequences of which will far outlive the 18 September independence vote and decision.