by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Over the weekend, the UK media got quite worked up about the news that a new political party may be launched and that it has up to £50 million of funding. It will, according to the claims, be a new Centrist Party. This will presumably mean that it aims to tempt Blairite supporters from the Labour Party and the less extreme Tory MPs. It will presumably aim to replace the Lib Dems entirely since they have never really recovered from their Coalition with the Tories and their proven history of breaking promises and telling lies.

This new Party, we are assured, will break the mould of UK politics. That sounds very exciting, doesn’t it? Except that it’s just spin. This new Party, whatever name it adopts, does not want to break the mould, it wants to become part of the Westminster Establishment. It may give a veneer of choice to English voters, especially if it adopts an anti-Brexit agenda, but it will simply comprise the same neo-liberal people who are already part of the establishment. It is difficult to imagine that the £50 million came from grass roots activists, after all. More likely it came from wealthy individuals who want to protect their wealth from Brexit, and from corporate donors who see Brexit as a very real threat, or from the anti-Corbyn movement within Labour. Unable to oust Jeremy Corbyn and unwilling to formally admit that they are Tories in disguise, those behind this Party will simply attempt to become a new force within an existing structure. It is very unlikely that they will actually break much at all except perhaps Labour’s position as the Party of Opposition.

What this news does show is that there is a great deal of unrest even within Westminster about Brexit and the general tribalism of UK politics. There are clearly at least a couple of factions who want a slice of the action and feel frustrated at being locked out.

It is interesting to compare the tone of the reporting on this with the tone of comments about the Yes movement in Scotland. There has been a lot of debate, and sometimes squabbling, among Yessers on social media about when the next IndyRef should be called. This argument is, apparently, evidence of a split in the movement. This split was further emphasised by an article in the Sunday Herald which gave details of what it claims is the SNP’s latest view on which economic model an independent Scotland should adopt, with New Zealand apparently being the preferred option now. This, the paper claimed, would split the Yes movement.

So, an entirely new Party in Westminster is not a sign of a split in anything, but different opinions within the Yes movement are evidence of splits?

The fact is that the Yes movement is very broadly based. There are opinions on whether an independent Scotland should adopt a new currency or stick with sterling; on whether Scotland should remain a monarchy or become a republic, on whether we should remain in or re-join the EU or go with EFTA; on whether Scotland should be a member of NATO or not. There are, in fact, disagreements on just about everything. That’s because people with a wide variety of backgrounds, upbringings and experiences are all part of the Yes movement. It is not, as some have claimed, an unthinking cult. But, for all these disagreements, the one thing everyone is agreed upon is that Scotland should be a normal country making its own decisions for its own people. Independence is not an end in itself; it is the beginning of a new period in which all the various ideas and arguments will be debated and voted upon in order to decide the way ahead on a multitude of issues. We want to do this with a Parliament elected by a more proportionally representative system than Westminster’s farcical First Past The Post, and we want to be able to vote out any Government which does not run the country in the way we want. Rather than some new, millionaire-backed Centrist Party in Westminster, it is the Yes movement that seeks to truly break the mould of UK politics. In fact, we want to break away from it entirely. Yes, we will argue about specifics of what we need to do, but those disagreements are not splits within the movement because the entire movement knows that we need to become a normal country first.