Salmond shows England the way
Last night I tuned in to Question Time in the hope of seeing a barnstorming Salmond performance. I expected him, now unleashed, to tear into the media bias, unashamed scaremongering, lying politicians and self serving corporate intervention that was evident in the closing weeks of the referendum campaign. Salmond didn’t provide those fireworks, he was Statesman like, thoughtful and conciliatory. He connected with the Liverpudlian audience better than the other politicians did.
This audience was the most important part of the programme. If it wasn’t for the setting you could have sworn many were Yes voters. The theme of the programme was the damage done to the country by political power being centralised in London. Many of the people who spoke seemed dejected and at their wits end after years of austerity. Seeing their communities crumbling slowly around them. Seeing the NHS being privatised by the back door, sold off to companies owned by friends of the political elite. Many tired of having the option of either taking a low paid unfulfilling job or being unemployed. The programme could have been filmed in any northern city and the audience would have conveyed a similar mood.
None of the other politicians had any solutions to the problems faced by a large number of electorate in one of the richest countries on earth. They just skirted around the issues, blurting out half baked clichés as solutions, glazed with faux empathy. Not surprising as both Labour and the Conservatives have presided over the demise with their continued stage managed and cultish adherence to the failed neoliberal fantasy. UKIP are a backward narrow minded bunch and as such are devoid of the capacity to dream up imaginative answers to big questions. Their current rise is more due to the exasperation felt toward the mainstream parties than any sort of political nous.
Salmond on the other hand stood apart from the English based politicians. He did so as, unlike them, his policies stem from a conviction to promote social justice and freedom. Without having to speak, his previous actions showed the solution to the problems faced by Northern Britain. He is a man who firmly believes that the regions should be empowered. That the people best placed to make decisions affecting an area are those who live there. In my opinion, the people of the Northern Counties need to look to Scotland for a way forward. They need to form groups online and within their local communities to discuss what powers they need to progress. They need to start putting more pressure on elected officials in order to progress their goals.
It will be interesting to see what recommendations come out of the Smith commission. Devo Max was the most popular option with the Scottish People pre-referendum which is why it was left off the ballot. In a true democracy Smith should recommend something close to what the people want but I would imagine he will fall far short of this. Any inevitable piecemeal offering will leave us with two main options; to better prepare for and seek another referendum in the not too distant future, or to work with the many disenfranchised people in the rest of the UK towards a constitutional convention with a settlement that most citizens can be happy with.
I would like to keep both options open but whether the latter proposal is a tangible option will depend on one thing – do the people represented in last night’s Question Time audience have the willpower and resolution to form the kind of organisations that have sprung up throughout Scotland in the wake of the referendum? In Scotland the movement will go on unabated. We will soon be wiping out Labour and sending the SNP to Westminster in their place. Maybe we would be best served if Salmond was among them. A man of conviction, spreading a message of empowerment and emancipation is just what the rest of the UK needs right now.
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