Corporate lobbyists realising with horror independence is not about them

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By Mark McNaught
 
Given the extent to which the Westminster parties have been handmaidens to corporate lobbyists, this last week must have been quite a shock. Despite all the big business warnings about the ‘uncertainty’ and ‘risk’ of independence, or perhaps because of it, support for independence is increasing by the day.

Nowhere is this more evident than the implosion of CBI Scotland, and perhaps CBI UK. After registering with the ‘Better Together’ campaign; STV, The University of Glasgow, The University of Edinburgh, Scottish Enterprise, and numerous other companies resigned.

By Mark McNaught
 
Given the extent to which the Westminster parties have been handmaidens to corporate lobbyists, this last week must have been quite a shock. Despite all the big business warnings about the ‘uncertainty’ and ‘risk’ of independence, or perhaps because of it, support for independence is increasing by the day.

Nowhere is this more evident than the implosion of CBI Scotland, and perhaps CBI UK. After registering with the ‘Better Together’ campaign; STV, The University of Glasgow, The University of Edinburgh, Scottish Enterprise, and numerous other companies resigned.

True to form, BBC management fudged a response by purportedly ‘suspending’ membership during the campaign, and will rejoin after it is over. We have yet to see what they ultimately do. Director of CBI Scotland Iain McMillan has resigned. The stench of the smoldering ruins of the CBI’s reputation is overpowering.

The existential crisis facing the CBI is entirely of their own making. They operate under a Royal Charter, yet took an overtly political position without consulting their members, many of whom wished to remain studiously neutral. When they registered with ‘Better Together’, they were taking sides of behalf of their members. STV and the other organisations had no choice but to resign to preserve their integrity.

This points out the entirely different conversations taking place in the foreign-owned Scottish and London-based media and on the ground in Scotland. The former has almost exclusively focused on the scare-stories blurted out by random think tanks, the UK government, and Whitehall agencies; utterly oblivious to the swelling democratic movement which will carry Scotland to independence. 

It is obviously a conversation they are ill-equipped to have. The UK government and their ancillary propaganda outlets see this referendum as a battle, lobbing scare stories to cower Scots into voting no. The strategy is that of a general election campaign, where negativity often makes politics so revolting that people don’t vote, giving the edge to the scaremongers.

It is dawning on ‘Better Together’ that this strategy will not work in a democratic movement, and they don’t like it. The CBI, the BBC, and other plutocratic organizations are finding to their horror that they are not the only voices in this campaign. After all, they’re used to virtually dictating Westminster government policy, with democratic influence is minimal. They are incapable of participating in a truly democratic debate, and it shows.

The Scottish referendum campaign is being waged doorstep by doorstep, changed mind by changed mind. People who once slammed the door on ‘yes’ canvassers are now discussing the merits of independence. This is perhaps the first truly democratic mass movement in Scottish history, and augurs well for a democratic future. ‘Better Together’ blaring threats cannot possibly compete.

What is especially galling is that many unnamed business leaders are complaining that they are being ‘silenced’ by shadowy pro-independence forces. Alistair Darling is accusing the ‘nationalists’ of ‘monstering’ unionists, as if their freedom of expression is being infringed upon and they are being ‘intimidated’.

Big business interests are learning the hard way that in a free society they are free to make their views known, and are used to having big megaphones in the unionist media. However, citizens also have a right to express themselves through speech or with their wallet.

They’re used to the BBC and the unionist papers uncritically parroting their assertions. They can churn out all the scare stories they want, but they quickly learn that they will be rapidly challenged and discredited by a burgeoning online press. They haven’t played this game before.

Another rapidly withering unionist presumption is that what is ‘good for business’ is the only thing which is relevant to the independence debate. Neoliberal ideology has never taken root to the same degree in Scotland as in the south east of England, but the UK government and ‘Better Together’ rely almost exclusively on economic threats to ‘win’ the debate.

The independence debate on the doorsteps is about people, and making Scotland a better place to live and work. Few care if a few random businesses threaten to leave Scotland after independence. They can leave their customers to businesses who want to stay. Scots are much more concerned with policies which affect real people; the ‘bedroom tax’, college tuition fees that do not lead students to prostitution, medication fees that do not impoverish seniors, that type of thing.

Rock on towards independence Scotland. It is your future and that of your children which matters. Corporate lobbyists are irrelevant. Just vote ‘yes’.