By Jonathon Shafi
On recent mass canvases in Glasgow we have found there to be a very large number of undecideds. Scanning social media reports its seems to be the case that there remains a high number don’t knows in places all over Scotland As a result many have asked why this is the case. Are there any particular issues? Is there anything we can change about our messaging? And so on.
In truth there is no magic wand, or simple solution to this. This article deals with a specific form of being ‘undecided’. One person may be balancing the arguments, carefully, critically. They may be tuning into every debate, reading the latest developments and speaking to friends about the referendum.
But another, bigger, section are not really ‘undecided’ on the basis of the arguments as such. They are undecided because they have not yet thought about it in any serious way.
This in part helps explain why undecided voters are so high in areas where there is low voter turn out. The richer you are, the more your interests are represented and reflected in the political and financial institutions. Thus, there is a reason to take an interest, because your own interests are more likely to be acted on institutionally.
Conversely, in areas where the interests of the electorate are not even an after thought, alienation from the political process is deep. Indeed this alienation is in and of itself a long-term process of demobilisation. Structural and social issues coalesce to create a barrier to political action, including the fact that daily life is enough of a struggle.
When people ask why there is disengagement, this is the reason. It’s not just because people don’t trust politicians, or that people feel there is no point in political engagement because they have not seen any evidence to suggest their action makes a difference.
These are not unimportant – but the problem is systemic in nature. In essence the neoliberal democracy is limited to the parameters of the interests of big capital, and in addition the tapestry of organisations, groups and community facilities needed to catalyse and maintain a culture of political engagement have been systematically undermined, shut down and shattered by years of strategic neglect.
Permanent austerity is now the over-arching strategy which incorporates all of this, underlined with an ideological demonisation and a further fracturing of our society along the lines of race, benefits claimants, the ‘work-shy’ and so on. they have not just been cutting services, they’ve been destroying democracy along the way.
If this is the problem, then the solution to the democratic deficit is obvious. Rebuild a culture of solidarity, reverse the upwards distribution of wealth and power and energise community programmes, cooperatives, public meetings and so on.
That will take nothing short of a mass social and political renewal which will require a strategy based on the long-term detoxification of neoliberal failure. But to make an immediate impact to mobilise the Yes vote in the concluding months of the referendum, we need to mobilise on a mass basis.
That is why RIC has called for a national mass canvass on 22 June. We start from a simple premise. No one will win the independence referendum for us. There is not one argument alone that can win. No single party will be enough. Our success will be guaranteed through the mass organisation of ordinary people.
History is in our hands. Together we can set out a course to engage with thousands of people to promote our perspective: radical, meaningful social change, through independence for Scotland. If you have campaigned for years, then now is the time to re-double efforts. If you are new to campaigning, now is the time to get involved.
All of this is why the Radical Independence Campaign is calling a National Mass Canvass on 22 June across the whole of Scotland. Canvasses will run in all of the major cities but also across many towns, villages and islands, maximizing geographical coverage and inclusion.
Everyone is welcome to join. Whatever group you are in, we will promote your 22 June event.
Our previous mass canvass sessions, in housing estates such as Castlemilk and Drumchapel, have provided voters with the opportunity to discuss their concerns about the referendum on a one to one basis. They have been hugely popular.
This personal approach has been welcomed by residents with many stating that they were feeling neglected and their questions were not being answered. The Radical Independence Campaign is aiming to change this by speaking to as many people as possible about issues that affect them and the world around them.
We believe that engagement is key to winning. We need to listen, as well as promote our vision. Join the 22 June day of action.