Scotland’s 50 shades of Left and the ‘second vote’ spat


Glasgow poet and performer Cee Smith considers the Pro-indy party positions  and wonders whether consensus might emerge…one day

There’s a lot of talk in Scottish politics.

Admittedly, the entire game of Westminister has been for centuries one of pure rhetoric. Everybody gets their say so long as they know how their place. The real decisions are made away from the debate chamber. We only have to look at the ‘second’ round of ‘war’ in the Middle East to see this is true.

Cee Smith
Cee Smith

I did not vote for Independence believing Scotland would become a free nation. I did not vote for the SNP believing that they would hold the ruling parties in London to account.

At 18 I was a firm SNP supporter.

At 27 I’m bored by my limited choices.

I welcome the rise of new political parties. But it comes at the expense of dividing the left in this country even further. A range of new parties all promising the same thing.

If there’s one thing I have learnt as a politically aware adult, it’s the futility of debate on the left lost in idealism.

There is a lot of talk of the great Yes Campaign of 2014. How it united us all  – no matter what gender, race, class or religion – and ignited a debate around the country. I feel like I saw a very different campaign.

A campaign of no clear answers to the obvious questions of its opposition. A campaign that failed to change the minds of the majority of the population.

A campaign whose old fashioned prejudice came home to me when I stopped by my local campaign office to ask about any data on the ‘women’ vote both sides were boasting of, and was dismissed with a token leaflet for Women for Independence.


Maybe we should take a leaf out of the Zapatistas’ book, the revolutionary militant group based in Chiapas, Mexico. Though far from perfect, everyone in their society must serve at one time in a council.

Everyone, except those seen to be too keen to take the role of power.

I don’t want to be led by anybody who actively wants to be a politician in today’s system. Unless they are entering it to offer me something completely new.

The call for ‘new media’ in the wake of the ‘biased’ BBC also made me question whether I was looking at the same debate. Yes, indeed, the BBC news team failed to provide a neutral view in their reporting. Something from which they have struggled to recover.

Yet their online programming told a wildly different story. Reruns of documentaries explicitly detailing how this Union of Nations began in the first place. Offering something few young Scots can claim to know in depth: history.

We suffer from what many have always suffered from. The cult of personality. That which kept Stalin in popularity for so long. What keeps Jeremy Corbyn from being an outright bore. What fills the pockets of vocal fundraisers in the name of ‘democracy’.


Amidst the minor spat between Newsnet’s recent article from Ponsonby and Bella Caledonia’s Mike Small over the RISE party’s assertion that a second list vote for the SNP is a ‘waste’, I learned that Bella Caledonia boasts of a board that includes ‘SNP members, Green Party members and RISE members’, as well as a tokenistic ‘but most importantly members of no political party at all’. This implies that the board embraces many shades of opinion: so what was wrong with Ponsonby’s opinion?

The National sits on this particular problem too, publishing columns from Cat Boyd of RISE, and Mhairi Black of the SNP for example.

Replacing ‘old’ media, criticised for pushing the political agendas of the larger parties, with ‘new’ media full of the political agendas of the smaller parties seems a little, well ironic.

If the issue of independence can be boiled down to fair representation of all opinion then that includes respecting the opinion of those who disagree with you. Even those that criticise you.

A recent BBC article about the Scottish elections this year cited Hume: ‘Nothing is more surprising than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few.’


It is notable that the ‘revolutions’ of the West are led by middle class orators speaking for the downtrodden working classes. The need for those ‘without a voice’ to be represented.

Yet, where are the working class voices in Scottish politics?

Both Glasgow and Dundee voted in great numbers for an Independent Scotland. But not as great as we could have hoped. In deprived areas of Glasgow, there was an attitude with some I spoke to of ‘what’s the point’, ‘how does this affect me?’.

Alan Bissett is quoted in Bella Caledonia as saying that ‘Rise have put class firmly on the agenda, and I think it’s important that they are represented in Holyrood.’

But isn’t this just more talk?

RISE, after all, is a party primarily made up of members of other political parties. Parties like the SWP, that token socialist party so many students are encouraged to join that is nothing but an elitist debate club.

I do not mean to single RISE out. They are but the latest in a string of many, many tiny ‘socialist’ parties in Scotland. Unfortunately, the truth is, this is the first I have ever heard of them with this petty squabble.

I have always been a campaigner for voting. I do not care who you vote for, I will never endorse one party or the other, but even if you choose to spoil your vote, do vote, for that is the only way each and every person will have spoken for themselves. That is the only way for ‘all voices to be heard’.

No vote is ever wasted, if it is what you truly believe in.

I have met No voters who so desperately wanted to vote yes but were offered no security if they did so.

I have met Yes voters who felt they were caught up in the romance and the excitement and regretted it.


No politician will ever truly represent the needs of everyone that votes for them. But politics and democracy is a selfish game that benefits the few and sells a dream to the many.

Do not be taken in by personality cults, the smooth talkers, the quickest comebacks.

Let us focus not on who can lead us to yet another spin campaign for utopia.

Let us instead analyse what each individual representative can actually achieve for our communities.

Let us examine the real issues in this country, in this united kingdom as a whole too.

Nothing will ever change until we learn how to communicate openly and we make drastic overhauls to the education system and stop the ridicule of the intelligent.

We must face the facts that if we cannot even agree with each other when we fight the same fight on the same issues, how on earth would we have survived the first year as an Independent nation?