MORE than a month has passed since the SNP swept Scotland – once again – in a UK General Election. SNP activists like me entered that election quietly optimistic, but we ended up doing better than any of us could have hoped or expected.

In the most youthful political circles, the election was characterised by an interesting phenomenon that I certainly didn’t expect to see. A small but loud section of young people were drawn to campaign for Labour in urban central Scotland by the promise of Prime Minister Corbyn, a prospect that seemed ridiculous on December 1, as it does now.

What made this interesting, for me, was that many who (often at the last minute) decided to join the Labour party were experienced activists, trade unionists, and surprisingly, veterans of the 2014 independence referendum campaign.

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I shouldn’t overstate the scale of this phenomenon, and it was certainly exaggerated in urban lefty circles and comically overblown on Twitter. That said, it would still be unwise for indy activists friendly to, or members of, the SNP to pretend the trend didn’t exist. I believe the new activists who campaigned for Labour in Scotland did so out of impatience; they wanted an overhaul of the system now with PM Corbyn, not after independence.

Yet let’s be frank, Labour was decimated in England and Wales because it could not build a coalition of voters that spanned demographics and geography. There will be as many takes on why this was the case as there are members of Momentum, Blue Labour, and the Fabians. But at least the main lesson for Scottish Labour activists should be clear; the UK Labour project is at best a distraction for Scots, and at worst an instrument for the British national Conservative right to deny Scotland its right to self-determination. That means Scottish Labour now finds itself facing an existential crisis.

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Three camps have emerged. The first are those who are beginning to approximate a sensible position, advocating either a softening of the position towards independence or another referendum. This camp is small but with voices like Monica Lennon MSP and Neil Findlay MSP, and ex-MP Ged Killen.

The second camp are the hard Unionists. They voice a rhetoric matching the worst of the Tory party’s national Conservative right, frank about their beliefs that Scotland shouldn’t have a choice and that the Scottish Government can be happily ignored by Johnson. Bizarrely, Jess Phillips MP has been the loudest of this camp – happy to tell an entire country what its future is to be, despite it being clear that she had never given the matter one minute’s thought until launching her leadership bid.

Yet somehow the third camp, including Lisa Nandy, are those who have even less of a clue what they are talking about, those with no clear position at all.

As it stands, Scottish Labour are laying claim to the smallest voting bloc in Scotland – left-wing Unionists who don’t care an awful lot for the EU. Those of a soft No persuasion will not appreciate their view that Scotland does not deserve a choice. This is a recipe for disaster.

I truly believe that in their heart of hearts, many Labour activists are starting to realise that the choice of independence or electoral oblivion will come soon. So, we must recognise that a coalition of SNP, Green, and the remaining Labour voters will deliver independence.

It’s up to all of us in the independence movement, in the SNP, in the Greens, and in no party at all, to open our doors to those dyed-in-the-wool Labour activists who are beginning to see the writing on the wall but would never abandon their party. The independence movement remains, and will remain, bigger than the SNP.

A civic movement for choice must soon begin to agitate for another referendum. At least a section of Scottish Labour must be a part of that. Their voting constituency may be small, but it is composed of a group of people who straddle the boundary between No and Yes. A group of people, therefore, who will be of importance in taking us forward. The SNP may be the independence movement’s leadership, but there is plenty of room for others to join us on this journey.

Gavin Lundy
National Convener, Young Scots for Independence
Director, Generation Yes