Yes We Can

Yet more proof that the Yes parties are part of the democratic movement sweeping Europe. Just as much of Yes dovetailed with Syriza, so here is Vicente Navarro, Professor of Public Policy at Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona and John Hopkins, Baltimore: ‘There is enormous anger toward what Podemos calls la casta, the cast. That includes the governing elites in the political establishment who have developed close complicities with the major financial and non-financial corporations that dominate the political and media institutions of the country. The call for throwing all of them out awakens general support among the majority of the Spanish people.’


Podemos has lost faith in the governing elite and has run out of patience waiting for the usual suspects to act. It has cornered the market in revolt from every corner of Spain in a progressive nationalist movement impatient for change. As I wrote last time – the people are angry.

Navarro writes: ‘Podemos uses a language that people relate to, redefining class struggle as the conflict between those at the top and everyone else – a narrative that mobilises a diverse support base. Moreover, Podemos makes the call for democracy central to its strategy, redefining democracy to include different forms of participation, such as referendums (defined as the right to decide, el derecho a decidir) together with indirect or representative forms of democracy. It is because of this commitment to democracy that it has accepted the right of self-determination for the different nations that exist in Spain, breaking with the vision of Spain as a uni-national state.’


In Spain the cast includes both establishment parties of left and right – the conservative Partido Popular and the socialist PSOE. In Greece, they vented fury on the conservative New Democracy and the centre-left PASOK. In the UK, the people rail against Conservative and Labour – the pattern repeats.

Is this left wing insurgency? It is in media shorthand and there is no doubt it is socialist in its empathy for the people against the state but there are far more than committed left wingers voting for these arrivistes. Our own SNP draws in those of economically liberal ideology who find their ambition stifled by the suffocating power blocs.

In Spain there is a continuing Communist influence but Navarro explains: ‘Regardless of where they come from, they all felt that the root of the problem was the control of the state by a class of politicians, based primarily in the major parties – the liberal-conservative party (PP) and the socialist (PSOE) – who were closely related and tied to the major financial and banking corporations that have corrupted state institutions. They called for the establishment of a democratic state and a democratic Europe, a Europe of the people, not the Europe of the bankers.’


The professor helped to draft an outline economic programme which, predictably, received the same disparaging reaction Yes also received. ‘The hostility of the mainstream and economic media, as well as the intellectuals and spokespersons of the major governing parties (PP and PSOE) has led to some notable attacks against the document – and indeed its authors.’ Sound familiar?

The desperate defence of established interests is well under way and was elegantly outlined in the Herald by David Torrance who calls opposition to the mainstream ‘fantasy politics’. This is the voice of the elite telling you to leave it to those who know best. Coming up with ideas that shake the old order is nonsense and suggesting an income for all for example is laughable yet maintaining nuclear weapons somehow isn’t. The real fantasy politics is to be found in the pages of the Guardian.

Is printing money to give to the banks who destroyed the economy fantasy politics? Is sovereign debt of £1.5 trillion fantasy politics? Is failing to save a brass farthing from £300bn of North Sea tax revenues fantasy politics?

What so many of the predictable commentaries miss is that all politics is aspiration. Apart from Tories who go into the job to protect the interests of hedge funds, everybody else – Yes, even Gordon Brown – enter the arena to change the world. They have a dream, an aspiration, based on a principle. Politics is adding in a plan and trying to make it work. It never does so completely so there is always failure. Everybody has to trim, accommodate and compromise. But they do their best, as we do in life. Without the dream, you have next to nothing.

The biggest con in politics is the ‘fully-costed demand’ that must accompany every idea. ‘What will it cost and who pays?’ If that is the basis of policy, nothing will ever be achieved, on right or left. What is the true cost of Coalition policy on the health and well being of communities? How do you evaluate the cost of suicides caused by benefits sanctions?

The Coalition has failed majestically in its own agenda with Osborne’s plans to eradicate the deficit in tatters. Why do we tolerate that failure yet disparage those on the progressive side who aspire to do it differently?

It’s fun too when the people get angry. See how Gordon Brown is made to leap through hoops as public opinion aims another skelp at his Labour erse. By sticking to our guns and keeping the opinion polls ticking over, we force him and his media sycophants to come to terms with the nationalist agenda, to promise more, to sell, plead and cajole.

All this is to the good, building up the stock of the Home Rule case and ultimately of independence. If we keep support at this level, we will reach a stage where Labour is so frightened it will be nearing the SNP position of having virtually everything devolved and that will become the minimum demand of the party support in the future.

Irrespective of the general election outcome, this will be the basis of their case for Holyrood next year and if there is a Tory-led UK government, Labour will be effectively campaigning with the SNP for Home Rule against the British state.

Don’t write it off. Just as we saw in the indyref, they will do anything to stay in the game and every red line – up to and including Trident – can be smudged. (The Scottish party can adopt a different position to the UK). Murphy was a gamble. Now panic has set in. If the polling gap stays as wide, there is no telling what lunatic bids they will make next. Sit back and enjoy. Isn’t it great being one of the people?

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23 thoughts on “Yes We Can

  1. Aye your right Derek

    Saw an interesting tweet from Prof Tomkins pointing out that the “Vow +” is Labours 5th (FIFTH) position on devolution since 2010.

    As another cynic pointed out, if the polls remain the same in state, then in 6 week time, we’ll get Broon and Morphy saying…..

    “Vote Labour and get Independence”

  2. It will all be OK in the end. If it’s not OK it’s not the end.

  3. I was dissapointed in the likeable Ian McWhirter last night on Scotland Tonight. I expected him to do a a complete disection of Brown. He was notably respectful and polite. Good God I hope the thought police haven’t got to him as well.

  4. ” Isn’t it great being one of the people?” – Youbetcha!

    Communication, communication, communication.

    The more we talk, the more we share, the less they are able to hide. People, ‘the people’ are social creatures and we’ve been kept ignorant and divided deliberately for far too long. The establishment others and divides society along lines of their choosing. They make us mistrust each other, care less about the lot of the other guy and look to ourselves.

    Its why the YES movement scares the bejeezus out of them, because it does cross all the social boundaries and focusses peoples attention on the real causes of our ills – the establishment.

    We care about the ‘other’ person. We care about our communities and our direction of governance from how it affects the poorest in our society on up and that’s the difference. When you’re switched on, aware and willing to choose, then they are afraid for their cosy wee hegemony.

  5. Yes, it is great. Thanks Derek for a really uplifting piece.

  6. First Class Derek , I think their is a real hunger for change and people are really tired of tripe that comes from the parties in west minster, We should have done the same as Iceland and jailed some of the bankers
    This New movement is like a woman giving birth once the waters break their will be no stopping it .I want to see it nurtured and grow in strength so that people again can believe in something. it will give the ordinary people a new set of heart and lungs and make them matter again

  7. Great commentary, Derek, we really need this kind of analysis & connection with other movements, given the craven fawning by media – including people who one expects to know better – over the talisman figure of Brown.

  8. The world is still suffering from Reagan and Thatcher’s voodoo economics where trickle down was turned into hoover up and the rich got filthy richer…
    As for “Yes, even Gordon Brown – enter the arena to change the world” I think you can exclude people like Murphy who clearly are in it for self advancement alone.
    Thatcher’s grand children having been weened on the TINA principle,now don’t understand this democracy thing and what do people have to do with it anyway.
    Left to the political elite in their ivory towers,nothing will change because they don’t know how to.
    Austerity,at least in the UK,was designed to produce a low wage economy emulating that of the USA,where people are only a pay check away from destitution and poverty and the wealth of the nation becomes concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people.
    We need another social revolution to redress the balance and with luck,we will start to see the fruits of the Yes campaign in the near future.
    Thanks Derek…great stuff again.

  9. Steve Asaneilean

    Super piece again Derek. And, yes, it is great being “one of the people”.

    You are also right about the Tories. They make no bones about it – politics of the rich, for the rich, by the rich. We may abhor it but at least with them you know where they stand and for that alone they are due some grudging respect.

    But Labour? They just blow with the wind. They are quite happy to put Party and career self-interest ahead of “the people”. They tell us what they think we want to hear but when we tell them we want to hear something different they tell us that instead, without realising that if a leopard changes its spots and the only viable option is stripes, then no-one is going to believe it’s a leopard anymore.

    When you know Blair is worth anywhere between £20 and £100 million; when you learn that Darling gets paid £10,000 a pop for giving a talk; when you see everyone of Blair’s Government lapping it up and living a life of luxury, in the Commons, the Lords or as a director of this and that – then you know that the Labour game is up and that they sold their collective souls to Auld Nick a long time ago.

    Labour long since gave up on the notions of socialism, equality, truth, honesty and fairness and the sooner “we the peope” all realise that the quicker we can move on to the next chapter.

  10. Difficult for them now to refers to us as parochial and separatists, cut off from the world, when what we strive for is now linked to many other movements across Europe. We are part of the new world, of the future. The cast (like that description of them) is broken, shattered, and it is up to us to pick up the pieces and reshape the country and world we live in.

  11. This is why i come to this site Derek. Outstanding sir.

    You are a writer who gets the right words out. This piece gives us hope that it’s not just Scotland fighting the establishment , but all over Europe too. Better Together will cost the Labour party everything and to be honest now, if they promised a mandate for true home rule , would you believe them ? Would you trust Murphy, Dug et al , to deliver anything ?

    Being part of the YES movement was an uplifting and at times , spiritual feeling and gave me hope in my fellow Scots. After the loss we stayed strong and knew we had caused a few ripples and May will be almost as good as winning independence.

    We , the people , know it’s time for a drastic change. Everywhere people are still talking politics and the drive and determination in folk seems even stronger than last September. It’s good to be alive in Scotland . Right now the stuff we do is as important as any other time in our history. We never really lost Derek. We had a few who were not quite sure and they were mostly the elderly and well off.

    We lost the battle. not the war. 🙂

    Googled this page off to many friends . No doubt see it on Facetube. and anywhere else folk go for an online read. You speak for us all Derek. Brilliant work. Thank you.

    P S…………. great comments too folks. Lot of clever buggers on this blog D


  12. It’s worth remembering that there is an uprising of feelings against elites not just in Europe but worldwide, albeit with apparently different ideas on political ideology, from the Arab Spring to the democracy movement in Hong Kong, the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan and the constitutionalists in the USA (including, yes, the Tea Party).

  13. Good hard-hitting article once again, Derek. I now await the political commentators, journalists and TV presenters of political programmes, grilling Brown and Murphy on their previous claims that Smith had delivered either “almost federalism” or “home rule”, when they are now offering The Vow Plus. Somehow I think I’ll be waiting for quite a long time.

  14. Got my popcorn out.

    These next two months are going to be fun.

    Great article – Derek. A storm is coming…

  15. I’ve shared this. Everyone should. Not enough see the bigger picture.

  16. Perhaps we are seeing, finally, a modern Chartist movement.
    Whilst this was a mainly English phenomenon in the 1840s, and we have had moments where mass movements emerged, they have always subsided. But in the past, we never had the methods of mass communication of ideas etc we do now.
    The internet revolution may well beget an actual democratic revolution. ‘Tis to be hoped.

  17. Interesting analysis by Vincente Navarro. Thanks for posting about it. The new Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, has his own blog with comments on the state we’re in too. Things are moving very fast now and the YES movement hasn’t lost momentum. I credit the internet and commentary such as you provide for this new attitude. Democracy in the UK and Europe certainly needs a complete overhaul but we are on our way!

  18. Great article, Derek, as usual. But just a point from someone living in Cataluña.

    Podemos is the only answer to the Spanish elite, but careful! They may be “breaking with the vision of Spain as a uni-national state” but they are actively opposed to Catalan independence and are basically Spanish nationalists, with hearts in Madrid.

    In its way, Catalan nationalism was the first Podemos, the first and still the biggest people’s movement for change in Spain, but it is now competing with Podemos for popular support. Podemos even slates Catalan independence leader Mas as “casta” because he’s from a right-wing party, and it has joined moves to have him prosecuted.

    Just wish things were as simple as Navarro seems to think.

  19. Podemos is, as your last poster says, a party which does not actively support Catalan independence, although they do support the right of nations within Spain to decide their form of governance. The major base of their support comes as a result of their opposition to corruption. The charges of corruption which Jordi Pujol, the former leader of one of the moderately nationalist Catalan parties, suggest that they are quite correct to regard these leaders as part of ‘la casta’. Podemos has arisen from the similar circumstances to that which led to support to the YES vote, but the differences between Podemos and YES are much greater than Navarro suggests here. Although Podemos is also on good terms with Syriza in Greece, there are also political differences as well. These new political parties/movements may have arisen in response to the same overall crisis but they are definitely not clones of one another.

  20. Fantastic piece as always but I have a bee in my bonnet at the moment. Why do we keep referring to THEM as Elite’s and discussing ‘those at the top’ meaning the rest of us are at the bottom.

    Definition of Elite- ‘A select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society’- Are they really?

    I think our rhetoric feeds into their feeling of superiority and I also think it speaks volumes about the way we still think and feel about the hierarchy in British Society. We are perpetuating it by our language. Can we maybe find a different term to use for them?. I hope I don’t sound like a pedant but I see this term so often and it really sticks in my throat!!!!

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