Today is the 1st anniversary of the day when Scotland would have officially returned to its rightful state as an independent sovereign nation, had September 2014’s referendum seen a Yes vote prevail. In four days time the devolved limited power Scottish Parliament at Holyrood will vote to seek authority from a belligerent Big Sister to commence a further referendum in a much changed landscape, facing challenges which did not exist last time, and hoping to exploit opportunities which have presented themselves this time. Interesting times indeed.
Since 2012/2013 as a movement for progressive change for Scotland,many of us very new to an interest in politics beyond the level of goodwill to our fellow citizens, decency and humanity, and a commitment to the way we want to live, and treat, and be treated by, others, have learnt a lot, and quickly, about subjects we either knew about only vaguely or not at all.
We all now know about GERS and why it was designed as it is, the suppression of the McCrone Report, Norway’s oil fund, The Barnett Formula, Scotland’s oversubscription to the London Treasury for many of the last 40 years, the potential of Scotland’s renewable energy technology, it’s food and drink sector, and tourism, the Vow, the Smith Commission, the 1979 Devolution Referendum debacle as a late amendment to the Scotland Act meant the Yes win was invalid due to the fact that the winning campaign hadn’t received 40% of the total electorate’s votes, including those on the electoral roll that had passed away, (effectively the dead counting as No votes) all of that and much more.
We all learned the hard way about Project Fear and the power the British State has in influencing its citizens. Something many of us hadn’t even thought about up until the last few years when the veil has dropped under threat from a break away Scotland, clearly heading along a separate path to the increasingly rightwing government in the south. We’re ready for them this time.
I had a discussion with some friends in the south of England last week who had a gripe that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ‘ranting’ about independence was terribly badly timed. Their view being that Scotland should shut up until Brexit is over with. Then a couple of years after that if we still want to agitate for a referendum London should grant us the right to do so.
They had no concept of Scottish politics other than what they see on the south of England’s news and read in the triumvirate of hate ( the Mail, Express and Telegraph). They are used to sound bytes of Theresa May saying Scotland is putting the precious Union in danger, supported by clips of Scottish unionist acolytes saying how obsessed Nicola Sturgeon is with independence, and the odd carefully selected half comment without context from someone in the SNP to prove we’re all screaming blue-painted loonies.
I explained the democratic argument, I don’t think they were even aware that the three UK mainstream parties only have one MP each in Scotland. I described all of the efforts that the Scottish government have gone to to compromise on Brexit, the proposal document, the fact that the proposed timescale is based on Theresa May’s own schedule.
I put them right on the reality that the only politicians in Scotland who have been ranting about independence over the last two years ( Nicola Sturgeon having only really brought the subject up as a definite proposal in the last two weeks) are Hawdit, Dawdit, Noddit and Wee Wullie Rennie (the Tories man in Scotland and the three Holyrood amigos of unionism, all of whom have gone on incessantly to an almost obsessive level about one track minded SNP, get on with your day job Nicola.
They knew nothing about any of this. I let them know that all we want is balance, fairness, and the opportunity to allow Scottish voters to be able to make an informed choice when considering the position of sovereignty. My mate finished up the conversation by saying to me ” So you are not just racists who hate English people then? He laughed, and I did, both of us knowing he was just winding me up. They got the point I was making though.
Closer to home these are the kinds of conversations we are going to have to have with our fellow Scots. I’m sure there is a lot of background work on the go, and preparations being made by the experts, which will soon provide us with detail on the answers to the questions on currency, pensions etc, all of the stuff that was demanded of us before, proposals and solutions we will need to communicate well, because this thing is going to be won by face to face engagement of a patient, respectful nature, taking account of, and addressing, concerns.
Going back to the last time, the man responsible for much of Project Fear in 2014,Blair McDougall, has admitted that No probably would have lost the referendum if it hadn’t been for two factors, Project Fear and the fact that the Yes campaign spent too much time talking to itself rather than to our fellow Scots who we needed to convince.
Project Fear won’t cut the mustard this time. The shoe is in the other foot when it comes to worry and uncertainty. We’ll take full advantage of that when the time comes. As to the other factor he refers to we can’t afford to spend our campaign just reinforcing our own opinions in the echo chambers of closed social media forums. If we do we are wasting time and energy. I don’t think we will. The stakes are too high.
We are going to get there this time. Independence is coming.