After a two year long referendum, a General Election campaign, a Scottish Parliament Election, another referendum generated by right wing Daily Mail readers about xenophobia and economic suicide, and yet another General Election, I remain what the mainstream and right wing UK media, and certain well known Scottish entrepreneurs and writers of children’s fiction, continue to describe as a “Vile Cybernat”.
There are many thousands of us about, and despite the recent crowning ceremony of Colonel Ruthie, Queen of Scots, by the BBC, in denial of the very basics of how democracy works, we continue to flourish and grow in number, in Scotland and, like myself in support of an Independent Scotland, further afield.
The media still will have you believe at any opportunity that we agitators are snarling salivating saltire waving, blue painted faced nationalists in kilts, who have a strong distrust and suspicion of English people, to the point of hatred, and a “Braveheart” fetish. We are vividly portrayed as bully boys, and girls, who can’t accept, or understand, that anyone else is entitled to another point of view.
In the real world in 2017, as it was in 2014, all of that is complete spin and false fantasy. Personally, although I will freely admit to the odd emotional sniffle at the New Year listening to the haunting lament of the Pipes, or Dougie MacLean’s Caledonia, whilst the better for drink, I am by no means a jingoistic flag waver of any great distinction, being firmly an internationalist and a citizen of the world.
I love being Scottish, with our marvellous self-deprecating humour, our sense of community, our heritage, our culture and our survival instinct. It is part of me, of my identity, it is who I am, but it doesn’t make me feel that I am superior to anyone else who is not Scottish. I am no ranting fanatic. I just want the people of Scotland to have the same rights as every other democratic country in the world.
As for being a nationalist, well, in the negative dictionary sense I’m not one of those either. There is a distinct difference between the civic socially responsible nationalism with a small “n” being applied in Scotland and the sinister ethnic version the media continue to try sare to portray of the Scottish National Party, and by very tenuous association, the non-party aligned eclectic mix of mostly left-wing political groups (RIC, Women for Indy, The Common Weal et al) who were, and are, advocates of self-determination for Scots.
The “Ye cannae eat a flag” argument put up to suggest that the agenda of Scots in favour of Independence is all about kilts, bagpipes and the Jacobite Rebellion is puerile and almost as far away from reality as it is possible to be. (Slightly off topic Owen Jones, darling of the new new New Old Labour Corbynite left has been a very big disappointment in the last couple of weeks spouting newfound ignorance about the political arm of the Scottish independence movement).
To be crystal clear (like Kezia Dugdale after consuming too many E numbers) during the course of the 2014 Scottish Referendum. the 2015 and 2017 UK General Election campaigns, and most obviously, during the Brexit Referendum, the only nationalism clearly demonstrated, and on display ,has been of the right wing unhealthy British variety, and the clinging on to one of the last elements of a long gone empire, overconfidence. All of the Better Together nonsense of 2014 about loving Scotland, falsehood which was firmly knocked on the head on the morning of 19th September 2014 in David Cameron’s first speech after the successful no vote has clearly been shown up to be simply about power and using Scotland’s resources and strategic position with regards to defence to retain power in the 21st century. This has been amply demonstrated too by Cameron’s successor as the Brexit debacle unfolds. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union, yet every attempt by the Scottish government to protect that democratic decision has been met with arrogant intransigence. We’ve been subject to a pantomime of disrespect…….
…..Westminster can we please have our decision respected, with the UK’s final bargaining position reflecting this? No
Ok, can you keep us in the loop then, and consider our views during your preparations towards achieving a bargaining strategy, apart from just the tick box photo opportunity of occasional meetings with devolved governments? No.
Ok, can you give us the okay to bargain with the EU ourselves then? No
We’ve prepared a document of proposals that we think will help the UK as a whole to avoid the economic car crash of a hard Brexit and also protect the decision made by the people of Scotland. Would you like to consider it and adopt these and incorporate it into any decision making on the UK bargaining position? No,
You’ve triggered the process for the UK to leave the EU without considering us at all, apart from how you can use our resources and some of our valued residents as bargaining chips. We have democratically decided through a vote in our parliament to seek that you allow the people of Scotland to have an opportunity to decide, before you actually take us out of Europe against our will, whether we want to follow your Brexit path to isolation or to govern ourselves and seek a continuance of our current relationship with the EU. Can you please give us your permission to do so? No.
You told us now was not the time for a referendum, even though we made it clear we don’t want one now anyway, but at a point in time in the future when the results of your negotiations with the EU are known, citing your opinion that asking voters to go to the ballot boxes would be disruptive and destabilising at a time when you think we need strong and stable leadership. Then you called an opportunistic General Election yourself which ended in a disastrous hung parliament forcing you to get into bed with fringe extremists to retain power. We can see that your power is dwindling, and that we too lost some ground in the polls, so we’ve considered the views of voters and will reset our timescale for seeking a choice for the people of Scotland, taking the immediate heat out of one problem for you, temporarily. Instead we will concentrate on trying to sort out your mess, seeking a compromise with the EU which won’t result in an economic nightmare for Scotland and the whole of the UK. Are you ok with that? No, all you talk about is independence.
It’s as simple as this, without Scotland the remaining United Kingdom is weakened, diminished. To the British State it is imperative that we do not leave them.
In order to protect their power a continuous stream of negative, offensive and false messages about the intent of those who promote the cause of Scottish Independence are spewed out to the people of Scotland at every possible opportunity. Sensational headlines appear any time that they can ram it home by magnifying situations where a crank historian accuses Scotland’s government of being akin to Nazis or a well-connected landowner compares the First Minister to Robert Mugabe, or a fringe extremist abuses a celebrity on social media. I look at the Scottish Daily Express site most days just to count how many of the first six headlines involve the words Sturgeon, SNP, and a combination of capitalised words like “FURY” or, “BLOW TO’ or “HUMILIATION”. Usually it numbers between four and five of the headlines.
Divisively, and whenever it suits a Unionist agenda, the media also subjects Scotland’s neighbours south of the border to the same rubbish. Many of us have encountered , and still encounter, over the last few years situations where a loved one, friend or relative from somewhere in the rest of the UK has made it known that they are fed up hearing about the Scots and they don’t know why the Westminster government pander to us. The reason for this type of comment is clear. Most of them don’t follow politics, why should they, almost everybody doesn’t, and all they ever hear about Scotland in the media is this negative spiteful propaganda.
Why would they then think any different? They are not getting access to a balanced picture. Distrust and disgruntlement is being manufactured and encouraged between the peoples of the Britain who have longstanding close knit relationships, and in reality have no qualms about each other’s views, by the establishment groups who hold the power of the State.
As for the much referenced, to deliberately marginalise the grassroots independence movement, ‘Braveheart’, the only “Frrrrreeeddooomm” I want to see for the people of Scotland is freedom from the likes of the Bedroom Tax and the Rape Clause, freedom from private sector fit for work assessments designed to raise Lazarus from the grave, freedom for mothers to stop having to queue up at Food-banks to feed their weans, freedom to be able to get ill without worrying themselves to death that their sickness pay or benefits are going to stop because they can’t work, freedom to have choices and opportunities to improve the lives of their children, their education, their health, their employment prospects, and freedom for Scots to be able, at last, to have real influence in making a democratic choice of government which, every single time, will represent their views and aspirations for the future.
When the likes of Theresa May or Philip Hammond,from their lofty towers, can sit and laugh and cheer at the defeat of a motion in parliament to increase public sector pay, the wages of health workers, of paramedics, of the police, of firemen and women, of vital workers in society, in the weeks after the horror of Grenfell Tower and the acts of terrorism around England, having only survived in government by bribing a dubious fringe political party with one and a half billion pounds of public money for their province, money which apparently doesn’t exist for areas like the NHS and the public sector, but money than can suddenly be found to ensure their own power, not to mention £370 million that can be found to replumb the residence of one of the richest families in the country, there is something deeply flawed and fundamentally wrong with the way government works in the UK.
With regards to opposing opinions on Scotland’s Independence everybody who is Scottish is entitled to their own view, one way or the other, and is capable of making their own mind up. I fully respect the opposite view to mine. When you read some of the threads on social media debating the various aspects of either side of the self-determination debate it’s often quite disappointing to see the level of anger and bile that is generated from fringe fanatics in both camps. It still appears that some of these individuals cannot take part in a debate on the issues without the discussion becoming ad hominem in nature. I would stress though that these people are a very small minority.
A difference of opinion does not constitute a reason to fall out with someone or lose a friendship. At the end of the day, there are different ways of looking at an issue but everybody with an opinion, although we may disagree with that opinion, is trying to do what they think is best for their Scotland. There can be no disagreement about that. All we can hope for is that an opinion is informed and based on facts.
I am convinced that by Informing and sharing knowledge of the realities of the relationship of the Union partnership with more of our countryfolk, and providing a vision of what self-government can achieve, we will in the end ensure that Scotland becomes an independent nation. The case will become compelling.
I think that more and more Scots will start to see that it is time to change a society which since at least 1979 has been based on greed, selfishness and the ability to get ahead of everybody else, to the detriment of others, the “ME” society.
This recent rebalance of Scottish politics after the one-off SNP surge of 2015 in reaction to Westminster’s broken promises, allowing the media to portray Ruth Davidson as the second coming, will pass. The First Minister of Scotland took the sting right out of the Scottish Tory tail and their rhetoric, the no policies apart from an anti-independence strategy, by setting the immediate plans for legislation on an independence referendum to one side, for the moment. The Scottish accented Tory cheerleader group at Westminster, and their Secretary of State Against Scotland, will need to come up with something else now, and as we saw this week they have already started badly, by not standing up for Scotland in the debate over the DUP receiving a huge bung to keep the Tories afloat.
As time moves on, and the incompetence and corruption of what passes for government at Westminster moves fully into the spotlight, more Scots will see that it is time to work to create a mature self governing nation committed to looking after everybody in it, using the wealth that Scotland undoubtedly has towards that aim. They’ll see that this is what a civilised country should be striving for, not obscene wealth for the few, glory, and the perpetuation of a once global power which is now irrelevant. Brexit will be that spotlight.
To the Unionist and right wing media moguls in London I would say this, enough with the marginalisation and belittling of a nation’s aspirations to govern itself, enough with the stirring up of division between neighbours, enough with the horrible false comparisons to fascist dictatorships, enough with the xenophobia. Learn from the disaster you have created over Europe.
If you want to debate the pros and cons of the possible future impacts of Scotland governing itself, or having full control of its financial destiny, do so honourably. Don’t dwell in falsehood. Challenge the Scottish social democratic viewpoint on social policy, membership of the EU, renewable energy, finance , commerce, strategies for economic growth, constitutional issues and more, if you think you can, but do so pragmatically, not with off-the-wall scary fear tactics. Defend your austerity measures. Let us hear why it is okay in a resource rich first world country in 2017 that mothers must queue for handouts to feed their children. Why a woman would have to relive a horrific and traumatic nightmare in order to receive a few quid benefits a week. Let’s have some honest engagement.
Let there be a frank and open discussion. But before doing so you’d better make sure that the right wing political party who have a slim grip at Westminster, whom you back so firmly, and their parliamentary colleagues across the floor( don’t expect Corbyn to be much better, a left wing putsch leading us all back to a land of post-war style social change is not on the cards, his party having voted for many of the Tory austerity cuts that are still to be implemented) have some policies worth arguing for first, and in Labour’s case, some which the SNP haven’t implemented already, or don’t even bother. The clock is still very much ticking down to an inevitable constitutional crunch, despite what the media tell you, and when the time is right Project Fear won’t win you the argument this time.
Nicola Sturgeon sounded the horn in her statement in parliament this week that it is time for the Yes movement, wide and diverse as it is, to remobilise, refocus, and get started on the work of growing the case for an independent Scotland. Overcoming false propaganda will be one element of that, debunking negative scare stories.
This will require organisation, the more wider spread building of depth in factual knowledge and context, the development of a strategy to build the skills to communicate all of this, and a structure. It is undoubtedly time for us to get moving.
Give us the tools, send us the right messages. We will deliver independence.