It seems all of a sudden, the world has noticed us. The news has been near constant in its appraisals and comments on the referendum. A single YouGov poll showing the merest of Yes leads – a mere 51% – has thrown the entire United Kingdom upside down. The masters of the three Westminster parties have marshalled their forces and flown to Scotland. The Big Beasts of Labour have risen to shake their awful manes at the calling of the Establishment. Heralds have been sent to the Tory Elders of the Shires to mobilize. The UKIP contingent are consolidating their power as the Orange Order prepares the greatest march in the group’s history. All to stop the Scots from voting for independence.
The fearmongering has failed to stop the growth of the Yes movement. The bargaining has failed to sway the reluctant. The lies have failed to obscure the truth.
September falls roughly between two important Gaelic harvest festivals: Lughnasadh, the beginning of the harvest, and Samhain, the end of harvest and beginning of the “dark half” of the year. It is a time of change – historically, culturally, and climatically. People prepare for change in September.
Across the water from my home dwells a sleeping giant. Such slumbering titans are common in world mythology: given humanity’s penchant for pareidolia, it’s natural such breathtaking views as the Firth of Clyde would transform the hills of Argyll into a great green-breasted goliath. Giants abound in Scottish mythology: Benandonner was the most infamous, as the destroyer of the Giant’s Causeway and rival to the Irish giant-hero Finn McCool; the descendants of Beira in the story of Finlay and the Giants; the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui. Many locations in Scotland are associated with giants – the Giant’s Cave of Tail Burn; the Giant’s Cairns at Old Deer; the Giant’s Chair at Dullane Water; the Giant’s Dyke hill fort at Tonlgnad; the many Giant’s Graves of Shetland, Colonsay, Argyll, and Perthshire; the Giant’s Leg of Bressay Island; and the Giant’s Steps of Pitlochry.
But the giant which must be woken from its dreams in September is not a mythological creature – it is the power and will of the people of Scotland, whose voice has been stifled for too long.
Your metal soundtrack for the post is provided by Iron Maiden
To anyone who’s only just becoming involved in the campaign for Scottish Independence, it can be extremely difficult for longtime campaigners, or even folk like me (I only really started campaigning properly about the time the referendum was announced), to elucidate to complete newcomers exactly what it’s all about. There’s just so much to say! Democracy, accountability, equality, social justice, environmentalism, identity, anything and everything. It’s particularly difficult when undecideds bring up the “big issues” as dictated to them by the UK establishment: what currency will we use? What about our pensions? What about jobs? All things you’ll read in Better Together literature.
So I got this through the door yesterday. Crumpled, bashed, rudely handled, I dared to imagine the courier: an angry youth? An impatient jobseeker? A Liverpudlian bussed up courtesy of Anas Sarwar? Whoever it was, they didn’t seem to care if it got battered about.*
As with Alistair Darling’s visit, it’s one thing for you to see this on the television or the internet, even out on posters and billboards on the road to Glasgow. But to have this in your home, intruding on your personal space… Well, how best to explain to people who have no idea of anything about the referendum exactly why my immediate reaction was to wonder what the most insulting origami creature I could make from the leaflet? Their nonsense has been discredited hundreds of times by now, by the indefatigable Wings Over Scotland, NewsNet Scotland, Bella Caledonia, National Collective, Craig Murray, Derek Bateman, Paul Kavanagh… really, too many to list. Then I thought: this leaflet may well encapsulate everything wrong about Better Together for me. To my utter amazement, I believe a case could be made that every single statement in this leaflet is wrong. But it more than just wrong, as in inaccurate or in error – it is a lie. It is deliberate. It is concerted.
I know, I know, how could that possibly be true? Even the most fraudulent of politicians have some sort of basis in truth, don’t they? Surely the entire Better Together campaign has something going for it, some genuine points in favour of the Union? It seems completely irrational that the side which is still currently ahead in most polls is so tenuously gossamer-thin. Yet as far as I’m concerned, it is.
So I’ve decided all I can do now, after years of explaining, is to be perfectly and utterly blunt. I will go through this leaflet, and explain why everything in it is not only incorrect, but dishonest, and be as concise and uncompromising as possible.
PEOPLE OF SCOTLAND – THEY ARE LYING TO YOU.
When I started out on this political-ish blog, I tended to average half a dozen or so viewers. I was very happy to have those regular readers, especially so early on.
My best post in terms of viewership was a wee while back, when a Facebook share brought 187 viewers. No bad, thought I: I didn’t expect them to stick around long, but my average went up to a dozen or thereabouts.
Monday’s when it all changed. Shares on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit brought 1,771 new visitors to the site. Jings, thought I: I dearly hope I can keep enough interested readers to stay for a while, maybe even a few dozen regular commentators.
On Tuesday, I was at the Yes Inverclyde Shop from 12 to 10, helping those last unregistered voters get on the electoral role (and trust me, there’s more on that to come). So I couldn’t check to see if my latest blog post on Alistair Darling’s trip to the Beacon had more success.
That’s 24,884 people. From all across the UK – all across the world, for that matter. They came here. To read my wee blog.
Why this particular blog, I have no idea: I didn’t feel any different writing it, and I don’t know whose eye I caught. But regardless of why and how, I thank you, one and all, most sincerely, for coming by and reading – even those who disagree with what I say. I couldn’t have dreamed for such a viewership, and I shall endeavour to make my blog worth returning to: my misadventures in Yes campaigning, my further thoughts on democracy and such.
As of right now, 20,388 more people have visited the blog. And I didn’t even think to post a funny cat picture.
(Fair warning, this is the angriest post I think I’ve done. Just so you know…)
Alistair Darling came to Greenock today. The town of my birth, where I spend many of my days, which is as familiar to me as anything I can think of. He came here, to spread his message. He came here.
He came here with his big vans. “I love my family. I’m saying No Thanks.” “I love Scotland. I’m saying No Thanks.” We love our kids. We’re saying No Thanks.” You’d be hard-pressed to write a more implicitly chilling threat. “You love Scotland, don’t you? You love your family? Then you’ll vote No, won’t you? If you love Scotland, and you love your family, then you want what’s best for them. You don’t want to see harm come to them. You don’t want something… unpleasant to happen to them. So you’ll vote No. There’s a good voter.”
It’s not an argument. It’s not even a meaningless platitude. It’s a ransom note.
Why are politicians among the few occupations you cannot have sacked for incompetence?
Just about every other profession – doctor, researcher, engineer, accountant, butcher, baker, candlestick-maker – relies upon the competence of the individual. If a doctor regularly misdiagnoses or wrongfully prescribes medication, they are struck off the register. If an engineer screws up in calculations or measurements, they’re given the heave-ho. If a candlestick-maker’s wares accidentally start an inferno, they’d likely be fired. So why is it that politicians can only be persuaded to step down when they wreak untold havoc upon communities through incompetence, corruption or sheer wrong-headedness? Why must it come to outright illegal activity before action is taken to remove them?
It’s no coincidence that another two jobs from which you seemingly cannot be terminated as a direct result of inability are journalists and bankers. And it’s no coincidence that the three occupations which seem most profoundly opposed to Scottish independence are politicians, journalists, and bankers.