2016 was the worst, so the meme goes. So many deaths, so much political upheaval, so many things that just went wrong. My 2016 was not unlike any of the other 32 years of my life so far: good things happened, bad things happened, some great, some terrible. But there’s always something I remember each year.
So, as with last year, I’ll look back on the top posts of this year – 16 this time, in order of publication, while linking to some of my personal favourite posts.
24th March – It’s Always Blackest Before the Dawn. It took a while for me to get into 2016: though I had a few popular posts like January’s Questions for Yes Voters in Unionist Parties and February’s Whom The Gods Would Destroy They First Make Mad, it took until March for me to get into gear. It’s natural that the 24th would be particularly bittersweet, as it should have been Scotland’s Independence Day. By the end of the year, it seems less like the day was cancelled – more like postponed. Schrödinger’s Lion is still in the box.
28th March – Think of the Children. I have a bit of a hair trigger when it comes to discussion on child safety, and the manufactured – for make no mistake, for a great many individuals involved, it is indeed manufactured – outrage over the Named Person legislation is something I find extremely difficult to tolerate. One of my fears – which is looking rather less outlandish given recent revelations – for the Scottish Elections would be that, through the jeukerie-pawkerie of the Additional Member System, there would be just enough of the British parties to form an unholy UK Alliance to keep the SNP out, and not just destroy hope of indyref2, but the rollback of several flagship policies which have made demonstrable positive changes. The Greens have a lot of responsibility right now, and I really hope our faith in them is well-placed.
30th March – The Sovereign Will. Why is it when British Nationalists speak of respecting the Sovereign Will of the Scottish People, it is only ever in reference to the 2014 referendum? Why do they never demand that the Scottish People’s representatives be respected at Westminster? Why are they not shouting from the rooftops about the Sovereign Will when it came to the European Referendum? It’s simple – they don’t really believe in the Sovereign Will. They only use it as a handy democratic smokescreen to legitimise their own unpopular opinion – that Scottish interests must always be subordinate to British interests.
1st April – EXCLUSIVE: Leaked First Chapter of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I don’t really know how much of this is from people who are sadly disappointed I did not actually have a leaked copy of the book, or people who are in on the joke. I don’t know if I want to know. I am, however, crushed that this has more views than any of my “Heroes” epics, which I almost want to turn into a comic series. Once I’m finished Bannockburn. And Monsters. And The Savage Cross of Saint Andrew. And… all those other comics I’ve been meaning to do.
29th June – Metamorphosis & Ecdysis. I published a lot of posts in April & May, all heavily focused on the Scottish Elections and EU referendum. The fallout of the 24th of June hit us like a juggernaut. Yet what amazed me was the sense that so many in Scotland forget – we won the EU referendum. Leave supporters pretend that the SNP were on “the losing side,” yet that only works if you think of the referendum on UK grounds. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t think that way. The SNP didn’t campaign in England or Wales or Northern Ireland short of a few media appearances. The Scottish Government and the SNP stuck to Scotland. And, despite spending less on it than a by-election, and despite the carping of people who were supposed to be on our side, we won in Scotland. That’s more than the other parties can say for England & Wales, both of which they rule – for now.
19th July – The Phoney Union. There is no Union. The Union of the Crowns, the Act of Union, all fictions designed to cloud the real nations of these isles from the takeover of the Elite from the people. The United Kingdom pretends it is both a country, and a country of countries, without acknowledging the inherent contradiction of that situation. When people talk about the EU, they don’t talk about “the country.” When people talk about America, they don’t refer to the individual states as nations. The reason the UK is unique as a union of equals” is because it isn’t real. It’s a fiction. It’s phoney. The UK considers itself to be a country, and Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland to be regions within that country. They may say otherwise, but in practise, in deed, the truth is clear. (July also saw the publication of my first post on Wings Over Scotland, which led to my blog being included on the Scottish Politics Links sidebar, an honour which I’m still giddy over)
25th August – The Price of Independence, and the Value of Independence. “But how can we afford it?” “But what about the deficit?” “But who will pay for it all?” Imagine the citizens of any other country on earth asking if they can afford to be a country. Imagine people in Gambia, Laos, Grenada, Georgia, Albania, openly discussing whether it’s a better idea for them to just let themselves become a region in a larger country, to give up their passwords, top level domains, anthems, teams, flags, recognition as a nation. Yet here we are, where a constitutional question is dominated by whether we can “afford” control over our own destinies. Ask the prisoner if he can “afford” freedom. Ask the man lost in the desert if he can “afford” water. Ask the dying man if he can “afford” life-saving medication. This is why no nation which has gained its independence from the UK has ever crawled back willingly – because sometimes, what you give away isn’t worth all the money in the world.
3rd September – The Why of No. I’ve been out and about, canvassing, leafleting, talking with all sorts of people throughout Inverclyde. And while it’s obvious to point out that winning people over from No to Yes will obviously increase the Yes vote, it’s important to know where people are coming from. The Adam Tomkinses of the world would love us all to think that every single one of the 2 million people who voted No were all as dedicated to the United Kingdom as he evidently is, but we know from so many polls that the Never voters are simply not that numerous. A great number of people who voted No in 2014 are, thus, open to persuasion – and we already know a number of them have switched. This is contrasted with, perhaps, those EU skeptics whose hatred for the EU outweighed their love of the UK, and thus voted Yes in 2014 through a belief that this would take Scotland out the EU. They may have been sympathetic to an independent Scotland, or they may simply not have cared, so long as they were out of the EU: whatever the case, I think they are likely a significant percentage of the Yes-to-Nos we’re seeing in polls.
9th September – Sense & Sovereignty. What should kill the idiotic “2 million voted No, only 1.6 million voted Remain, ergo No Trumps Remain” meme is the fact that literally tens of thousands of Scots who voted in the indyref were not allowed to vote in the EUref, thus rendering the two franchises incomparable from the very start. Yet so eager are all the British parties to swallow this line and regurgitate it, they don’t realise how they are alienating a significant proportion of those 2 million No voters they claim to represent. In their desire for “unity” following a referendum campaign that was gerrymandered for maximum division, they are capitulating to an extreme minority who are using a slim majority as a bludgeon – just like in the referendum, where the 55% recorded in the official result was used to justify the mockery of democratic engagement that was the Smith Commission and Scotland Bill 2016.
20th September – The Great Indyref2 Conundrum. The British Parties seem to be demanding the SNP “get on with it” and announce indyref2, yet at the same time demand it be “put off the table for a generation/lifetime/forever.” What do they want? Do they want indyref2 now, or in a generation? Do they want it off the table, or do they want it right now? This was exactly what they did all throughout the first SNP minority administration, you’ll note, where all the stories about Alex Salmond “bottling it,” “kicking it into the long grass,” and “appeasing his fanatical party membership” have been dusted off for Nicola Sturgeon. Methinks they’ve been listening to John McTernan too much.
28th September – Impireachd nan Gàidheal. I’m still a neophyte when it comes to Gaelic, about the Dotaman level. Like Mr Kavanagh, I’m more of a vocabulary guy than a conversation guy. It perplexes me how defensive some folk get about Gaelic, but then, language is a funny thing. If nothing else, I hate to see languages die out, and many of Scotland’s already have – Pictish, Cumbric, Galwegian, Norn. Others might not be so sentimental about languages (casts a wee side-eye), but I am.
3rd October – Some Partnerships Are More Equal Than Others. In which I got David Torrance to (partially) admit he was (partially) wrong. While I think the thing he was wrong about kind of undermines the entire article, it was an interesting turnup for the books. (An expanded, and infinitely snarkier, version of this post was my first publication on indyref2.scot)
21st October – The Breaking of Britain, the Making of England, the Awakening of Wales. This is why I remain ever hopeful for the other nations of the UK: maybe this, maybe this, will get the people of England & Wales back on track. Just as I felt a silver lining of the 2014 result was that we could now compare what happened the last time this happened, I think the silver lining of the Leave vote is that the people of England & Wales can directly compare and contrast their countries as they were in the EU, and out of it – and, pointedly, under the present UK government.
15th November – Cresting the Rising Tide, also published on Wings Over Scotland, and by far the most-read article for this year. Definitely the toughest blog post I’ve ever written, because it’s very personal. You might remember a while back there was some controversy over a blog I used to write for. I did a lot of work for that site, and I’m still immensely proud of that work. I also bought the complete collection of the print journal, which cost hundreds of pounds. And, to be frank, I’d known that the editor’s politics were not ones I share by any means for a long time, as evidenced by that time I naively attempted to speak up for him. I didn’t realise just how far his politics took him until his 2015 revamp, which tied him to the “Alt Right” movement, and thus to Donald Trump. This ties me to the “Alt Right” movement – and it’s not something I’m particularly happy about, because regardless of your personal politics, you shouldn’t have to ask someone not to make statements of support on your behalf. So, lessons learned.
20th November – The Boy Who Cried Fascist. Yet as someone who supports independence, I recognise that many, probably the vast majority, of people who voted Leave, or for Donald Trump, are not fanatics, or extremists, or mad. They, like the majority of people who voted No, are just people, voting for what they felt was the best. The problem is those who would take advantage of those people, to use the majorities (or electoral college rules) to manufacture consent for policies that don’t exist. And when the opposition is as pathetic as ours in the UK is, it’s no wonder that when the real beginnings of fascism come, nobody knows quite what to do.
9th December – Believing in Independence. If you believe an independent Scotland should be out of the EU, then you have to believe in an independent Scotland first. I’m perfectly comfortable with the notion of an independent Scotland outside the EU, if that’s what the people of Scotland want. But the people of Scotland didn’t want Scotland out of the EU while it was part of the UK, and now, they’re being forced to square the circle.
I don’t blame those who look at 2016 with resentment, and relief that the year is over. For me, there was a lot to be thankful for, a lot of joy, and a lot of hope. 2016 confirmed what I felt in 2014: we’re living in truly interesting times. The winds of history are buffeting us about the time tunnel. For better or worse, changes are happening, and we’re going to be part of it. The end of history never came, not through the dissolution of the Soviet Union, nor through the end of the British Empire; and certainly not any of the other supposedly history-ending events. These years may not be golden, but they surely are not wasted.
Don’t waste your time always searching for those wasted years,
Face up… make your stand,
And realize you’re living in the golden years…