No More Martyrs

(My MP Ronnie Cowan can be seen walking down the centre at about 35 seconds, while our neighbouring MP Patricia Gibson takes on conducting duties!)

Man, did this rile some people up.

These posts are not just from random, anonymous accounts with Egg avatars and single-digit followers: they are from Twitter users with thousandseven tens of thousands – of followers, some of which include MPs, MSPs, and councillors. They are from political commentators. They are from official branch & constituency accounts – from elected politicians.

I’ve written before about the subject of treason in regards to Scottish Independence, and why I utterly repudiate and condemn anyone who calls a pro-UK campaigner, supporter, or politician a traitor. They are not traitors – they are, in my estimation, the opposite of traitors. They seek to preserve the established sovereignty of the power which rules Scotland – which, right now, is not the Sovereign Scottish People, but the Sovereign UK Parliament. You may argue it is semantics – after all, pro-independence Scots believe in the sovereignty of the Scottish people, so surely those who act against those sovereigns are indeed traitors? – but I think it’s an important distinction to make.

A while back, the Washington Post published an intriguing article. I had many disagreements with it, but the last line in particular bothered me. I pondered it, as I saw all these people wishing for the deaths of our hard-won, elected representatives for singing a song:

Nationalism can emancipate or enslave; it can break the back of an empire or move the masses to great evil; it can liberate or oppress. Yet today’s Scottish nationalism can do neither. It’s not murderous like the IRA or racist like fascism; not remotely. But neither does it desire political and cultural autonomy for its own sake, as for instance the Czechs did under the Habsburg empire or as Ukrainian nationalists do now. Scotland’s is a post-national nationalism — one that cares far less about who governs than about what that governance looks like in practice. It is peaceable and beautiful in its way, but no one would die for it.

It initially sounded, to me, like the author Barton Swaim was suggesting Scottish Nationalism was somehow laissez-faire, bland, reluctant. “No one would die for it” suggested to me that Swaim felt Scottish Independence supporters were just not determined, frustrated, or provoked enough to set out for their goals. But I wondered: could it be that I’m misinterpreting the intent, and that it actually shows the strength of the movement? Not a condemnation of indy supporters’ lack of passion or effort, but a prediction – a vision that Scottish Independence, when it comes, would be won without bloodshed.

Maybe it meant, rather, “no one would have to die for it?” That’s a sentiment I share proudly.

“700 years ago, Scots fought and died for their country’s independence – on the 18th of September, all they have to do is vote.” Nobody has to die. There is no need for a Battle of the Barrowlands, a Siege of Coulport, a Harrying of Holyrood. The best memorial to those who have died for Scotland’s self-determination, from Andrew de Moray to the martyrs of the Radical War, is to ensure that there don’t need to be any more martyrs.

I’m voting Yes so that nobody will ever have to die for Scotland again.

I don’t want a civil war. I don’t want anyone, be they elected representatives or folk on the street, to die for the cause – on either side. Neither, I dare say, do the people who posted the above messages – they are the sort of craven invertebrates who froth incendiary and dangerous language, only to flee under the banner of free speech when it turns out such actions can have horrible consequences. But we cannot blame them entirely – we share part of the blame for letting this happen. For as long as we continue to let these people perpetuate such frenzied hatred without so much as a challenge, and for as long as we falsely equivocate two extremely different groups, and for as long as we stupidly let people believe that these hyper-elites somehow represent the common working folk, we will continue to be at their mercy.

We do not need the language of violence, and we will not use it.

Chris, Chichester: It is a gross act of treachery for you to now try and break up the UK. I think – I consider that you are metaphorically spitting on those graves of the brave Scottish soldiers that gave their lives for the UK.

Alex Salmond: Can I answer you in two ways: one is for my father, Chris, who unlike me or you, fought in the Second World War, and is still alive and going strong in Erskine Home for Ex-Servicemen. My father’s been a Scottish Nationalist longer than I’ve been alive, and I think, on his behalf, he would find it offensive at you questioning either his wish to fight against Nazism in the Second World War in the navy, and also the idea that SNP supporters are somehow illegitimate in progressing our aims.

The second thing I say to you is this, and this is really important, Chris, just remember it – the SNP and its forebears, for the last hundred years, have pursued a policy of self-government or independence for Scotland. In that entire century, not a single person has lost their life arguing for or against Scottish independence: it’s been pursued in a peaceful, civil, democratic fashion. Now that’s not unprecedented in the world, but it’s a very, very, rare thing indeed. So, instead of bandying about stupid terms like treachery and all the rest of it, start to respect the democratic ballot box techniques of the Scottish National Party, which are so admired incidentally around the planet, if not by you in Chichester.

One person dying for their beliefs in the European Referendum was a death too many. Far too many people & newspapers are being incredibly careless with their violent language. We do not need it. We will not use it.

No more martyrs.

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14 thoughts on “No More Martyrs

  1. Hugh Wallace says:

    My thoughts exactly Al. I just hope nobody opposing Scottish Independence decides to kill for it.

  2. Douglas says:

    I fear that violence is the last hope of the more desperate strands of unionism.

    These dangerous unionists long to provoke a violent response from us and expended a lot of effort along these lines in IndyRef1 -all they ‘achieved’ for their trouble was a couple of broken eggs (much trumpeted).

    This time they will do much more, even if they have to do it themselves. The scene has been set with talk of ‘Ulsterisation’ and escalating vitriolic rhetoric.

    We need to be very careful to avoid this trap.

    Peaceful but firm.

    ‘Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much’
    -Oscar Wilde

    We need to keep warm welcoming hearts (particularly towards No voters who are having second thoughts) and cool heads.

    This will be done peacefully.

  3. Kenny says:

    I know it’s a debatable point, but try not to forget Willie Macrae. Suicide doesn’t often involve two gunshots to the head and a gun found yards away. :-/

  4. John Porteous says:

    I wouldn’t mind so much if those tweets displayed even a glimmer of wit.
    Instead we have a sea of humourless bile, with the unintended irony that these people are English/British (synonymous terms, apparently) Nationalists, but their nationalism is so pure that, in their minds, it’s not really nationalism at all.

  5. Macart says:

    Well said and a great post.

    As for the poor souls in those tweets? They’re lost in more than one sense. There is no debating or reasoning with such folk. They have their world view and it is pretty much unshakeable. Their greatest problem and worry is that it is a view the rest of the world does not share with them.

    All we can ever do as supporters of independence is win that debate where it counts most and be the best neighbour we can be by practice. Nothing else will ever convince. No argument. No amount of documented proofs and no great words. Only example.

    • Muscleguy says:

      I thought of him too. The problem is the official verdict, ludicrous as it looks, is still suicide. I don’t hold out much hope of ever getting a different one, especially after so much time has passed.

      The moment we vote Yes if secret files on it exist they will be burnt and or shredded.

      • alharron says:

        The sad thing with Willie McRae is there are multiple possibilities in his suspected murder: he made enemies beyond the UK Establishment. It’s entirely possible he *didn’t* die for Scottish Independence, but for nuclear disarmament, peace in the Middle East. Man was a hero in many fields.

  6. A very eloquent and dignified article. Congratulations to the author.
    In the coming weeks we will be faced with the furies of perfidious Albion and pro independence supporters will be branded nazis, cybernats, etc.

    • We have, of course endured this bombardment many times in the past. Like the Germans on the Western Front in 1916, we have constructed ever more solid defences and the Yoons’ constant pounding of obsolete and ineffective munitions generates only noise. We will, as before, ride these barrages out and emerge unscathed, ready to engage them as they advance across the No Mans’ Land of Indyref2.

  7. […] a completely different perspective. Our opposition know it – why else are they ramping up the shameful rhetoric on one hand, while proclaiming confidence that the people of Scotland don’t want a second […]

  8. […] were blessed in the first Scottish Independence Referendum. In all the campaign, not one person lost their life to the cause, either for or against it. There were arguments, there were fights, […]

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