There Is No Opting Out

Whoever you are, or want to be, you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.
Marshall Berman

Ever since I started this blog, people have decided to talk politics with me. (Imagine that, eh?) Strangers who know me by my muckle black beard, friends & acquaintances who came across the blog by accident, people I haven’t known for years who ended up on the campaign trail. It’s a great conversation starter: “What did you think of First Minister’s Questions?” “Did you see that shameful display in Parliament?” “What’s that politician talking about?” “Why are the party doing this instead of this, that, th’other?” “Did you see this poll, article, website, paper, video?” Some of the best are those people – old school friends, long lost family, famous people who knew who I was – talking about their journeys, and the journeys of their friends and families. It’s incredible. Then come the weird questions: “Are you running for council?” “Why don’t you run for council?” “Do you think I should run for council?” “When did you start getting interested in politics?”

When did you start getting interested in politics. I’m always grateful and very much appreciate all these recommendations, suggestions, and anecdotes. However, it stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of exactly what I’m trying to do. I don’t love politics. I don’t even like politics. I actually hate politics – and that, paradoxically, is why I’m doing this.

Back during the first Scottish Independence Referendum campaign, my fellow campaigners often wistfully commented on what they’d do in an independent Scotland. I, perhaps naievely, thought it meant I could go back to the way things were before – to my art, writing, and other interests.

Last month alone, Robert E. Howard Days took place once again in Cross Plains, Texas. A gathering of people from all walks of life, all across the globe, to celebrate the works of an early 20th Century pulp writer. This year looked great, as Patrice Louinet was promoting a brilliant new book, Jeff Shanks presented the findings of the archaeological dig in Howard’s back yard, Bill Cavalier was inducted into the Black Circle, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of Solomon Kane’s debut to the world in “Red Shadows.” There are so many Robert E. Howard projects I could be getting on with: the Encyclopaedia Hyborica, illustrating select tales in comic form, translating Howard prose & poetry into Scots, to my great goal of writing that thesis on Howard and Scottish history.

My other great love, dinosaurs, is just as full this year. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom came out, and I’d love nothing more than to write and write and write about the film series’ cinematic motifs, its exploration of genetic ethics, and its place in cultural depictions of the Dinosauria. On the 12th of June, Jurassic World Evolution was released: a Jurassic Park game where the goal is to utterly subvert the films’ themes, and make a park full of dinosaurs work. To prove that corporate espionage, unscrupulous business practises, and moral ambiguities can be overcome, to give long-dead species another shot at existence. That’s my kind of game.

Alas, another game – the game of politics – gets in the way. The Scottish Government had a reshuffle, including the resignations (or “purge” as some papers not-at-all-hyperbolically reported) of Shona Robison and Angela Constance. The UK Parliament actually respected the Claim of Right with no divisions – a situation I never thought I’d see given that institution’s historic and continuous lack of respect for the elected representatives of said Claimants. The Dark Money scandal continues to expand and consume the party that initiated it like a black hole devouring a star system to the complete and utter disinterest of most of the mainstream media. And today, we find that the UK Foreign Secretary joins yet another UK Government Minister out the door, bringing the total of ministers who’ve resigned from the Theresa May Government to for God’s sake.

I don’t have time for this. None of us have time for these games being played by Etonians chasing glories and riches and honours while millions of the people of these islands are struggling, suffering, dying. You want another reason for independence? So I never have to hear about what Theresa May or Boris Johnson or David Davis or Jacob Rees-Mogg or any of those wretched fools want to do to our people and our nation ever again. The other parties go on and on about how the independence supporters blame Westminster – as in, the actual government of the UK, which they fought so hard to keep Scotland a part of – for everything? Damn right we do – to the point where, come independence, I don’t want to hear the word Westminster outside of “International News” on a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation bulletin.

I don’t want to “blame Westminster,” I want it out of my life.

Time was, I could ignore it. I could read my stories, go see the dinosaurs in our museums, carry on with the rest of my life. Back to the days when I didn’t know about the Barnett Formula, the West Lothian Question, the Constitutional Crisis. Only now do I realise that there is no return journey for me. There is no going back to political apathy, even – especially – in an independent Scotland.

Scotland could be a lot of things, but the rebirth of a nation can be complex and painful. It will require all of our attention. No lazy days after a Yes vote: that’s when the real work will begin. Whether you campaign for an “IndyLite” where Scotland keeps the Pound, the Queen, the BBC, and retains a few key lifelines to the ailing establishment running our friends & family in the rest of the islands we share, or you campaign for a radical republican socialist Scotland, you surely understand that independence is simply the beginning of that process.

There will be people who want to make Scotland into a miniature UK – not just in terms of politics, but to perpetuate the Scottish Establishment which betrayed us all three centuries ago, who yet fight against equity and equality to keep their unearned wealth and influence, who would happily sell off an independent Scotland to the lowest bidder for the sake of a pittance. There will be people who would seek to reverse the sovereign expression of the Scottish People – undoubtedly the very same people who demanded the SNP “respect” the 2014 vote by shutting up and never talking about independence ever again, let alone demanding they abandon a clear manifesto commitment with the greatest democratic mandate of any Scottish Government since the Scottish Parliament reconvened. And there will be those who want to take a newly reborn old nation and twist and exploit them into proxies, tax havens, or warzones. Worse still will be those who would want an independent Scotland to punch down on all those other nations-in-limbo still unrecognised by the wider world thanks to old mindsets about what it is to be a nation.

I’m sure plenty of folk are sick and tired about all this independence nonsense. Well, here’s the thing: once Scotland is independent, we won’t have to go on about it anymore, will we? It will just be the normal state of affairs that it is in just about every other nation on the face of the earth. Instead, we’ll talk about what the Scottish Government did or didn’t do, instead of politicians we did not and could not elect. We’ll talk about what Scotland’s response to international incidents could be, not England’s response, which chooses to speak for Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland. We’ll talk about what we do with our economy, not the pocket money we get back from the taxes we pay to another country’s capital. We’ll talk about things that affect us which we can have an affect on, not decisions made in the interests of another country and another people’s population.

Independence gives us the opportunity to stop complaining and actually do something. Some people find complaining to be their comfort zone – certainly some political parties relish it. I, however, cannot wait for the day where we cannot blame Westminster, or the UK, or the UK Government, for everything we don’t have control over – because then we can become who we really are, at long last.

Scotland won’t be a paradise on independence, but it’s all we want, and it’s all that we’re fighting for.

4 thoughts on “There Is No Opting Out

  1. Neil Anderson says:

    You know what mate? I’m sick of it all too; the sound of my own voice stating with calm assurance that Scotland can be as good if not better without being tied to another country. Tired of listening to the selfish bores who are “all right” the way things are. Tired of the fear and timidity of the “I’ve got a mortgage to pay” crowd, who can never explain how Scotland as an independent state will stop them being able to deal with that particular albatross. I’m tired of people glazing over with that “here we go again” look when I challenge the ongoing state of affairs that is the “British” government and it’s tired old “opposition” in the “mother of all parliaments”. Even my kids are getting sick of it – though I know that they all support what I say. And I don’t like my kids getting sick of what I’m saying, I had enough of that when they were teenagers. So I’ll just have to get my arse in gear and get campaigning hard.
    Thanks for another excellent blog.

  2. Geraldine Harron says:

    This is our life Al and this is what we have to do and its a whole heaping lot better than any of the women of the past had to put up with, and you know this is where I get my inspiration from. Along with King Robert, Sir WW and their loyal followers especially their women of their families. I am so glad not to be swinging in a cage in all weathers above the town market, or having to flee on horseback crossing the countryside for safety, or using my arm to hold a door shut till it broke in several bits, or in exile with a cruel jailer, or having my head removed. I did put up with some injury and a lot of verbal threats or scares but I knew that it was nothing to the poor soldiers who raised their swords to be killed for freedom and our own dear Guardian Sir WW who died a death that should never be far from memory. I will never be put off in any way and always be keen in attitude, I am weak in health but my spirit is as strong as any historical legend. Our attitude is one of Peace and Love for people and we are privileged to live in this time. This is the easiest time, and we are so fortunate to be in the time that it will happen, nothing surer.

  3. […] here’s the thing: we aren’t being given the choice to not talk about them, because our state media won’t shut up about them. Through our state […]

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