Mr Blue Skye

The last post was a bit dowlie for my liking. I was still upset about the situation with the McPherson Centre, and frustrated. Fortunately, a couple of things happened since writing that post which reinvigorated my belief in Scotland and her people.

First, I traveled to the prehistoric landscape of Skye. Obviously there are many reasons to travel to that fair isle, from the landscape to the history to the local cuisine (the Harbour Fish & Chips were great, and, with all due respect to our local Italian restaurants, CafeSia’s pizzas are transcendent). Of course, if you know this blog, you know the primary goal of this individual’s Gourockian Expedition to Skye – but we’ll save that for another post!

The Storr, which should – if there’s any justice – be to a future Scotland’s film industry what the Vasquez Rocks are to the Americans.

The road to Skye felt less a holiday than a pilgrimage. We drove through Luss, the Cradle of the Fitzgeralds, my grandfather’s people; we passed Loch Lomond, favoured site of my grandparents’ fishing holidays; we braved Tyndrum, or “Kingdom of the Midgies” as we called it (who were still present, albeit not as ferocious as our last tour around Scotland!); we dared through the historic Glencoe, fateful land of my grandmother’s line; we stopped at Fort William, a place dear to my mother’s heart. In some way, arriving at the rented house in Skye felt like a spiritual journey.

Whit a sicht tae awauken tae!

Despite being there less than a week, my breath was regularly taken by this land. The colossal mountains evoked sleeping giants, as is typical for Highland geography. The air was fresh and clean. The night sky was pitch black. The forests were ancient and wild. I would not be so bold as to say it reflected a Scotland before industrialisation, or depopulation, or exploitation – their marks were clear in the strangely bald hills, winding tarmac roads, and steel pylons. But it did feel like Scotland distilled.

The Misty Mountains

Whatever my thoughts about Scotland’s people at the time, I knew then that if nothing else, Scotland herself was worth believing in. What proud Scot worthy of the name could look upon these lands and think of paving over it with franchise resorts? To neglect our ancient forests to make room for the “Green Deserts” of crop trees, silent of indigenous animal life? To see the mass graves of our fallen ancestors and think of desecrating them for naked profit?

The monument to English adventurer J. Norman Collie and Skye’s own John Mackenzie

If anyone’s going to preserve Scotland’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage, then the only people who can do it are the people living there – even if it’s our own people who end up our worst enemies.

My belief in Scotland was reignited, but it would take another few days for my hope in Scotland’s people to catch light.

Free Al!

I had no illusions that joining Alba would be easy. I remember those early days in the campaign for the first Scottish Independence Referendum, where independence supporters were called every name under the sun, dehumanised, treated as the very worst elements of political discourse, by people who were utterly opposed to our cause. I remember hearing hair-raising stories from people who’ve campaigned for far longer than me – before a Scottish Government, before a Scottish Parliament, before the very idea of a referendum on Scottish Independence was close to reality.

We independence supporters, no matter how strongly we disagree, all acknowledge our common determination on the necessity of Scottish Independence. Nonetheless, it is clear that a plurality of independence supporting parties is similarly necessary to advance the cause. Hence why I left the SNP, a party I was a member of since the first Scottish Independence Referendum and which I voted for since my very first election.

Gareth “Grouse Beater” Wardell is honoured with a Lifetime membership, a well-deserved recognition for a man woven into the tapestry of my own life.

To me, it was not a difficult decision per se: I only joined the SNP after spending the first indyref campaign proudly non-party, preferring not to let loyalty to any party apparatus inform my decisions or campaigning. I do not regret voting for them, campaigning for them, donating and fundraising and doorstepping for them, because of that cause we share. Alba is a step sideways, into a party I feel more in tune with the how and the when of independence, rather than the question of should.

Inverclyde’s own Chris McEleny, and Gourock’s first Alba Councillor

With the Alba Party Inaugural Conference taking place in Inverclyde itself, I knew I had to get involved. I was a steward at the event, with the most important task of delivering speaker’s cards to the committee. I would’ve been quite happy if that was my sole purpose for the weekend.

What I did not expect was to be asked to formally second a motion.

12 – Nuclear Weapons

The Alba Party is opposed to the manufacturing, hosting and use of Nuclear weapons and calls on the negotiating party of an independent Scotland to ensure the removal of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and all associated Nuclear materials hosted at HMNB Clyde, from day one of Scotland being re-established as an independent nation.

Conference notes that the RNAD Coulport Depot, which is used to mate Trident Missiles to Nuclear Warheads before loading onto Nuclear Submarines, is ideally placed to harness wind energy potential.

Conference therefore calls on the Scottish Government of an independent Scotland to commence construction of Europe’s largest Renewable Energy Windfarm at the current home of Trident immediately after Weapons of Mass Destruction are removed from Scottish Soil.

Proposer: Cllr Leigh Wilson – Aberdeenshire

As regular readers of the Wilderness will know, this is a subject deeply personal to me. So, well, I could hardly refuse, could I?

My wee bit starts around the 40:20 mark.

Now, I must confess, in my enthusiasm I misspoke once or twice in my speech, so please allow me to correct myself. Obviously, Masahisa Goi was not born in 1954 – in that case, it would’ve been difficult for him to be 28 years old in 1945! – but the prayer which became the foundation for the movement May Peace Prevail On Earth was authored that year, which is likely the source of my confusion. Similarly, I tripped up a bit on the pronunciation of “gu maireadh sìth gu bràth air thalamh,” so I’ll resolve to keep practicing on Duolingo. Finally, for those asking for the book I quoted, it is Living Like the Blue Sky, and can be purchased here on Amazon, with more information on Goi Sensei at May Peace Prevail On Earth International.

The Party Leader, with Alba’s latest councillor Jim McEleny on stage.

Concurrent with the Alba conference was the SNP’s online conference. As a reminder of our common causes, I was greatly cheered to see the SNP conference supported the SNP CND group’s motion to have nuclear weapons removed from Scotland within 3 years. Of course, we can have different ideas about the timing and the particulars, but the principle of both motions was one and the same – just like the Cause.

Our cause is big enough and important enough, and I finally remembered why the people of Scotland do deserve independence – because enough of us remain alive to want it.

Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey you with the pretty face
Welcome to the human race
A celebration, Mr. Blue Sky’s up there waitin’
And today is the day we’ve waited for

Oh Mr. Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Hey there Mr. Blue
We’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

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