The Northwest Passage

Hey... HEY! I've nae problems with your seccession dreams, but at least pick a different logo, like a two-headed bear or something.

HeyHEY! Look, I empathise with your secession dreams, but could you at least pick a different logo, like a star or a bear? Give it two heads, or something.

In Congress, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
– The United States Declaration of Independence

Back in 2014, Scottish Independence was something that only really mattered to Scots, Britons, and Europeans. On the international stage, the mood was generally “well, ok, I guess, whatever.” Most leaders did not speak out, though those that did were against independence.

Just over two years later, the story’s very different, isn’t it?

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Winning Independence

Indyref2_Tai Chi

It seems everyone has their own ideas about “what went wrong” in the first referendum campaign. That’s good: it shows a movement with many different points of view and interpretations of the campaign.  It’s also extremely necessary, as I’ve become more and more aware that the vast majority of the independence movement – that is, the voters themselves – may not have actually campaigned for a single day throughout the first referendum. This is not a criticism: it is the current political reality in the UK, where only a small proportion of party voters will be members, and a smaller proportion still will be active members who go out and leaflet, canvass, and campaign. We’re still recovering from decades of disenfranchisement and disillusionment, to the point where Scotland’s turnout in the EU referendum can be criticised for being “low” despite it being the second highest of any referendum Scotland has participated in.

I cannot place blame or fault in those people. In another reality, I could easily have spent the most important months of our nation’s history at home, occasional comments on internet forums and online articles being the extent of my contributions towards the cause. I know I spent most of my adolescence on the periphery of Scottish politics: I kept out because I felt a lack of knowledge, a dearth of confidence, and a general antipathy towards politics in general. Given the quality of the brave new era of the reconvened Scottish Parliament was the myopic mediocrity of the Scottish Executive, can you blame me?

So, I decided to do something about it, and got involved following the official launch of Yes Scotland. After the referendum, I joined the SNP, and got involved in the last two elections, as well as the European Union Referendum. Having campaigned for the last four years practically non-stop, sometimes I forget that this is something I’ve come to fairly recently in life – sometimes I forget that not everyone who voted Yes, or SNP, or Remain, was as madly political as I was.

So, since we’re all talking about how to win the surely-inevitable indyref2, I thought I’d share some of my observations from the last four years of campaigning.

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It’s Always Blackest Before The Dawn

wb2b

Wings Over Scotland has followed up the Wee Blue Book with a sequel – one that I’m sure the Reverend never wanted to write.

So as to ensure maximum exposure, I’m hosting a mirror on the Wilderness:

The Wee Black Book (fast connections)

The Wee Black Book (slow connections)

I read it in 20 minutes or so. My eyes were burning hot, vision distorted by furious tears, as all the emotions of the referendum flooded back in a cascade. I thought of all the frightened pensioners who came into the Yes Inverclyde shop, asking if we “were really going to take away our pensions.” I thought of the terrified Polish couple who were afraid they could be flown back to Poland if “we” won. I thought of all the angry, worried and confused people who came in with questions, and left assured – because we had copies of the Wee Blue Book on hand, and facsimiles of government documents, and quotes and letters and articles. Then of the night, the celebrations by the “winners” who won by 86 votes out of over 54,000, the joyous ringing out of “Inverclyde Votes No! Inverclyde Votes No! Inverclyde Votes No!” by people with blue and red and orange rosettes, side by side, cheek by jowl…

Yet by the end of it, I felt better – because I knew that, dark and sombre as the Wee Black Book is, it is not the final word. The Scottish people are awake. Independence is no longer a fringe idea dismissed by “real” parties, but part of the core of Scottish political discourse. The SNP are unquestionably the party of Scotland, which I hope will be cemented when Stuart McMillan & as many other SNP candidates as possible are elected to a third term, and Nicola Sturgeon’s place as First Minister ratified by popular acclaim.

It’s always darkest before the dawn. The best trilogies have a bleak middle chapter. I’m looking forward to the third Wee Book, whatever colour it may be.

StuGraphic

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Free Man Stand in Freedom Square

gsv261

I never thought I’d be able to go near Freedom Square on the 19th of September ever again. Not after last year, after all those memories. Blue and White burned by flashes of red – red of blood and fire. Soon the red was overpowering. “Rule Britannia,” penned by a Scot, truly the iconic anthem of the Proud Scot But, thundered through the night, along with “God Save the Queen” and other battle hymns of the union. Heartbroken Scottish independence supporters resisted, but the sorrow and the heartache meant that the 19th of September would forever be stained with the bitter triumphalism of the Empire.

So I thought.

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Never Forget That Feeling

FreedomThe day we could have done it: the day the people of Scotland could finally put their money where their mouths were, and be a nation again.

That hasn’t changed. We can be a nation again, for one simple reason: it proved, once and for all, that the people of Scotland can come out and choose their destiny. The turnout for the referendum was the highest UK vote since the introduction of universal suffrage. The following General Election saw a significantly higher turnout than previous years.

David Cameron has ruled out another referendum. Jeremy Corbyn said another referendum wouldn’t be credible. The Unionist parties incessantly bray about “Once in a lifetime” “promises,” “No means No,” the “Settled Will of the Scottish people,” “Move on.”

You think it’s that easy?

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Tongue Lashing With Friends

roadsign

Wings Over Scotland published a really stupid article today, and a really good article. Well, technically it was the same article, but both halves of the article were very interesting for different reasons. So, while I’ll only discuss the disagreements briefly, I’ve been percolating a post about Scottish Gaelic for a while, and this provides an excellent prompt.

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This Theatre of Dreams

Wings Over Scotland’s been getting a bit of flak on Twitter for his somewhat relentless exhibition of, well, basic facts in the case of prospective Gordon MP Braden Davy. A lot of people think it’s unfair to juxtapose the silly escapades someone got up to in their teen years with their more mature present. Normally I would agree, if this wasn’t a discussion about someone who seeks to wield enormous power over the lives and livelihoods of the people of Gordon, and by extension, Scotland and even the UK.

I feel compelled to (figuratively, gently and compassionately) slap some bloody sense into these people.

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Taking Wing(s over Scotland)

A couple of amazing things happened last Saturday.

It was a grand day for me, and I hope 15,000 other Scots, as we collectively engaged in the biggest political discussion we’ve seen in these islands for quite some time. We were spread across Glasgow, with the SNP Tour in the Hydro, and the Radical Independence Conference at the Clyde Auditorium. To think that the SNP, a party which has been institutionally marginalised by the establishment since its inception, has managed to sell out a major venue to the tune of twelve thousand – that’s a hundred and twenty hundreds* – in 2014 is remarkable. Similarly, to think that RIC, an organisation which only started in 2012, could blossom from the 900 of the original conference to three thousand – thirty hundreds – even as the most popular party in Scotland had a massive congregation quite literally next door, is an amazing achievement.

After the SNP tour, I met up with some of the regulars at Wings Over Scotland. I’d missed out earlier in the year – I was in America – but even though the 2014 referendum is past, I saw no reason not to. I’m glad I did.

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Independence Live in Inverclyde

Independence Live

Once again the Eye of Independence roved over to Inverclyde – this time, Independence Live staged an event at the Crawfurdsburn centre in Greenock. Imbedding is disabled, but you can view the video on Youtube.*

A number of important & influential figures from Yes Inverclyde were present: at the table were Ronnie Cowan, campaign manager and Our Supreme Leader; Gary Forbes, Port SSP revolutionary and Yes Inverclyde Shop stalwart; Jenn McClafferty, one of the many Labour supporters who’ve torn up their membership cards in the wake of New Labour’s antics; and Mary McGlashan, one of the heid Women for Independence Inverclyde division. A number of others, such as Fiona Cook (formerly of Labour for Independence) and Ian Ramsey (formerly of the SNP) were present and contributed. Microphone duty was handled by some bearded longhair in a leather jaikit.**

Topics of discussion ranged from how to bring the message of Yes to the 55% (in our area 50.1%), disagreements on just how evil New Labour are and how much hatred of them is preferable, whether we should keep up the positive campaign or start scaring the wits out of No voters with the reality of a No vote, pros and cons of a Yes Alliance, stories and anecdotes from their times in the referendum campaign, and the occasional interjection of percentages and number crunching from that bearded guy. Most of all, though, were great suggestions of ways to move forward, how to engage and enrich the community, and what to do next.

*Link updated. An earlier version of this post linked to the “raw footage” which started recording before the meeting itself took place.

**Also should point out: at around the 48m mark, bearded gentleman mentioned an MP discussing the closure of the Clyde coastguard station – the MP in question was actually Iain McKenzie, not Jim Murphy. In fairness, you can see how the two could be mixed up:

Iain McKenzie & Jim Murphy. Or Jim Murphy & Iain McKenzie?

Iain McKenzie & Jim Murphy. Or Jim Murphy & Iain McKenzie?

The Agony and the Ecstasy

Inverclyde_Vote_Result

Two weeks on. This may be the last post I make for a while. I cannot say how long it will be until I return: I still need a few days to collect myself after all that’s happened over the past two years of my life. It’s been the proverbial roller-coaster of ups and downs. I think I’ll be taking a break from life in general. Read some books. Draw. Finish Bannockburn – lord knows if anything needs finished, it’s that. Play video games. I can’t remember the last time I played Skyrim.

But before I leave, I would like to impart my experiences of the 18th and the early hours of the 19th of September, 2014, as I saw them.

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