Sunday, 4 September 2016

Moving Forward to Yes

With almost two years past since the Scottish Independence Referendum. It seems the movement towards a second referendum is beginning to take shape. Yes 2 put forward by the Yes bikers typify the very nature of the initial referendum, while the SNP slowly, cautiously take more email addresses into their canvass data to assess the situation.

September 18th 2014, went for most of us I’m sure, like a blur, for me I remember the next day more. Getting home from the count at 7am to grab an hours sleep before work. My biggest memory of this referendum is one of shame and regret, waking up that morning and seeing my three sons, holding my 5 month old youngest and breaking down thinking I hadn’t done enough and we had all let my children and so many others down. No doubt throughout this country an array of stories similar to mine can be told, likewise there will be many tales of celebration and jubilation from no voters that their children’s futures have been secured.

That’s the thing, you see for too many of us on the yes side, we have claimed the referendum as our own… in true Scottish style, as a glorious defeat. One in which we had the best ideas, put forward direct visions and engaged a nation in confronting a ‘British’ entitlement over our nation. Yet in truth the referendum belongs to both the yes and no camps.

The 2014 referendum marked a watershed in which we as Scots began to discuss what truly defines us. Is it class, or nationality? Is it age or gender or race? In this referendum, while at times hyperbole, it allowed us to question our relationships with our closest neighbours and begin to analyse if our own national cringe is inflicted through established oppression or through our own perpetual negativity.

What we found was most likely more questions than answers. What it did allow us was an opportunity to reflect… on ourselves, our communities and our nation; regardless of whether you view that ‘nation’ as a multi national one or Scotland in its own right. We will all have different experiences and revelations of this.

As someone who defines himself as a socialist I recognise that I have more in common with the worker from Liverpool than the banker from Edinburgh, yet I consider myself Scottish first, European then (and only at a border crossing)… British. How then can you regulate yourself in this? For me the notion of Britishness is antipathy to my beliefs… I believe this would be the same had I been born in Newcastle, Tredegar or Belfast. The very notion of Britishness of imperialism and colonialism is alien to me. I embrace own nations history, it’s battle and sacrifice, yet I would not consider myself a nationalist, or if I am it is a small n, certainly no more so than anyone of any world citizen would embrace their national identity…it is also not a nationalism which shaped my vote in September 2014.

It’s all very confusing, yet it is through this confusion, in which the referendum allowed ourselves to open our eyes and awaken. It is right that we ask ourselves difficult questions. For me it was clear that Middle England will never accept a ‘Real’ Labour Government… I hope Jeremy can prove me wrong. And so the way to achieve a fairer, more equal and socially just society was through independence.

We all have different reasons for voting yes or no. For many who voted no, they will probably share a closer political affinity with me than other yes voters. Throughout the last referendum campaign I met a lot of voters who were voting yes or no for varying reasons, this should be respected and encouraged. My willingness to work with almost anyone and debate anyone through this period is because every view must be discussed and deliberated on and respected.

Yes Scotland grew from an HQ in Hope St where a fair few people made a lot of money and only one or two actually deserved it. The real yes campaign grow from that… into Yes regions and yes groups one of which being Labour for Independence. We made the case and still would, that independence is not about the SNP… even within the SNP there is no one line on what independence would mean. It is about an opportunity to create a better way.

Often in the campaign I went to unusual stomping grounds for a Labour member. In fact as a Catholic, Celtic supporting Labour member a trip to a masons lodge in Kirriemuir to speak with an SNP MSP is about as far out there as you can go. But in that meting a gentleman asked why I disagreed with the SNP plan to cut corporation tax. My reply was honest… That if taxes are cut they should be of benefit to those that need it most… not big business.

Speaking to the gentleman after, he appreciated my honesty and looked forward to the debate in an independent Scotland.

This is what a democracy is. This is why I took exception to the Yes HQ/RIC banner that a yes vote will mean no more Tory Governments. The truth is it would lead to no more Tory Governments we didn’t vote for. But we have to accept that there has always been a 20-25% of Scots who support the Tories and that cannot be ignored.
This article is a bit of a ramble.. still looking at answers and still asking questions. If the first referendum was a cultural, political self awakening then the second one must be decisive. Questions must be asked and answered, plurality must be acknowledged meaning not everyone voting yes is a ‘Nat’ and not everyone voting no is a ‘Tory’.
We as a nation, and as a people have so much to offer, yet we also have so much we need to work on. Lets work together to find out who we are, what we want and where we are headed. There is hope for this tiny land with a cringe on it’s shoulder.

In politics if thou wouldst mix,
And mean thy fortunes be;
Bear this in mind, be deaf and blind,
Let great folk hear and see.


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