When I awoke around 6:30am on Friday the 19th of September I knew without checking that we had lost. Traffic passed by – no more than usual – an occasional voice echoed along the streets, birds whistled on the roof above the flat. No singing, no shouting, laughing or chanting.
It took another 20 minutes before I could look at my phone for confirmation, a simple message from a friend that said, ‘wtf?!’
By 9am I was on my way out of Glasgow and heading for the west coast for the weekend. Given the events that took place in the city later on that day, I’m glad I stuck to my no vote contingency plan.
We can’t dwell on what we’ve lost or what could have been, we have to consider what we are left with, what the United Kingdom is and what that means to us.
The joy and exuberance witnessed in George Square in the days before the vote had been usurped by a violent British nationalism. This was no celebration of unity, rather it was a nasty, hate filled exhibition of triumphalism and intolerance dressed in red, white and blue, more akin to the football violence of the eighties than the conclusion of a referendum vote. Nazi salutes, taunts and assaults were the order of the day for a gathering organised on Facebook, advertised by Britain First and somehow completely missed by the security services who, we were told, will keep us safe if we stay together.
The Union Jack is a flag of convenience for these people; it is their team colours and our national flag is the opposition, even to those who were born and bred in Scotland. Tearing a saltire from a young girl was not a political statement, it was reminiscent of a mindless soccer casual stripping another supporter of their scarf; to attribute a deeper sense of loyalty and belief in nation to such behaviour is insulting. They have no real allegiance to the idea of countries united under one flag but that same union made them what they are.
It’s doubtful even in Thatchers most fevered dreams would she imagine a Britain that has lurched so far to the right. To achieve wealth and position through nefarious, unethical or immoral actions is acceptable, to be poor, disadvantaged or vulnerable is tantamount to criminality; the state and the media complicit in fostering the lie. No attempt is made to address divisions in our society because as individuals or small groups we cannot force change. Xenophobia is now a reasonable and supported political ideology, corporate collusion with government raises no eyebrows in the press and fear is the currency of control.
It is fear that defines the nature of the United Kingdom today. Fear won the no campaigns victory over independence; fear of loss of earnings, fear of isolation, fear of attack, fear of change and perversely, fear of poverty.
Fear of those who seek to do us harm enables successive governments to impose restrictions on ordinary citizens, to change laws and to embark on expensive and ill conceived military ventures. Fear of extremism begets it’s own reactionary extremism; bomb the ragheads, send them back to their own country, vote UKIP.
Anger and hatred are the ultimate consequence of a perpetual state of fear. Anger at those we perceive to unjustly have more than us, hatred of minorities and those the press choose to demonise. It leaves a fractured and disparate nation while those at the top reap the benefit of an unfocused population.
I want no part of it.
Almost half of Scotland rejected this philosophy of fear in favour of a future where hope and ambition can flourish. The pain felt by many on the 19th has transformed into a desire to continue the journey. It is a chaotic ensemble of individuals and groups seeking to define their direction and purpose post referendum and hopefully will, in time, become a network of coordinated actions and activists. Many have joined political parties for the first time in their lives, others have committed to seeking change through local groups and organisations. A result that so easily could have killed the renewed vigour and passion of our country has instead galvanised us into action. It is a wonderful thing to behold.
We may still be part of the United Kingdom but that does not mean we cannot behave as though we are already independent. We can show the world that we are different, that we do not fear change, that we embrace diversity and reject hatred, that we will elect politicians who share our ideals.
We can show the world that we are not the United Kingdom, we are Scotland and we are not the same.
It’s great that the commmitment of the independence movement is being sustained but now it seems to be so much more complicated. My view is that the answer lies within your narrative. We have to find a way to promote the values that we aspire to. The British State is using the media to promote values of selfishness, xenophobia, violence and social division. I don’t make that statement as someone who is deeply into politics, it just seems obvious to me. Again, without wishing to be melodramatic about it, the State has already planted moles and is infiltrating our movement in order to defeat it. The only thing I know of that can beat that is for us to find ways to be truly grounded. We won’t outsmart it and we can’t force others to agree with us because that would be self-defeating. Undoubtedly we need to develop media through which we can communicate and as you are no doubt aware a number of people are pursuing this task. I don’t know what place you would have in such a media but in my view it is critical that somehow we create a forum where you and other excellent but perhaps less well publicised writers can publish their thoughts. Maybe an online magazine? I call it a magazine only to differentiate it from the other ideas that are floating around. I don’t ‘feel’ that magazine is the right description but maybe it is right. Maybe it is just what we need. A publication that might offer a critique on how our movement is developing, tje issues that need to be addressed, thoughts on how the British State is working to undo us and how we counter them, how we deal with the violence that our movement may face in the future because fascist elements in Scotland are feeling in the ascendency etc. etc.
Should you feel inclined to respond I would be interested in your thoughts.
Thanks for the kind words, it’s always a pleasure when someone takes the time to post a comment.
I agree with what you say, we need an umbrella organisation that can coordinate different elements of the movement and develop goals and strategies. At the moment many people feel at a loss at how to progress; there are too many groups on Facebook which simply serve no purpose other than to make us still feel part of something and Facebook is frankly ripe for any kind of infiltration. I’m aware that Derek Bateman has something in the offing in partnership with Newsnet and the boys from Dateline Scotland seem to have a MAJOR plan with regards to an independent Scottish broadcaster. I really hope theyre all talking to one another and not acting unilaterally.
A webzine would be interesting and could allow those less well known voices you speak of to be heard and add something new to the movement.
The beauty of the Yes movement is its diversity though, there should still be room for people to do their own thing outwith any structured organisation. If Yes Scotland had complete control prior to the referendum we would never have seen the BBC protests, nor the Indy climber leaving a Yes on Edinburgh castle, nor any number of fantastic events and participation (Matt Lygate welcoming Labour MPs with the imperial march from Star Wars was a highlight for me!).
Personally, I think violence is unlikely. They have won as far as they’re concerned and there is no ‘date’ to focus aggression on. Progress will be slower and more subtle with less of a ‘now you have it, now you don’t’ finality. We should be wary though, I believe there will be attempts to discredit us and any suggestion by Indy supporters to take more ‘direct’ action should be hammered down immediately.
We live in interesting times and should be rightly excited by what the future could hold.
Thanks again for the comment,
Glad you went with your “plan B” and avoided the scum on the streets of Glasgow. How the police did not know about it, being organised on “social” media, we’ll never know. Truly shocking scenes, not what we want for Scotland at all.
The result, obviously not what we wanted, though 45% was an achievement a year ago we would have jumped at. It is a great base to restart the campaign for independence from, we have learned the lessons from the masters of divide and rule; we now know their tactics and how low they will stoop, though they probably could get lower.
Here’s to an independent Scotland, in the not too distant future.