The new bid for Scottish Independence is started. It does not matter how each of us got here, who had which idea first, what might be a better plan, who stabbed who in the back. It is gone. Let it be.
Robert the Bruce murdered John Comyn before the high altar of a church during peace talks in an agreed truce. That is, to coin a phrase, the gold standard of bad political behaviour. But he remains our most revered political leader, because he won Independence. Scots did not refuse to fight at Bannockburn because Bruce was a nasty man. There is of course a real argument that the Bruce being a violent psychopath was essential to Scottish victory.
There is an argument from realpolitik here. We will only gain Independence through using mechanisms of political power, short of popular revolution which is not in play at present. The only person who can currently move those levers of political power for Independence is Nicola Sturgeon. The only practical short term option available to those of us whose hearts are set on Independence, is to get behind the plan Sturgeon has now set in motion.
Naming a date for a consultative referendum – 19 October 2023 – gets the campaign clearly underway. All referenda in the UK are consultative (including the Brexit one which you will recall had to be implemented by the Westminster parliament before it took effect) so the nomenclature is unimportant.
I suspect the Supreme Court will strike down the referendum. That really does not matter. Two things do matter.
The first is that Sturgeon has endorsed “Plan B”, which is that if a referendum is denied, the Westminster election will be fought as a plebiscite, on the grounds that every vote for the SNP is a vote for Independence. The concomitant of that, must of course be that Independence will be declared if that election is won. Anything else would be a betrayal of the Scots people.
The second and far more important point is that, now there is a date, campaigning can start in earnest. I am already looking to make plans to speak around the country again. Once people actually hear the case for Independence, they move towards supporting. Famously the last Independence campaign started with polls showing 28 to 32% in support of Independence, and finished on polling day on 45%.
I confidently expect a similar effect. We must also replicate the extent to which social media and old fashioned town meetings and street campaigning shaped that 2014 surge.
95% of the mainstream media, both state and corporate, will be resolutely, implacably biased and hostile to Independence. Our strength is with the people, not with the media bosses and the BBC. That is where the SNP need the wider Yes movement, who are the heart and soul of the street and social media effort.
If we all come together we can generate unstoppable popular momentum towards Independence, which can sweep away opposition and will itself negate both the dangers of the Supreme Court and Westminster foiling a referendum, or of certain MPs using the fallout merely to get their feet back under the table. Of course I see the potential pitfalls in the Sturgeon plan, but popular enthusiasm is the way to storm over them.
So I urge all Independence supporters, including those distrustful and bruised by factional infighting, to drop any grudges and get with the programme. Now is the time to work wholeheartedly for Independence, alongside others who believe in it, irrespective of other issues. We have a battle to win; criticism from armchair generals is not going to be helpful here.
Bluntly, if anyone has a right to feel hard done by it is me, and if I can put it aside, so can you.
Scotland can be a normal size Nordic style country, blessed with strong abundant resources and a talented, educated population. For my English friends, the loss of Scotland will hopefully give the seismic political shock that England needs to end the dominance of the Tories and bring a better choice than the anti-worker’s rights Keir Starmer. Scotland will also point the future for Welsh Independence and Irish reunification.
But Independent Scotland will not be a paradise. In every country on earth there are charlatans in politics. In every country on earth there are sociopaths attracted to wielding the power of the state. In every country on earth there are people in high positions secretly in the pay of another state.
Scotland will not be immune from those things, and perhaps since 2014 we have become less caught in the Utopian dream that seemed then almost within reach.
There will even be some Tories still in an Independent Scotland. The difference to now will be that the Tories will have no power over us.
Friends, rally round. It is time to unite.
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