Yes Scotland was no mere political campaign. At some point in its existence it became a movement that challenged the arrogance of the British establishment. How did our opinions become a movement, and how can we rediscover its strength?

Back in late 2011 less than 30 percent of Scots polled were in favour of Scottish independence, and further back in 1979 this sentiment was as low as 6 percent. Somewhere between these two dates something changed in the way that Scots think of their national identity and our nation’s place in the community of nations. Between 2011 and the September 2014 independence referendum a national movement was catalysed that transformed Scotland and reverberated around the world. What we want to consider, out of curiosity and to discover the tools to do it again, is what it was exactly that sparked the movement that has brought Scotland to the brink of leaving the United Kingdom.


On the 16 September 2014 Gordon Brown, summing up the intensely directed and negative Better Together campaign, laid full responsibility for the chaos “the real people of Scotland” found themselves in on the Scottish National Party, or “the Nationalists” as he repeatedly hissed. Sure, Alex Salmond and the SNP were instrumental in bringing the independence discussion to the fore in Scottish politics, but can we or indeed Gordon Brown give them all the credit? What became Yes Scotland was greater than the sum of all the parts of the National Party, made up of many different parties and individuals. In terms of membership the SNP did not become the largest party in Scotland until after the referendum.

Speaking of the Spanish élite, the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, said that they “do not fear any particular combination of left-wing parties or activists: they fear a mobilised people, the mass involvement of ordinary people.” This was precisely the terror that ran through the British establishment in the days before the referendum, the realisation that ordinary people – not politicians or funded activists – had mobilised into a mass movement that challenged the very structures of their existence and privilege. Faced with such a reality the UK changed the rules at the eleventh hour to put another option to the two question ballot and confuse the electorate, a move without which independence may well have been won. Scotland’s greatest social movement since the early fourteenth century forced London to blink first.

Where did it come from? In spite of the huge contribution of the pro-independence political parties, the SNP in particular as the largest, this was the result of a growing popular want for self-determination; a growth that is yet to stop. Separatism in Scotland is the result of hundreds of thousands of tiny, almost undetectable, and individual movements within the national collective of Scotland’s cultural and political body. Single tweets, Facebook updates, column inches, and expressed opinions began to move in one direction until they reached a critical mass and the birth of a movement. At full tilt this movement was greater than any political group, and bigger even than Scotland.


Willie’s Views On Scottish Independence


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