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By Jason Michael
What was unimaginable only fifteen years ago has become the most important issue in Scotland; the chance to change the borders of Europe and become an independent state to protect all of those things that are most important to the people of Scotland.
Some time ago the now retired Chair of Celtic Studies at University College Dublin, an extraordinary man and a dear friend I have not spoken with in far too long, said something interesting to me in a conversation after church one sunny Sunday morning. He was convinced that the liberal democratic shape of modern Europe had successfully guaranteed peace and that, as a result of this political stability, there would now be no more changes to the territorial boundaries of our Western European states. That was long before Scotland’s 2012-14 independence campaign and yet – as a romantic and a lifelong believer in Scottish independence – I hoped he was wrong, but who was I to argue with the man who had translated the Bible into Cornish; a man of staggering intellect?
Here we are some fifteen years on. Donald Trump is now in the White House, Britain is leaving the European Union, and Scotland – having gone through one unsuccessful independence referendum – now faces the prospect of another. Many of those in Scotland who voted No in 2014 did so because they felt it was the best thing for our country. Staying in Europe, protecting the EU migrants who had come here, and being a place of welcome for refugees are Scottish priorities; they conform to the values of openness and tolerance most Scottish people hold dear. We had been promised that it was only by remaining part of the United Kingdom that we would be able to do all of these things. We were told that independence would have us put out of the EU, make us a narrow and insular nation, and reduce us to every conceivable depth of political, social, and economic poverty.
We said at the time that these were empty promises and outright lies, and they were, but we had little hope then of competing with the power of the unionist media. The lies worked and as a nation we voted No. That was 2014. Two and a half years later and Westminster has proven to us and the world that its 2014 promises and the Vow were all bullshit, and its Brexit suicide mission is now attempting to force on Scotland everything that it does not want. As a country we have come to see that the only way to have what we voted for – to live in a Scotland that embodies our Scottish values – is to be an independent nation and forge our own path in the wider community of nations.
We are, as we have always been, on a journey together, and those who voted No in 2014 are on a journey now to Yes – realising that only independence can deliver what they have always wanted. We are not an insular or a closed country, but it has become perfectly clear that remaining within the United Kingdom will imprison all of us inside a petty and obnoxious, right-wing Tory state; cut off from the European relationships that promised us the security and peace and the stability of fifteen years ago. My prediction is that on 17 March the First Minister, speaking at the SNP conference in Aberdeen, will give us another opportunity to have what we need and want. This second chance – perhaps our last chance – will be won by our tolerance of 2014’s No voters coming over to Yes.
Journey to Yes #3