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By Jason Michael

HERE’S A PHRASE FOR YOU: ‘At the end of our tether.’ There’s scarce a soul in the ranks of the Scottish independence movement who will not right now gladly tell you they are at the end of their tether. If you grew up where I did, this was what your faither told you as a last verbal warning before other measures were taken to tober you. Decades of broken promises, crippling social and economic austerity, the reneging of the British state on “the Vow,” and now the deliberate humiliation of Scotland in the House of Commons over the EU Withdrawal Bill has brought Scots to the very end of their tethers with London and the union.

At few times in the history of the union has it been as obvious to ordinary people everywhere in Scotland that the political arrangement we have with England is a settlement to our detriment and harm as it is today. The intransigence of the British government on its “one nation” Brexit plan for Scotland – a plan for which it does not have our consent – has brought us to the point where we are forced to make a decision. We can follow the lead of the loyalist and the unionist, doff the cap, and be walked meekly to the block, or we can decide to refuse and end this union once and for all.

Once upon a time, in a Scotland without a parliament of its own and with nothing but meaningless and token representation at Westminster – the English parliament, we would have taken this on the chin like the fools we were; convinced – as many of us were and still are – that the well-spoken men in pin-striped suits knew what was best for us. From its inception the union in Scotland was a process of depoliticising us, depriving us of the tools and the vocabulary with which to assert our will. In order to make us British we had to be sedated and kept in a perpetual state of national stupefaction.

Those days are over. The political stirring triggered in our country by having a parliament of our own has roused us from our slumber, the fringe bearded nationalists of the past are no longer on the peripheries of Scotland’s consciousness. At long last we have woken from the nightmare of history. Unable to unlearn what we have learned and to forget what we have come to know, it is no longer possible for the majority of Scottish people – independentistas and unionists alike – to simply bow the head and accept the will of others who fancy themselves our superiors.

Whether we are comfortable with this reality or not, the decision is already made. We are too savvy to be duped again and the die has been cast. Some of us may have been working for independence for a long time, but the situation in which we find ourselves over Brexit is not of our doing. London has taken it upon itself to speak for us – to its benefit and our harm, bringing us to an impasse. It is no exaggeration to say that London has forced on us an existential dilemma; we can refuse and so affirm our Scottishness in independence or sit on our hands and witness in our generation the final end of our nation. There is no third option, no via media.

Brexit and Westminster’s predictable arrogance have brought us here – to the end of our tether. This is the last chance the British government has to listen to us and to respect our sovereign democratic will. This is the limit of the chain holding us to the kennels of Britain, and that chain is just about to snap. When those bonds break London will be faced with a creature it has not seen since Bannockburn, a Scotland that will not be brought back to heel – no matter the cost.

Observing the mood of our SNP politicians, listening to people on the street, and reading discussions in the media and on social media, there is no doubt something has changed. More people have made the conscious decision to think of themselves and speak of themselves as already independent. People are making the only decision available to them, and it is but a matter of time before we reach a tipping point after which the whole of Scotland will no longer be able to ignore the fact that it is being ruled against its will. We are being ruled against our will.

Sooner or later we will be moved by events beyond the reach of our tether and we must be ready to act when that moment comes. Our temper will have broken and we must be prepared to use the energy this will unleash to ensure we never return to our captivity. We can never go back.

Our energies have to be channelled from this day forward into actions that at once harass the British state and bring every stream of the independence movement together. These past months and years have shown us how divided we can be, but these divisions will not serve us well in the final push. Every effort of the independence movement and of every Scot engaged in the struggle must to be focused on building unity and solidarity around that one issue that unites us – independence. We have all the time in the world after independence to squabble. Now is not the time.

People need to be brought out onto the streets. Time and again, in Catalonia and elsewhere, we have seen how the mass mobilisation of people works its own kind of magic, catalysing an exponential rate of change in public opinion and political activism. We have seen how in recent weeks almost a hundred thousand people can be mobilised under one banner. Imagine what this mobilisation would look like when these tens of thousands of people have something to do. We don’t need to resort to violence, and we mustn’t – but there are many things we can do that will make it increasingly more difficult for the British state to win and hold Scottish hearts and minds. I have never been more convinced than I am now that it is time to change movement and momentum into action.

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All Under One Banner – Dumfries – 2 June 2018 – Caravan of Love – Eddie Reid


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One thought on “At the End of our Tether

  1. A rousing piece which articulates the way we feel. More power to your pen. Roll on Independence. It will be hard, not easy to achieve but infinitely worth it.

    Like

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