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By Jason Michael
NOWHERE WAS THE SICKNESS of unionism spelt out more starkly than in The Telegraph newspaper the day after Scotland voted No to independence. On the 19 September 2014, the morning no few independence supporters woke as if to a funeral, the right-wing Conservative paper was breathing a “sigh of relief” as its headline gloated to its readers “Scotland’s No vote: what it means for your money.” The campaign for independence in Scotland brought to the surface something we had always known, that this was a struggle for a better future – a better Scotland. Our independence referendum was nothing short of a national Titanomachy in which the powers of the British establishment, wealth and privilege, and big business were pitted against ordinary Scots who saw in this their last best hope for something better.
It came as no surprise that The Telegraph – as an instrument in a negative campaign which relentlessly appealed to people’s insecurities – would be first to return to the field to reassure its audience it had made the right choice, their money was safe. Austerity; the British government’s policy designed to transfer wealth from the bottom to the top, would continue, foodbanks would remain a disgusting reality, and everything we had fought so desperately hard for lay in tatters. Flag-waving British nationalists, themselves victims of austerity, gathered at “Freedom Square” in Glasgow – a city that voted for independence – to, as they saw it, reinforce the ugly truth that Britannia ruled the waves. For the worst reasons, that is a day we will never forget.
Four million forced to use foodbanks. That 80% of the population of Scotland! This is not getting better folks. https://t.co/WbNvkcefVA—
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) June 07, 2018
Like so many people in the Yes movement, I was not convinced it had been a fair election. Long before the revelations of Tory vote rigging and the uncovering of the dark money scandal, I suspected we had been cheated. Of course, I am willing to accept Peter Bell’s conclusion that it would be nigh-on impossible for such a nationwide conspiracy to remain hidden, but there are other ways – as we now know – to game an election and rob people of their democracy. In fact, the nefarious use of money and Big Data in the subversion of democracy has become standard. I’m not alone in believing Scotland was a test run for the British establishment’s latest big idea.
This was four years ago and for good or for ill we have accepted the result. We had no choice but to accept the result. But, regardless of what did or did not happen, that is all in the past. Bitterness cannot be allowed to shape the course of our journey from here to independence. Rather, we must now take time as a movement to take stock of where we are, of the many factors that brought here, and of the numerous challenges we now face. “The dream,” as Alex Salmond said that day, “will never die!” This fight is far from over. We are still on the road to independence.
Every trick in the book – every dirty trick – was played on us. In England people were shocked that politicians would tell them so many lies. In Scotland we had already discovered quite how mendacious these people were willing to be. Over the whole of the independence referendum campaign we were told one lie after another, and it never mattered a jot how serious or outrageous these lies were – the purpose was to win at any cost. Later the following year we discovered the uselessness of attempting to punish these lies when Alistair Carmichael was allowed to keep his seat, even after it had been shown he had told a “blatant lie” in an attempt to politically damage the First Minister. In Scotland we know the power of the establishment will protect its defenders – even when that means protecting the right of unionists to lie and mislead the people of Scotland.
At the time, fully protected by the establishment, Carmichael said:
I shall continue to represent Orkney and Shetland as a member of parliament to the best of my ability, as I have done for the past 14 years.
We know his “ability,” we know they are liars. But this is good to know. They will continue to lie and cheat, the courts – the Crown – will continue to shield them, and wealth and privilege will continue to be mobilised against us. The British establishment has constructed a fake news hell for the people of the United Kingdom; its own little post-truth universe, in order to keep the union together and in order to get the Brexit it wants – a Brexit that will only deepen the effects of austerity and return massive dividends to its architects. But in doing this it has sown the seeds of its own destruction. Lies have a self-life – more especially when those lies act to increase the suffering of the majority. Already we have seen through Brexit and what it means for us, and we have a catalogue of exposed lies and false promises from 2014 and before.
What is process for removing our EU citizenship? Voting yes. #scotdecides—
Better Together (@UK_Together) September 02, 2014
This is where we are. The independence cause survived 2014, it wasn’t consigned to history as they had hoped. If anything, it has become more entrenched, grown in support, and gained the political experience it needs to tackle Britain again. We are ready for that fight, we are positively champing at the bit for it to begin.
Four years after the pain and heartbreak of defeat we are here, we are still standing, we are stronger, hungrier than ever. The arrogance of British power has failed to impress us. The British state has shown itself to be more fragile than most of us could have possibly imagined when we first began. All over the independence movement we see people – ordinary people – who have made the independence cause the cause of their lives. The level of commitment and dedication is awe-inspiring, and even with all our petty squabbles we have gained for ourselves an esprit de corps more than capable of matching the British Empire – or what little remains of it. No one and nothing can take this from us, not even another defeat! We have tasted defeat, we have risen from defeat, and we have learnt that defeat in the struggle against the continuation of London rule in our country is nothing but the extension of injustice.
Scotland’s independence is a question of justice, and no injustice can last forever. Having come to see the nature of the injustice of British rule, we have come to know that final defeat is impossible. No matter how many defeats – no matter how crushing, in the end Scotland will be free. Our efforts now are not so much a contest against unionism. The union is already dead. Our competition is against future generations of the independence movement. We must rob them of the glory by ensuring that freedom is won in our generation, to our glory and immortal memory.
Bias in the BBC and Lies from Better Together: #IndyRef Weekly Review #2