By Jason Michael

OUR NEW YEAR IN SCOTLAND certainly hasn’t come with the breeze of fresh optimism for which many of us had hoped. Not exactly the most buoyant of opening lines, I know, but sometimes we just have to bite the bullet. We’re miserable. Across the independence movement, or at least that part of the movement which’s mood I can gauge from where I am, there is a growing sense of foreboding; a feeling that we are getting out of our depths in the dark water of despondency. There are perfectly good reasons, we mustn’t forget, why we are down in the mouth. It’s bleak, dark January. We’ve just gotten through Christmas. There are 351 sleeps until Santa visits us again. But, more seriously, leaving the EU and all the worry that brings is no longer a threat on the distant horizon; this particular enemy is already at the gates.

A few days ago, Thomas responded to me on his Arc of Prosperity website. Earlier last week I had written of a friend who was in the doldrums over his anxiety that Nicola Sturgeon might not call an independence referendum in time to save us from being pulled over the Brexit cliff edge. Thomas felt, as he said in his response, that this could have easily been a reference to him and his mood, and so he shared with us what has been worrying him:

I’m starting to think, however, that [convincing Westminster that our independence will also benefit England] will require disrupting Westminster, campaigns of civil disobedience, and other peaceful means to make them understand that Scotland cannot be governed without the consent of the Scottish people, and I worry that Nicola Sturgeon isn’t the right kind of person for that. She would have been a great first prime minister after independence, steadying the ship and reassuring other countries that an independent Scotland would be a trustworthy member of the internal community, but I’m not sure this is her kind of fight.

Whether he is right or wrong on this being Sturgeon’s kind of fight, he is right. We’ve waited for what seems like an eternity since September 2014, we’ve felt the humiliation of the betrayal of the Smith Commission, and now we’re feeling the castration of the open contempt London has continued to show our democracy over its Brexit project – pulling us out of the EU after we said No. From where we are standing, it looks like Ms Sturgeon and the SNP have parked independence for the time being, preferring instead to play politics according to the rules laid down by the Westminster government. We are frustrated that we are jumping through hoops and dancing to another’s tune, and, after the empowerment and excitement of 2012-14, we don’t much enjoy this feeling of lethargy and we definitely don’t enjoy being kept in the dark. Our restlessness, in this gloomy January, is fast turning to frustration and impatience.

Peter Bell captured this annoyance at being made by our political leadership to wait while it acquiesces to the English drive for a so-called people’s vote:

The position that the SNP has taken – actively demanding [a people’s vote] – looks like nothing more than another delaying tactic. Another way of putting off effective action to resolve the real constitutional issue facing Scotland. Not Brexit, but the Union which denies the people of Scotland full and effective exercise of their sovereignty.

Yes, this is exactly it. We feel as though we are being delayed; held up with pointless busy-work whilst the SNP makes all the right noises to keep Westminster and our own unionists off its case in order to buy it more time to think, more time to gaze at the polls. Meanwhile, in the grassroots, we’re left like schmucks wondering what’s the holdup as the black clouds of Brexit drop their ominous shadows on the ground right in front of us. What are we playing at? It’s quite clearly high time we were on the move, and yet, here we are, standing around holding our mickeys waiting for some magical authority in Bute House to sound the “starting gun.” The starting gun for what? We’re no longer entirely sure the wizard with the boom stick is singing from the same hymn sheet. Other than the stale and hollow slogan “Trust Nicola,” we don’t exactly have a heap of evidence she or anyone else in the SNP is actually planning on giving us what we want.

The reality of our current predicament is this: We don’t know when the next referendum is going to be, and we don’t even know if we’ll be given one at all. Time is fast running out. Our frustration has long since become impatience, and now that is rapidly sinking into depression. The solution, as Barrhead Boy reminds us, is still the same:

The British Union is broken beyond repair. There is not a single way that it benefits Scotland. We have to do whatever it takes to get ourselves as far away from their self-inflicted disaster as possible. The time has come to stop playing by the Westminster’s rules and start playing by our own rules. Rules that benefit our nation, our residents, new and old Scot alike.

There is a tension seeking resolution here, and resolving it is critical. Something has to give. If it turns out that there is no plan for another referendum, if the First Minister is not the right person for this specific job, or if she loses her nerve, the effect of this on the wider movement will be catastrophic. Post-Brexit – without an out for Scotland, London will “do whatever it takes” to stop independence. Please quit this naïve nonsense about waiting until after Brexit, until people really feel the pinch. Brexit is a trap. England, outside of the EU and without a trade deal is in economic peril. England’s imperialist imagination was one born of trade; in the merchants’ manses, in the banking institutions, and in the clearinghouses. British imperialism is first and foremost about financial security – and financial security for England right now is Scotland. Brexit puts independence for Scotland on hold indefinitely. For the rest of our lives, if caught in the Brexit trap, independence is off.

How do we resolve this tension? The answer is quite simple: Ask Ellen Joëlle Höfer. Ellen is a German Scot based in Glasgow, very much living in the fear of expulsion. At any time, like so many non-UK citizens from the EU who’ve made Scotland their home, she can pack up and go. But she chooses not to. Scotland is her home, and she is a Scot. She has made the struggle for independence, the fight for Scotland, her fight – and she refuses to give up. As an alumnus of the Glasgow School of Art, she was distraught when it was burnt down. This too was her home, where her soul was nourished by the Scottishness of the colours of that institution. Rather than do nothing, she returned to the burned-out shell, and, while smoke was still rising from the ruins, she stood on the street and made brightly coloured paper phoenixes – a touching, symbolic gesture.

This may be a mere symbol, but it is a powerful symbol; one not lost on anyone familiar with the history of Ireland’s long struggle for independence. The Phoenix, the mythical wingéd beast that rises from the ashes of destruction, has become the potent representation of resistance to and rebellion against foreign domination. Ireland’s first stirrings of national independence were actions without consent – they were deeds. Without a starting gun from their MPs at Westminster, the women and men of the Citizen’s Army, the Irish Volunteers, and Cumann na mBan marched out against the might and brutality of the British Empire on Easter Monday 1916. Their actions were symbolic, the outcome was never in any doubt. But in their defeat, from the ashes of the nation’s dreams, arose the Phoenix of a new Ireland – a risen people which could never be defeated.

This is our moment. We have no time left; no time to wait on a signal that might never come, might not even be planned. Action makes things happen, and this is our time to act. We are a democracy, and in democracies the people call the shots and not the elected politicians. We set the agenda and make them dance to our tune. We don’t have a single moment to lose. If we want independence now, and if we don’t want to leave this unresolved for our great-grandchildren to fight anew, now – today – is the time to move without permission. Our depression and despondency will soon lift the minute we are on our feet and moving, doing something. If you still need a starting gun – BANG! – there it is. Now come on!


Nicola Sturgeon on a second referendum for Brexit and Scottish independence

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18 thoughts on “Scotland is Running Out of Time

  1. It is good to see that main stream( as far as independence supporting ) commentators are now coming to the conclusions I have been banging on about for 4 years in my wee insignificant blogs and facebook and twitter postings and being vilified for it.
    After the referendum in 2014 the SNP got themselves into a bunker and battles were never won from within a bunker. They have done ,not a single thing to properly address the issues we lost the referendum on in preparation for a future referendum. Unless you call Andrew Wilson’s economic commission preparation. That was simply a mess which like other things has been kicked into the long grass.I have been saying for some considerable time that Nicola Sturgeon and Peter Murrell are the wrong people to have at the top of the SNP and this latest court defeat and Sturgeons backing of the person jointly responsible for setting up Salmond has done nothing to change my mind on this, the emails from Murrel’s office to past and present Scottish government employees fishing for further accusations against Salmont, further reinforced my opinion as to the unsuitability of that particular family to lead scotland to independence.
    It is way past time for a change and it is up to the membership and politicians of the SNP to get on with it or we will never see independence .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting comment. Could you provide me with further evidence of the claim that Murrel’s office fished for accusations against Salmond.?


  2. Agreed. You know I do. However, just telling folk to ‘do something’ is useless. The non political, or even the political man in the street doesn’t know how to convert that suggestion. At the same time, you don’t want to incriminate yourself by suggesting something to do. Again, there is nothing wrong with civil demonstration, civil sabotage, work to rules, strikes, road blocking, flash mobs etc. The time for jaw, jaw is over. I truly think if folk start seeing people demonstrating or striking that it’ll have the wild fire effect. And if it doesn’t and we remain apathetic and unmoveable, then all our articles are for nought and we do really deserve all we get.


  3. Rarely do oppressing governments make it legal for their subject nations to become legal, and more so when they need that country’s resources.

    The way things look, at some stage we are going to have to act outside of the law of the UK.

    Our problem is the SNP appear to be trying to act within the framework of UK law and that ties them up, hand and foot.

    Their real challenge is to find a non violent way to get us out now, not to slavishly obey our colonial masters rules in the hope of a future bread crumb.

    Because if they don’t, ultimately the pot will boil over…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brilliant description of how I and many supporters feel. But once again I’m left frustrated. If I hear ‘do something’ one more time, I really am going to scream. I’ve done what I can. Discussed on twitter. DIscuused in person. Join in my local (tiny) YES group. Right now I’m painting YES rocks to be left around. Futile, I know, but it makes me feel like I’ve ‘done something’. Until we hear from the SNP, there is really nothing any of us can do to move independence closer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A more important question: What kind of action are you proposing. Seriously, think about it. Come up with an idea – anything (sincerely) – and we’ll start from there. Be your own leader.


  5. To get from here to Independence, Jason, we need to know the plan, the how of it, step by step. Otherwise, this sounds like my window cleaner come to wash my windows without a ladder.
    Frustration and good intentions and the desire to be free are not going to get us to Independence.
    Please get a plan – preferably with the SNP in it somewhere, and I’ll be with you.

    Saor Alba


    1. Am I missing something? I thought your plan was:

      1 – Get a Scottish parliament (DONE)
      2 – Vote in an Indy majority Scottish Government (DONE)
      3 – Scottish people push to dissolve the union
      4 – The Scottish Parliament (SNP) activate the legal mechanism for Indy
      Scotland leaves the Union
      5- Everything else – Scotland decides it for themselves


  6. I’m living in Wales to be close to family; I’m needed for child-minding. So I’m frustrated at not being in Scotland. I’m discouraged with the lack of action by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP leadership. I’m disappointed by her standing by Leslie Evans. I’m also concerned about the proposed Written Constitution to be presented to the Scottish Parliament in February. Most of it’s excellent. I’m concerned that it proposes a secular Scotland. I don;t think a Christian Scotland is possible, but a religiously pluralistic would give much more freedom to all religious bodies to participate in public life. Secular is not religiously neutral, anyway. It is, itself a religion in various forms. for it to be privileged seems to me to be unjust. I’d much prefer pluralism, in which diverse and even conflicting religious views are aired in a harmonious way. It would call for compromise, but we’d not see a situation such as OR nurses being fired because their religious convictions would not let them participate in abortions.
    I hope people are reading and contributing to this Constitution.



  7. Oh dear. Another one frantic to jump into an Independence Campaign. I was very much involved in the last one. I just cannot imagine trying to run a sane decent campaign in the current frenetic state of UK politics and the screaming madness of the MSM. We have to wait. As Nicola said from the very beginning – we need to know what kind of Brexit deal – and we still do not know.


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