What is his deal — really? What really gets on James Kelly’s goat is the stink of Fenian. The Orange sash is not merely an artefact of open anti-Catholic sectarianism, it is a paracite of the mind that penetrates deep into the Scottish psyche. This is no indictment, it is a consequence of colonialism — Britain has driven this deep into our culture. Catholics and Protestants are equally susceptible to it. This is the attitude towards Ireland and the struggle for Ireland’s freedom that is drip, drip, dripped into Scottish minds by the media and our education system.
The bottom line, then, is that we do not fit this definition of an indigenous people — and for good reason; it was not written with us in mind. Scotland is a developed European nation, and Scots are the dominant ethnic or people group in Scotland. In the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples the UN uses ‘indigenous people’ to mean a people or ethnic group subject to colonisation or settler-colonisation in a situation in which they are dominated by the coloniser group in their own territory.
What I mean by evil here is not some supernatural dark dualistic power of cosmic wickedness, but a primal enemy of humanity and life; a system of imperial politics driven by avarice which seeks its own enrichment and aggrandisement at the expense of peoples and languages and tribes and nations. Every moment Scotland remains under its power it is weakened and corroded. Three hundred years has been enough already. We have awakened and we must not fall back asleep.
And it is this disproportionate response — typical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank — that has people around the world up in arms. This war will only result in Palestinian cassualties, and many of these will be children and unarmed civilians — young and old. The propaganda from the Israeli government will be, as it has always been, that Hamas is ‘hiding behind human shields,’ but the sorry reality is that in such an overcrowded urban environment non-combatants have nowhere else to go.
Regardless of this, however, Scotland is not England’s possession. Scotland and the Scottish nation – its culture, identity, and resources – are the shared heritage and possession of the Scots. The incorporating union of 1707 has always been exactly that to Scotland; the fusion of two distinct kingdoms. But, and from the very beginning, in England the union – which was secured with the bribery of Scots nobles and the threat of invasion – has always been understood as the annexation or absorption of Scotland by England. So, when we hear English people opine about Scottish independence...
We left school with this now ingrained assumption: That we were at the bottom of the hierarchy, that by our nature we were inferior, and that we could never escape our predestined and natural place in a world that was owned and managed by our superiors. Looking back, it troubles me the most that this was done to us by our fellow Scots; by men and women who daily made it their business to correct our Scots language – or, as they called it, our ‘bad English’ – and whose greatest ambition was to be thought of as British.
In 2014 we saw ourselves as a small nation in a David-versus-Goliath fight. Realistically, in the beginning we did not expect to win. One theme repeated frequently at the time was that we just wanted to be a nuisance, that we wanted to have a bit of craic, upset the apple cart, and maybe – if we got lucky – give the English political establishment a bloody nose. We saw ourselves as a pesky younger sibling trying to make a point. But something changed. At some point in August 2014 it dawned on us that we might win – that we had a real shot of securing independence.
Ireland’s struggle for independence was not a violent struggle. The 1798 rebellion of the United Irishmen was not an act of violence, and neither was the 1916 Easter Rising. Following the logic and the sound moral reasoning of Scotland’s Claim of Right, that it is “the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs,” and the United States’ Declaration of Independence – “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…”