‘Someone on the internet said something mean about me,’ joked Paul Kavanagh a couple of years ago as he recounted to me his experience of negative comments online. And this is true; no matter what we do or say, there will always be someone lurking somewhere online — invariably hiding behind an anonymous profile — who will go out of their way to say something biting and nasty. Here we’re not talking about trolls. We have come to expect them and when we realise this is what they are up to we can dismiss them without much thought.
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.
What we must do now is look to the future, and that is what I hope to think about in this article — the future. At the beginning of this month, persuaded that giving both votes to the National Party would return a near-impossible majority, independence supporters voted for another five years of Ms Sturgeon’s painfully gradualist approach. This approach — a policy or non-policy of acquiescence to the London government — has, in terms of independence, achieved nothing in the last almost seven years.
That cannot happen by a mantra of ‘BothVotesSNP.’ The more you have on the constituency, the less you have on the list, and vice versa. Common sense, logic and political acumen dictate that the way you manage the system is you vote for a pro-Indy party in the constituencies and for a different pro-Indy party on the list – that way, they are not competing with each other and you max the votes for Yes, for independence. And, whyever not?
Paul Kavanagh has written an article explaining to his readers why he will be stepping back from the 2021 Holyrood election campaign, and the experiences he has described are truly sickening. As we are all aware, Paul suffered a stroke a number of months ago and is struggling to recover. While he was in hospital, unable to receive visits from friends and loved ones due to the pandemic restrictions, he lost his beloved friend — our beloved friend — Ginger the wee ginger dug.
It should be obvious that we must use every avenue at our disposal to win independence. One such avenue is the Additional Member System (AMS) used to elect MSPs to the Scottish parliament. There are two ballot papers. The first is to elect a constituency MSP. There are seventy-three constituencies in Scotland. This is a first past the post vote and the SNP are predicted to win nearly all of these constituencies. The second ballot paper is to elect regional list MSPs on this ballot and the vote is for the party. There are eight regions electing seven MSPs each.
The plan is so simple it’s positively brilliant. With the Scottish National Party, with its membership at least screaming for independence, doing so well in the constituencies (with the exception of those in South Scotland and the Highlands and Islands), it is guaranteed to get practically nothing in the regional list. In 2016 independence supporters wasted — yes, wasted — almost a million votes on just four SNP list MSPs. The SNP is still doing exceptionally well in the constituencies and will still be massively penalised in the list...
Yes, there are serious issues affecting the independence movement, and independence politics is a passionate politics touching so many of us right at the heart of our identities. In an instant, arguments and insults are accelerated to accusations of treason and unionism. It was when I saw one prominent antagonist describe his fellow independentistas as ‘former indy supports’ that it really struck me that things have gone too far. We cannot continue to be this rigid and unforgiving. Independence demands the hard work and dedication of hundreds of thousands of people.