Yet, the fact remains that the politics of independence is a national movement locked in an existential struggle with the British state and all the poison that that can bring to the fight. Not being the most social of people, “Jihadi Jason” – iScot Magazine’s witty new epithet for me – is all about winning the fight. Truth be told, I don’t feel particularly loyal to the Scottish National Party or to any pro-independence party. Political parties are useful instruments, but we mustn’t forget that they are also very human institutions. They attract professionals and careerists – journeymen.
How could these stories not leave the listener affected? At every stop on our way around the tunnels and underground platforms Paul informed us not only of the stories of the places and the events, but of the people – the ordinary working people of Glasgow, the ordinary working people of the Highlands who came, cleared from their homes, to work in the city, and the ordinary people of Scotland and elsewhere who passed through the station.
It would be all too easy for me to sit back here in Dublin and comment on social media that this is what’s needed, expecting someone else to answer the call and hit the road. But that would make me part of the problem, another keyboard worrier unwilling to actually act. I don’t want to be that person and I know I don’t need permission: If not me, then who? If not now, then when? So, I have determined to hit the road – to do what I can do to convince people the time is short, to empower people to get back into formation, and to persuade others to do the same.
Britain is not a nation. It is a vicious imperial political construct that has been imposed upon us, but it has power over us only for as long as we accept that it has a valid claim on us. We of course have to accommodate ourselves to some extent to this imposition by having a foreign royal and imperial insignia on our passports, by being UK citizens, and such like – we can’t function in the world without these things – but nothing of this means even in the slightest that we are British.
As Britain hastily cobbles together a black history of Britain the coming of the Windrush generation is being framed as an invitation. It was nothing of the sort. The British Empire was imploding. In order to offer a lifeline to its predominantly white imperial ruling caste in the colonies it granted citizenship to former subjects, not thinking that the native populations and the decedents of former African slaves would take up the freedom this citizenship offered with such relish.
“Hope over Fear” is a nice wee slogan. It looks fantastic on t-shirts and bright posters and banners, but it’s a slogan. It’s only a slogan. It has long since dawned on us that we need a shed load more than Hope if we are going to face down and defeat the British state. Winning independence will take grit, resilience, perseverance, and hard graft. Independence is a whole world of steely dedication and bloody hard work.
Scottishness is not about the blood in my veins. There is nothing genetic about being Scottish. No matter how soggy the turf, no matter how refreshing the water, or glorious the scenery, there is nothing in Scotland’s fields and brooks that makes us Scots. Scotland is a beautiful relationship; a long and intimate conversation with the people we love most and count as our own. It is a friendship that continues to be new and alive no matter how long the parting or wide the distance between us. My Scotland is home – where I started and where I am going.
It has been 1,266 days since the first independence referendum and every single day since then the independence movement in Scotland has been on its toes, standing in a campaign footing waiting for the second. The second referendum is coming. We have secured a mandate in our own parliament, we have secured a mandate at Westminster, and Holyrood has given its consent to put the question of independence back before the Scottish people.