In hiding behind this myth that we, “middle aged men,” are “a-l-w-a-y-s” chasing women with pitchforks – like angry and uncouth villagers, the gender politicians are wilfully ignoring the truth. Men argue with men in politics all the time. This has nothing to do with the sex of the belligerents, but this fact is deliberately overlooked when the picture is drawn of a club of men – obviously all members of the same secret society, “the patriarchy” – rounding on a woman who is portrayed in the most sexist way; as weak, fragile, and defenceless, against their bullish behaviour.
Scottish independence, as a political aspiration, is not an ideology. It is an idea shared by adherents of a number of political ideologies. The independence movement is a broad church; a political spectrum that stretches from one lunatic fringe on the far-right, with such blood-and-soil nationalists as Sìol nan Gàidheal and its ilk, to the other on the far-left, with the pseudo-academic disco of Marxists, Trotskyists, and Bakuninists. This is a movement that is as politically colourful...
The use of emergency powers in the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit nightmare scenario will not look pretty. Such powers will focus on focal points of resistance, be that local communities like the Ballymurphy estate in Belfast (1971) and the Bogside in Derry (1972) or democratic institutions like the Dáil – the Dublin parliament (1919); using force of arms to bring the population to heel. This was the same playbook put into operation by the British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will be the same or similar playbook that will be used to restore order in the UK after Brexit.
The common belief that Britain, acting as the policeman of Europe, went to war with Hitler to stop the Holocaust is an ex post facto justification. The Nazis’ “Final Solution” – the beginning of systematic murder as a solution to the “Jewish Problem” – did not begin until the Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942. Adolf Hitler’s opinions regarding the Jews were well known long before the war. He wrote a book outlining his antisemitism and his plans to deal with the Jews of Germany. Britain may or may not have been comfortable with this development in Berlin, but it did nothing.
It is no accident that from 1999, with the opening of the Scottish parliament, there has been a marked increase in the popular cultural use of the symbols of Britain and Britishness. Before then, with the exception of a minority of nationalists and republicans, the union flag flying over council offices and other public buildings in Scotland hardly raised an eyebrow. The flag of the UK was a simple and largely inoffensive statement of political settlement and reality. It was rare, if ever, it was featured in popular entertainment.
It is a source of immense frustration to me that the grassroots of the independence movement have been completely left to their own devices since 2014, rather than being kept under some form of structured leadership or guidance by the pro-independence political parties. Naturally there are those who would not like this. There are those who see party-political involvement as a threat to movement autonomy, sure. Others imagine it would leave the SNP open to attack for every infraction committed by some over-enthusiastic bampot, sure.
Openness and transparency do not undermine unity. They strengthen it. Lovers, brothers, sisters, and friends can tell one another uncomfortable truths. They can exchange cross words. They can even – and often do – have open pitched battled. But real and authentic relationships are not destroyed by such openness. They are strengthened. Silence, avoidance of the hard truths, disequilibria of power, and abuse foster environments which are highly toxic and inimical to true unity.
How marvellous will it be to think, in a free and independent Scotland, that the final phase of our journey began with a picnic in the capital? I can tell you, that will be the most beautiful thing – the bun fight that sent London packing. This coming Saturday I am going to Edinburgh. I am going to walk through our ancient capital. I am going to take in the sights. And I am going to walk to Holyrood Park for a picnic. After I have scoffed my pieces and drained my flask I am going to stand up and talk to my friends. If anyone wants to stop me, they had better bring an army.