Here’s my secret: I am not an independentista. I am a Liberationist. Liberation – the “Let my people go!” of the Book of Exodus – is as much about the liberation of the nation as it is about the liberation of society and the family as it is about the liberation of the person. Scottish independence, then, for me, is as much a cause of national liberation as it is a cause for the liberation of everyone in Scotland from the constitutional, social, and economic conditions that keep us in chains – and we are in chains; for some these are the fetters of poverty and for others they are the bonds of indifference.
Lyra McKee’s murder was, as a journalist, as President Higgins said, “an attack on truth itself.” It is also very much an attack on Ireland’s truth. For as long as Derry, Down, Tyrone, Armagh, Antrim, and Fermanagh remain under the control of the British state, separated from the rest of Ireland, so long as Britain keeps part of Ireland subject to the priorities of England in Westminster, and ignored, dominated, and neglected, there will always be the potential for a return to violent conflict. People’s lives will always remain under the shadow of violence and the horrors of war.
Sinn Féin will never take up its seats in England’s parliament. Nothing would disgrace Ireland more than that betrayal. The Irish Republican sees this as taking a piss on the graves of all those who have laid down their lives for Ireland, on all those who have resisted and stood firm, on the graves of all Ireland’s martyrs. Sinn Féin will never sit in England’s parliament. No matter how bad things get in Britain, Sinn Féin will stay in Ireland and watch as England’s crows come home and tear that nation of liars and murderers to pieces.
The nuclear option runs like this: The union is “nothing more” than a treaty between two kingdoms, that the Scots – as a sovereign people – are “the highest authority” in Scotland; “higher than any government or monarch.” Therefore, by giving the people of Scotland a vote in the Brexit referendum, the British government has made a serious mistake. By rejecting Brexit, the Scottish people now have a simple right to rescind the union. Now that the Scottish government has pushed on every door, which includes Nicola Sturgeon appearing in London to call for a People’s Vote...
This style of political policing – all the way down from Whitehall in London to the police officer doing her or his job – has one objective: To subtly and then not-so-subtly intimidate people. The hope is that it will put average, law-abiding people off activism. No one wants to be of interest – no matter how friendly they are – to the police, and less still want to be watched by the intelligence services of the state. But what this is, in reality, is an attempt on the part of the British state to disempower us – the electorate, the demos of the democracy.
This is the temple before the altar of which another Rebel could intone: “I say to my people’s masters: Beware! Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people who shall take what ye would not give.” And this is, at least in part, the meaning of Wolfe Tone’s grave; that its incompleteness is the promise of completion, that this is not over – that Ireland’s enemy should take heed. Something “is coming.” This grave in Bodenstown is not pretty. Its symbolism and meaning are dark – nightmarishly dark, but they are necessary.
Westminster no longer benefits Scotland. Westminster never benefitted Scotland. What is meant here is that Westminster, so long as we remain there, functions to impede the further growth of the independence movement. The problem this causes us has become so glaring, so obvious, that it has become a source of shame. Independence presupposes a nation’s freedom, and Scotland can never and will never be free until it has rejected its slavish place in England’s parliament.
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.