So long as we live in a world where the Scottish parliament’s former Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, insists that male politicians “wear a shirt AND tie,” we also live in a world where women are expected to dress in a certain way. Let me be clear, these are not my rules. I make a point of never dressing the way I am expected to dress. Other than the fact that I just don’t look good in black (it does nothing for my skin tone), the cassock, stock, and Roman collar are self-defeating in the twenty-first century; they look is far too authoritarian.
At twenty-seven years of age, Seán was a broken man. The trauma of what he witnessed and the effects of his near drowning caused him a severe emotional and psychic collapse, the ripples of which washed up against him – sometimes pulling him back under – for the rest of his life. His bi-polar disorder produced a curious older man; someone who would laugh with all the joy of life and sink into the bleakest recesses of the valley of the shadow of death – sometimes in the same day.
Regularly on social media I and others are called fifth-columnists for openly criticising the SNP, for having the audacity to air our disagreement with ‘Nicola.’ The suggestion is that by doing this we are undermining independence, the implication being that we are traitors or British government ‘plants’ sowing seeds of discord. Certainly, this has made my own commitment to independence one of the most frustrating and painful political experiences of my life – but it has not shaken my resolve.
You may have noticed that Brexit has entirely replaced terrorism – the staple of British news between 2001 and 2016 – in the British broadcast and print media. Not even the suicide bombing of the Manchester Arena in May 2017 was able to unseat the Brexit agenda from our television screens for more than a month, which is interesting considering the British media’s prior behaviour in response to non-fatal terrorism stories and acts of terrorism in other western countries.
The ruling of the Supreme Court offers Scotland and Scotland’s elected representatives – the only representatives of the sovereignty of the Scottish people – a whole new set of opportunities. British government attempts to stifle the Scottish government can now be challenged in the Supreme Court and retarded by the precedent this sets. In principle, it removes from the British government the assumed right to grant or withhold permission for constitutional referenda in Scotland, voted for by the Scottish parliament and Scottish MPs in the House of Commons.
This is the extraordinary power we are handing to these soft Noes. We are casting aside the independence and the new state that could be in favour of an empty IOU from soft Noes who, we may well suspect, we have simply imagined and reified. Yes, you read that right: It is my conviction that these soft Noes are phantasms. Figments of our imaginations. Ghosts. Sure, in a nation of 5.4 million people with 3,925,800 registered voters there are bound to be some ditherers – some.
In the independence movement we talk so much about building a better Scotland, about improving the lot of Scottish people in Scotland. We talk about beginning this ‘indy’ as we mean to go on. This is all just talk, though – isn’t it? I want to start as I mean to go on. I want to begin Scottish independence with a whole new Scotland, not a reset to the ugliness that was aristocratic Scotland prior to 1707. The world has changed. We have changed. Say what you want about prioritising independence before a Republic, I want both – and I want both because I do not believe...
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.