Given that Westminster is not in Scotland’s bests interests and that devolution, as it is, is not fit for purpose – things even Murdo Fraser has conceded, Nicola Sturgeon has proposed an open process of dialogue with the British unionist parties seeking to gain something short of independence but better than what we have. In a world running short on statesmen, this was a splendid – even Bismarckian – act of statesmanship, and kudos to her for it. Some may see this as a sell-out, but I will argue the case that it is not. This is a smart move.
When faced with the powerful self-destructive drive of England, especially when we are so completely powerless to help, we are forced to adopt the calm reasoning of Fr. Anthony De Mello: “Maybe they should suffer a little more. Maybe they ought to touch rock bottom…” Of course, what some need is to suffer less, and those we must help, but there are others – like the alcoholic and the drug addict – who need to hit rock bottom first, who need to suffer a little more.
We cannot win independence now without the SNP. All our efforts are in vain, whether radical or alternative, if those efforts are not working in accord with the efforts of the whole movement; moving in the same direction as all the people and groups now on the march. So, allow me to be clear: I pledge my commitment to support the SNP in the job that it is doing. I will not engage myself in any activism aimed at harming or undermining the work it is doing. I will not make one single elected representative of the SNP my personal or political enemy.
An announcement that an announcement is coming is, however, a welcome development. It is a relief. For too long the independence cause has been bogged down in a waiting game. The movement on the ground has gone stir-crazy, and things aren’t exactly much better up the political chain. At Westminster our SNP MPs – a good few of them at any rate – have splashed out on all the People’s Vote merchandise in the vain hope that being a team player for the benefit of Remain England – the minority of the English electorate – will improve our chances on bettering Scotland.
Realpolitik is the business of practical politics, based on the ever-changing conditions of the political weather than on idealised notions and ideas based on ideology. We may have independence as our immediate political goal, but the weather systems in which we must navigate a course to that end are in a constant state of flux – meaning, quite simply, that grand strategies and masterplans seldom, if ever, actually exist. So, we are left to deal with day-to-day contingencies, and, when it comes to the current state of Brexit, those are coming at us thick and fast.
After 29 March the rules of the game will change. Even the chief Brexiteers have conceded that in the immediate aftermath of Brexit the United Kingdom will suffer an economic and financial shock magnitudes greater than the 2007 credit crunch. Jacob Rees-Mogg is on record stating it might take fifty years for recovery to begin. The word from Ireland tonight was “brace for impact.” After 29 March – just 73 days from now – Britain’s economic and financial survival will become dependent on Scotland’s oil and gas resources to a degree to which it never has in the past.
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.
This is our moment. We have no time left; no time to wait on a signal that might never come, might not even be planned. Action makes things happen, and this is our time to act. We are a democracy, and in democracies the people call the shots and not the elected politicians. We set the agenda and make them dance to our tune. We don’t have a single moment to lose. If we want independence now, and if we don’t want to leave this unresolved for our great-grandchildren to fight anew, now – today – is the time to move without permission.