Yet, the SNP campaign of 2012-14 was itself the product of change. On the eve of devolution, in the 1997 general election, Salmond’s SNP won a paltry six seats. It made no impact on the major population centres of the central belt, had no appeal to the socialist heart of Scotland, and failed to attract meaningful numbers from the country’s minority populations. At that election the SNP felt the full force of a New Labour landslide that swept across the whole of the United Kingdom and brought us the painful disappointment that was Tony Blair.
Right-wing populist governments with designs on capturing the state and fascism, such as Donald Trump’s and Boris Johnson’s are, are bringing home the shock doctrine consecutive US and British governments have employed on their foreign interventionist adventures since the US-backed coup and military takeover of Chile in 1973. This is the neoliberal dream; to see powerful and cohesive democracies softened up by truncheons, rent asunder by socio-economic division, and fractured into thousands of squabbling factions of the oppressed.
Irish people, beat down by austerity, sick of the homelessness and the housing crisis, have turned to Sinn Féin in numbers; the only party for a united Ireland – a Republic for all the children of Ireland. As the counting trundled on, one win after another put to bed forever the idea that Ireland cannot awaken from the nightmare of its history, a story imposed on us for centuries by British soldiers, their occupation, laws, and atrocities. At long last our day has come, and the wave – the ‘surge’ – of emotion that rushed through the Republican movement was equalled only by...
Independence justified is an entire package of political, social, and economic assertions which we must make and have been making not only to the unconverted, but also to the converted. We must make the effort to instil in each member of the movement that England’s politics are foreign politics, that they are inimical to our interests. Austerity imposed on Scotland – and on England – by Westminster not only breaks down the individual. It attacks the fabric of the family and the community, all of the necessary supports the individual requires to thrive and to be a productive member of society.
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.
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...
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.