Comment: One Week On


One of our readers, Wevrul, explores the anger that has mounted for independence supporters since last Thursday’s result

The referendum may seem like a distant memory to some, but speaking as one of “The 45”, the flame still burns brightly and has no signs of slowing down. The news of a 55/45 result for the No/Better Together campaign still devastates me 7 days on. I had dreamed of a better Scotland, a more prosperous Scotland and most importantly, a Scotland that took hold of its own reins and carved its own path.

Unfortunately that dream never came to light and since then I have been told “the result was no, stop being a sore loser” and “give up your idea of another referendum, it won’t happen”, which of course a lot of people from both sides of the political spectrum will know not to be true. It hurts me that I can’t participate in a little activism and be allowed to show a strength in my convictions. If the vote had gone the other way I would be happy to have the Better Together campaign and be “The 45”, and I only find it fair to ask for a little civility to allow us to show our passion.

As civil as I am trying to be here, there have been a few things that have made me laugh (read: almost cry). Johann Lamont, before she had most of her party suggesting she step down after losing Glasgow to a Yes vote, tried to lead Scottish Labour in a sort of medieval crusade on modern politics. I can’t wait to see her in her chainmail, knocking people’s doors and bludgeoning them with a mace until the family agree to vote for Scottish Labour.

On the 24th of September the BBC reported that a new level of technology would allow oil production to continue for 50 years longer than was expected, which is ironic as during the entire IndyRef, the fantastic institution that is the BBC continually reported that the oil was withering away and that we would be lucky to have oil in the next few decades. To this day, the BBC still deny that they were biased to either side. Strange..

Most importantly we are being faced with another illegal war, one of the main reasons this generation were voting for independence for. Not only have the Three Amigos gone back on their promises to Scotland less than 10 hours after the result was in, but at least two of these fantastic representatives of our glorious Kingdom have agreed that military action should be taken against ISIS. Regardless of your personal opinions on this controversial debate, can’t we all agree that a political solution should be attempted before our politicians resort to another potential war? War and conflict never solve anything, Iraq being the prime example.

I’ve more than doubled my word count allowance and could continue but I want to finish on one last note. The term “brothers and sisters” may make you cringe, the idea of socialism may be laughable to you, but we are brothers and sisters. We need to stand together as “The 45” or whatever you want to call yourself. We need to join the SNP, Scottish Greens or Scottish Socialist Party and push for another referendum. We may have been bested in the first referendum, but this time we will start off with 45%, not 20%. We only need to grab the interest of 6% of the population the second time round for the dream to be clear. Keep talking to people, keep blogging, become an activist (peaceful, please) and most of all, never surrender your dream as a memory. It’s still possible, and not far away.

David Harkin: The week in politics

A normal week in politics can come and go without so much as stirring a front page headline or an unusually well-constructed Facebook status. It goes without saying that this week has been different. Remarkably different. Anyone who expected the referendum debate to whimper out after the dawn announcement of the result was mistaken.

Let’s take this from a Yes perspective and try to breakdown a week of highs – and some pretty big lows – and examine what has happened since 18th September.

It would be sensible to get the big one out the way … The Result. Undoubtedly this week’s biggest low for any Yes supporter. What felt like years of campaigning, debating, living and breathing Yes, ended with the result we prayed wouldn’t happen. George Square celebrations turned quickly to scenes of national shame, made all the more difficult to comprehend when compared the scenes observed in the run up to the referendum, and even earlier this summer at the Commonwealth Games. To somewhat compensate, the turnout was the largest ever seen in these islands and 45% of those that voted believed Scotland would be better as an independent country. Glasgow was also voted Friendliest City in the world by ‘Rough Guides’ reassuring us that the city’s reputation will not be damaged by a small, narrow minded minority.

The shock of the result had barely sunk in before the man that arguably won us the opportunity of referendum decided that his time as First Minister was up. Alex Salmond’s mark on Scotland’s history has been made and will surely not be forgotten, for the right reasons I should add. Not the best of starts to the week.

However there’s no point in dwelling when these lows have, in turn, lead to some of the biggest highs.  This time last week the SNP’s membership stood at roughly 25,600. In seven days nearly 40,000 people have joined ranks, a phenomenal increase in membership which takes the SNP above the Liberal Democrats to secure their positon as the UK’s third largest party (by membership). This rush to keep our political ambitions alive has also been (and quite rightly so) felt by the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party. People are politically engaged and it would appear they want to stay that way.

Then there is Nicola Sturgeon, one of the stand-out performers throughout the entire independence debate. It would seem now that she is about to get her time in the sun as First Minister of Scotland. I don’t think many people, yes or no supporter, who would disagree with Nicola leading our nation. In the past two years she has more than proven she is capable of the task.

Of course, it hasn’t all been phoenix-out-of-the-ashes-type news. For many of us the ‘Vow’ never held much weight, certainly not vote-changing clout. The promise of additional powers from an unworkable coalition of party leaders was never news to celebrate. One week on this continues to be a contentious issue. It would seem the leaders missed Gordon Brown’s (self-appointed saviour of the union)’s first deadline. No surprise there, really. Still, I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt so I’m reserving judgement on this for a later date and hope I’m not left waiting to do so. The implications of not delivering on this would be as damaging as, say, leading the country into another war. Or finding some surprise oil reserves less than a week after saying the reliance on oil revenues lacked common sense…

Following such an emotionally-charged, dynamic week in politics, it’s logical to turn attention to the 2015 General Election: the next time the political system is tested.

Whilst this topic could command its own blog in its own right, here are a couple of general thoughts:

  • Have Labour damaged their popularity in Scotland beyond repair? Would this result in more SNP MP’s at Westminster? Does this give the Conservatives a slight edge?
  • Has the debate in Scotland encouraged people south of the border to become more politically aware?

Following this, we will quickly approach the Holyrood elections in 2016. This week’s turbulent political landscape has left us wondering:

  • Is the boost in SNP membership a sign of increased popularity or just political activism of people that would have voted SNP anyway? Are they on the right tracks for another landslide victory? Will Nicola keep the momentum going and/or boost it as our earlier poll suggests?
  • Will our friends in the Green Party also experience a boost in popularity?
  • Will Johann Lamont be leading the Scottish Labour party into these elections, or will the murmurings of unrest on social media grow strength to force her out in favour of Jim Murphy and his soapbox?
  • Is Tommy Sheridan’s call for everyone to unite behind the SNP (currently the most likely vehicle to Scottish Independence) a sensible move?

For all of us this has been a long, tiring and at times migraine-inducing week. These few paragraphs have barely scratched the surface, but those who were disappointed Friday morning should take solace from the fact that the dream of Scottish Independence did not fizzle with Fife’s vote. It is still very much alive.

Those who voted yes can only hope that the generations who overwhelmingly voted for independence this time round will carry that with them for when #IndyRef2 comes round. Where to now? We’ll worry about that next week.

Our journey to yes is not over yet.

Why it’s difficult for independence supporters to “move on”


If I had voted no last week, my Facebook status would currently be something like this:

“Well now that that’s over, it’s time to move on together. Scotland has spoken and this has been a real victory for democracy. I’m sick of people still going on about it, it’s been decided. It’s time for us to reconcile ourselves and build a better country.”

But I didn’t vote no. And I’m finding it difficult to ‘reconcile myself’ on the opportunity missed.

Trying to empathise with those who did support the union, I can understand why for them the mourning period should be cut short. Not just because they had the majority in the vote, although that is the most simplistic explanation. Those who voted no were giving a vote of confidence in the current political system – in so much that any desired change could be delivered under it.

So why is that difficult to accept? On Friday morning I had a vision of walking through Glasgow as Scotland was announced an independent country. I wanted to celebrate in George Square, with thousands like me who dreamed of building something life-changing. Something fresh and fair and ours. I wanted the world to look at Scotland and say we got it right. I wanted us to look at ourselves and say we got it right.

Of course I accept that democratically the country has decided. But how long is an appropriate amount of time to get over that dream shattering? How long should it take me to accept a government who I firstly didn’t vote for, and who secondly have already started backtracking on their promises?

I’m not ready to start posting pictures of my dinner, or live-updates of X Factor, or any of the other drivel that filled our newsfeeds before the spark was lit. I wanted change so badly, with every inch of my being, that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to reconcile myself with the status-quo.

Lucy J Drummond: Yes Scotland and Burnout – A Rookie Guide to Navigating Activism’s Curse


I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely exhausted.

It’s no great secret that politics is, quite a lot of the time, a tough game to play. Even for the most seasoned of veterans, the independence referendum has been on another level entirely. Whether you pounded the streets, knocked on doors, hung up posters, or simply just voted Yes, your efforts have been commendable – we didn’t get 45% of the vote by accident.

With turnout at record-breaking levels, Scotland has recently been lauded as the most politically engaged country in the world – this is a title of which we should be immensely proud, on whichever side of the fence you find yourself. However, all of this exuberance comes at a price – the drained and fatigued mind and body, known all too well to activists as the dreaded burnout.

I write this as an ardent supporter of Scottish independence, and as someone who is currently emerging from the throes of said burnout, and if there’s one thing that I hope you take from reading this, it’s that it’s completely fine to take some time away from politics. Indulging in things that help you to relax, unwind and recuperate is something that I actively encourage. Whilst this may seem counter-intuitive to some, it’s of vital importance to the independence movement that we look after ourselves as much as possible. We simply cannot fight if we are running on empty.

Indeed, as Audre Lorde once said “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”.
Simply put, self-care is just as important as active campaigning, especially when you’re running a political marathon, or, if like me, you’re living with illnesses/disabilities.

For me, it’s taking time out to watch old episodes of Casualty on YouTube or mindlessly playing the Sims (we all have our quirks!), but however your self-care manifests itself, be sure to prioritise it. Looking after your health is nothing you should ever feel ashamed about or guilty for doing, and always remember that it’s okay to say ‘no’ – nobody alone can fix everything, even with the best of intentions.

I know that we can achieve independence, and that we will achieve independence, but working towards a better future should never come at the expense of your health. It took me, much like all activists, a few years to truly ascertain my boundaries. Even when you’ve figured them out, sticking to them is easier said than done – taking a step back is an essential activist skill!

In the age of modern technology, knowing our boundaries can be even more challenging, not least with the advent of the smartphone. Our world of relentless and incessant updates, fuelled by the almost constant internet access that most of us experience, has actually become the Achilles heel of many a campaigner. No matter how committed you might be, in theory, to the idea of disconnecting from the world wide web, trust me when I say that the lure of Facebook can crush even the strongest of resolves.

With all of this in mind, I leave you with a challenge: try to leave your phone and other internet- enabled devices off for just a couple of hours today. Even that small amount of breathing space can do wonders for the weariest of souls, despite potential misgivings. If you consider doing just one thing this week, please make time for yourself. The independence movement needs you to be strong and fighting fit; but aside from campaigning, your health is more important than anything else – don’t neglect it.

22nd September news


The Herald – Billy Connolly warns of ‘hell to pay’ if Westminster reneges on independence pledges

The Guardian – SNP poised to become one of the UK’s biggest political parties

Daily Record – Alex Salmond blasted over claim that Scotland could declare independence without need for another referendum

The Independent – Labour Party Conference: We will learn from SNP and reach out to the disenfranchised, says Douglas Alexander

The Daily Mail – Banning Scottish MPs from voting on English laws ‘cannot be avoided’, Hague warns Labour after Tory summit