We can’t rely on Boris Johnson to do more than he’s done already for the Indy movement.
As we approach the Winter Solstice, and find ourselves blessed with some of the magical cold frosty days, we finally get to see the breath of some of the hard-of-understanding-about-distancing, who gasp past you on the crowded city pavements and parks. We can only hope that miasma doesn’t contain any of those pesky wee spikey viruses. Imagine that breath as a toxic stench, magnified several times, emanating from the White House, and dispersing all over the USA, reaching across oceans. Gaggles of folk, all unmasked and clamouring for their freedom to spread disease.
That may not even be the last gasp, if I can say that, of 2020. It’s not over yet. By the time we get to the end of our Happy New Year greetings we’ll find ourselves crash landed into Brexit, while Labour and Tory politicians in Westminster and Holyrood have the nerve to cry foul over talk about independence.
Sadly, though there’s a lot of hot air emanating from those quarters too these days. I’m something of a lurker in the Indy movement at the moment. I can’t find a comfortable home in it. Just an interlocking series of Venn diagrams that connect me, a bit here and a bit there. If this was paper and I had a bin nearby it would be a brimming mess of crumpled paper. It’s not for the lack of an opinion. Hardly! It’s something else. A creeping hesitance about expressing it in a rapidly polarising movement. A tiptoeing exercise through egos and eggshells.
Not that it matters a heck to anyone what one person’s cherry pickings are. The point is that it should be ok to express them without signalling allegiance to a particular tribe. I suppose I shouldn’t have to make a disclaimer, as I hope it goes without saying that anyone taking the time to read this would be disgusted by bigotry and extremism of any kind. The independence movement must do no harm, but there’s a lot of hurt and anger about at the moment.
The thing is, I like Grass roots movements per se. By definition, it’s a messy and very organic place to guddle about in, but great when you get stuck in there up to your elbows. Until 2013/14 there was plenty of discontent, especially with the Groundhog Day practice of voting Labour, and getting Tories. Folk found a voice in the Indy movement. Thousands of folk. Many of those, and more, voted against leaving the EU and got Brexit. At the time of writing, it looks like a hard one, at that.
I do cherry pick. I like Common Weal as a think tank, and many of their policies, and I like Yes groups, and all those who stand at street stalls and try to engage with the Indy Curious. I like AOUB marches and Rallies, and it’s a hard one to explain when you’re also trying to say ‘No, No, I’m not a Nationalist’ while wringing out your Saltire. It’s definitely nice to belong, and I can’t blame folk for looking for more of that. For being impatient, and reacting to the increasing Indy polls. It’s called democracy.
I like discussion about Modern Monetary Theory, and about firm Commitment to removing Trident from our waters, and about Land Reform and Grouse Moors. I do not like the appropriation of the name Yes Alba. It’s not a great start, and it causes hurt. Did I mention egos?
I’m not drawn to political party membership, in spite of a flirtation with the Greens, as thousands flocked, to deal with the pain and disappointment of the 2014 referendum result. I like the freedom to criticise parties. I like some things about the SNP, and dislike others. There are great elected members and activists, and I recognise it as our formal vehicle for independence at this time. But I’m sure I mentioned egos. And complete Arseholes there too.
I like the First Minister. She’s my MSP, and she’s a hard worker. I place some value in the leadership that others, who previously voted No, also value. I also believe that we could do more in terms of Covid management, away from the pressures of the Four Nations approach, and I believe that the public would support bolder measures and decisions. Even if the shouty business owners would not. She supports GRA as I do, but I do not like her deference to Andrew Wilson and the Growth Commission, and I can’t stress that enough. It’s an area where we can find a lot of common ground within the movement.
Most of all I don’t like this hideously right-wing government that’s tearing us out of the EU against our will, and will lead us into a recession the likes of which we’ve not seen in our life-time. How much does the influence and opinion of Indy Egos matter under these circumstances? Does it really matter at this stage whether there’s a plan A or B or DEFG etc? If you display your plan B, are you saying that you don’t expect plan A to work? If you focus too much on s30, will we get too hung up on interventions like Federalism and extraneous bodies having the vote, or demands for a second vote etc?
Frankly it’s none of Westminster’s business at the moment. Let’s get our priorities right, find our common ground, and get those numbers up, with a really solid base of good progressive policies. Cherry pick the progressive stuff and forget the egos. Find and support issues that will stand up to scrutiny when the questions come pouring in. We can’t rely on Boris Johnson to do more than he’s done already for the Indy movement. We could throw it or grow it.