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What happened to the YES movement?

We have come a long way since 2014, since my joining SNP as a member and going to that first conference in Glasgow after the no vote. However, it has not been forward we’ve gone, it has been down.  As an ex yesser – and I feel sad that I have to call myself that, but that’s what I am – I am sickened by the way the ‘discourse’ in YES has been going the last few years; from the rampant misogyny, transphobia and general anti LGBTQIA+ sentiment to the propping up abusive men.

People who should know better, who do know better, people – including elected SNP officials – are sharing ‘political’ blogs which directly target specific individual people by doxing their twitter accounts. There are men in YES online threatening and intimidating women with assault and rape and others are choosing to go on Russia Today to chat with a man who was charged with assault and rape. (* and acquitted). 

The question I’m asking is: What happened to YES?

It seems to me that there are now 2 factions of YES: the progressives and the regressives and these 2 factions are constantly at odds with one another battling for control and power. 

What do each of 2 these factions want?

Progressives want what they wanted in 2014, what they campaigned and voted YES for: inclusion, tolerance, equality, an end to poverty, and an end to discrimination and hate based on sexual attraction, gender, race, and disability. A better society for all.

The regressives seem to want an end to LGBTQIA rights, men who have abused their positions of power put back into positions of power, blogs which target people being passed around, hate crimes to be ok again, and seem to care more about money and economy than human beings and inequalities.

The NEC results really took many people by surprise; given how much the result reflects this current battle between YES progressives and regressives for power. Along with the NEC there is now a ‘new YES movement’ – ‘yes Alba’ – which centres and is run by old, cishet, white men.

There has been a lot of talk about this – especially in regards to this ‘new YES group’ taking an existing minority groups name – however, I want to focus on one comment I saw from a prominent person within YES (whom I won’t name, because I believe doxing is wrong, even if you disagree with people,).

This person has stated that those of us speaking out are “tired and cynical”. Now, to be honest this is not inaccurate of me, I AM tired and cynical. I am going on 43 next year, I have seen and lived enough of all this power tripping opportunism and old, cishet, white men in positions of power to be anything else. 

In fact, I’m not tired, I’m exhausted. And I know I’m not alone, I speak to people in YES daily who feel the same.

Being attacked from all sides by your own side, as a woman, as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community by those you stood beside, it’s hard to stay energetic and optimistic about YES in this circumstance.

It’s demoralising, it’s painful, and it’s hurtful. 

Both the NEC results and ‘Yes Alba’ are another let down for LGBTQIA+ community, and people are rightly entitled to express their feelings on this.

You have to be realistic; you have to allow for people to feel and express the negative emotions they experience when they have been attacked continuously for years on end and let down on such a scale by those they trusted.

So, when someone in YES accuses us of being “tired and cynical” I have to say we are doing our best in some awful circumstances, with attacks left and right. We would appreciate that if you don’t want to reach out a hand to help, that you don’t choose instead to use your boot to kick us back down.

YES was once the movement we could rely on to never do that and it is exhausting and painful and hurtful that it now is doing that. It’s exhausting and demoralising that we are having to fight the movement we were once at home in simply for the equality and progress we all fought together for in 2014.

So yes, I’m “tired and cynical” and that won’t change while the regressives continue to put pressure on marginalised and oppressed groups by dominating political discourse and movements in Scotland.

By Jo Edwards

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