Brexit Campaigns coronavirus Democracy Holyrood Election 2021 Immigration Independence Scottish Independence Ungagged Writing Val Waldron

No Country for Yesterday’s Men

Before battles re-commence it’s worth re-visiting the mettle of the woman who stated in her First Minister’s re-election speech ‘I resolve never to shy away from the tough calls.’ We’ve seen that, she’s still standing, and it’s a very hopeful start.

We know that there are no real happy endings in life, but when Nicola Sturgeon beats Willie Rennie and Douglas Ross in one day to retain her First Minister status you have to be joyous. More pertinently, she survived the Witch-hunt of her career, a black hole of Ugly that threatened to sink her and the movement with it. Tomorrow something else will be along, but there’s just time for a so-what-the-actual-hell-was- that-and- where-are-we-now? Moment.

Salmond, Alba, Wings and some of the darker elements that came with them are essentially quiet for now, no-matter how much air-time Salmond thinks he is owed by the BBC. They may be planning a further (strangely denied) coup or a run at the council elections next year. Salmond even hinted that he is about to launch himself as a Twitter Troll to ‘fill the vacuum left by Trump.’ If it hadn’t been now, it would’ve been after independence. We don’t all think the same, and shit happens. A perfect storm of it in my opinion, that picked up the debris of impatience, bigotry, vengeance and ego as it swept its way through formal committees, picking up unionists and media, and settling in the darker recesses of Twitter.

It’s not for me to say that many who voted for Alba are decent people. Let them make their own excuses as to why 45k votes were squandered, and yet the incoming anger is about ‘wasted SNP list votes.’ I don’t have a dog in that fight, as I couldn’t begin to game the system, but basic arithmetic tells me that we already had two parties of independence who could’ve used them in time honoured  fashion.

We learned a lot though; who to trust or otherwise amongst the commentators and bloggers. Not many I found. We heard dog whistles in the distance as some toppled on the fence. We lost those heady 56% – 58% Yes leads in the polls, as some mud clearly stuck to the FM and the movement.

But Election day came and went. It had its own dramas, highs and lows; Ayr, Aberdeen West, the fascist Green scammers and Sturgeon telling a fascist and a racist what she is. By and large, and almost strangely comforting, it all seemed to fall back in place as it was before the urgency of the Plan B contingent and the sequence of events that could have ended so differently. Not comforting as in 31 seats for Tories, but in the sense that there seems to have been less damage to the movement and the prospects for independence than might have seemed possible in recent months/weeks.

Now it’s time to stop the kind of fantasising that allowed us to think that we could just have held an election last Summer and won. Maybe the union is breaking up, on its knees, but that doesn’t mean that it will be easily broken. We’d probably have found out just how soft that Yes lead was if we’d somehow procured a snap referendum. We need a majority that won’t be scared off when Salmond says Boo!

Time to stop believing the hype from within and out-with the movement and get real. The idea that we can just Max the Yes and voters will fly to new pop-up parties with no, or dubious policies. The idea that only an SNP majority would represent anything like a mandate for a 2nd referendum. The Tories are still using that one against us, even with one seat short of a majority.

The FM starts her new parliamentary term with a mandate for independence. Let’s just take that as read, but we have to win next time and there must be as little doubt as there possibly can be that the result will be a resounding Yes before we even enter the polling booth. I shudder to imagine the alternative. I’m not overly concerned that we lost the big majorities from last year. I’m pleased that some even flirted with the idea of independence. There are possibilities there.

I’m more concerned that those who are in a hurry for a vote have an idea that we can announce a campaign and be ready to win within a few short months. Maybe, but this is not 2014. I have an image of a Penny Falls machine that tipped out scunnered Labour voters onto the Yes side, and again after Brexit, to a point. The campaigning of groups and individuals was magnificent too, but those who are neither fully committed to the union nor to independence in 2021 are no pushover.

There are many reasons and for some, no specific reasons why people don’t want to leave the union, at least in the foreseeable, in spite of the sleaze and cruelty of the Westminster regime, and even after much anger, upset and fear over Brexit. We humans have a way of re-setting our expectations. Maybe our first task in this new Scottish Government term is just to find out why we appear to be essentially stuck around the 50:50 mark. Keep having the discussions. One way or the other it has to be resolved.

No-matter how much scare-mongering unionist opposition and media do about pushing for a referendum at the height of a pandemic, we all know that this won’t happen, but pushing the you-don’t-have-a-mandate thing aside, we already know, for instance, that good leadership, particularly amongst women voters, is a thing. The pandemic won’t stop the general direction of travel towards Yes, even if everything seems to have re-set itself and we don’t know how we’re going to get there or on what issues.

I believe against all odds that a section 30 will be granted because it was discussed at the height of yes polling last year in spite of all the bluster and anti-democratic brinksmanship. There were caveats though, such as a post-win confirmatory vote, or a 70% bar. The most tenacious of course is the ongoing Federalism/Devo-Max third question Labour scam, that leaves us with the nukes, and that our increasingly Tory voting neighbours in England show no appetite for. This is the sort of stuff that we’re wasting our energy on and must resist, no-matter how respectably the issues are presented, such as the recent STUC motion for a third question. Sadly for Labour, they are barely relevant.

The independence movement has shifted on its axis, and it’s difficult to predict how we will organise in the future, especially during the pandemic. For many of us the AOUB marches and rallies now belong with the side of the movement that we and the voters have roundly rejected. Common Weal still is still highly relevant as a think tank, but remains tainted by the misogyny reveal from the top down, despite brave attempts by the youth branch to turn things around. The recently formed Now Scotland movement exists to pressurise for that illusive and immediate referendum without the winning momentum.

That takes me to Kenmuir Street, Pollokshields, a hastily and sporadically arranged fireball of People Power that came together to resist the abject barbarism of Home Office dawn raids on asylum seekers. An expression of raw humanity, and an antidote to the stale, mainly male misogyny of that other movement that came together behind Salmond. A wave of hope and admiration travelled the length of the UK, one that cannot be extinguished by the far right at play, in the guise of Rangers fans on this occasion.

We desperately need independence if we are to make and sustain real progress that can change lives. There are likely to be battles ahead, with and by the SNP, which, perhaps to state the obvious, is not the Independence Movement, but is our far-from-perfect vehicle. Before battles re-commence it’s worth re-visiting the mettle of the woman who stated in her First Minister’s re-election speech ‘I resolve never to shy away from the tough calls.’ We’ve seen that, she’s still standing, and it’s a very hopeful start.

Val Waldron

 

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