There were many lies told during the indyref campaign. However, ‘Your pension will be under threat’ and ‘The EU will never accept an Independent Scotland’ seem like harmless fibs compared to the filthy Trumpian mire that now passes for discourse in our political lives.
It’s that time again, the anniversary of 18th September 2014. Comparing those carnival days with where we are now is like defining the ongoing pandemic by bog roll shortages, clapping for the NHS and the lie that we’re all in it together. Everything has changed since 2014, apart from the polls in any significant way. We are still perched on a fence constitutionally, with an uncompromising need for resolution. The push and pull for and against is brutal as are the changes within the movement itself.
The SNP and Alba conferences have just ended at the time of writing. As the buzz from within the bubbles eventually dies like warm prosecco, it leaves us with that perpetual issue; how to turn the head of the undecided voter in our direction.
We seem to be less susceptible to strong reaction to situations that we would have found unacceptable in 2014. Too much has happened in the interim, too many ‘couldnae make this up!’ moments. That rubbish band, Johnson and the Tories get away with too much, from proroguing parliament to financial dodgy deals, via disgusting, hateful, murderous anti-immigrant policies. It’s exhausting. So exhausting that it may take the relatively banal, rather than the obscenely shocking to turn heads. The saying ‘Boiling a Frog’ is defined as ‘failure to act against a problematic situation which will increase in severity until reaching catastrophic proportions.’ A few have been simmering away for a while.
Take Brexit, for instance (I wish). How many everyday products must disappear from the supermarket shelves before we start to really notice that this is just no right and find our breaking/break away point? Your favourite colour of pasta? Or even your medicines and pet-foods, your job? The Communist Party of Britain may revel in the idea of supermarkets that mirror 1970s East Berlin, but I’ve been there, witnessed that, and rotting despair doesn’t even smell good. Queuing for scraps may be character building though. It had better be!
There were of course many lies told during the indyref campaign. However, ‘Your pension will be under threat’ and ‘The EU will never accept an Independent Scotland’ seem like harmless fibs compared to the filthy Trumpian mire that now passes for discourse in our political lives. The Tories are not the only ones who are unafraid to lie smear and attack shamelessly with no regard whatsoever to fact or convention. Sadly a sinister fantasy land has been created at the outer edges of the independence movement. The socially conservative and the swivel eyed loons have almost completed a full circle. Watch Murdo Fraser rock that anti-trans persona with a wheen of Alba types and other bussed in bams outside Holyrood. Listen to the overt transphobia of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh’s ‘joke’ in Alba conference, after a mix up about names, that ‘you’re in the wrong party’ ( if you’ve changed your sex.)
Shall I go on? We have to. The current situation is untenable and Nicola Sturgeon didn’t survive a dunking in Hell’s Latrine for nothing. This is just a reminder that we are not a united movement. We never were of course. It was an illusion. We were never really secure under one banner. We always knew that Scotland was as susceptible to bigotry in all forms as anywhere else. The September 19th George Square eruption of red, white, blue and orange told us that, but those were the Britnats. The ugly side of the movement was yet to fully reveal itself.
Friday nights on the old Bella Caledonia facebook group found the admin team, of which I was a part for a couple of post indyref years, banning and warning a variety of misogynists, homophobes and racists. Many of them were the SNP ultras. Nicola’s yellow foam finger waving fanatics, now happily reconnected with and emboldened by their yesterday’s man messiah. They have found a new minority to hate in the Trans community and cannot be parted from the fantastical lies and vitriolic hatred for the FM and the SNP. So, nope, we can’t go forward as a movement. We must think differently, behave differently and approach the next campaign differently if we are to engage that that wobbly bit in the middle between the committed Yes and No supporters.
There is a generous seam of decent humans who will not be persuaded by flag waving or minority baiting. Folk who know that Johnson and Co are charlatans of the highest order, that Nicola Sturgeon is a better leader by far, that Brexit is responsible for emboldened racism and bigotry, that the UK is a fragile house of cards that holds no real future for their kids. That the shelves will just keep getting emptier.
The pieces will fall into place for many in the coming months, but it comes down to this; will that house of cards that is the isolated failed UK collapse before ‘undecideds’ accept that their longing to be Scottish, British and European is a busted flush? What will that final push look like? That’s where we come in. The Indy Impatient are fairly convinced that if we held a campaign tomorrow they’d come rushing over, as they did when Scottish Labour proved to be a dead end or who came over in 2016 on the Brexit vote.
It’s a delicate balancing act. When to respect a nation in recovery, and in fact, still battling the godforsaken virus, and when to do as the Tories say we do already and bang on about independence a bit more. The Herald produced a poll showing that since the SNP/Green co-operative arrangement was accepted 54% see independence case strengthened as more likely, 6 in 10 Scots believe the deal is good for the climate and the Greens are at 13%, plus 5 from the May election. It feels like a fresh start towards indyref2.
We have to push forward with a targeted progressive agenda, more than ever. Nuclear weapons, fair rent, environment and climate, refugee status, protection of minorities, racism and bigotry, drugs and alcohol are issues that affect everyone. Some of our support must come from the Labour (supporting) camp. We must call out lies and misrepresentation by opposition parties, but we can’t go down a partisan, hate-speckled ultra nationalist path. Build and they will come.
We may have some cause for concern about entities that pass for Grass roots now, while pushing regressive agendas, but if Alba and AOUB have been a sponge for more dubious ex SNP members, this offers some cause for optimism for the party in its new arrangement with the Greens. Furthermore, the grass will never die under our feet. New and existing groups exist outside of party politics, (not least CND) who must and can only influence the push towards independence if we are to achieve international acceptance as a progressive new nation. One able to influence, protect support, trade, accept and grow as a multicultural community.