In 2014, the Unionists had little to fear from the Scottish independence campaign. Save one shocking poll showing, for the first time, a lead for Yes at the tail end of the referendum campaign, the Unionists enjoyed a healthy lead in the poll.
Yet still they came at us with a tsunami of lies, propaganda, fear mongering and unbridled hate. Interested observers in England might not fully appreciate the hate that burns so deeply in the bowels of Unionism and thus they might not then appreciate how malicious, vicious and capricious their machinations are and will be.
If the Unionists had the knives, nay bazookas, out for us in 2014 when they were all but guaranteed to win, then you hardly must make any great leap to imagine what they have in store for us now.
In fact, we’re living through it.
Nicola Sturgeon has managed to turn the political status quo in Scotland on its axis. She has managed to take that solid, dependable, hardcore, but ultimately useless for winning a referendum, 45% of Scots who support independence and transformed into hitherto unknown territory. We have seen figures as high as 58% support for independence. Almost 30 consecutive polls showing definitive and often heavy leads for Scottish independence.
Nicola has reached out beyond where any of us ever imagined. Yes, of course Brexit has helped the cause, but one would do well to imagine any other pro-independence politician who could have achieved this other than Nicola. This isn’t some panegyric to Nicola, but rather an observation on her immense skills as a politician. Political opportunities, such as that presented to us by Brexit, must be navigated and progressively cultivated – Nicola has proven herself to be a master at this.
Even her enemies would concede this; in fact, it’s precisely because of Nicola’s strengths that the quality of the attacks on her, compared to her disgraced and now treacherous predecessor, have acquired a much more sinister quality.
But another of Nicola’s main strengths, and here some of you might cringe, is that she is just nice and honest. This might sound like a glib – even dumb – observation, but in a political landscape that includes a veritable conveyor belt of either mediocre PR people or unhinged sociopaths, Nicola’s niceness and honesty radiates her profile much more than any spin or simulation.
This has been particularly observed during the Covid-19 pandemic, where, despite many mistakes made by the SNP government, Nicola has treated her fellow Scots with honesty, empathy and conviction. Even if you’re a blackhearted cynic and you think this is all contrived, the vast majority of Scots, as poll after poll has shown, and even a decent amount of English people, disagree with you.
But it goes much further than that. Through Nicola’s stewardship during the Covid-19 crisis, many Scots, including previous sceptics, have simply seen a nation in action. They have seen what Scotland is capable of while it continues to be confined in the chains of the Union, so now it has the windmills of their mind whirring about what we could be if those chains were to be removed, hence the swelling of the poll numbers in favour of independence and the SNP’s unassailable lead for the upcoming election.
And this is really what has the Unionists, whether in Whitehall or Holyrood, sweating bullets.
However, as pathetic as we often imagine our enemies to be on an interpersonal basis, they are fighting to preserve a 314-year-old Union. A Union that conquered much of the world. A Union that plundered, murdered, enslaved and pursued mastery over millions of free peoples in many free nations. A Union that was a specialist at sowing division and chaos to achieve its aims. A Union that prides itself in ‘ruling the waves’ since its unholy birth amidst corruption, colonialism, ethnic cleansing and war.
This is the living legacy of our enemies. At the beginning of last year, the Tory Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack issued a very telling statement regarding Scottish independence. As opposed to the usual flat-out denial of the right of Scots to self-determination, Jack went a step further and attempted to meddle in Scottish democracy and the inner politics of the SNP by saying that an independence referendum would never be held so long as Nicola Sturgeon remained in office. This was a brazen attempt to politically poison Nicola and perhaps, looking at no one in particular, arouse the egoist intentions of certain anti-Sturgeon types within and without the SNP.
Divide and conquer – they might be awful at almost at even basic governance, but they still fancy themselves as the masters of the dark arts that they pioneered.
You hardly have to be a conspiracy theorist to imagine that those who currently rule the Union would be willing to let their 314-year-old pride and joy be dismantled by a movement of Scots led by a working-class lassie from Dreghorn without fighting dirtier than they’ve ever fought before.
This is the context through which the current clamour by the entire base and superstructure of Unionism to force the elected First Minister of Scotland out of office must be seen.
It is a coup. We should call it a coup. We should thus act upon it accordingly.
As soon as Nicola achieved what she did, this moment, the destructive egoism of Alex Salmond and his cultish alt-right fifth column working within the SNP and wider independence movement and the subsequent exploitation of this by Unionist politicians to try to force Nicola to resign, was always coming.
But as much as Nicola is central to all this, it is also much bigger than her. For if they succeed in removing Nicola, it will not just signal the end of our struggle for independence, but also of meaningful democracy in Scotland – even in its devolved form.
The Tories are relentlessly trying to steal back powers from our parliament – this itself is not any kind of coincidence. On the one hand, you have the attempt by the Unionists and their Salmondist allies to discredit and destroy Nicola and the SNP, while, on the other hand, they’re attempting to ensure that no Scottish government ever has the chance to enact meaningfully progressive policy again.
The Tories rule supreme in England, but they have no chance of ever achieving this in Scotland. Thus, the incentive is to weaken the Scottish parliament to the extent that it cannot interrupt or serve as a contradictory force to their right-wing Brexiteer ideological agenda.
But Scottish self-determination itself is at stake, not that it always hasn’t been. The will for the British Tory government to not ‘let us’ have a second independence referendum is bad enough, but earlier this year former British chancellor George Osborne let slip an even more sinister dimension of top table Unionist thought on Scottish independence.
Writing earlier this year in the Evening Standard, Osborne admitted that the British can live without the North of Ireland and Wales, but Scotland? Never. Though Osborne attempts to couch it in complimentary language regarding the global contribution of Scots to Britain, he essentially says that Scotland must always be forever the domain of the Union – forever ‘ours’.
In other words, even if we, the Scottish people, want to leave, we simply can’t. The Union is more important than the self-determination of Scots. Right now they’re not just coming for Nicola, they’re coming for all of us.