There was a nice wee story from the Basque Country that got lost amidst the Obamahoo and the AndyMurrayha that’s dominated the press over the past few days. Last week final year students in Basque high schools sat their university entrance exams. In the maths paper there was a question related to Scotland.
The students were asked to calculate the confidence levels in an opinion poll about the Scottish independence debate. According to the poll cited in the exam question, 600 people had been questioned of whom 450 were going to vote yes. Pity it wasn’t a real poll, but it was still nice to be noticed in a Basque exam paper.
The independence debate is often framed in terms of uncertainties, but it must be certain that Scotland has never enjoyed such a high profile in the world as it has right now – and that is entirely due to the fact that we have embarked upon a peaceful and legal campaign to recover Scottish independence. Across the world, people are paying Scotland an attention that they never paid this small, damp northern European country before. We’re in Basque exam questions, in headlines in Bolivian newspapers, and in current affairs in Canada. Basques, Bolivians and Canadians are talking about us, but you won’t find the BBC saying so. They only report the men from DelMonte and the manufactured astroturfing of the No campaign.
And it’s not kilts, whisky and the Loch Ness monster that they’re talking about in far flung places. They’re talking about 5 million people who may just possibly challenge the right to rule of the traditional political elites, and who will do so entirely peacefully – without a shot being fired, without riots, without civil unrest. We need to thank ourselves, we need to pat ourselves on the back. We need to tell ourselves just what we’ve achieved here. This is truly a precious and beautiful thing. The most contentious political debate imaginable, an independence campaign – a debate which usually starts in violence and ends in war, and Scotland is doing it her own way, a peaceful way, a democratic way, a way filled with laughter and smiles. We are ordinary people, we do extraordinary things. And we do them far far better than our closed minded and narrow visioned political class could ever do. We’re showing them how politics should be done.
All over the world people are paying close attention to this debate, yet here in Scotland most people have little idea just how remarkable the events of the Scottish Summer really are – because our media is full of the complaints of politicians, bewailing rude names on Twitter as harbingers of the end of civilisation, likening growls from wee mongrel dugs to the devastation of Hiroshima. The litany of negativity never ceases, the pre-arranged scares and concerted fears ramp up ever higher into the stratosphere of surrealism.
There’s 100 days to go before 18 September. An independent Scotland will not be a paradise, we will have challenges, we will have set backs, but Scotland will decide her own destiny. The fate of this country will lie in the hands of its own people. The Yes campaign is creating a picture of the Scotland that is being born – a colourful collage of Celtic knotworks, Asian floral patterns, Italian masterpieces, English miniatures, African prints and Polish design. A people in movement, moving towards the world and open to it. We’re looking to the future, we’re making it up as we go along, and we’re making something beautiful. This is what we can do when we put our minds to it when we step outside the pencil box that Westminster has put us in, a box where the only pictures are grey still-lifes, frozen and fearful.
100 more days of the No campaign, po-faced and pettit lipped, lost in past glories, tellers of scare stories, the warmongers, back hander bungers, benefits cutters, ifs and butters, Iraq-invaders, Trident cravers, casino bankers, Thatcher thankers, clueless dopes, killers of hope, asset strippers, swivel eyed Kippers, nay-sayers, truth slayers, BBC junkies, peerage monkeys, dependency touters, ProudScot doubters, expenses blaggers and privatisers, poison daggers and boardroom misers – lecturing Scotland on our antisocial behaviour while they tell us to vote for No future, a future that goes from crap to crappier. The best they can offer is that things might just get back to being crap again.
Compare and contrast. What sort of country do you want to live in. You can live in a land of hope, or you can live in the land of the po-faced and the pettit lip. A country where you’re told what’s good for you while the rich get ever richer and inequalities widen, where emigration in search of work is described as a Union benefit. Or an independent country governed by people who live here, people we can vote out of office if they do not live up to our expectations.
A Slovene friend once told me why he supported independence for his small country. He said: I love my country because it is small and harmless, and it needs people to look after it.
This small and harmless country is ours, and we will look after it because it is our home. Westminster politicians said that they wanted to turn the country into a land of owner occupiers when they sold off the family silver, we will answer them by telling them we’ll be the owner occupiers of our own land. All that interests them is how they can use our resources and our talents to further their own careers. Let’s make the future of Scotland our priority, the future of our children, our grandchildren, and generations yet to come. Let’s show the world what a small and harmless country can do, and be a voice for peace and justice in this world.
The key is in our hands. 100 days to go until we open the door and step out into the fresh clean air.