So we’ve had Danny Alexander making up statistics about start up costs and his arithmetical nervous breakdown being taken apart by the very man who supplied the raw data to begin with. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been running Liz’s state coach and horses through the civil service neutrality guidelines and using British diplomatic staff to drum up support for No. We’ve had the running sore of the CBI and its yes-no-yes-no-yes we’re a no saga and the highly dubious manner in which its registration was handled and a supposedly apolitical business organisation that is in fact highly politicised. And over the weekend the director of a leading pro-devolution body, Reform Scotland – a group which, let us remember, is in favour of retaining the Union – strongly criticised the UK government for its misleading and inaccurate statistics on Scotland’s potential oil revenues, and said that the true picture meant Scotland could more than pay its own way and have plenty of cash left over for better health or education services.
And what’s the lead story on the BBC Scotland news? Alicsammin sent the fishing industry a letter pointing out that some of their fears were ridiculous scaremongering a la David Mundell, and the fishy man thinks it is intimidatory to point out that a stupid scare story is in fact a stupid scare story. Bullying nationalists and cod stories!
If Alicsammin was indeed trying to silence the shy wallflowers of the fishing fleet, he’s clearly not very good at intimidation techniques, because fishy man is all over the BBC like a drunk pub goer with a whole fish supper on his shoulder telling everyone how hard done by he is. Perhaps that will be the next anti-independence spin from John Boothman – independence is a bad idea because the Scottish Government is rubbish at Labour and Tory intimidation techniques and suborning the civil service.
As the independence campaign has progressed, I’ve found myself increasingly detached from the UK media and its Scottish branch offices. I’m not alone in this alien nation. The media reports on a country I don’t know, a referendum I’m not participating in, a campaign that’s not the campaign I take a small part in. We’re the people they don’t want to become foreigners but we’re already foreign to them.
Who are they talking to? It’s not ordinary Scottish people. We’re being talked at, talked down to, told that the important issues are not those that we might find important. It’s an experience of alienation that’s being repeated across the country. The media is doing itself no favours, especially as many of us were already pretty alienated to begin with.
Alienation is the first step to independence. When you’re alienated, you’re already independent, you just haven’t realised it yet. It’s a very short step from alienation to becoming a new nation, and we have the UK media to thank for it. More and more the little people, the pixies and brownies and elfs of Scotland, are realising that we are already independent of the trolls and ogres and the big scary monsters. And we don’t want to live with fairy stories any more, we want documentaries and dramas that relate to the lives we really live.
When I was young there was no equality for people like me. Gay men were second class citizens in the eyes of the law. Lesbians didn’t exist at all, ignored and marginalised out of existence.
You can respond in a number of ways to this, you can accept it, return to silence, be quiet, remain invisible. Or you can ignore the ignorance right back, you can refuse to accept it. You can refuse to accept the role that’s been determined for you. And you can shout it from the rooftops. So we lived our lives as though we were already equal, and by living as though we were already equal, we became equal. Liberation starts in the head. Liberate your own head and heart, the rest will follow.
There was no same sex marriage so we got married anyway, in a humanist ceremony in the early 90s which had no legal recognition. But legal recognition is secondary, the most important recognition is the recognition you grant yourself. In our eyes, and in the eyes of our family and friends, we were already married. When civil partnerships became legal, it was only the law catching up with the equality we’d already established in our own lives and our own hearts.
Scottish independence starts in your own head. All across Scotland, women and men are making their own private declarations of Arbroath, their declarations of Galloway, declarations of West Lothian, of Glasgow, of Aberdeen, Inverness, and Orkney. People are thinking independently, freeing themselves from a Westminster trackway that doesn’t reach their homes, a high speed railway to nowhere we know. They’re ignoring a media that doesn’t tell stories they recognise, and are creating new means of communication, new networks, new connections. Scotland is becoming independent in hearts and minds. Shout it from the rooftops, tell everyone you know.
I don’t want to talk about BBC business correspondent Robert Peston and his “all you need to know about independence”. I know what independence means without the BBC telling me, and I suspect I know far better than Robert Peston what I need to know – so do you, so does everyone who actually lives in this country. What we need to know is what sort of country we can make this into. We can do better than what’s on offer. We can be better, because we are better already.
The UK media’s priorities are not mine, their interests are not mine. I don’t want to talk about Westminster’s welfare. I want to talk about dignity. I don’t want to talk about interest rates. I want to talk about fairness and equality. I don’t want to talk about currency unions. I want to talk about land reform. I want a land whose own voices are heard.
Independence of the mind means we no longer need to focus on the stories and spin the media tells us is the story. We can write stories of our own, we can begin to imagine the kind of country that Scotland could be, that Scotland should be, that Scotland will be. A country whose citizens think independently.
Westminster and the UK media want us to focus on the process, not the state of being. It’s like going on a trip around the world, new experiences open up before you, possibilities undreamt, opening your eyes to the great diversity and the dances of life and becoming a part of it. You have all this to look forward to, new ways, new sights, new sounds and new directions that you choose for youself. It’s the trip of a lifetime. But the UK media only wants us to talk about the potential for hassles in the queue at the airport, anything to stop us getting on a independent plane that soars away from Westminster’s narrow expectations.
When you decide you’re voting yes, you have freed yourself from the shackles of a future that’s determined for you by people whose interests are not your own. You’ve realised that there are different paths to tread, different destinations to strive for. You’re independent already, and you already live in a Scotland that Westminster cannot deliver. Live independently in your own head, and you’re already a citizen of a new Scotland.
A yes vote in September just makes the law catch up with the reality we’ve already created. Independence has already been declared.
Think independently, vote yes.