No bad

Despite claims from the Naw camp that it’s in the bag for the Union, I’m not thinking about what I’ll do with myself if there’s a No vote. In no small part because it’s not in the bag for the Union at all – for reasons which were explained in yesterday’s blog post.

I don’t believe it’s in the bag for Yes either, which is not a bad thing – the worst thing any campaigner can do just now is to take a result for granted. But the Yes campaign is only just getting into gear. We haven’t really started yet. It’s all going to come down to the final straight, and that’s where Yes has the people on the ground.

The more senior members of the No campaign don’t believe they can take a No for granted either – they just want the rest of us to think that. It’s a tactic aimed at preventing a late surge for Yes like the late surge in support for the SNP which swept them to an absolute majority in the Scottish elections of 2011. By shouting from the rooftops of Pacific Quay that the Yes campaign has already lost, they seek to deter undecideds and weak No’s from moving over to a Yes vote and to pre-empt the Yes campaign’s grassroots strength.

From its launch the No campaign was founded in projection. One of the key components of negative campaigning is to accuse your opponents of your own sins. The instances of that from the No campaign are too numerous to detail. Their claim that the vote is already in the bag is another example. It’s an expression of their fear that Yes has already won. Because even though not a single vote has yet been cast, the No campaign has already lost in just about every other respect. They’ve lost any residual respect that Scotland had for Westminster. They’ve lost the power to mobilise – that must be a bitter pill for Labour, the self-described people’s party, to swallow. Labour called a campaign and the people didn’t come. Just look at the disparity between the enormous grassroots movement of the Yes campaign, an organic sprouting of enthusiasm, of positivity, of hope, and the studio and newspaper column campaign of No. Increasingly the No campaign is only talking to itself about a Scotland that no longer exists or never existed. The audience isn’t listening, they’re either cynical and disengaged, or engaging with the ideas of Yes.

Irrespective of how the vote in September goes, the Union is already dead. The independence campaign has forced Westminster to reveal just how they really view Scotland, the UK’s recalcitrant northern province. We’re a land which they don’t want to become foreign, but with every statement they make they reveal that Scotland is already foreign to them and always has been. The Scottish view of the Union – an equal partnership of kingdoms – is not Westminster’s view. Scotland compares itself with Denmark or Finland, other small northern European countries. Westminster compares Scotland with Yorkshire. Scotland’s view is a foreign view, one to be slapped down, patronised and dismissed.

Scotland has watched and learned. What we’ve learned will not be unlearned.

We’re told to be proud that a Parliament has the almighty arrogance to abrogate to itself the right to determine our personal identities. We’ve learned we should be proud that one of the world’s richest countries cannot ensure its citizens have the means to feed themselves, to heat their homes, or to work for a dignified wage. We are asked to be proud of foodbanks defended by nuclear missiles. We have the best zero hours contracts and should take pride in benefits sanctions which punch above their weight. We’re asked to be proud of a country with structural inequalities, a widening chasm between the rich and poor, and to be proud of the fact we have no means to remedy the situation but to throw ourselves upon the mercy of the farsighted political masters who have brought this sorry state about.

We’ve learned that the Unionist ProudScots™ are proud of a regional identity. For them Scottishness can only flourish when it is subordinate to a British identity. So they keep making a point of telling us how proud and patriotic they are. They’re proud of a shrivelled Scottish fruit on a sickly British tree, the ethnic kail in a Great British vegetable patch overrun by slugs. Proud Scots suffer the pride of over-compensation, the pride of the emotionally insecure. But when you’re secure in your identity you don’t need to tell people how proud you are of it. You just live it instead. When you act on your identity, there is no need to proclaim it because it’s self-evident.

Affirmations of identity are the obituary notices of the living, they’re monuments to an identity that is not lived except in the imagination. Rory the Tory (who’s Scottish you know) is building a big chambered cairn on the border as an affirmation of Scottishness as Britishness. A chambered cairn is a Neolithic grave, so he’s building a tomb as a monument to ProudScot identity in the Union. It’s more appropriate than Rory ever realised.

I’m not proud to be Scottish any more than I am proud to be left handed, or proud to be gay, or proud to be Glaswegian. I just am all those things and I act accordingly. The Proud Scots TM of the No campaign miss the identity point. When you are secure and confident in your identity your identity does not define you – you define your identity. And you define it by your deeds and your choices and how you live your life. Scottishness is what we make it, not what we are told it has to be. Identity is a living thing, not a faded photo of an ancestor in tartan. So let’s live Scottishness, not commemorate or celebrate it in a stone age grave.

I want to live Scottishness by helping to build a country which is inclusive and diverse, where politicians are held to account under a written constitution. I want to live Scottishness by having the choice to vote for a Scottish Labour party that is actually a Scottish Labour party. I want to live Scottishness by helping to build a country which can provide a dignified life for all its citizens.  I want to live Scottishness with a political system that takes equality, justice and fairness as its starting point.  I want to live Scottishness by getting rid of the obscenity of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. I want to live Scottishness with a media which truly reflects the diversity of opinions and views and experiences in this country. I want to live a Scottishness that does no harm.

I don’t want to be a Proud Scot, I want to live in a land where I can say “Scotland? It’s no bad.”



50 comments on “No bad

  1. scotsgeoff says:


    It’s neither about shouting it from the rooftops nor hiding it under a bushell.

    It is about BEING, as you rightly say.

    Your actions define you. not your words; talk is cheap as Better Together & Westminster are proving.

  2. macart763 says:

    Just two or three years ago the status quo were so far ahead in those polls they are so fond of, they were a dot on the horizon. Today you couldn’t put a fag paper between the two camps and and even with the best spin their media can manage the difference is a 2 – 4 point swing to make YES a reality. As you point out Paul the two campaigns couldn’t be more different in outlook, method and mechanics yet for all the advantages the no campaign carried, they are deeply worried.

    Scrub that. They are scared.

    Yes or no on the day, the travel toward independence has already begun. The only details missing will be the date it gets rubber stamped and how much more pain the electorate wishes to put up with before that happens. Eighteen months or a generation? People are becoming more switched on to the campaign and the upcoming decision they have to make by the day. The more they start to focus on this, the more they will contrast and compare. They will see those bright smiley faces wearing YES badges on their doorstep. They will see the spontaneous outbreaks of singing at Yestivals, face painted weans with balloons. Yes flags in the high streets and fair grounds mark mobbed YES stalls where people are greeted with volunteers putting forward a message of what kind of future is possible with a government in their own hands. They will see people with the exuberance and motivation that only belief in a positive future and a brighter vision can produce.

    And worst of all the smiling is both deliberate and infectious.🙂

  3. abesto says:

    You write a lot of fine words. Some of the finest I see in any political writing. But today, you have excelled.

    “foodbanks defended by nuclear missiles”

    Thank you. That’s UKania in 5 words.

  4. Jan Cowan says:

    The whole thing in a nutshell. Fantastic, Paul!

  5. Redrockg11 says:

    This is just so right! I agree with your definitions of identity wholeheartedly. We know their ‘Proud Scot, but’ meme disguises their real thoughts and feelings. Now we see that they are just floundering around as they are living a fake identity

  6. rowantree633 says:

    Bang on the money regarding the differences of the two campaigns. I am not convinced that many BT campaigners that committed. At the Nairn show this week end past, the BT stand was packed up and gone early, almost at the first hint of rain. No imagination, just dour-looking folk handing out balloons and not many of those from what I could tell.

    Meanwhile, the Yes stall stayed to the end, no matter how hard it showered at times and we had folk coming to see us right until the close…smiles, some fun games on the stand and plenty to give away. More to the point, it was busy and I spoke to many who had changed their voting stance away from no to undecided or to a firm Yes.

    Best wishes,


  7. Deedo says:

    Well said.

  8. Cal says:

    Exactly how I feel. I don’t need to shout about my nationality to anyone. I just am Scottish. I understand flags are really important at this time but in normal circumstances I would not sport a Saltire. I guess I am a quiet Scot. Happy in my own skin. When I get annoyed with the lies and the wonky polls it just spurs me on to do more canvassing and to show people how badly they are being treated and how little their masters (sic.) regard them. I would urge all others to go out on the doorsteps and do the same.

  9. hektorsmum says:

    Another great post Paul and yes, that is what so many of us want, to be just Scottish, nae blawin’ trumpets. I have never declared at any time that I am a proud Scot, what I am is a determined one, have been since forever. When I look down the tunnel that is my life I have never deviated from that path, the one which says Scotland IS a Nation and has the right to self determination. I see Mr Clark, that will be Mr Kenneth Clark, is berating Mr David Cameron in the Daily Mail for ALLOWING the Scots to have a Referendum. I know like me you are no sports fan but it is difficult, nae impossible to miss the fact that the Glasgow Games have been hijacked by our nearest neighbour, with a show of superiority which must be putting a wee smile on oor Alicsammin’s face. Certainly putting one on mine.
    Hope Andy is getting better.

    • macart763 says:

      Clark said that did he?

      So according to Ken Clark, the UN have it wrong when it comes to the subject of self determination. Oh, I’d so like to see him step up here and make that argument in front of a crowd. Somebody should enlighten the fella that neither he nor anyone else had any right to stop Scotland from holding this conversation and that Dave didn’t really have any choice in the matter.

      • hektorsmum says:

        In Wings but you may have come here first Mac. Alistair Carmichael doing YES a great service also spelling out what voting NO means, Another wee smile oan Alicsammin’s face this morning. I have come to the conclusion they really want to lose.

  10. Capella says:

    Who could possibly be proud of the poverty, inequality and mendacity of the UK government propped up by its propaganda wing the MSM. When we are free to create a country where equality and humanity are valued, then we might be justified in calling ourselves “proud Scots”. But proud for a reason, because we can achieve our goal of a fair and free society for everyone.

  11. Luigi says:

    “We are asked to be proud of foodbanks defended by nuclear missiles”

    That is one of the most powerful statements I have read since this campaign began. Excellent. I will borrow this one, WGD, if you don’t mind.

    I am voting YES because I do not want to live in a country of foodbanks defended by nuclear weapons.

  12. KayBee says:

    “We are asked to be proud of foodbanks defended by nuclear missiles”

    That is a powerful message that should be echoed again & again.

    (ps – Big hello to Ross Ra Firefighter – good meeting you at PQ yeterday mate – hope you had a safe journey home – will maybe see you at the next PQ BtBC Bias demonstration – and again, thanks for the badges & blether)

  13. Illy says:

    You know, here’s something I wish the “Proud Scots” (TM) were asked more often:

    “What are you proud of that happened in Scotland in the last 20 years?”

  14. Andrew Brown says:

    Excellent article l as usual Paul. Encapsulates my view completely. I especially liked the “Westminster compares Scotland with Yorkshire” which is a particular bugbear of mine. Just about every radio or TV programme refers to people from Dunfermline for example as “from Scotland” (not Fife) whereas someone say from Torquay comes from Devon, not England. Gives a prefect insight into how we’re viewed.

  15. smiling vulture says:

    Alistair Carmichael

    Mr Carmichael said Whitehall had allowed the Nationalists to “hollow out” the UK Government’s presence north of the Border and the lesson of the referendum campaign was that this could never be allowed to happen again.

    Edward 1 or 11 couldn’t of said it better

    • KayBee says:

      We always knew this type of reaction would be the case …. this is our ‘one and only’ chance at an indy referendum, as Westminster will not, even remotely, allow this to happen a second time.

      Wonder what the HoC’s laundry bill is nowadays, what with all the additional pairs of brown stained breeks needing cleaned, as it gets closer to the 18th.

  16. arthur thomson says:

    I just so wish that your articles could be more widely circulated and read. I agree with every word you wrote. I have supported self government all my life for the reasons you have stated.Thank you.

  17. Andrew Brown says:

    Paul, just told a Better Together (aye, right) type on Derek Bateman’s blog to read this article as he seems to be labouring (no pun intended) under the impression that it’s actually the Yes side which are guilty of projection. There are none so blind that will not see.

    • JGedd says:

      I saw that, Andrew. I think the constant smug and hackneyed contributions straight from BT Central make me think that it’s the school hols after all and it’s probably a holiday project. His latest claim was the usual ‘ the UK is a successful country’. Perhaps we should set him an essay to write for us as another holiday project – ‘ Why I think that the UK is a successful country’.? Instead of his brief comments which he obviously thinks will startle and annoy, it would be an interesting challenge for him, don’t you think? Somehow don’t think that he would rise to the challenge though.

  18. Dougie says:

    How can you be a proud Scot when the very system you defend has took legal advice which is Scotland ceased to exist on signature of the Union
    A No vote validates that view it also gives it a legal status whats patriotic about voting you country out of existence?

  19. bearinorkney says:

    ‘I’m a Proud Scot !!’ they bellow, but really they aren’t.

    If you have to proclaim it vigorously as the nae sayers seem apt to do, they know deep within themselves they’re struggling to be what they claim.

    ‘Proud’ is a word that’s become debased by the Referendum. I feel suspicious when I hear or read it.

  20. mary vasey says:

    B.R.I.L.L.I.A.N.T. and bang on. Love the phrase ‘Affirmations of identity are the obituaries of the living’ never been put better. Thank you

  21. Brilliant. I just hope that come September enough people realise that in a single act they can help change the course of this country. There’s no need for speeches or declarations at the polling booth, it only the deed that counts.

  22. JGedd says:

    As usual, Paul, you distil everything we would like to say into prose that is clarifying and therapeutic!

    I get tired of hearing the phrase (among many other irritating phrases favoured by BT) that in the UK we can ‘ punch above our weight.’ Who do we want to punch? It makes us sound like one of those annoying types who wants to make up for small stature or an inadequate personality by going round trying to start fights. What’s wrong with being small? If you have nothing to prove, you don’t get into useless brawls. Quiet confidence in who you are always translates into a sane and mature persona. I want to belong to a sane and mature polity at ease with itself, not one suffering from mass psychosis that wants to pick fights.

  23. So many great phrases amongst the spot-on arguments. What is becoming ever clearer is that the time is now. It’s now we must seize the opportunity, we have the wealth and the stars are in alignment.

  24. Robert Graham says:

    want to know how we are regarded down south just have a look at team engurlands cyclists helmets using the union flag says it all it’s —-our flag—-our pound—-our parliament—-our BBC do you need anymore we don’t exist we have been absorbed so you either take back your country or you let them piss on you for ever its your choice its that simple 1 X is all it takes

  25. fluffnik says:

    No bad, no bad ava…

  26. Cag-does-thinking says:

    My favourite annoyance phrase is “World Class” in a world that lacks a lot of that. Anytime it gets trotted out a mess is sure to follow. We have world class weapons/society/industry rather than good ones or excellent ones. Another cracking weblog which has cheered up Monday. There’s been a few arsey posters (or maybe it’s just John McTernan in various guises as he can’t find anything to spin….) on the main weblogs these past few days but we are capable of seeing them for what they are, irritations that can scarcely touch something real that is happening, a nation awakening again.

  27. McTim says:

    Another cracker of a column, Paul. “foodbanks defended by nuclear missiles” – this line ought to be memorised by everyone campaigning for Yes. You’ve now eclipsed Wings over Scotland as the first Indy website to read every morning, and I’ve again shared on Facebook. Here’s to an ever growing readership. PS.: Hope Andy’s on the mend.

  28. […] Despite claims from the Naw camp that it's in the bag for the Union, I'm not thinking about what I'll do with myself if there's a No vote. In no small part because it's not in the bag for the Union…  […]

  29. Martin says:

    Appears UK’s representatives have Borderline Personality Disorder in their dealings with those in Scotland after a better relationship.

  30. Morag says:

    I was sitting in a Bistro in Dingwall on Friday and who comes in but a guy and another BT sidekick, I recognised as working for Alexander/Kennedy’s office. Whilst ma pals were busy chatting a’ lugged intae their conversation. The researcher was tellin the other that one, that one of their own, a local stalwart/organiser was very unhappy with the BT structure,( which I assumed to mean top down?) I take from that wee snippet, that their grassroots are loosing heart with their own campaign. Its a sign WGD!

  31. MBC says:

    If I can quote Margo here (RIP; never forgotten) she used to say that she loved Scotland, but that she was not necessarily proud of Scotland. She saw what was wrong with the place, and wanted better. She had compassion and humanity for the deprived and the dispossessed. That’s pretty much where I stand too – I have a great and deep love for this land and its people. But pride? No, I agree with Margo.

  32. steve allan says:

    I was at Ayr on Saturday and saw Slabours big red hoose on wheels and the better dae as yer telt mob giving out No Thanks stickers to people on the beach. It was brilliant to see the vast majority of them promptly putting them in bins

  33. Bamstick says:

    Just did my first bit for the YES campaign today. I was out delivering wee leaflets round the doors. I was pretty nervous in case I came across a nutter, but everyone was really nice and I saw a few YES sticker in windows and on cars.
    I’m only just starting to get this approach. Slow and steady, keep the heed and pip them at the post. Coming into this political lark later than I should have I thought that we needed to be out there shouting the odds. But your daily writings and my husbands patience has put me in the picture.
    It’s starting to feel like we are a big family, spread all over Scotland with an important date in our diary that we’re preparing for and looking forward to. It’s not a wedding we’re going to, no, more like we’re moving house and canny wait.
    The buzz is getting louder, we’re taking about the festivities and we just can’t wait for it to happen.
    A day is not the same without your fantastic input. It fair cheers me up and I suppose I’ve just released that that’s more important than thinking I need to shout the odds.

    • xsticks says:

      Brilliant Bamstick. Great to hear of more and more people becoming involved in this big Yes family. New relationships are growing right across the country and all with one ambition, to secure a Yes vote and take our country back from the british empire.

      Scotland is changing before our eyes, and what an inspiring change it is.

      Paul, nailed it as usual. Nae bad? Pure class, I’d say. Best wishes to Andy, hope things go well.

  34. Jon says:

    Great post as ever, thanks.

    You’re clearly not running out of topics to post on, but may I suggest one? I’m not sure you’ve covered George Galloway’s active campaign for No, and I’d like to hear your take on it, especially since your readership are probably otherwise in tune with his principles. I believe the essence of his position is that we are all workers together, above and below the border, and we need to stick together. Put more bluntly: a progressive independent government north of the border makes Tory government more likely south of it.

    This may be true, but I am not sure Galloway finds himself on the progressive side of the equation. My feeling is that, if independence wins, Scottish governments are more likely (though of course not guaranteed) to preserve free higher education, free healthcare at the point of need, and the centre of Scottish thinking will continue to be that everyone is provided for. I’m not suggesting it’ll be Utopia, but that it will be a great deal less based on greed that London would otherwise dictate.

    In the meantime, if the English inflict increasing helpings of neoconservative policy upon themselves, they will hopefully learn, once things get worse still. More food banks, more war, more Eton six-formers sneering at the proles. I live in hope that the English culture of beat-the-Joneses, which fuels a demand for blame-the-poor politics, can be unlearnt.

    I’d rather like Galloway to see what benefits independence could bring to Scotland. But more so, I’d like him to consider the infectious nature of communitarian provision: if people in Scotland can be more provided for, and be less in want than similar people in England, might Englanders wonder how they can achieve the same?

    Galloway might also reflect on what Scotland could achieve on the international stage. As Craig Murray recently points out, it could well vote decently at the UN, rather than London’s cowardly abstentions. George presently sides with these crooks, and it doesn’t sit well.

  35. Dougie Douglas says:

    An absolute pearl of a post, keen observation …love the bit about food banks defended by nuclear weapons. Nutshell.

  36. crankygrumpy says:

    Superbly eloquent essay on identity and one which I, well, identify with. We are who we are.

    Collectively, what we are deserves to define what our country could be, too.

  37. Nigel Mace says:

    “Affirmations of identity are the obituary notices of the living, they’re monuments to an identity that is not lived except in the imagination.”

    I wish I had said that – and, yes, I probably will in future. Your best aphorism so far. Congratulations.

  38. allen ralston says:

    I am a proud, patriotic Scot, passionate about my heritage and my country. and I am very much a nationalist.

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